Rhys Hughes’ change of mind

24/12/12: Rhys Hughes on Facebook: “As for THE LAST BALCONY: it’s a tremendous read and has changed my mind about you as a writer. I used to think you were inconsistent with flashes of genius, but in fact you are a much more consistent writer than I’d believed and the level of genius is pretty much constant.”


From: The Man Toucan reviewing ‘The Last Balcony’ hardback collection.

“Lewis does crepuscular decay better than almost anyone. […] ‘Tugging the Heartstrings’ – a gem, a minor masterpiece, a beautiful story that I found uplifting. […] I always thought that clarity was his weak point, but the prose in the vast majority of the stories in this collection is beautifully clear and sometimes highly lyrical. […] ‘The Mentioning‘ — this book seems designed to disprove every assertion I make. No sooner do I make a claim that Des is at his best in ‘inner city’ or ‘isolated rural’ (specifically I meant marsh and fenland) locations than he writes a superb piece set on the coast among the cliffs of a wild beach. This story is a meditation, on death, loss and fate, and is utterly infused with the authentic ambience of that margin where land meets sea. […] A Hairshirt Called Husband — Des is able to make a simple game of clock patience seem sinister, to imbue it with a seepiness, for want of a better word, that is even more sinister than plain old-fashioned creepiness. […] ‘Gates’ – brilliant. A classic. One of my favourites so far. One of the best Des Lewis stories I’ve ever read…[…] [re: Cloysters] I have often said that Des Lewis doesn’t use algorithms in his writing, but this story is as algorthmical as a Roald Dahl or May Sinclair tale; but it’s far denser and stranger than anything by those (very good) writers. The writing, the prose, is just excellent. […] ‘The Horn of Europe’ – great title for a story! I wish I had come up with this title. Brilliant. This is a great little philosophical tale, the sort of tale I wish more writers would write more often. It wears the cloak of a horror story, but it’s not really; the possible horror is only incidental. Maybe a maniac attacked a little girl. That’s not what the story is really about. It’s about time and change and that curiously intense bittersweet feeling that comes when we truly think about the state of the universe, about entropy, about everything being in flux. It’s a Heraclitian story. A time travel story without a time machine; a story about memory and supposition. One of the most important stories in the book so far…” […] ‘Glimpse’ — a classic sudden fiction. Less than a page long, it packs a punch; it’s a brief philosophical fable (or disquisition). Des does these short pieces brilliantly. This could almost be a Pu Songling tale in terms of brevity, conciseness and punch of theme, although the incidental mechanics are completely different, of course. Superb. […] …in ‘The Apocryphan’, Bonnyville seems like a place one could genuinely stroll around, dig behind, poke around in; there’s an authentic sense of place. And the characters that inhabit this novella are three-dimensional too. The fact that the story is told in many interrelated brief sections, rather than as a single clump, also helps to open out the piece still further and lighten it more; or perhaps the structure was necessitated by the spry content (the tone is spry, but it is dark sprightliness.) And yes, the mode is melancholy despite the briskness; and the briskness is luxurious, not hectic; and this peculiar mix of rates of flow and density of detail is handled with supreme skill.  […] [re ‘Yesterfang’] It’s sort of halfway between the open prose of ‘The Apocryphan’ and the dense closed prose of Des’ short stories… The main thing being that it works. It works marvellously. […]  The first part, ‘In All Dreams But Yours’, is dark and groping in comparison with the second part, ‘The Pest of All Worlds’, which is almost sprightly. The range of scholarly and pulp influences is staggering, and they come from everywhere, and the novella itself picks a path between them, like a man exploring a chasm. It’s all rather enthralling. […] I already know that I’ll be recommending it most highly to any and all readers who love original weird fiction…” – RHYS HUGHES, from HERE. There are also more negative comments including reference to: “The pretentious flimflam that was characteristic of Lewis at his lowest period (in the mid noughties) […] serependipity of the nemonymous noumena is doodah retrocausal or any of that meaningless artschool bollocks…”


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