REAL-TIME REVIEW CONTINUED FROM HERE
The review continues in the comment stream below.
THE TASTE OF TASTE
1 – 8
“Stocky birds, climbing the sky; birds, from a distance, with the shape and grace of a paragraph of print. A strain how to imagine how they remain airborne. Stubborn blots of text against the fresh-page sky.
Where am I?
There is no one to ask. Sam is alone, in the desert -“
“and her lunch turns forward rolls in her stomach.”
“emmetropia”: from Internet: ‘a state in which the eye is relaxed and focused on an object more than 6 meters or 20 feet away. The light rays coming from that object are essentially parallel, and the rays are focused on the retina without effort.’
“termitary”: A termite nest. A prison?
1 – 9
“The menus have shrunk to the size of tabloid magazines; the paper has not been laminated. Ink smudges under their fingertips.”
Under the quincunx’s fingertips, after so much has happened that I have failed to divulge as the quincunx’s reader and reporter. Like Sabrina to Tom. I was very sad at things in this section, but uplifted by the persistent observations that the overall book provides, a book still as hugely memorable as the menus used to be. The canvas and its constantly unforgiving revelations of plot and counterplot, are, if anything, of even greater magnitude. AND STILL INELUCTABLY AND FELICITOUSLY ACCESSIBLE TO ALL POSSIBLE READERS. Working magically from the page to the reading mind. And, so, in short, there has been no let up in the power of this work. I can only speak as I find. And I say that now on the last lap of my gestalt real-time review, with only 250 pages left to read and report on. Sabrina’s circus-like makeup, notwithstanding, and the state of her dress. And the nature of Stephen. The insidious autonomously skewed recurrences and the bespoke reactions of each reader to them.
1 – 5
“It’s simple, mate. We take the cars I’ve got in the garage out. We put my car and the police car that ain’t really a police car in. Right at the back. Then we move all the other cars back in — tight up to his car, where he’ll be, by then. Up close tight enough so he can’t even open the door to get out. Then we can leave him there to sweat.”
Then we shall really HEAR sweat, I guess. And not just the sweat emanating from skipping ropes. And it gives a new slant on the name Bible Street Cars… And, then, in tandem, we relive the start of this whole book, where the entrance to Hell joke or fable now takes on a new meaning that may well change your perception of life itself when you think about it. Honestly.
1 – 10
“…that rattling grenade of an old truck had lumbered up behind her, squeaking on its axel, […], surely it had been better to flag it down, …”
I hereby flag up that it is Axel (sic) not as in Axl Rose, and not Axle as on vehicles. Flagging the truck down from the sky?
This is another mighty section of the book. Truly mighty!
Including a remarkable continuation of Dorothy’s backstory with the face on the hill’s village-termitary and the baby she rescued, a baby now grown into a woman stranger who seems to be a fan of her published books. And mention of men’s “sweaty” bodies. And what she discovered under the clothes of someone the identity of whom I dare not divulge. The drilling of another shoulder, this time by a young erection. And a type of “lunge” that women are taught in dealing with male attackers.
“; pissed on the truth; cabbaged on memories.”
“the wine is tasting her.” (The taste of taste?)
“, running is the sort of thing that gets noticed on cameras. HahH” (sic)
Hannah, the new HA of HA?
1 – 8
No quotes? This section is too powerful from which to quote. It would seem any quote from it that I chose would sully it somehow, as Dorothy herself was once sullied, at both ends so far of her life … by the same man? There is also something frightening about this and about this section’s disarming view of death as just popping out for a blue rinse, something paradoxically comforting, too. Parrydoxically, too. This book seems to make you address things in a new light and the reader receives a series of epiphanies as a result. Seeming absurdism as a now proven religion? I am glad this book hit me at this precise time in my life.
And, as perhaps a more trivial observation than those about death, Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings was actually already playing in this room when I encountered mention of this work in the text of this section! Must be some sort of sign?
Brave New Pulp, indeed.
Still about 200 pages to read!
1 – 2
1 – 6
“, now picking up a ledger which he tucks into his left oxter.”
Oxter is another word for armpit. I think of the earlier mention of Otrenxus, now as an anagram of oxter and sun, and the earlier “All creatures want to fly to the sun.”
And the oxter is the underbelly of the shoulder.
“— a conflation, a synchronicity; a chance.” I ask by imagining a ? at the end of that quote instead of a full stop.
Here we follow Sam(antha), and our empathising with her moment of panic at work; I remember panics at work that were so insurmountable, I wanted the ground to eat me up. Also amnesia here, instead of hyperthymesia. Sam is more in keeping with me…
There is later a sex scene – between which parties, I will not divulge – and it is one of the most successfully described scenes of passionate sex I can ever recall. And a review should warn those who need to be warned that this book has such scenes and other themes that you may not want to read. But they are part of the fabric of this book, without which this book would not be this book. Meanwhile, this section ends with an almost Hitchcockian cliffhanger of suspense….
“, it’s only carpet.”
From Trumplunge to de-luge…
EMPTIES, 4: ‘EARLY BLINKING’
1 – 4
FEAR IN FOUR WATERS, 4: THE DELUGE
1 – 8
“She can feel it; she holds her epee in her right hand, Z-ing the air like Zorro. She lunges again.”
From the 25 minute “lung-buster” distance at the end of the previous section, we reach Hannah with gas in a chamber “igniting her lungs”. Reminds me of my very recent viewing of the nine hour SHOAH. And she has travelled north from Bedfordshire but not far enough to warrant special mention exactly where. Except to say this chamber is a ‘sleep deprivation’ experiment. And we follow her into some version of a nemonymous sky, with her own epiphanies and catharses about what has been happening in this book.
“Above a beige canvas of sand Hannah soars; from here the desert floor appears flat,”
POSSIBLE SPOILER: Not only is Sam a diary for Hannah (as we were told near the start of this book), but also the book’s characters are diaries for the done-down dead who have become this book’s other characters connected to the living characters….Only Connect. HAnnAH HaHa NN. Marabar Caves / Passage to Egypt not India / Howard’s End / Piss on HPL’s grave
1 – 17
“Despite what Annette says (and thinks), she did not go to see James in his padded-cell quarantine.”
And Tom should know, with his experience of prisons.
This section becomes a long sprawling rainstorm of Biblical proportions in and around Bible Street Cars. A pre-denouement of sorts, where some of you sceptical readers of this review turn up as tantamount to young offenders to ogle corpses and generally mess about and spoil my review and nearly spoil this whole book! But I somehow sense they get their come-uppance. And these scenes do send my blood racing, with various resolutions and reconciliations of plot. And also, there is talk of a living gestalt of ‘stories’, including Whovian stun guns and a trusty screwdriver! Very much a Book worth Bookering …. even if some of you might claim it is also among the Montage of Books Worth Burning after Buggering!
“Through the rain it’s hard to breathe; as swiftly as my lungs will allow, I crabwalk around the parked cars,”
1 – 4
“Not only alone, but lonely in a world of classical music;”
And now I find out why I was earlier destined to synchronise with Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. Not that he is a favourite composer of mine. Which makes the whole situation even more remarkable, I suppose.
“Do you think places have souls, Dolly? I’ve been thinking of that a lot.”
Yes, I do, too. That’s why I have already in this review called the book’s Bedfordshire a genius loci.
And in the pub Annette and Dorothy compare existential parallels…or alternate parrydigms? It’s raining worse here than Warsaw. Elgar must have babbled of green fields. Or sad waters upon wooden hills?
1 – 7
“…what I see is not a bedroom. It is nature. It’s a scene comprising a slab of cardboard-coloured sky, which takes up fully three-quarters of my viewpoint.”
Not a bedroom, but Bedfordshire? Seen through one of Stephen King’s ‘Dark Tower’ doors. (Note: ‘Stephen’ in that reference). While one of them is trapped in the lounge, and the other staring mindlessly at this cardboard-coloured sky as another version of a nemonymous sky – or a horizon with wooden hills?
I arrive like Poirot or Miss Marple to thrash out all the facts with two of the characters or have I actually been Kolko the whole time? The gestalt real-time reviewer, as both IRRITANT and FACILITATOR, in the book being reviewed!
“, his lungs squeaking” or someone else’s?
“Why has Kolko chosen to divulge so much information now, when he’s been so tight-lipped and aloof for so long?”
To be Toby or not to be Toby. And if this book has slowly become vinegary plonk, it still tastes to me like the finest vintage. But, if so, who am I?
The taste of taste.
PART THREE: HANNAH / ENAMEL
1 – 4
“The path of sleep, it seems, is traced by an energetic gale which stretches the bones as it tugs the dreamer along.”
And my hawling, dreamcatching…is failing me.
I defy any reader to parse or construe these rarefied as well as crude prison scenes, involving, not piggy-back, but piggy-in-the-chest Stephen-Tom, and toilet routines of Roy in his cell. The subsuming interaction of mental troilism routines and more knowledge of prison lore than is good for anyone to know, I guess. This book takes you places no other book can. To understand it all is to know too much.
“If anything it was like a religion. In a way, my crimes have been my salvation.”
1 – 2
“legs in spastic arrhythmia — trying to run but not moving, as one runs in an anxiety dream.”
These incredibly vivid scenes with Dorothy and Annette in the pub and then by the canal – with the same or a recurrent rain’s deluge still in ominous onset or hopeful retreat – makes me think of the feeling of facing people who are not quite the people you expect to face, and makes me think not only of sharing dreams with another, but also sharing their death, even causing that death somehow without your volition or even with it. And so, somehow, this book’s old man was not someone whom I should have felt was after my own heart, nor someone with whom I could even empathise, but that I should now seek him out (even if he makes no further appearance in the diminishing remainder of this book’s pages) and at least share his death.
”It’s not a desert, though it appears of a uniform quality as far as her vision permits…It’s not sand. It’s not stone…It looks dry.”
Or is it “the crummy nature of her workroom carpet”?
Meanwhile, during this interaction between Sam and Hannah, I begin to see life as a prison from which we receive death’s parole or as an unknown homophone or word as parole in another language lost in translation, a translated parole as the gestalt of this book’s Stories of Stigmata….
1 – 2
“You can mess with minds so the people don’t see what they don’t want to see. Or what you don’t want them to see.”
Uncle Stephen (King?) speaking. Horror literature created simply to save you from worse? This is horror enough, though, here in Mathew’s gospel, regression to things even worse in your childhood than you already thought they were. But saving you from seeing what was EVEN even worse in actuality? Worse weather than Warsaw syndrome. Come back from or as the dead to tell you exactly what happened in Shoah. Thinking allowed.
1 – 3
1 – 3
Dorothy and Tom’s durable duel of narration, parry, lunge or feint.
Novel versus novel, taste versus taste.
No arbiter but me. And perhaps now (or soon), you.
“So thank you, girls, I know what was done to me when I was a child, and I know that I was attacked on the border between Poland and Germany.”
“Cold hands land heavily on Dorothy’s shoulders; their fingers sink into her skin. She imagines that her wound — where she once held a violin….”
“‘We can’t live in our memories for ever, Roy.’
‘Why not? Old people do.’”
“Overhead, stately and regally slow, a glider feeds through the air.”
We no longer have the tethers, our chosen dead to hawl. They still come perhaps to us, though, willy nilly.
1 – 2
“…and there are no Gates! There are no doors either:”
The choice is all mine, then. The duel is finally won.
A mighty experience of a book, and my summary end-evaluation is in fact the gestalt itself as represented by all the above on-going real-time evaluations, descriptions and interpretations (with sufficient gaps in which to sink spoilers). It is something else. It is everything else.
The wine was at its best, though, as gradually consumed towards the end, when the vinegar kicked in, on my lips. Its story of stories, then, dripping aslant to sting my shoulder’s stigma. Its eventual stream becoming a river of smarting consciousness seen in panoramic hindsight. All filtered through the fermented power of fiction at its word-dazzling optimum of literary alchemy, sometimes judiciously cut with a cruder vintage from our crazy times. Years ago, we affectionately thought some of my father-in-law’s homemade wine tasted like battery acid. Perhaps the sort used in Roy’s Bible Street Cars!
But now, after this marathon rite of passage, I am set, I guess, for quaffing a pint of Bedfordshire’s Best in the Lounge bar of The Leper.
“From the cosmic point of view, to have opinions or preferences at all is to be ill; for by harbouring them one dams up the flow of the ineluctable force which, like a river, bears us down to the ocean of everything’s unknowing. Reality is a running noose, one is brought up short with a jerk by death. It would have been wiser to co-operate with the inevitable and learn to profit by this unhappy state of things – by realising and accommodating death! But we don’t, we allow the ego to foul its own nest. Therefore we have insecurity, stress, the midnight-fruit of insomnia, with a whole culture crying itself to sleep. How to repair this state of affairs except through art, through gifts which render to us language manumitted by emotion, poetry twisted into the service of direct insight?”
from ‘The Avignon Quincunx’ by Lawrence Durrell (‘Constance’ 1982)
PS: Ferdinand de Saussure’s LANGUE and PAROLE (Lunge and Parry?). https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langue_and_parole
Just cross-referenced with a story by Celeste Ng:
Dreadnought Flex: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2018/08/08/dreadnought-flex-david-mathew/
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