Monday, May 22, 2017

Terror Tales of Cornwall

 

Terror Tales of Cornwall

IMG_3213Telos Publishing 2017
Edited by Paul Finch
Stories by Mark Morris, Ray Cluley, Reggie Oliver, John Whitborn, Paul Edwards, Jacqueline Simpson, Paul Finch, Mark Valentine, Kate Farrell, D.P. Watt, Stephen Jordan, Adrian Cole, Mark Samuels, Sarah Singleton, Ian Hunter, Thana Niveau.
When I review this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

17 thoughts on “Terror Tales of Cornwall

  1. Unusually, for a specific reason, I do not start with the first story in the book, but I will take them in order hereafter.
    MOON BLOOD-RED, TIDE TURNING by Mark Samuels
    “I was only twenty-four, and when I think of myself as I was then, I realise how much of a stranger that younger man appears to me now. The memory of his hopes, his dreams, his view of life, all fill me with contempt. He would hate this future self, and regard me as a usurper.”
    A story that had, right from the start, an aura – via the male narrator working in his relative youth at the Samuel French theatrical publishers – of Reggie Oliver, and at the end, I finally saw that the story is dedicated to Reggie.
    A satire dealing with tradition versus experiment in the theatre, the time-bending journeys from London to Cornwall, a vaguely unrequited romance with a woman who gets her own negative requital at the end, the nice touch of a Powysian amphitheatre built into a Cornish cliff, and a reprise of Dr Prozess from another new story that I read recently.
    I was rather taken with the Brechtian drama production that induced audience alienation. I wish I could have seen it.
  2. WE WHO SING BENEATH THE GROUND by Mark Morris
    ‘… do any damage, would we?’
    This is honest-to-goodness, well-written horror, cleansing my clotted tongue or palate of the last few months’ reading and reviewing. First a goodly atmosphere of a Primary School classroom and its badinage. Stacy now divorced has brought her teaching skills from the city to outlying Cornwall, and a conscientious journey ensues to check on a No Show pupil after Show and Tell day…
    Something came up by itself, I guess. Hawled up, in gradations of giantism and amorphous meatiness. But that gives you no sat-nav towards the ultimate nature of this tale.
  3. IN THE LIGHT OF ST IVES by Ray Cluley
    “Cornwall, almost entirely surrounded by coastline, belonged more to the sea than it did the rest of the country. Britain’s tentative foot dipping its toe towards the North Atlantic.”
    Cluley never disappoints. Here, a telling portrait of St Ives and its artists, and of two sisters, one here to paint herself into madness or to paint madness out of herself, leading to traumatic events, but I wondered from the start which sister is the one rescuing and which sister being rescued. Soot and ashes into the colours of fire, or vice versa. Who chiaro, who oscuro? Childhood seeping into adulthood, sororal seeping as symbiosis, too. A Van Gogh or Picasso into words.
  4. I recently read and reviewed the next story in the author’s latest collection and this is what I wrote about it in that context:-
    ———————————
    TROUBLE AT BOTATHAN by Reggie Oliver
    “I was struck even more by a feeling of fragmentation in the writer,…”
    …as I was struck by this writer in the shape of the first-person narrator. Until I was sort of confirmed in this at the end, lending even myself the reader a fragmentation without, for once, its eventual natural gestalt…
    On the face of it, a frightening ghost story with a rationale of why the ghost haunts where it haunts, a tale of an elitist, not snobbish, retreat in an academic-historied house as refuge called eponymously the Place, in the vicinity of Launceston and Bodmin Moor. A momentous inhibition as our narrator finds himself alone in the surrounding wilds when he should be acting sociably or listening to a talk on Beethoven. Hands all over him in a creepy field near a rill he imagines flowing to an empty Hell. I can give you no further clues, for fear of spoilers, other than a diary he thinks he was meant to find on the well-characterised library shelves in this genius loci of various places, the house and the paralysing field, a diary by a young female for this equally young narrator to read – as if the Place is a bin as well as where he’s bin himself, too, or about to go to. A party of kindred spirits?
    This book is full of, not found art, but found documents. The prose is admirably workmanlike and beautifully inspired, but eschews art (other than its story-title illuminations). Hume sweet Hume. ” the absence of all presence…”
  5. ‘MEBYON VERSUS SUNA’ by John Whitbourn
    “The Wife disapproved. Women can be so … sensible.”
    This, for me, is a hilarious extrapolation on Hard Brexit, with many delightful idiomatic turns of phrase that helped me leapfrog the hard borders between my absurdist sense of humour and my sophisticated literary soul and my love of horror stories, daring me to jump them one by one, as I followed the male protagonist — metaphorically as well as literally straddling the ancient hard border of Cornwall and England — as he faced the plagues of being told he “had better get over it” and of the forced typos in his writing job, of hauntings by red eyes and genealogical terrors of nationality and of things falling on his head and, of course, of marital differences with his wife, “Which here, on this soil, in this place, was trumps.” But which place? And which of those various plagues?
  6. THE UNSEEN by Paul Edwards
    “There were no gore effects; the camera always panned away or the screen blacked out before it could get interesting.”
    Interesting use of the word ‘interesting.’
    A tale of a man in marital attrition, a man who recorded over his wedding video when he needed a blank cassette, collects gory snuff like films, finds a rare one without an ending. Atmospheric film, reasonable acting, so interesting, but the gore dodged. Following on-line research, he is brought to a greater understanding of the film’s interest. Plain-spoken text, initially compelling, latterly less interesting in its closing scenes, but I can empathise with those readers who would find this tale more interesting than I did. The snowstorm would have been just as interesting to me.
    By the way, there are many interesting-looking essays on Cornish legends etc. among the fiction in this book. I only read and review fiction, though.
  7. …and the next story seems to add to those intermediary legends, so as to draw lies from leys, and for vipers to be added to vipers…
    DRAGON PATH by Jacqueline Simpson
    ‘”OK, OK, it’s listen-with-mother time, if that’s how you want it. Sitting comfortably, pet?’”
    …except, here, with a pair of heterosexual couples touring Cornwall, one of the men an avid follower of local legends, and his wielding of legends soon seem not to be lies but retributions upon retributions for the other three lying about such legends as lies, and his evolving a single singular vast ley line between fiction and reader, and those in that fiction. Each word an adder to the next word? Logos to logos, legend to legend.
    Well written, and thought-provoking, if based, with traditional horror style machinations, on legends that I cannot believe.
    I’ll now just sit here comfortably and see what happens to me.
  8. THE OLD TRADITIONS ARE BEST by Paul Finch
    A genius loci of Padstow whose ‘clacking’ legends are caricaturised through the eyes of a 16 year old city delinquent male taken there, ostensibly, for probationary rehabilitation. Compelling on the obsessive level of our viewpoint within his burglaring tendencies and his increasingly frantic ability to negotiate the headlands and rocks of a Cornish coast, and its own methods of such rehabilitation!
    I couldn’t help feel sorry for him, though. I don’t know if I was meant to.
    And is the title true?
  9. THE UNCERTAINTY OF ALL EARTHLY THINGS by Mark Valentine
    “You are only aware that some sense you hardly knew you possessed is telling you that here there are secrets. And of course you want to find out more, while being unsure that you should.”
    Is Sancreed a sanctuary or somewhere beyond?
    MV is another author by whom I am never disappointed, and this is one of my favourites of the many works of his that I have read, as it turns out. A male greenhorn museum curator in this part of Cornwall, meets a church-panel sketching woman (who perhaps becomes an even bigger mystery than the overt transcendent mystery they both address as the main story). Think MR James near, but not too close, to the brink of chick lit. And a type of visionary scene gestalted or gestated within the genius loci of landscape that you perhaps can only find in this author. But one that reminded me surprisingly of the transcendent vision in the Jacqueline Simpson story. Always uncertainty in all spear-distaff interfaces, I guess.
    “I spent some time, indeed, trying to make out patterns and parallels between the symbols, but they kept their mystery.”
  10. HIS ANGER WAS KINDLED by Kate Farrell (and HERE)
    “It was a miserable space, untouched by a woman’s hand for some years, though he felt he managed well enough.”
    “They always seemed to be producing collages of biblical characters, angels, prophets, nativities. Suffer the little children who no longer came unto him, he thought.”
    Not so much Dylan Thomas’ Milk Wood and its ‘Bible Black Darkness’ but a Cornish version, whence, by now, the tourists from Colchester have returned to Colchester, leaving this place unsullied, and its ageing Reverend in denial about his church community, his handiwork with children’s paper and scissors games, and a vision I shall not forget of the backs of his mustered congregation in this his holy place, the church, rectory and grounds, mustered against the arrival of a disposable Church Commissioners representative….
    And, oh yes, the significant smell of “rotting potatoes”.
    A kindle now fully kindled.
  11. FOUR WINDOWS AND A DOOR by D P Watt
    “It didn’t quite happen like that. It never does.”
    I am a great admirer of the works of D.P. Watt, but, if you read my various reviews of them linked above, you will see, he did disappoint me once. I thought, at its start, that this new work by him was due to disappoint me, too, an utterly plainspoken depiction of a modern family, married couple with a son and daughter, typical bickering while on holiday in Polperro, plus an over-dependence on modern technology, the main character, the father, having humdrum jobs that subsumed his whole life so he could look after his family…
    It didn’t quite happen like that. It never does.
    IT never does, too.
    Unless I imagine the story’s development, it took a new slant, a new Madeline mystery, an aching overhang of ordinary things become strange and threatening. And an attrition, via a cosmic transcendence worthy of this book, towards one of the most powerfully oblique endings you are likely to meet. If I give you more details of what I remember reading, it would not quite happen like that. It would remain modern-dreary and Dead Pan.
  12. CLAWS by Steve Jordan
    I love this archetypal seaside amusement arcade, one past its finer days, if it had finer days at all, which I doubt. I should know, having lived in Clacton for the last 20 odd years. This is an arcade’s Cornish edition of my Essex one, and glad to see such arcades do not differ across the breadth of the country, claw cranes hand in hand, coast to coast. This Cornish one even features machines based on TV programmes that I used to watch regularly and enjoy (seriously): Corrie and Deal or No Deal. One of my arcades has a life-sized stand-up image of Noel Edmunds at the door, by the way.
    This is crude bad horror at its well-written best. And I respect it.
    One negative note, though. I imagined the arcade-quality level of this book’s front cover decking a shoddy mermaid-themed bagatelle in this story’s flipper-machine ranks.
  13. A BEAST BY ANY OTHER NAME by Adrian Cole
    I am afraid I couldn’t get on with this story of conversational info-dump, murder, subterfuge, Cornish mines and a black panther masquerading as the Beast of Bodmin, and various retributions from the distant past and greed. The main villain Ransome reminded me of Trump. But I did wonder whether Harrower and Herrera being similar names was significant. Still giving me pause for thought.
  14. THE MEMORY OF STONE by Sarah Singleton
    “He could spectate from the high tower of his brain as his body was searched and manipulated.”
    A powerful story. In fact I have never read before of such an overpowering crush, such an awakening of lust in an otherwise respectable married man for a younger woman. A crushing downfall, eventually.
    And when aligned with the intermittent ‘found art’ in his Cornish refuge, and the imagined or real perpetrators of such random configurations, this becomes a special work. The catharsis of self, whether needed or not, whether deserved or not.
    Beautifully expressed. The hornish ‘manopause’, notwithstanding. Or the finale’s manipulation as communal healing masturbation?
    This author’s work appeared in Nemonymous Two in 2002.
    My own recent ‘found art’ as memories of stones: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/todays-found-art-7/
  15. SHELTER FROM THE STORM by Ian Hunter
    “‘It’s as crazy an idea as someone being buried with the name of a disease written on their chest. Some warning, Juggs. Who’s going to read it down here?’”
    The proof of something being readable is someone reading it. Juggs read it, after collapsing through a jagged coffin in a lonely and ruined Cornish church in the sleet and snow, as three laddish adolescent scouts, including Juggs, get lost and seek shelter here, while on a circular or triangular ‘practise walk’ back to Port Isaac.
    This is not a practise story; it is an accomplishedly workmanlike one. At times compelling like a boy’s own yarn, and with a genuine honest-to-goodness frisson of terror at one point. What more can you ask? The proof is upon having read it at all where it’s put.
  16. LOSING ITS IDENTITY by Thana Niveau
    ‘For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
    it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.’
    Will had taught her that quote.
    ‘By e e cummings,’ Miranda said with a touch of pride. ‘See? There’s nothing wrong with my memory.’
    Cummings as a name was first used in this book by the Cole story……just one example of so many hidden paths between stories, not even a gestalt can cover or uncover them. A book gaining its identity, only to lose it at the end, a Prozess from the very beginning of this review. A neat ending, too, echoing the vanishing of a weather system in shipping forecasts. Brilliant. Especially with Cornwall having so much coast in comparison to its overall size. More edge than Hell, I guess.
    This telling story as a coda to this book, telling of Miranda – not much older than myself – and her overweening daughter Tressa, and the widowing by her once and still beloved Will, and the Lost Moon cove near Tintagel, and the bones of the ocean, stripped to the bare bones of a sea-Niveau, a sea-level beyonded by weather or a mind’s weather, a Dunwich in Cornwall, as a lowering to those revealing levels of either global glitch, towards a new moonscape or a dementia tax on her bereavement or a symbol of her mind going and cumming. Or all of these things and more as gestalt.
    end

 

    Ornithology



    ORNITHOLOGY – Sixteen Short Stories by Nicholas Royle

    IMG_3227
    Cōnfingō Publishing 2017
    My previous reviews of this author: HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.
    In due course, I shall real-time review this enticing book and, when I do, my thoughts will appear in the thought stream below…

    32 thoughts on “ORNITHOLOGY – Sixteen Short Stories by Nicholas Royle”


    1. MURDER
      310281_651521371529746_221790309_nThis picture came up this morning on a Four Year Facebook Memory, which I re-shared, because I felt it was appropriate to this story, this RedRum of Crows. Strange the way I have read and re-read this story piecemeal in the last few days, not my wont at all, because I usually read a story then straightaway report on its effects as a first reading. But, equally unusually, I have been away while reading it, in Hull or Hole or Hell; my Facebook friends will know about this as it has been trending on my timeline. A foursome with my wife’s sister and husband. A short break for my wife and me, and them – and the story took on the rhythm of my reading of it, as I joined the story’s own foursome, a foursome of academic couples on a holiday in the wilds of Ireland, or was it a sixsome of couples? A conversation, if not a murder, of books and old-trendy films – and I vaguely recall a mountainous black pit, and a glimpse of a bird’s smile. Highly effective and haunting for me. A black circle seems the perfect image of a bird with a spinning blackness of wings. One with a fleeting scarlet smile?

    2. THE OBSCURE BIRD
      “It was a railway line in the first place.”
      I read and reviewed this story when it first came out in 2010 and, a few weeks ago, I copy-and-pasted that original review here for another rare ornithology of stories. I have now taken the unusual action of re-reading a story for a real-time review, it now being the bird’s third time I have encountered it. A coughed-up pellet or just another tweet? The nature of the pyjamas shocked me – and with railtrack stripes?
      I had not remembered the ending. Or I never fully understood ‘The Obscure Bird’ the first time I read it? But now I have.

    3. JIZZ
      “He put the bird book back and switched the lamp off.”
      A deadpan ‘Report on Probability A’ as if written by Aickman not Aldiss, but essentially as if written by an independent sat nav in the sky, as we are eased into watching three guests and their dog approach a hotel in France, and we learn more and more about them, and the other guests, and why, for example, the next day might involve a self-made barbecue rather than a hotel meal. The main protagonist gathering on holiday of three involves two sisters, and it was with two sisters I just holidayed in Hull. So the easing came with some recognitions. And a bird book about their ‘jizz’, that rings with something dirty, in my mind, as well as with what the bird book says it means, stationed near a book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, as it is. I say easing, but this is a story that is very disturbing, as the patterns evolve gradually, even from the point of view of the dog. One such pattern aligned, for me, with what was previously in this book’s railtrack-striped babygro or was it pyjamas? Or tram tracks? Patterns of points of view, disparate and discrete, even discreet. Packed with a power that is none of these things.

    4. STUFFED
      “I take the Angela Carter, Robyn Davidson’s Tracks and Rudolph Wurlitzer’s Slow Fade and shelve them with the Picadors.”
      I had a dream recently that I saw a Facebook photo of this author’s huge shelved collection of Picador books. This work seems to me to be stuffed with what that same dream was made on, but now it is in a real book, not a dream, and with Penguins, too, and other paperbacks making up a paperback library he has been collecting over many years. And a tutelary JAY, a wife or girl friend called JEN who buys him an OWL ornament, but this ornament later reminds me of coming alive with the ‘twisted neck’ revolution of the man’s head in THE OBSCURE BIRD, and arguably of a sort of ‘counterparts’ reciprocation portrayed in this author’s LONDON and DISPOSSESSION works…as if a bird’s two eyes are mirror images of each other across the street… except an OWL’s eyes are flat frontward?
      This story, meanwhile, is so beautifully deadPAN.

    5. PINK
      “The jay twitched, flicked its tail. Still Geoff watched it.”
      IMG_3272This hauntingly paranoiac tale of a maritally-estranged twitcher with an obsessive search for a certain bird, a bird, I guess, with a pinking sound, was further accentuated by the fact I could see, through my lounge window, where I am reading this book, the peacock that has been haunting this area for the last week or two, now perched on a neighbour’s roof, silhouetted like a vulture, tail trailing down the slope of tiles. It’s still there. Its cry similar.


    6. THE BEE-EATER
      “You get dressed up, made up. Turquoise bracelet, abalone pendant, peacock shimmer.”
      This is a truly affecting story for me, as it not only deals with the pelleting and naming of birds and a know-it-all neighbour called JON, but also my own PSA anxieties and endemic nocturia. Those anxieties actually did bear fruit in recent years….with beautifully coloured plumage, as I sort of imagined it….
      And we once had to get the pest-controller in for a plague of mining-bees in our back garden.



    7. GANNETS
      “They’ll appear very close to each other, but of course are millions of miles apart.”
      Two planets, like the side-eyes of a bird, counterparts…?
      This is another telling story, this one of marital or lovers’ loyalty, observations in astronomy as the most selfish of hobbies when you need to share a telescope in turn, rather than half a couple’s eyes, his the left, hers the right, simultaneously pressed like mirror images of each other to the eyepieces of binoculars? Cf the earlier jay and owl.
      Foreshortening, and the wilds of Ireland again, and that earlier black circle deep in the sight?
      On the brink of a gannet’s greed or selfishness, but pulling back at the last moment….
      Fruit on a wire.

    8. THE LARDER
      “Where do those doors lead?”
      A photo that I took in Beverley (near Hull) a few days ago –
      IMG_3277
      Another insidious journey by a male narrator as part of a mating couple, intermittently so in her flat, and the bookmark in the book he’d given her entitled ‘The Observer’s Book of Birds’…
      Just for the record, I more often than not listen, over the years, to ‘Tweet of the Day’ on Radio 4 at 6 a.m. just before ‘Today’ starts each weekday morning. This morning was no exception. It was the ptarmigan’s turn. Not the shrike’s. Synchronicity does not always work.
      I hope to read the next ‘story of the day’ from this observer’s ornithology book tomorrow.

    9. THE GOLDFINCH
      “I’m crossing the tram tracks… […] …travelling all over her scalp like railway tracks.”
      Tumours as stalkers overseen by collectives of various birds, until the final twitch of the nub bird (the gold at the foot-inch end of the rainbow plumage?)… Tumours, too, as classroom aids for children to visit…. Or the tumour as the doppelgänger self returned from a wishful earlier more accidental-palliative death to be your real non-accidental and painful death today…. The bad penny always returns, as in the stated Bartók syndrome here, even with a twitch as click or pecking on your favourite recording of the fourth string quartet: a sort of Pinkie’s ‘jacket jacket jacket…’ sound calling you back…
      A grim and endlessly interpretable work.
      “People change,’ she said.
      ‘Oh, no they don’t. Look at me. I’ve never changed. It’s like those sticks of rock: bite it all the way down,….”
      ― Graham Greene, Brighton Rock


    10. It was there again first thing when I got up, silently peering up at the letterbox in my front door… but it is currently absent as I read the next story in Ornithology –
      IMG_3291
      THE KESTREL AND THE HAWK
      “On the other side I walk up into the dunes barefoot, avoiding the thistles that sprout among the marran grass and sea spurge.”
      I mentioned ‘spurge’ in a concurrent review yesterday.
      A strikingly depicted island overflown by jets, often populated by tourists at the cafes, and we later watch through the narrator’s telescope the pilots boarding – including Prince William in training for jets or helicopters?
      A memorable pen picture of a waitress, too, with grey eyes like the story’s eponymous birds.
      Deliciously pointless. Delicious because I simply know it does have a point. The point of being read by myself today. Or a point I have missed. Or a point that will only develop in the final gestalt of this book, once clinched by hindsight.
      Assuming hindsight ever ends?

    11. THE LURE
      “….similar to a sleep mask but with eyes painted on to it.”
      This substantive story is its own reader’s lure, a spinning of clues and leitmotifs until you snatch at its meaning as if it is prey needing destruction, as the implications otherwise will continue circling around ready to grab YOU as prey instead. Not so much this book’s earlier black circle, but a new circle line in Paris, a Metro whereby you follow meticulously the direction of its flow, counterflow, byways, and junctions, without the help of the Harry Beck map. Always meeting the same man with his dog on a train. Strange they call dogs who help the blind blind dogs.
      An English English teacher in Paris whom a married French woman English teacher in the same school befriends, more than just suggestively. She drops her English aitches. Freud, the Male Gaze, Falconry, the Oedipus Complex, and there ensues a right Royle scenario of a wallpapered-over ‘counterpartism’ (my word) between rental digs, one that sends your head spinning with this story and the context provided by other works from this author. And the busty ladies at the top of stairways.
      Are all sleep masks perforated at the eyes, I ask? Another context, perhaps another author, mentioned in this book’s context elsewhere? The short-arse ‘bath’, notwithstanding. And the Paris cinema screening of ‘Clockwork Orange’ focussing this as being within the pre-mobile phone era of time. But when there was also a radio station playing jazz all the time?
      I’d suggest, meanwhile, that this could be the Royle classic among classics.
      “Its flexible neck allowed it to turn its head almost all the way around while its body remained still.”
      And two destinations, one you know is worse than the other, but which is which? And you don’t really know how to reach EITHER of them, map or not!

    12. THE NIGHTINGALE
      “It’s funny how you can think that two birds, just because they happen to be flying at the same speed and altitude for a brief moment in time, always have done and always will. How quickly they dart away from one another and fly in alarmingly different ways.”
      …like these stories as flighted birds into your brain, all different, all with their own eye-opening faces, yet a singular originality spreading through: an evolving gestalt. I can safely say each story is a unique experience in reading, each to be savoured separately before thinking about them with some central soul, later infecting each other, like the counterpartism in this particular story (female counterpartism this time), via a remarkable vision of “computer rape”, “hacked out”, a central screen saver, external drives (external in ways I will not divulge here), all within a story originally published BEFORE all these things were possible or arguably even predictable, before even mobile phones were as common as they are now. A scenario that treats of chick lit relationships in an age of our erstwhile youth, when Tessa was an Asset.

    13. THE BLUE NOTEBOOKS
      “I returned the blue notebook and looked at the walls of my own library, but it was like staring down the wrong end of a telescope.”
      A telescope thus potentially has two eye-sights.
      This work contains a Cornucopia of Birds, a Cornucopia, too, of their Collective Nouns.
      Blended with Borgesianisms and Borgesian libraries. The sky-soaring of a writer, but with ambitions never clinched by that hindsight?
      We all have our personal syndromes of mental and physical health, I guess.
      But who did it? Who wrote it? The eventual ephemeral victim’s shape is in chalk or birdlime? Or a shadow cast by eternal wings?

    14. LOVEBITES
      “…his own neck, a rippling craquelure caught by the camera’s indifferent gaze.”
      A lure, nevertheless.
      This is a strong overt horror story cast by dystopic SF warming. A warning, too. Yet, I sense self-harm turned into collective cornucopic harm, even with the vampire finches, gold at the end of the rainbow plumage, with these words trying to inveigle themselves towards my own comfort stop, my own compartment of life. Here is a gif for Facebook Friends of the peacock trying to entice itself into my domain. Its screeching squawks, if not Trumpish tweets, continued to echo in my area this very early morning as I lay awake in bed, not awoken by it, but already awake. Which the self, which the vampire counterpart?

    15. The final story I reviewed here in 2010, repeated from back then as follows….
      =========================
      The Children by Nicholas Royle
      “There was no thunder or lightning, but the fat summer rain fell like a torrent of ball bearings.”
      Having just empathised – from my own experience – with a stay in hospital, I now empathise – through literary osmosis – with a holiday abroad: sun-loungers, cocktail bars, kids’ rooms, swimming pools, hearty men high-fiving after a game of volleyball, rules and regulations packaged for increased ‘enjoyment’ and so on. It is even more frightful than the hospital stay! A Horror story simply from describing something people do for pleasure.
      There is an element of Robert Aickman fiction here, too, and there can be no greater compliment if I say it matches up with some of his best stories. And I do.  But it is also original with lumpiness set in contrast with sharp ambient electricity. Things about crows and parents with surrogate adoptees. An inscrutable ending that makes you believe you know exactly what has happened that only nightmares usually make you believe till you wake up. If you wake up.
      There’s a ‘Spinalonga’ about this story, too. And a swordfish that is perhaps the key to pick the lock of inscrutability? Beautifully written, including one remarkable long sentence about sparrows whose acrobatic display is like the language used to describe it. (9 Apr 10 – another 2 hours later)
      ====================================
      If you wake up, sleep mask or not. Or back from the dead, by thus spinning the lure or black circle or gestalt retrocausally?
      This book is a cōnfingō of avianisms. It is utterly utterly unmissable, whether you like it or not.
      end