Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cream Cakes

Upon the sea’s horizon – a blue, cooler-than-before, but still-warmer-than-average morning at the tail-end of April – was a Thames Barge with taut-rigged sails calmly sliding from right to left. It was accompanied by the neat parades of the Gunfleet Windfarm turbines that did their best to remain visually fixed despite their involuntary conjuring-trick of moving along with the Barge in its fast decelerating wake.

Given free rein, one might have imagined a breakfast party on board. A honeymoon couple like Kate and William. Or a group of high-flying business-people trying to emulate various alternately loyal and disloyal permutations of Kate and William while travelling on this essentially working-class craft, bringing boredom nearer the edge...

Someone among them had brought along a box of cream cakes. Containing cream that was real fresh or clotted. In contrast, those synthetic, slightly sour, vaguely discoloured or metallic consistencies of the fillings in cream horns of a 1950s childhood in Lyons Corner Houses, where cakes were delivered on silver tiers along with infusions of best tea and a Max Jaffa ensemble of musicians, were a thing of the past. Today, all is authentic, even life itself. Any suspicion of imitation cream as well as imitation human behaviour would be concealed beneath various invisible layers of veneer. Even from where one stood on the promenade, one could just hear the shriek, as one munched on a cake that squirted cream into an eye, whether the eye was someone else’s or that of oneself. And, of course, there’s always one.

Here’s one for Kate. And a cake is raised as if in toast. And here’s one for William. And another cake raised this time as a clown might raise a cake in the shape of a custard pie poised upon the edge of slapstick. One for Harry. Another for Charles and Camilla as one. And a final one for Elizabeth and Philip, but this one is one of those double cream horns that someone at least recalls from the 1930s but no-one else can. Full of real cream. The past is full of real cream. Only the memories are synthetic and slightly bitter. If death can taste of anything at all.

Later, there is one abortive suffusion of sunset sparsely striated with charcoal-sketched oars of turning air. The Thames Barge finally slides into the side of the sea as its arcs of sail are blushing blood-coloured either from the promise of a distant dawn or from more royal squirts.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Crimson King and the Dark Tower

III. The Crimson King and the Dark Tower

“Some moments are beyond imagination.”

For me the perfect pre-Epilogue, pre-Coda ending for this book. So perfect in fact, I wonder if I shall ever forget this experience as a dark journey of self-blame or always remember it as my personal triumphant End-World, End-Life crystallisation in reading literature over 60 years? Anything else I happen to read before I die merely its coda? [It is remarkable that a book of mine that I've had on the stocks for nearly two years now (a second collection of my stories) and originally prepared for a certain Ex Occidente Press at their request: as my sort of last bow: and I then suggested to them the overall title 'The Last Balcony' that suddenly came to me on a discussion forum here. But I later erased that book unilaterally, a fact that is on record in several places.] I wonder if all great books like ‘Dark Tower’ are designed to be highly personal, highly bespoke to each reader. Also like Proust’s ‘In Search of Lost Time‘. [Which is perhaps, now, in hindsight, resonant with my Weirdtongue Palaver blog ("EEEEEEEEEEEEEE! YOU! DON'T DARE MOCK ME! YOU DON'T DARE! EEEEEEEEEEEEE!") posted by me this morning on another subject.] And the ‘Lost Time’ in Roland’s last watch. And, meanwhile, Patrick’s pencil sketch being suffused now with a plucked or dry-twisted-out rose is, as an imagination-leap, almost too sublime to bear. And, meantime, again, today, on St George’s Day, I surely can’t pass over this unexpected quote in this chapter: “It’s his eyes, Roland thought. They were wide and terrible, the eyes of a dragon in human form.” (23 Apr 11 – another 90 minutes later)

All my reviews - of DARK TOWER by Stephen King

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Tet Breaks

The Dark Tower (vol VII) by Stephen King

Part Two

XII. The Tet Breaks

Publicly reviewing piecemeal in real-time one’s first reading of a fiction book is a special experience, making the reading even more significant. I have never read The Dark Tower books before (although I have read most of its Writer’s other fiction as it came out from ‘Carrie‘ onwards). I somehow never fancied reading DT, until realising I hadn’t done so and wondering why, having just admitted this fact on the official Stephen King internet forum a few months ago, after real-time reviewing ‘Full Dark, No Stars’. The act of having now created a duty to report back here upon each of my readings (usually of whole chapters) accentuates a certain soul in these books that pre-existed (Jungianly? By todash?) a consequently discovered ‘coincidental-kindred’ soul in myself. Indeed, the sadness of this particular chapter is enhanced (made even sadder) by this actively public real-time approach. And I can empathise with the book’s next journey to find its Writer – and to preserve the Beam that brought me to this chapter today for the first time. And I can also empathise with those who have been stopped in their tracks from sending out Wolves (quite innocently?) to bring back Calla children for sucking out their brains as part of a different process to stop that very process of bringing me each day (almost religiously) to these books. I can’t explain it. Whatever the case, I shall follow the Path that Sheemie’s brave, almost kamikaze, efforts created for transporting me (in more senses of that word than one) back to the Keystone World of Writing. Leaving any residual, selfishly-unpenitent Thunderclappers on their Tea Breaks. And, meantime, from that riddling-ridiculous to a sobbing-sublime, I can now ponder upon Susannah and her own terribly mournful mission. And, so, here I am telling you about it having just pondered it for the first time in the last hour or two when absorbing the words I’d never read before today. Makes it somehow an actual experience of life shared as well as lived, rather than a lonely experience of merely reading a book or kindle quietly in my study. (19 Apr 11 – another 2 hours later)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Notes from the Gingerbread House

The Dark Tower (Novel VII)

Part Two

VIII. Notes from the Gingerbread House

"It's a place outside of time, outside of reality. I know you understand a little bit about the function of the Dark Tower; you understand its unifying purpose. Well, think of Gingerbread House as a balcony on the Tower: when we come here, we're outside the Tower but still attached to the Tower."

I have, for me, some very important information to impart on a personal level and I trust you agree. This chapter ends with the significance of the Writer - of Stephen King or 'Stephen King' - and of saving him from his becoming roadkill before the Beams are Broken, i.e. to cut a long story short into words that probably don't convey the true sense of what you would gain by reading the long story itself. In any event, tied up with that (as it has been throughout all these books) is the persistence of no. 19 in various places, and in words and names. And I've just realised that my own full name DESMOND FRANCIS LEWIS on my birth certificate is made up of 19 letters! I can't explain what a striking revelation it has been in realising this today. Also, incidentally, my definitive collection of stories is THE LAST BALCONY, perhaps replete with relevant synchronicities and still semi-aborted fruition. And, so, I must don my 'thinking cap'......

My full review of all THE DARK TOWER books by Stephen King linked from here: http://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/my-real-time-reviews-of-stephen-king-the-dark-tower-etc/