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Horror Without Victims

Editor’s post-publication commentary continued from: HERE – AND IT CONTINUES BELOW IN THIS PAGE’S COMMENT STREAM AS AND WHEN EACH STORY IS RE-READ.

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8 responses to “*

  1. Now the Pile and Scree: the brainstorming of the symbolic paths toward the matching of nightmares against other nightmares: ever on the brink of creating the curative optimum for those nightmares’ victims.

    hwved9

  2. In the Earth – Rog Pile
    “The positions and shapes of distant rocks possessed a disturbing familiarity, more like the remains of man-made things than natural formations. Clouds were gathering, banking high over the horizon and the hill. Shapes flitted among them, drifting, sometimes vanishing then re-emerging, vague and huge. They were silent.”
    I don’t want to force any story into my own audit trail of this book’s personal rite of passage. Each story is separate and independently written and submitted for the overall title of ‘Horror Without Victims’. ‘In the Earth’ is a genuinely great horror story, one that tells of a married couple living near a hill which is piled with household rubbish, freezers and so forth, all lodged precariously together like a vaster version of the mud-bones in the earlier Red House ….Sometimes, items tip over from this tip, without warning or obvious cause. This precariousness affects both the real and dream life of the couple: a symbol for our bereft times. And an embedded giant that is not part of the pile but in the Earth itself. There is, for me, a definite tutelary hope for all victims surrounding this vision, a hope that nevertheless does not affect the power of the story as a Horror Story, one that creeps the reader well out! No mean feat.
    None of “the same nonsense by Machen and Blackwood, Lovecraft and James” but something far more down to earth like Pile, something that also reaches for the stars in its own poignant way.

  3. Scree – Caleb Wilson
    “Clambering sideways across the churning, sliding rubble never seemed safe, but sometimes chance laid a firm path…”
    …feeling like the scree slope of this very real-time commentary and its audit trail to which I aspire!
    I have no idea of how to give you some idea of this new slope that is contiguous with the Pile one – at least contiguous in this book. It is sometimes like Rhys Hughes of whose work I have been a fan for many years, or Rhys Hughes is like Caleb Wilson’s work? I don’t think I have read any Caleb Wilson before but if this is anything to go by I shall be seeking out more such stuff by the mind that created this world of the scree and then slide down it with him, listen to his symphony of trombone and banjo, share a dinner party as we continue down the rubble, compare beards, fit keys into other keys into other keys (again a bit like my gestalt real-time reviewing I have been conducting from 2008), and even stand on his ‘exposed balcony’, above all, to bravely face the end of the scree slide where the maw awaits us…
    The language is wild-fire, the tone absurd, but the sense of place and purpose intact. But why it was chosen to appear in a book entitled ‘Horror Without Victims’ is a tougher nut to crack, I guess. It is as if we are all ever on this downward abrasive slope of ostensible jagged horror subsidence, but it’s best to exploit it not fight it. I shall in future call it the Stoicism of the Pile. And victims who are stoical are no longer victims…or at least till they stop being stoical!
    On the Scree, whether in fabulous lands like here or in the Red and Pink Houses or near a wasteland in urban UK.

  4. There is an image of a painting by Balthus here in a book I reviewed during October 2012.

    The Week of Four Thursdays – David V. Griffin
    “…a yellow that was darker than the darkest black. And then there was hot salt, and red, so much red, there was red everywhere, and the sidewalk was floating gently up to me, as delicately as a sheet of silk blown by a breeze.”
    A tale of an academic lecturer and the woman who haunts his tutorials, as shifting as that silk, with shades of Thomas Mann in the way civilisation falls apart like his Death in Venice and of Marcel Proust on the way characters meet and part, the unrequited days, the yearning and promise as they wander the art gallery. A story slightly connected with Griffin’s previous story in another anthology of mine (‘Violette Doranges’ that I did a commentary on here) and this new story is equally exquisite: sometimes figuratively withdrawing its offered hand coquettishly and sometimes more forward, more brazen with a decided disaster-SF feel of the city heading toward this book’s earlier Scree…..
    The image at the end of the painting as a real tableau vivant without the vivant is sublime, leaving any horror victimless or airbrushed out.

  5. In Dreams, You’re Mine – Jeff Holland
    “…sticks for legs poking out of the top to disappear beneath the dripping greatcoat. / But it was the mud that caught my attention, brown, sticky, gooey….”
    The stick bones and once sticky mud of the earlier Red House, and the ‘Point and Stick’ story, and the Holland narrator’s apparent tellingly random ‘he – it’ references to the scarecrow especially when in chance interface with the ‘she – it’ sexual phenomenon in the Morris story, a story that also contains a human scarecrow to my mind, one called Arliss – are, for me, added leitmotifs for the gestalt of this book.
    But as a separate brief essay on scarecrowisms and facing one’s self in dreams, I hope the Holland story grows on you as it certainly did on me after I heard the author read it aloud to an audience, an audience of which I was one. The scarecrow seemed somehow to be an archetype of victimless horror.

  6. Walk On By – Katie Jones
    “And finally, the creature was thrust out into the world. It came through the red tunnel of earth, with its bony hands that clawed at the dirt beneath it;….”
    A story of a creature, like Pile’s embedded giant, awakening with its own stick bones like a vast scarecrow, I guess, intent on what monstrousness such monsters do – then it sees a girl rider on her one-eyed bone-skinned horse, whose love for it dissipates the monster’s intent. Another tutelary monster then, which is encapsulated by this quite disarmingly neat short story. It just seemed perfect for this book.

  7. This real-time commentary will now continue HERE.

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