The Adam S. Cantwell Story

“Hand-painted in rich and atrocious acid hues, it depicted the President in some historical mode of costume riding at the head of a horde in peaked helmets and armed with bows and curved swords. Around the border, scrolls and florets of a quasi-baroque type clashed with Islamic calligraphy.”
There are some stories that, however many times you read them (and you will understand why I have already read this one several times), will always produce something new, indeed something so radical as well as new, it becomes its own metamorphosis, preternaturally providing a literature that is akin to all great non-programmatic ‘classical music’ such as symphonic poems. This work relates to three of my favourite pieces, Sibelius 4 and 5, and Shostakovich 4, and a new, as yet unheard, symphonic poem that is ASIF it is this story as a symphonic poem itself. Hoards now become hordes, walls with faces like the first story and the endpapers and bookcover, a wall that is the orchestral performance that becomes its own music you conduct as the story’s reader as maestro, then, as conductor, cloying through it, towards a vision of Islamic history that has really only become obvious in the last year or so (a new state) since this story was first written before its publication in 2012?

Extract from my review here:


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