THE BROTHEL CREEPER – Stories of Sexual and Spiritual Tension
by Rhys Hughes
Gray Friar Press 2011
Real-time Review continued from HERE.
One’s a Crowd
“I stood on the balcony and leaned into the darkness, poised above the curfew with my weakness.”
Now this is a Rhys-Hughesian masterpiece! I wish he’d write more like this one (despite me also loving his more characteristic ‘Truth Spinner’ conceit and philosophical wordplay style of ironic fantasy) – a seriously horrific Swiftian fable for our times: for the paranoiac loner, for the rebel, for the idealist, for a tellingly ambiguous mixture of these and for 2011’s summer riots (a few years after when this story was published) … yet tapping the ‘Truth Spinner’ ethos by means of a stunning concept relating to cosmic or astrological paranoia: and subtly echoing the divided donkey in the previous story as an emblem of ‘One’s a Crowd’. Heart-felt characterisation involving a ‘love’ relationship: echoing, too, this book’s core (authorial or mock-authorial) self-deception or self-hatred theme (so far) with “mistrustful of my own abilities” and “I was hiding from everything“. A story of Gaia, imbued with that earlier addiction to hope, but essentially a ‘dying fall’ in music terms. “I even locked the door leading onto the balcony and drew the curtains.” (15 Sep 12 – 9.10 am bst)
“…his dignity deflated like a dinghy ruptured on a swordfish nose.”
In contrast to the previous story, this is more in line with the author’s accretively extrapolatory logic-building towards a crystallisable land I shall call Absurdia – except here the ‘land’ is sea and those people in the sea use sex and lust to become ‘land’ or rather to become a living life-raft, or a lovecraft (my word not the story’s), even to become a ship to replace the ship that has just sunk. There are many things to enjoy in this story, concepts of ghost ships, a shark floating up as a wardrobe, voodoo dolls that weave satin dresses etc etc … But I had been led to expect this book to contain Rhys’s horror stories rather than his (admirable but often of an acquired taste) ironic extrapolatory fantasies. But no worries, this story is one of the best of the latter kind, probably creating more and more lovers of his fiction gradually bobbing up to the surface where we Absurdians live and play… Meanwhile, it does continue to give further voice to the book’s “paranoia regime” and to the sad maverick whose self-worth is merely in twisting paperclips into animal shapes when in the office. “…this negation of everything he had lived for gave him a perverse strength.” (15 Sep 12 – 1.35 pm bst)
Pyramid and Thisbe
“But vampires do not give birth to live young. They lay eggs, spherical and black as cracked leather.”
…one of which hatches out into a vampire called Desmond! Meanwhile, the horror here is not so much in the highly intriguing and extrapolatory horrific concepts of Vampire gestation-lore and a wild flight cosmoswards to compete with the conceptual intricacies in ‘The Ditching’ while trying to obviate some *real* ditching into a “silent and mindless void”, a void threatening such vampire creatures as it also threatens default-paranoiac human beings like us, I guess — yes, not so much horror in all that, but, for me, in the actual act of trying to imagine the type of person who could possibly write such a story as well as end it disarmingly with such utterly outrageous wordplay. I need a firewall between me and such a conception of an author with just a chink to peer through to savour his prose images surreptitiously as well as safely. (16 Sep 12 – 10.30 am bst)
[I note that, in relation to ‘Southbound Satin’ above, the words Absurdia and Absurdians already exist in a different context. I hereby change them to Absurface and Absurfacers by retrocausal decree.] (16 Sep 12 – 2.20 pm]
Is My Wife on Mars?
“It seemed an absurd talent to possess, the art of steering and reading.”
…like this act of real-time reviewing itself! Those who have read at least some of my RTRs will likely know what I mean by that. Meanwhile, all pretence has now been abandoned (at least at this early stage) as to this being a book of Rhys-Hughesian literature that may appeal to exclusive Horror Story readers. This tale is a cross between BS Johnson and Eugene Ionesco, I guess, designed for mad Absurfacers like me. A dadaistic ‘Uncle Conker makes my wife from martian mineral’ story, laced with semiquavering concupiscence. It sheds no light-motif at all, I’m afraid, on my previous conscientious gestating of a gestalt for this whole book and, indeed, I suspect I’ve been steering it into self-critical mayhem… “…she was both an alien surface and the implausible statue of herself on that surface.” (16 Sep 12 – 3.40 pm bst)
THIS REAL-TIME REVIEW NOW CONTINUED HERE.