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A CAGE FOR THE NIGHTINGALE by Phyllis Paul
The Sundial Press
Real-Time Review continued from HERE

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Twenty-Six
“– candles placed there she could not imagine in what spirit, for she could make no contact with such minds as these.”
A pre-police Poirot, as it were, investigates (Dr.Con’s eventual raison-d’etre?) — particularly investigating the House’s openings, sash windows, fastening, screws, nails, wherefrom each of us leaves for whatever purpose. And the implications of sexual affairs and other plot items of “suppressed fury” and “secret fierceness“.  I dare not say more, for fear of spoilers regarding the still delayed shock that has beset the house and its denizens, so the rest of this review — for what I foresee as the book’s extended coda (even, apocrypha!)  — may be more by my hints than outright statements – just like the book itself! Suffice to say, if you’re not already in my tiny coterie of co-readers, do yourself a mixed favour. Read it and see for yourself. Only few books come along where once you enter its covered-board pages or its house of leaves, you will find it hard to leave (even by its figurative windows or doors, open or not)… But I still harbour retrocausal hopes (albeit sometimes confused or desperate): “Confusedly, she perceived how the features of an angel could still be traced in a defiled countenance,…” (7 Oct 12 – 10.25 am bst)

Twenty-Seven, Twenty-Eight, Twenty-Nine, Thirty
“Beliefs valid in the night-time were perhaps not quite so entire and perfect in the light of the sun.”
…including the times of day you choose to read the chapters of this book, I have found! This book and the people in it are ‘economical with the truth’, in different ways. Me, too, in this ongoing review. The coda or apocrypha of the ‘Poirot”-type debriefing – the furtive  motivations, the guilt complexes, the self pity, the arguments, the cynical or mercenary pragmatism, even the opening of the Christmas presents as a possibility in the circumstances. The darkness’s sights of shapes and poses seen by the daylight’s memory. A glove as objective correlative of this whole whodunit. And the House’s neighbour, Henry,  in JCPowysian flashback-communion with his implicated misdeeds in conjunction with the landscape: “a sewer spate” of “pagan joy and guilty conscience”. (7 Oct 12 – 12.30pm bst)

Thirty-One, Thirty-Two
“…and it was perhaps only because of the sequel…”
A series of retrocausally mental role-plays by some characters make me tussle anxiously with what actually did happen along night’s ‘dark path’ while I was asleep precisely between my reading of one chapter before going to bed and my reading of the next chapter after having got up this morning. In fact could I possibly be held to blame by leaving it when I did, leaving this house of leaves, if temporarily? “A succession of little gusts, like the flappings of a carpet, […] Through those leaves, shudder after shudder ran.” (7 Oct 12 – 2.00 pm bst)

Thirty-Three, Thirty-Four
“She could hear voices, and people walking about upstairs, their feet loud on the bare boards;…”
From carpets to bare boards … from one fire to another fire as the novel’s bookends; you see, leaves can burn so easily – these final two chapters not a catharsis so much as a coda/apocrypha’s coda/apocrypha!  A ‘natural noose’. A ‘dying downwards’, fraught with the devil consciousness of Earth’s nemonymous  Gaia. John Cowper Powys’ ‘Glastonbury Romance’ soul, laced with that of Frances Oliver’s ‘Ghosts of Summer’ and Elizabeth Bowen’s ‘House in Paris’…not derivative cause and effect between books or authors but cosmic osmosis cross-sectioning time itself. The house and its ‘padded door’, anxious openings, claustrophobic closures: a building’s unclear motivations, to match those of Dr.Con! And even in these closing desperate straits of the book, things still seem dulled, inoculated, in slow-motion, but with enough passageways’ draught-channels to feed fire. Meanwhile, I feel in tune with the house’s  neighbour as co-reader, a coterie of two, as he also tussles with guilt-ridden resolutions similar to mine. Each of us a Proustian self of the other.  I have never been an autonomous character in a fiction book before – till now. A book that lives on by being ever liable to repeated unravelling and no doubt requiring further turning or unturning of the screw in its window upon literary infection, while ever transcending the Gothic as well as its own melodramatic whodunitations. (7 Oct 12 – 3.10 pm bst)

END

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