Some great stories endure EITHER because of their own intrinsic richness and increasingly self-generating remarkability OR because personal or worldly factors in real life illuminate (and/or are illuminated by) them as the years pass. Rarely does one encounter a story that has a unique synergy of both reasons. This synergy, for me, is applicable to ‘Soul Stains’ by Robyn Alezanders that first appeared in ‘Nemonymous Five’ (Nemo Book) in 2005.
From the point of view of one of his female clients, this is the ostensibly complex story of a skin tattooist, for some a messiah, a story involving mystic or spiritual approaches to ink, blood, design, sacrifice-by-lynch-mob, redemption, obsession, love…and re-thinking (as the female client does in the story and as I am doing now).
I have still not fathomed this story to its depths. A few more years need to pass before that happens, I guess. But I now think I fully understand why I needed to publish this work in ‘Nemonymous’….
Having recently re-read ‘The Glastonbury Romance’ by John Cowper Powys (that I first read in the early 1970s), I now realise a blood-spirit links these two writers, although each is unique. Just as one example, in my recent review of Powys’ novel ‘The Inmates’ here, I referred to his “passages that are similar to some of the more awkwardly purple passages in ‘The Glastonbury Romance’ but, here in ‘The Inmates’, now taken to such extremes they cease to be purple, but some other colour which you perhaps wouldn’t want to imagine being a colour at all. So awkward, they cease to be awkward at all, because they have no comparison meters of style against which to praise or condemn them.”
Likewise, Alezanders in ‘Soul Stains’ has a texture that miraculously transcends its own style-oxymoron.
But more importantly, ‘Soul Stains’ reminds me of my recent thought-patterns concerning real books and ebooks, a feature that has only recently come to the fore. This story is a wonderful premonition of that conflict. And, for me, resolves it.
My two most recent posts on this subject are linked below for those interested enough to factor into (or extrapolate from) ‘Soul Stains’:
The Transfiguration of an Unchanged Text
Books in Ruins
Three separate quotes from ‘Soul Stains’:
“I was the first he practiced upon, letting my soul project into the night air as a tiny iris glossed my upper thigh.”
“I wanted to transform into an iris, have my slender umbrella like figure delicately engulfed by his electric aura, and be gone with the hate riddled land our country was sinking into.”
“What your beloved wanted was for the tattoo to come from within, to represent a part of the spirit long held dormant by society and upbringing, a crucial segment to an individual’s core.”