CONTINUATION from HERE of my gestalt real-time review – of the Michael Wyndham Thomas books – in the comment stream below:
Pages 73 & 74
Possibly the most telling ‘dying fall’ or chaconne in the whole symphonic opus so far, Keith as a boy on a ‘razored’ fairway with his imagination in free play, then Razalia in counterpoint with ‘fluty church bells’, accompanied by an atonal warning voice…
Pages 74 – 99
“Tharle recalls the description of the whole archipelago that some flying wordsmith coined: the islands, all of a shape, increasing in size from north to south, seeming to drip into one another like the grief of some inconsolable horizon.”
Beautiful part of the latest Razalian ‘ribbon’, beautiful, too, Gregory’s own visions, senile or otherwise, as he watches Razalia sort of coming in for him. But even that fails to compare with the extended ugliness-beauty of Keith’s extended family gathering, ugly like a Mike Leigh family but beautiful, too, with Dennis Potter-type visitations from Razalia and other comic characters, as he copes with worries about Niall his son, and his wife Donna (not exactly Alison Steadman in Abigail’s Party but near enough but I love her) still clasping her owl teapot and counting the money about to arrive from transferring the comics to Cloudy George or whatever storage is required for them, elder daughter, son-in-law, grandson, and of course dear dear Mog. I don’t think there can have been such a brilliant extended treatment in the whole of literature of a man’s islanding by those ‘loved ones’ around him… Meanwhile, I sense, Razalia probably contains Potter’s ‘blossomest blossom’…for not only Gregory, not only Keith, but also the sole reader I can empathise with…the whitest white blossom?
“Then again, he’d hardly choose his own family as a specialist subject in a quiz…”
This morning, my thoughts have returned to ‘The Dark Tower’ series by Stephen King (mentioned already in this review in connection with his concept of the ‘palaver’ and ‘doors’ of reality) – and I recall there was a force or power in this series called ‘the White’. For any interested in my real-time reviews of this whole series, they are linked from HERE.
Also, yesterday, on the strength of these two books, I placed Michael Wyndham Thomas on my on-line list of all time favourite fiction writers.
Pages 99 – 124
“… Buddy has a way of remaining defiantly cheerful, which cuts him off from the bulk of pop and rock after his death. Except Freddie and the Dreamers.”
Don’t go there. Except where are we whence we don’t go? The ribbons shorten and increase, Donna having her own stream again, George, too … except – via an exquisitely vague image of an elf (Gregory?) now in Razalia with echoes of that Penn golf fairway – we reach the wide ribbon of Mog and her Dad Keith (dad with a capital D) in the South Staffordshire van (with the Mercury annuals safe in their package) now sort of playing billiards with the three Razalian umber moons, Buddy still on the cassette. The transition is brilliantly being handled up to this point, if a full transition it actually is. The visions seem so natural and believably acceptable, yet mind-boggling.
“I can’t have a lieutenant of mine razing and rebuilding the Emporium on his own whim like a biblical city.”
Pages 124 – 139
“Like a ventriloquist unfolding her dummy, the vision slid her free hand round Mog’s arm and raised it,…”
The sexy vision is the Carolla-who-is-not or not? Mog and Keith seem to be in a world half-created by him but the other half, miraculously, seems to be a gradually evolving stage-set or ventriloquism act or puppet show created by another force created by the first force, both threatened by a third force: the white. There is much more to it than that and only a reader of the full text will ever get any inkling of the special fiction that this is. In fact, I may be wrong in what I just said, being manipulated myself! Synchronously, meanwhile, my gestalt real-time review’s book immediately before this one of ‘Valiant Razalia’ was entitled ‘The Art of Ventriloquism’ where I debate the concept that the actual Art of Fiction is a form of ventriloquism. The author as ventriloquist. Here, in VR, ‘chaperoned by sunglasses’.
Pages 139 – 160
“How do you avoid London? Used to be easier. Appalling place now. The Great Wen. Was it Swift called it that, or Dr Johnson?”
Is that Boswell’s Johnson? Ventriloquiser and dummy. Creator and Created. But which is which?
Backstoried by his own twelve year old self when short distances made big ones in life’s habits, here Keith has travelled beyond distance itself to face or become his real self (a comic or cosmic visionary rather than a plumber, but isn’t there more money in plumbing these days than in any academic or philosophical pursuits?) – together with an amanuensis with a papery face (that old man Gregory from Kent?) and a spokesman in the shape of Mog, but threatened by the onset of white ‘snaking between trees’ a bit like that smoke in LOST with the colour taken out.
“The vision took her in her arms. Briefly, she looked annoyed with herself and made what could have been a memory-quelling sign over the girl’s head.”
Pages 160 – 176
“So why faff about with doors when they can see what we’re thinking?”
Indeed, but we don’t mind fiction that can reconcile itself almost autonomously! We don’t mind these cumulative mad visions as backdropped by the excellent back on earth poignant or realistic literary and filmic moments of Dennis Potter, Elizabeth Taylor, Mike Leigh and more… Here, within the mad vision itself, we find a mad vision of Keith and Gregory bartering their own roles of Creator and Scribe, i.e. which is which, for the sake of escaping the same mad vision (Notionary, Aeonodrome, sliceblossom, yieldingtrees et al), a mad vision that they are half to blame for! They are entrammelled by wild mystic JC Powys, mutations of Swift, Fielding, Pope, Diderot, Dickens, Lewis, King who have mated with the off-the-wall end of SF as well as with its quality end, all now due to be entrammelled by the onset of a White Queen (?) (Dame Pennater), this book being, inter alia, res alia, half tantamount to a Lewis Carroll creation of a drogulus by miscreation-within-noncreation…and more.
Pages 176 – 200
“Dreest would probably treat them to some involved chat about compounds known and unknown, the battles of the animate and the static — send them to sleep,…”
There is incredible writing in this section, about the nibbling away by the white in both the dream and reality of the Razalian world, a boatman who says each word twice like the ebb and flow of waves, a Priestian archipelago, the tidal blankness or tabula rasa of person and personality, the facing out of the absurd of the past by an even greater absurd within an existentialism that one can accept without realising, “He couldn’t credit what he was creator of”, Mog’s wisdom about tangled swings, some washed-out seventies colour, all factoring into this mad vision of a mad vision, making it even more real by the encroachment of belief as well as of blankness. Bitter-sweet as well as utterly mad, without being mad at all.
“What he was here for. What the years had led him to, apparently, though for the life of him he could hardly remember what was in them.”
This GRTR now continues in the comment stream HERE
The parts of this review:
4. https://nemonymous123456.wordpress.com/valiant-razalia/ (this one)
”The hauling business wasn’t necessary,…”
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