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THE TRUTH SPINNER
The Complete Adventures of Castor Jenkins
by Rhys Hughes

REAL-TIME REVIEW CONTINUED FROM HERE

———————–

Home Suit Home

‘He’s too crazy to be a mad inventor,’ said Paddy Deluxe.”

Paddy Deluxe is one of Castor’s co-pubtalkers, the other being Frothing Harris. Just for the record.  Meanwhile, this story is centred up by a new character called Collective Will, who seems to be a Jungian cipher just to act as decoy before Castor (disguised as the ’eminent citizen’) takes control of investigating mystery house-stealings that start to infect Wales and beyond, causing a visit to Venice, by conceptual short-cut, for its bridges under which the chief house-stealing suspects – Trolls (not the internet forum sort) – are reputed to live. Other Bridge towns, too. I don’t know why Bridgend wasn’t also mentioned, and that would have served, as a spin-off, to give a perhaps heartless clue on my part to answer the otherwise rhetorical question I quoted at the start of my earlier real-time review of that masterpiece in this book called ‘The Plucked Plant’. Meantime, ‘Home Suit Home’ is a wonderful exposition on the use of ‘brainstorming’ techniques, a series of mad inventions indeed that give further spin-offs galore for all our lives and spiritual home-seeking. And for those ‘bicycle-centaurs’ that are here now retrocausally named from the earlier ‘glove puppet’ story. The radiating connections threading this book are too numerous to mention, and even the rare clumsinesses and weaker jokes are now taking on a more cohesively satisfying aspect in hindsight. And every silk road has its wormcast, I say.  But who is Hugo Bloat? – making his second appearance in the book with this story. (11 Aug 12 – 12.10 pm bst)

All in a Flap

“Castor fought down a rising panic. Was he going insane?”

I can’t imagine a writer actually wanting to write such a story, but my imagination is too weak to imagine what a head-lease imagination must be like by wanting or by needing or by being able (or by being susceptible to exterior compulsions) to ‘exercise’ such an imagination’s imagination to conceive of some of the mind-bursting conceptions in this story and its brainstormer of an audit trail. Rhys Hughes is not only a writer’s writer but also a strong imaginer’s even stronger imaginer: a brainwright’s brainwright. A lodestone’s lodestone. A twitcher’s twitcher with self-trained binoculars. A Hitchcock’s Hitchcock as Porthcawl is potentially attacked by birds or bird-brained pirates from the book’s first story in the guise now of wanting to create a new Brazilian empire on the South Wales coast. A Terry Gilliam’s guillemot. A glowworm’s glowworm. Every dune has its day. A rising panic’s rising panic that I will only finish this book if insane enough to finish it. (11 Aug 12 – 2.25 pm bst)

Hangfire Bubbler

The Clown Museum is where those registered faces are recorded by being painted on eggs.”

…reminding me synchronously of ‘Facial Justice’, a rarely read L.P.Hartley novel that I am reading at the moment, where post-holocaust Alpha faces are Betafied etc… Meanwhile, ‘Hangfire Bubbler’ for me is full of an unforgettable pathos, despite or because this story-within-a-story is ludicrously told to a genie in a genie bottle-bank with all the logical-fun business of three-wishes-making that wasn’t so much fun after all in hindsight – the story-within-a-story being told by Castor who (according to this story) was once a clown [cf: self-referentially, my own story ‘Build a Character’ in ‘The Last Balcony’], a clown who has to work with another clown, i.e. a ‘darker’ clown who instils coulrophobia in the audience: which turns out to be a negative symbiosis for Castor: paralleling (symbolising?), in a very telling way, the subtext I mentioned earlier in this review regarding the potential of a sadly depleting yet synergistic battle between the Horror Genre and Rhys Hughes… each egg positioned contiguously upon or within some kind of personal literary and/or literal spectrum-imaginarium.  (11 Aug 12 – 3.25 pm bst)

The Private Pirates Club

Although he’s a fictional character that didn’t exist before the author invented him, I met Castor Jenkins once.”

…so says Thornton Excelsior: another Rhys-Hughesian character about whom I’ve reviewed before.  And this is his tale of gentlemen’s-tales-in-a-gentlemen’s-club school of fiction, except here the gentlemen are not gentlemen at all, but pirates of the Captain Ribs and Ribiero school of cut-throat pirating on different sets of Sevens Seas more than just hinted at heretofore in this book.  This book’s stories, especially the current one, often provide an intertwining, entertaining child-like (rarely childish) concertina domino-rally of absurdist-logical, punishingly punnish extrapolative variations on various themes: here, for example, walking the plank on a pirate ship and an amnesty way-station known as the East Pole, with disarming jokes along the way. Rhys Hughes is often arguably darkly or lightly disarming (cf the arguable Lamblake Heinz book). [Meanwhile, following the coulrophobic story ‘Hangfire Bubbler’ I read yesterday afternoon, I coincidentally saw a truly effective coulrophobic scene (about Mr Snuggles) on TV last night (during this summer’s Big Brother season’s ‘dying fall’). Rhys Hughes fiction seems generally coincidence-friendly vis-a-vis the real life of the reader (or vice versa), I’ll think you find, whether or not by design.] (12 Aug 12 – 9.20 am bst)

[As an aside, Rhys Hughes’ concept of Forgetfulness Honey makes me think that books have their own FH that the paper on which they are printed goes some way towards obviating but not, for me, completely obviating  (Ebooks, of course, are FH itself – slipping off the eyes non-stickily) … but my retention of books has improved since I started real-time reviewing them as an antidote to FH – each RTR as a sort of dream-catcher.  A spin-off to add to any already attaching to such a RTR process (a process that anyone can do) for the benefit of readers and authors and real-time reviewers alike.] (12 Aug 12 – 12.00 noon bst)

3. Castor on the Seven Plus Seas

Chuckleberry Grin

“Tell me what you don’t want to hear and I promise not to mention it.”

Frankly, the answer to that question is this story! O give me some strong Forgetfulness Honey. But that probably makes you also forget even your favourite stories, like ‘The Plucked Plant’, ‘Hangfire Bubbler’ and a good number of others!  Ah well, let me report that it seems to be a Jules-V erneian mishmash, where even its narrative conveyance via Castor’s pubtalk to his regular two cronies cannot outweigh those misgivings of mine. Mad inventors, sun pipes, human arrows etc do not seem to cohere and, when individually considered, seem clumsy and childish. Sorry to report those misgivings, as this is quite a long story. One highlight, however: “Lladloh is where destiny goes to retire.” And this reminds me of when I, an only child, seven years old in 1955, was visiting (from Essex) my Welsh blood-relations in Llanelli with my Mum and Dad. I went to buy a penknife from Llanelli Market but must have left from an exit of the market different to the entrance I’d earlier used – and wandered the streets for some hours till I was found outside a pub in Pwll (a tiny village a few miles from Llanelli Market) on the other side of town from the backstreet (off the Swansea Road) to where I was meant to return… I see Pwll as another Llandoh which, if it had never existed, would mean I would still be lost and unable to report my misgivings on ‘Chuckleberry Grin’.  (12 Aug 12 – 3.40 pm bst)

Penal Colony

“The criminals in the hold were hardened cases.”

Compared to the previous one, this gem of a story has legs. Very short, but unstickable by Forgetfulness Honey Beer, tiny harrowings footmarking it  like a pointilliste castor-kafka-jorkens-jenkins pubtalk. Oh, I forgot to mention my Welsh grandma’s maiden name was Jenkins…. And no man is an island. (12 Aug 12 – 4.35 pm bst)

Flying Saucer Harmonies

It’s impossible to replicate the sound of a flying saucer with a harp and a human mouth. We need a ‘theremin’ for an accurate match. We don’t have one of those but an alternative is available. We can construct an ‘ondes Martenot’!”

For me, this is a major harmonious vision. That may be because of my almost life-long interest in Astrological Harmonics. It also may be the case because almost the whole of page 217 is taken up with summarising – coincidentally – a vision from my 2011 novel ‘Nemonymous Night’ regarding an inner-Earth world (semi-Jules-Verneian) – with the process of ‘hawling’ at least implied – and with a new addition of a ‘balcony’!!  I am agog.  This vision in the Hughes is sufficiently different in itself for this to be a coincidence, and I also know for a well-documented fact that Rhys Hughes has not read my novel, and may never do so, for all I know. Meanwhile, this pubtalk story develops organically (unlike ‘Chuckleberry Grin’) – via, at first, the act of skimming stones and other discs over surfaces of water – toward various theories as to the nature of flying saucers and cosmoharmics (my own new word written here for the first time where the self-‘harm’ in ‘harmony’ (here tempting fate by potential drowning) takes on a new light) … all spiced with good jokes and stirring conceits. This book has broken through the wall of its second wind. Its disturbing fog disturbed. (12 Aug 12 – 7.30 pm bst)

Nemo’s Omen

This was secular art as its most religious.”

A marvellous riff on Captain Nemo and Nautilus and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: with the undercurrent of omen not only being nemo backwards but being the root of ominous. Neo-ominous in fact, with the contraptive inter-terrestrial-stellar implications of physics-adventures. I shake this author’s hand for allowing me to riff off his riff and illuminate my own preoccupations in my novel. To each writer a reader is a nemo or nobody so it is good to shake his or her hand through the magic of fiction. ‘Magic fiction’, not ‘magic realism’, in which the ‘small miracle’-of-Rhys-Hughes is a major practitioner and has been since I started reading his work around the early 1990s. Meanwhile, here is a genuine quote from the ’20,ooo Leagues’ book by Jules Verne: “So, to that question: ‘Who has ever fathomed the depths of the abyss?’ two men, among all men, have the right to reply: Captain Nemo and I.” The question Castor Jenkins poses here is ‘Who is I?’ rather than ‘Who am I?’ [Incidentally, that Jules Verne quote was quoted by me in print within Nemonymous Two (2002) in which Rhys Hughes had a story entitled: ‘Climbing the Tallest Tree In the World.’] (13 Aug 12 – 8.40 am bst)

The Thousand and One Pints –
Translated from the original Thespian  by Richard Burton, not the explorer but the other one, the drunken Welsh actor.

“…the honey-coloured, hop-heavy Jihlavský Grand, 8.1% ABV,from the Czech republic, one of the beeriest nations of all.”

A hilarious take on Death as the Reaper – and the potential victim’s postponing the inevitable with a Scheherazade – not of lemonade – but, this being a pubtalk book, of beers.  It would have been easier to start off with the type of beer I, now in hindsight, astutely visualised in my review of ‘Penal Colony’!  There is also here an artful post-shadowing of that Horror Genre/Rhys-Hughes subtext I mentioned earlier – with the arrival of Life to counteract Death?  Here, though, with a ‘Hangfire Bubbler’ pathos, are implied admissions of futility to try to counteract these things either way!  Very thought-provoking. (13 Aug 12 – 10.45 am bst)

Celebration Day

We are old, we have been left behind, the blossom has fallen off our knotty limbs; but at least we have today.”

It seems strangely appropriate that this, the book’s coda, features the activities and thoughts of one of the two pubtalking cronies of Castor following Castor’s ‘death’ in the previous story. The tale is both ironic and full of pathos, a feeling for life’s standards going wrong, being undeservedly not given our correct deserts for the achievements we have had – each achievement with a spurious anniversary and, thus, a deserving, if spurious, celebration.  Strange that the book’s stock ‘mad inventor’ is blamed for some of these ills at the same time as trees being given their potential back as trackers or bloodhounds, tall trees or not. Tall tales or not.  Rhys Author — as the perceived Hughes of these tales that are untranscended by ‘The Intentional Fallacy’ (a life-long obsession of mine) — is really his own literary raison d’etre.  A Heath Robinson’s Heath Robinson. A brainwright’s brainwright. A logician’s … yes, that is it: a logician’s logician. Involving a playful, child-like, rarely childish, logic of a logician who needs, in his soul, to explain the literal: especially where the literal literalness when taken literally is tantamount to nonsense without his attempts to turn the gears towards something he can accommodate even if that means stretching his (and our) mind  beyond its bursting point. Creating something more worthwhile, even if that means sometimes skirting unwelcome, often unacknowledged, forces that make fiction into magic or something even more dangerous than magic. Into something  more real than reality itself.  “That’s the only logical explanation.” (13 Aug 12 – time of your choosing)

END

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  1. Pingback: The Truth Spinner – Rhys Hughes | The Nemonicon

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