Melanie Tem

IMG_2939 (Edited)
SINGULARITY AND OTHER STORIES

A Mighty Tome by Melanie Tem.

CENTIPEDE PRESS
First Edition 2017

PART TWO OF MY REAL-TIME REVIEW OF THE STORIES IS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW (CONTINUED FROM PART ONE HERE).

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41 responses to “Melanie Tem

  1. SLAVE STREET

    “Shit means different shit than it did in your day.”

    In Flannery’s day, too. But, still, a shocking story. A story about words, some seen now to be unacceptable, and some with special shades of meaning between, for different castes, words for different shades of race and creed, and how these words can hurt more than deeds. Loosely used as uncouth shocks of sound by the modern crass as well as the people of our past, people like us. We are all good readers of this book who are crushed by political correctness, unable now to express honest truths and enlightening fictions. Except this fiction as a rare exception.
    A man-woman couple with their own shades of being tentatively takes off on a side trip to see a Slave Museum area near lines of growing cotton, as, perhaps similarly, I once was made to do – by a thoughtful driver during a coach trip in Poland – to see Auschwitz as one of the coach’s comfort stops, and this slave museum area tellingly also involves scenic beauty as well as the harsh slave cabins themselves. Photos and photos of photos being taken. Provocative, liberating, and needs to be read wider than this book that contains it.

  2. THE ICE DOWNSTREAM

    “…she saw layers: gray-white ice sparkling in the spring sunlight on its top surface and glimmering on its underside as the still-liquid water struggled to break free,…”

    …cut aslant the young daughter’s memories of once discerning creatures among the flames in the fireplace along with her once younger brother. This, however, is predominantly a rhapsody of ice, its interface with itself when freezing and when melting, encroaching upon the house with her increasingly demented father inside, still mourning for his small son whom the under-ice had claimed. Cared for by his daughter, till not even such caring can transcend the journey up the flue from the fireplace to escape…
    A mix of elements, human and natural, pitiful but honestly brave, fighting against as well as accepting humanity’s frailty.

  3. REUNION

    “Both life and death had teeth and claws; she couldn’t escape either of them.”

    That sort of sums up this incredible work, one that might fill you with tears at the retrocausal implications of its future authorial hinterland, if you can forget the literary theory of the intentional fallacy for a moment. Which I can’t.
    This story itself morphs gradually into something else, as does one of its characters, then another… It is about a group of women reaching the landmark of 40 years old, arranging a slumber party as a reunion, one of them, the main protagonist (who has just lost her young son) travelling quite a way to attend. One expects her to find herself and thus re-find her residual family (left behind) of husband and daughter, after this reunion, we assume, serves to heal her, to replenish her emptiness, to assuage her fear of both life and death. Yet with relentless attrition, there is more to her peers (the fellow party-goers) and one of their schoolteachers now in her eighties. It is a story that shape-shifts into an incarnation of bereavement and hopelessness, and you won’t forget it. I won’t forget it because it works for me, a catharsis in the context of this whole book so far. It even mentions French Creek from the previous story. I suspect it won’t work for others that read it in a non-genre context or inasmuch as it deliberately fails to meet the expectations it sets up at the start. It would be an interesting experiment to publish it in a mainstream anthology without pre-blurb. It may take the world by storm.

  4. THE ROCK

    “He thought of her somehow as metamorphic: an amalgam of many different substances, taking on the properties of each and making them her own.”

    Another genuine classic, it really is. Where have these stories been all my life? This gives having a rock-hard erection quite a new perspective. John Paul Clarke, tit man as well as leg man, has been married 38 years to his wife Charlotte, and is attractive, it seems, to girls young enough to be his granddaughters. Enjoys performing with them while his wife, whom he still loves, watches them. That G factor made big.
    The raunchy sex described here is enough to give any erectable reader a rock-hard erection, in cahoots with Californian seismic dimensions, and that gravity factor of a sudden appearance of a giant rock above his house, its eventual ownership with riparaian-like rights, I suggest, leads to a brilliant ironic fable of come-uppance, or come-downance, that the author may well have written for her husband?
    (Meanwhile, this tale gives my imaginative empathy nearly enough traction despite the tetesterone-bleaching radiotherapy from a year or so ago.)

  5. RENTING THE BASEMENT

    “Nell paused to take in the early-morning birdsong.”

    A relatively short work wherein possibly near-senile Nell is one of this book’s G-Gs whose grandson has a baby daughter somewhere; she rents out the basement to him these days, despite his post-Iraq drug habits and general negative proclivities – after often renting it out before to other ne’erdowells for whom she had needed police help. And a dog called Gypsy. Both Gs, Grandson and Gypsy, need Nell’s all-consuming humanity to be emptied of their venom… for good or ill. A blending, a powerment resonating fortuitously with that of the great blue heron in an Oates story I read about an hour ago HERE. Full of birdsong. And symbiosis. Nell remembering her own mother was rumoured to have merely withered away – rather than died?

    “Then she went out into another morning she was glad to have, where the lark was singing.”

  6. SLICKS

    “…but I did remember the term for the short, wide tires, treadless so they wouldn’t catch on anything, whose function was to minimise any real contact between the car and anything else.”

    Another relatively short work, but one with a big punch, or should I say long kiss…
    This, like ‘Slave Street’, deals with racism over time, as the woman narrator returns to the exhaust smells of the racing track, after 35 years, and meets a man whom she remembers from then, and they hardly recognise each other…
    In the the sixties, things at least were clear. And slicks and kisses somehow become obliquely and, one senses, significantly meaningful to the mores of each age. Tell you more, and I would find myself divulging the “tells” of this fine story itself.

    • I have just discovered that I inadvertently missed out a story entitled ‘Chameleon’ while reading these stories in the book’s printed order. It should have been read just before ‘The Country of the Blind.’ I shall read it next time. (I wish someone was keeping an eye on me!)

      • CHAMELEON

        “In the spring I could hardly wait to show her the pale new leaves against the pale blue sky.”

        The story of an eventually childless Adele, with three sisters who do have children, Adele who takes on the responsibility of her ageing and widowed Mother who she puts in the room which, when Adele bought the house, was already decorated as a nursery…
        We are given glimpses of the backstory, the 48 year married relationship of Adele’s passive mother and unreasonable father, the chameleon qualities of the mother to fit in with the latter’s needs. Bodily as well as unwillfully. Chameleons seem to fit in with the slicks of motor racing tyres in the previously read story, hardly touching the surface. There is indeed little to grip on in this story but much with which to allow drift past your mind. It is as if we become the mother or, rather, she becomes us. And so no wonder it slipped past my view. But pleased I have now been gifted with Adele’s near pointless life that is now pointedly remembered here – and with the whole story’s fey poignancy.
        (I think another author’s name I need to add to those listed earlier in this review is Katherine Mansfield.)

  7. DADDY’S SIDE

    “Not long before, I’d asked my father, ‘How do crickets make that noise?’
    ‘They rhyme their legs together.'”

    This is another story of slicks and chameleons, emery board smoothed to “Emry”, frictionless, except for the knowledge on how crickets make their rhythmic slickness of sound and the imagined paths of the stars aloft? And for the knowledge of Daddy’s house he built for you his daughter as his own tessellated body, fixed and granular, and textured, but beyond Earth intensely? The idealised Daddy you always wanted, perhaps even sexually? While your “real time” (an expression in the story) Daddy and Mommy did their best in a granular textured world they brought you into, a world where tree roots can crack houses.
    Another story that I found difficult to allow take grip on me while I gripped it from the motes that drifted past my mind. Upper landings in a house and backyards, and fallibility of parentage.

  8. DAHLIAS

    “…chatted about mostly inconsequential things made to seem consequential by the sharing.”

    With fear of seeming sexist, I would say that this quote is the perfect description of what my women relatives are – or once were – good at doing all my life (when I have overheard them)! I so wish I could do it so well.
    This is a perfect gem, of an aged grandma being visited by a busy granddaughter during the latter’s break from work. She brings her dahlias, a gift that leads to the optimum deadpan open-ending to any story that I can recall.
    But before that ending, I sensed the onset of a tidal force coming across the fields that, I assumed, was due to subsume the aged woman, both physically and mentally. Whilst all the time, its eye was on the younger of them? A very powerful brief work.

  9. THE GLUTTON

    “The reader writes the book,”

    This story, despite its title, is a delight, another classic. Everyone who is (or who wants to be) a writer of fiction should read this … so that means most of you. Most of everyone.
    A story of Phoebe who later volunteers to work in the bookshop where she first met Richard – well, that’s a long backstory. Suffice to say this is about books, the creativity of books that infuse the reader with their own creativity, the infection of fiction, collaboration, a synergy, later a symbiosis, a story behind everything, and Phoebe meets her soulmate in this sense, a woman called Angela who later arguably becomes a fey angel. Angela is the woman who visits the bookshop with her own works, that are later created, recreated, and interleaved between the other books, with public readings, along with Phoebe, even wearing each other’s clothes, a whole panoply of growing characters from her fiction, works in progress shared, even metafiction … and that leads to one of the best endings you may ever encounter, an ending enfolding the less able writer (the bookshop owner who serialises her story in postcards posted to the shop while on holiday), a less able writer factored into tantamount to a share in this perfect ending. Sheer genius.
    [How have I not read this story before? Or perhaps I have read it before by effectively having just written it? A spin-off from my gestalt real-time reviewing, a phenomenon that this story obliquely predicted? One of my thousand plus stories I achieved to have published in the pre-Internet age, joined end to end? Until I shrivelled into a spine-bug?]

    “I’m possessed. Ideas keep coming. The stories won’t leave me alone.”

  10. THE GAME

    “Was white light splitting into all those colors any more believable than birds pooping them.”

    A very strong and empathisable tale of a daughter, in extremis, doodling with memories of her father and their relationship from day one, too near the bone, flirting with dangerous games he played with her, but never crossing the line … into what? Until, in her later adulthood, and his dotage, she still loves to hate or hates to love him but they both share with each other even more dangerous games.
    These stories together increasingly share their own flirting with greatness and with edgy things one resists as well as relishes. A dangerous read. Perhaps more so than ordinary horror.

  11. SWEET

    “…having somehow won a round.”

    An awkward story about awkwardness. Roger has strained brushes with the doormen of his New York apartment block. A life of petty paranoia and perhaps the low-key deliriousness of a bad cold, past and present women in his life at whom he makes lackadaisical passes, competed at rounds of minor grievance, even a bag lady on the subway he accuses of being his latest ex. His latest exing. Brushing or passing off. Sweet slicks and tells.

  12. TIMBREL AND PIPE

    “One’s own death, of course, or the particular death of anybody one knew at all well, was at heart unimaginable.”

    In many ways, this epiphanymously remarkable story is one that is its own ‘poi’ performing art. Balancing life and death in a juggle with fire and snake and transgender and a favourite painter called Beliska Ayon who apparently committed suicide. unlike the narrator’s own polar opposite of an ‘enceinte’ state – after her recent backstory of pain, old age, proud veins and drugs for illness. A G with G-N – that N being niece or nephew? – with tattoos to disguise mastectomies. This work cannot be described – or even thought about as polarising one viewpoint or another – merely read. It is perhaps, not an authorial swansong, but an ouroboric snakedance by the fire-girt river.

  13. HARRY GALL DYING

    “Harry just went along to drive; the two women had nothing in common but Harry.”

    That seems to sum up this stoical story story, not an off kilter slant to be seen, just a perfect story story. The slicks between the three of them, one woman in a wheelchair loving Harry, the other woman actually married to a Harry. Both together at his death bed. Not the previous story’s swansong disguised as a snakedance, but more a sudden touching after the slicks slid away. More a tableau of plain tells seen through the wrong end of time’s telescope as constructively naive premonition.

  14. LOVING DELIA

    “…and he received both her passion and her shame.”

    Another truly remarkable work. Some of this book’s stories when stood alone, as they must have done once, among strangers, surely they shook the foundations of reading. So why are they not more famous as stories? Even in the old days, before the Internet, I guess, needles were far and few between in the haystack, and rarely found. This is one such needle.
    A woman through the ages of her life, from the youngest age to the oldest that cancer allowed her to reach, I imagine her childhood’s classic imaginary friend became caged as someone she called ‘he’ and ‘him’ in her body and who ever pleasured her body in its secretest of places, with any husband’s love-making often burying him deeper inside her. But not the cause of the cancer that killed her, although he must have penetrated it, I guess. Even her own daughter knew nothing of whom Delia harboured so erotically. But did the dead babies?
    This story is perhaps at the site of the book’s conscience, deep-seated at a part of it where some readers may not even reach, not at its beginning, middle or end. But in a no man’s land of between the between where most needles are found?

  15. KEEPING CORKY

    “It as hard for her to think about something for very long but she could do it when she had to.”

    This is an unbearably sad account of a special needs woman whose son was adopted away from her when he was a toddler. Corky was his birth name. She has a monthly set appointment to ring the adoption agency to pass a message to him as he grows older (a cruel way to accede access, I reckon) and he is now 15 and she finds out that his adoptee parents call him by the name Matthew. And they no longer want her to have contact with him, despite their promise to allow her this unenforceable access.
    The ending is quite difficult to impart without spoiling this sad heart-stopper of a story. All I will say is that I think I discern a significance in his birth name…a connection of staunching with both birth and birth’s berth?

  16. BEST FRIENDS

    “Ghosts aren’t strangers to me, nor I to them.”

    This book has become one of my best friends, in recent weeks, and still more stories yet to read … and to remember forever.
    This one is an affecting, eminently anthologisable, ghost story, ostensibly so, telling of a woman by dint of her own thoughts as narrator, herself already bereaved by her husband, and now visualising the immAnent ghost of her best friend, a woman she fell out with some while ago, but is it truly a ghost? Or a vague embodiment of a mutual neediness – a neediness of which, ironically, they once negatively accused each other!
    A ghost as a sort of hindsight negative? Death not needed as precursor of a haunting?

  17. DEATH POOL

    A narrator – who I personally imagine to be Matthew/Corky somehow still alive – a youth to young man who is sensitive, synaesthesic to the unpredictable turns of fate, indecisive, with a smoky glass to avert brightness, joining a game called Death Pool: a sort of tontine, whereby he is subsequently stalked by the games-mistress as a form of impending but as yet unknown death, the game’s-mistress as author, her self as her own stalker, death imminent as well as immanent, averted for at least a nonce by this created fiction of a younger dare-a-tread character? And a game of betting not only on one’s own Death but also on the recent rash of celebrity deaths, and the deaths of relative unknowns…
    Tentative, tantalising, tingling, time-sensitive, tutelary.

    “Whatever he smelled baking now might taste great but might come out burned or not cooked all the way through so you’d catch some disease.”

  18. LIGHTNING ROD

    “Mama had never been shy about letting Emma see her body, and every time it seemed there was a new branch on the scar tree, a new pink flower.”

    This book’s family tree from actual G to prospective G, a mainly plain-spoken tale, highly poignant, taking burdens of illness or ageing upon oneself like lightning-into-scars, but only taken by that tree’s distaff…

    “Her father reminded her of a sock puppet with no face, a thumb-smoothed lump of modeling clay. Approaching eighty now, he was very nearly featureless.”

  19. FRY DAY

    “Rachel was my only child, so all my grandchildren died with her.”

    A carnival scenario, with classic freakshow, and unsteady carousel, and rigged sideshows, as the narrator bemoans the death of her daughter by the hand of a now infamous serial-killer, about to be executed in a few hours’ time, his own personal Fry Day, not a joke, but a slow accretion of her own freakery imposed by such circumstances makes a powerful absurd, dissurreal, rite of passage, of coming to terms, recrimination, and eventual, ambiently on-topical punishment for being a culpable contributor-in-gestalt to such an audit trail of fate that, I infer, she failed to divert.
    Interesting that the final word of the story rhymes with ‘fry’ and still makes sense. Read it and see.

  20. THE SHOES

    “The guy had open, draining sores, one of them covering half his penis.”

    Another type of serial killer beyond Fry Day, this one a spreader of AIDS, allowed out of hospital complete with sores. Meanwhile his female nurse, reluctantly attracted (by a form of dominatrix, ‘lightning rod’ or self-harm syndrome?) to this gay or bi man, is haunted or stalked at her home by his running red shoes, a situation which reminds me of Diddle Diddle Dumpling that was new to TV in the Number 9 series only a few weeks ago. This is a disturbingly pustular and complex nightmare that has come out in real life, involving bereavement for an Ex, the staunching of the Generations of Gs by a diseased — not just a family, but a universal human — tree. A shoe-tree of self-harm. From Adam and his bare feet onwards.

    “Adam
    Adam
    Adam.”

  21. THE PICKERS

    “So now, in an annoying sort of haunting, she knew stuff about the Court of Louis XIV, the life of Edgar Allan Poe, the mating habits of crows, urban legends about pickers.”

    A scenario that somehow reminded me of the ambiance of The King in Yellow cycle of stories, as Lauren nurses her baby son, after she lost her husband Rafael… and now she is beset by pickers, beyond mere urban legend and now part of daily life, who, in our own times today, might be an electronically summoned flashmob for trash?
    More than just pickers picking discarded stuff, but eventually a relentless indiscriminate flock of them, including one woman called D Rawnston, as wet nurse, exploiting – disguised as an act of kindness – the hunger of the baby boy to express her surplus milk, only so as to free up space to feed off the vital juices of the mother herself. Or so I infer.
    A powerful oblique symbiosis.
    The pickers themselves, along with much else in this book, represent the trope of rare human events translated into compulsive hordes, or of eccentric habits of the few become the viral mores of a whole dark culture. Via slicks and chameleon tells.
    And, what is more, those running shoes again, Rafael’s that have been “hardly worn”, forming part of the pickers’ harvest from this book.

  22. JENNY

    “We were all joined in Jenny.”

    Another substantive classic to cherish, dare I say? This the tale told by Karen as narrator about her family, her various siblings, her nigh invisible father, her eventual absorption towards her mother, all as consequences of the death of one sibling, Jenny – death by choked carrot stick – affected them all on the edge of a New Mexico arroyo that itself subsumes, by climactic flood , the remaining siblings’ growth into adulthood and beyond.
    Two shrines to Jenny, that arroyo of donated Jennythings and the father’s cropped photos et al in the hayloft. But now a Jenny memorial capsule for all of us to cherish by simply reading this work. Cancelling all our own Christmases – and this Easter, too?
    Three shrines, the third being the narrator’s residual Jenny and her mother.
    Ricky’s lost toe, notwithstanding.
    This spinning jenny, this family bookstream, this Generating of Gs.

    “The red box made me cry.”

  23. VISITS

    “Though he wasn’t dead, neither of us had left, and we still shared the same time and space, we were suddenly and inexplicably no longer sharing a life.”

    Beth tells us of her long-term friendship with Paula (despite whose Paula-death from brain cancer, the yet Beth-unseen Paula-house and ‘thin pungent stool’ being intrinsic Paula), Paula-husband and Beth-husband, almost party to each other’s important unimportance in each woman’s life without Beth even noticing him before, and now a one-sided suicide Paula-pact to obviate suffering from the cancer, seeming to echo back and forth like smooth jazz or Beth’s later jobs in piano bars.
    It is as if a thing confessed can change overnight into its opposite.
    A telling work, that this review does not re-tell, but visits it as if borne upon variations from a theme of music. As if, too, the cancer from the story is also in any reader’s head while it’s read at least.
    Friendship and marriage as gestalt triangulations of fiction, but here more quadrilateral than triangular.

  24. CHRISTMAS WITH JEREMY

    “She’d hated him then for saying ‘died’ and ‘Jeremy’ in the same sentence,…”

    A sentence of death.
    This work presents an even more obsessive and rawer version of the Jenny syndrome recast as that of Jeremy. The death of a child, the cancelling of Christmas, until the mother is able to celebrate it as Jeremy would have wanted, his room left as a shrine, now his presents and tree for that special day of the year, impinged upon by her surviving son, and her husband, against whom such death has turned her.
    This is a syndrome become horror story. Without frills, except those suitable for Christmas. Except the subtleties of ‘Jenny’ when imported here by the book’s omniscient reader make it a greater story still?
    The power of gestalt. Now with slicks between each work.
    Completing the sentence, not with Flood but Fire.

  25. “She isn’t a phony because she’s a real phony.”
    — Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Truman Capote)

    LUNCH AT CHARON’S

    “: how could you protect yourself against lightning from a clear sky?”

    [SPOILERS?]
    This work begins ‘My Alighieri’ instead of ‘Amy Alighieri’, as the story itself, it gradually turns out, turns on the narrator Madyson, not on any of the other women (middle-aged women as a group appearing in a sort of another version of the earlier ‘Reunion’ story in this book), but never admitted by Madyson to herself, perhaps never realising that she is the phony one, the one needing to suck on others to make herself a real person. Her own Dante Alighieri as well as Charon, acting as the other women’s unconscious guide…to where?
    Meanwhile, this story centres on the fads of such women for body-toning, and even Madyson has an emergency over a cracked nail that needs urgent manicuring. Women feeding off each other’s female fads, but which woman is the winner of this social and bodily tontine, I ask? Not Kit who has already attenuated to tantamount to an origami flower. Not Amy who, at 40 has a fatal stroke, soon after adopting a new baby. Not Vonda the personal coach. Not Denise who looks too young to be a (G)randmother twice over. It is Madyson who will surely win the tontine, in this insidiously compelling tale. But what of Tanna? (My own wife Denise is with her women’s group at the moment even as I read this story.)

  26. MEMENTO MORI

    “…it appeared still perfect, but she knew that was a deception, for she’d been shown how it had already begun to die.”

    A powerful study of a wife and mother and her self-fulfilling angst.
    I will not comment specifically on it any further, for fear of diminishing its sense of fear.
    As an aside, with this massive and obligatory book, I seemed to ‘see’ its hidden shadow from day one, and, since then, I have been worrying that I will never finish it — even now when I am on the equivalent to its final lap…

  27. THE CLASSMATE

    “…but many of them had lightly kept up with each other from well before the non-intimate ‘friending’ of social media.”

    The between-slicks of school reunions towards an ultimate ageing…?
    This book’s next ruinion (my word), here of mixed gender, with the hankerings, sexual fancyings and behavioural ridiculousnesses involved in extending the short time of college into the intermittency of a whole future, interspersed with frivolous wish-games in time for the next reunion, and the next.
    There seems to be a self-fulfilling death-angst adopted from the previous story, here represented by the ominous presence of a woman that nobody recognises from the past but everybody thinks all the others recognise her.
    A telling story, a story of tells. A story of fateful spells?

  28. BLUE SHADOWS ON THE TONGUE

    “We cried out, in the same voice, in counterpoint.”

    Molly and Meg, another sort of reunion or Madyson story, here a constant one, from youth to age. without intermittency, except for the intermittency of marriage outside their relationship, and the diversion of what many would call normal life, teaching, becoming a Mother and (G)randmother, etc, but for them such intermittency is abnormal. Their normality is an intense one with each other, in physical and spiritual synergy and symbiosis, exploring each other with tongues, delving the blue shadows of intimate places. I find it very hard to imagine a more Sapphic-rhapsodically poetic literary treatment of such a relationship existing anywhere else but here.

  29. RAIN SHADOW

    “Out here, a thing was either, abruptly, in one form or in another.”

    This is another one. Simply that, You must know what I mean without my needing to spell it out.
    I have a sense of the scenario, its genius loci, the weather patterns here adumbrated, the ethos of the land, created by a writer with whom I have lived as with a diverse version of the Becky of this story, departed before I read her properly, as I have now, having met her briefly once seven years ago, but now known her as someone real through her writing for the last few weeks while reading this book, and one I shall never forget, surely worthy of being called equivalent to another Flannery O’Connor, here of Colorado and Denver and its environs, but what do I know from UK? I am just confident that I am right.
    This one is about a woman and her mother, and of a miscarried ghost that haunts in two places at once, haunts for both Mother and G, giving advice, also restraining them, even restricting them, in a good way, until ready to be released at the right time into the tail of a snowstorm as born from rain shadow, a double catharsis. As families grow again, meld again, with new adopted offspring either blind or special needs, having made restraint necessary, something pent up, before the catharsis of a breaking storm, then living again, doing one’s best along the Generations of Gs.

    • KRISTINE’S KWIET KORNER

      “The quiet now was not just the safety of wordlessness, but also the absence of movement and breath, a frightening time of day.”

      In many ways in tune with the ‘amusia’ story, and the one about the piano bars, the one about the blind country, and ‘timbrel and pipe’…and others, the deaf, the blind, the musical, the ritual, here of a community-without-talking unless you are a suspicious talker coming into Kristine’s bar, the non-musical, and here the dumb. Only the inarticulate and crass and abusive or senile, like K’s parents, talk.
      You can tell, having summed up this book in the previous entry, that I am now in coda mode, in coda mood. The coda to the silence of words. Reading them, they are still silent. It needs someone to read them aloud or someone to gestalt-triangulate them like semaphore or mimesis as I have tried to do. Gestate them like Kristine’s daughter does with K’s grandchild (seeded by a stranger-talker) thus making K become another of this book’s Gs, and then they leave along with the previous story’s pent-up storm that is now abruptly released by a ritual of talking, a ritual of barroom dumbsters in a written-word-noisy catharsis.
      One could spend a long time dwelling on this. An oblique coda, indeed.
      And still not finished!

  30. WIFE OF FIFTY YEARS

    It all came to this. Utterly beyond comprehension of how you ended up like this. Such beauty, though, in a senile husband, who keeps wetting his pants, making love to the cancer in his wife’s belly. This is no coda, but a final spurt, before the ultimate singularity or gestalt. It is a perfect purity of pain, scatological and eschatological, a purity between two creatures who love each other more than they hate each other, published (I simply had to sneak a look at the back of the book) in 1995. It is also the perfect catharsis in anticipation of what is already ensuing retrocausally to us all. Some more time-contiguously than others. A distillation of this book’s soul. Priceless and invaluable. The way to go. Humans outdoing animals by leaving other humans silent readable words to tell of their souls-in-common. Even though animals have souls, too. The inchoate made coherent by dint of a triangulated gestalt, I hope.

    • All my reviews are based on the first reading of any work. The final story I read and reviewed in 2013 here and this is what I wrote about it then:

      ————————-

      Singularity by Melanie Tem
      “I say what I say to her a lot. ‘Don’t know yet.'”
      As I read this extremely engaging story – of an ostensibly close Platonic relationship that starts between a man of around 32 and a girl of 16 – I surely felt I was reading a classic American story of, say, the Fifties, or Carver, Cheever, Updike or even O Henry, but this one is now: and I sensed its rules, the secrets, the Cartesian sense of mind and body, the frailties of life as well as of the people who live it, and, accreting, towards the end, I sensed that crimes are never culpable when they fit an enormous poignant Plan but paradoxically also accidental, a precarious singularity, and I learn something important, too, almost as an aside, about this story’s main relationship at the end, almost an afterthought, and for no reason one nods and one is happy, although still saddened by life’s Plan and its Hurts.
      And it even had something extra to say about my approach to books: “Books I’m led to by other books, strings of books, excitation nodes.”

      ———————–

      end

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