:: Reviews

Meet the Spirit Molecule published 05/05/2018

This book has come into being at a time when multiple scientific disciplines are converging on the idea that matter must be subordinate to consciousness, and the sentience of plants is coming to be accepted. The authors make a convincing case for shifting the focus of our scientific explorations from the expensive, barren lands of outer space to our rich inner terrain. This is not a retrograde move but one that uses modern technology to cast a new light on humanity – past, present, and future.

Lindsay Jordan reviews DMT Dialogues: Encounters with the Spirit Molecule by David Luke and Rory Spowers.

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Through a child’s eyes: Mystery and longing in Masatsugu Ono’s Lion Cross Point published 26/04/2018

What occupies unoccupied space? Mediums claim to be able to detect the presence of spirits where most of us see nothing. Lion Cross Point is narrated from the close third person, filtered through the emotional state of a hurt child—raw and without logic—and told mostly through flashbacks. Takeru’s memories are mostly about his brother, whose existence everyone else has mysteriously forgotten. The villagers who grew up with his mother aren’t shy about sharing their memories of her and some, like Mitsuko, even claim to remember Takeru as a baby—but no one speaks of the brother and we never learn the boy’s name. His absence haunts Takeru, who constantly fights back tears even as he, too, begins the process of forgetting.

Tara Cheesman-Olmsted reviews Lion Cross Point by Masatsugu Ono.

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Vi Khi Nao’s molecular agriculture: (something)—Looms published 24/04/2018

Looking is a practice from which genres diverge—the way mitosis reveals chromosomes to be haploid. On their way / to expressing a sex that might not fit with how it is felt post-womb. Mitosis—from the Greek, mitos, / meaning thread, becoming tangled up in people’s comments on YouTube, wind-obliging. / Wound-obliging. / The more you read them, do they unravel? Do you—if you think about it hard enough. In the sense / of the end of a relationship, characterised by a sudden split screen / a film severed at the middle without a hospital. / I rewrote this review several times.

Megan Jeanne Gette responds to Umbilical Hospital by Vi Khi Nao.

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On the Rims of Fiction published 17/04/2018

Writing may be cathartic. Still, unravelling the twisted knots of memory necessarily leads to Hebert’s own unravelling, the suspense of his writing style resounding delayed traumas. In loose chronology, he goes on drug binges, wrestles hangovers, luxuriates in visions of past lovers, dips a toe into the pool of political activism (he quickly withdraws), but also travels to Europe for the first time to attend a writers’ conference in Berlin and enjoys his time with his pregnant wife Mónica (to whom the novel is dedicated). This is a story infused with dreams of black magic, political unrest, lone flaneuring and hard drinking, but also one of kindness, compassion, sharp humour and a loquaciousness that one usually reserves for close friends.

D.R. Hansen reviews Julián Herbert‘s Tomb Song.

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Medium Making – Something About Gerald Murnane’s Border Districts published

What Murnane is most concerned with is language’s mediating force rather than its meaning-making potentialities, or that mediation itself might be the locus of meaning. Of the latter this is, like the narrator of his latest and possibly last novel, Border Districts, peripherally glimpsed.

Ryan Chang reviews Border Districts by Gerald Murnane.

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The Garden of Earthly Delights: Christine Schutt’s Pure Hollywood published 12/04/2018

Pure Hollywood is a violent collection, and here it seems to turn inside-out. Instead of the jolts of murder, suicide and random accident that punctuate its preceding stories, Schutt achieves a similar shock with a memory of eroticism. The author’s early works showed her to be a master of using language and voice for beautifully evasive ends while exploring disturbing realities. In Pure Hollywood, she approaches the same realities bluntly. However beautiful her evasion, the tactic is not missed.

Daniel Felsenthal reviews Pure Hollywood by Christine Schutt.

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Buzzati in Every Bookstore: A review of Catastrophe and Other Stories published 10/04/2018

Review of Catastrophe & Other Stories by Dino Buzzati

In his preface to the newly reissued edition of Dino Buzzati’s Catastrophe and Other Stories, US writer Kevin Brockmeier describes his years-long quest to find the book, “supposedly” published by Calder and Boyars in London in 1965 and released in paperback in 1981, but so elusive that he was for a while convinced it didn’t actually exist. Brockmeier would occasionally locate and order a copy online, but it would never arrive. Then, in 2010, in a Nebraska bookstore, he finds a copy for a mere $5 (“the single most exhilarating bookstore find of my life”) and, feeling “oddly like a thief”, purchases it. This is not itself unlike the beginning of a Buzzati story.

Ben Roth reviews Catastrophe and Other Stories by Dino Buzzati.

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Perfection’s Therapy: Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia 1 published 05/04/2018

Merback’s innovative work presses now for the identification of a new image, the image of the allegorical-speculative image for cognitive-spiritual exercise. These images were not stepping stones to metaphysical truths. They aimed at a Petrarchan practical and ethical therapy in this world. In this they link with the complex pedigree of catharsis, Aristotle’s best-known therapy. Merback argues therefore that Dürer’s Melencolia 1 is ‘ an erudite portrayal of the peculiar misery that grips creative people, melancholia, but also an instrument for remedying it.’

Richard Marshall reviews Mitchell B. Merback’s new book about Dürer’s masterpiece.

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Occultism, Insects and the Alien: Elytron Frass’ Liber Exuvia published 03/04/2018

Review of Liber Exuvia

That so many of the lives presented break off into other lives – for instance, the relatively everyday Tim Peters, while under hypnosis, remembers a previous life in the ancient world dwelling among “herdsman and mercenaries”, and from there recollects his time in early twentieth century Portugal – lends the book an almost psychedelic aura, though a psychedelia with a folk horror edge to it.

James Pate reviews Liber Exuvia by Elytron Frass.

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Something New from the Dark published 29/03/2018

Review of Darker With the Lights On

A common refrain across these narratives is that of the domestic space being repeatedly defiled. The darkness outside of the home is not as twisted as the darkness within, where the lights are on. Interlopers often emerge, reminding us with violence and disdain of this domestic, familial darkness.

Liam Harrison reviews Darker with the Lights On by David Hayden.

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