Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Null Immortalis

Null Immortalis: Nemonymous Ten
Edited by D.F. Lewis

Megazanthus Press, 2010

«Null Immortalis» is an anthology of 26 stories, the final part of a series of 10 books, where the stories remained unsigned, and the names of the authors reveal only in the next volume. «Null Immortalis» violated this rule: it is the first time the stories here are not anonymous.

However, to say that «Null Immortalis» is just another anthology of strange stories that are close to horror, would be untrue. It is also one solid megatext, zero-text, all the fragments of which are united not only stylistically and thematically, but formal: in all stories there is a common hero, SD Tullis. On the one hand, it's just a name, on another - the name of something more. SD Tullis is what we are pursuing all our life, this is what kills us, and what makes us strong. This is the secret of life, but also the mystery of death.

Art canvas of “Immortalis”, like all patchwork fabric linen, is very uneven. I am glad there aren’t straight horror stories whose purpose is to just scare the reader, but there are not so many outstanding stories.

The problem of fathers and children affected by Daniel Pearlman in «A Giant in the House». To young son, his father seems a giant. Gradually, the son is growing, catching up with his father. Their relationship is wavering, strained. Pearlman punishes the father for coldness toward his son. «Apotheosis» by D.P. Watt is, perhaps, the best in this anthology. This is a metastory where the protagonist, a writer, discovers that some of his prose is stolen and published under a different name, Tullis. The most striking thing for this writer is that he himself had sent his text to unknown plagiarist. Watt wrote a nearly perfect story about information and how it absorbs everything: information is nameless, and this is the worst thing in it.

Joel Lane's prose, as always, is measured and insinuating. So he begins his tale «The Drowned Market»: «History is always a problem. No wonder people are so keen to forget the past. You can get to a certain point in your life and you can't move for the fragments of history silting up the place. You can cover them up, but they won't go away. For a publisher, it can be especially difficult because people assume the past is all that matters to you. They forget that you still have to breathe ». Writer, confronted with the consequences of the financial crisis in publishing, begins to behave strangely: sends chilling manuscript to publishers and then suddenly disappears. Quiet, but a discouraging story.

About the emptiness - around and within us – is the story of Reggie Oliver «You Have Nothing To Fear». The protagonist helps his friend Lord acquainted with one model, which then becomes the object of the exhibition. Lord with one Tullis multiply and multiply her images, exploiting her. The elegant style of Oliver prose helped him to create a bleak story about the substitution itself. Plot of «Holesale» by Rachel Kendall might initially seem unoriginal: a crook sells black holes. But Kendall has a flair for details, piercingly sad intonation, so it brightens up the plot. «The Toymaker of Bremen» by Stephen Bacon has the same problem: not very original plot (the boy's parents disappear, and he lives in the house of strange toymaker Gustav, in whose house extraordinary things happens), but the author writes well enough to not spoil the plot. Children in his story are as living, despite the fact that they are ... (to look at the title).

It is an unusual anthology, which says: Each of us has own Tullis inside.

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