In many ways, the fiction of Joe Pulver is not fiction at all. It’s poetry. Yet it never stops being fiction, never stops telling a story.
It is fiction that begins with a loose and rampant tapestry of images and impressions that are woven out of strands without making sense until, suddenly, the strands begin to tighten, a pattern is formed, meanings begin to formulate and fall into place like solid propositions.
“Lead. heavy as the ruses of the fox clock. Push it. marry it to the carcass of paper. Install a window to inside on the grain. inner space. host. yet only Lugosi and Pollock appear . . .” – The Pencil, p. 149
An order of logic seeps to the fore like a pigment through erratic features, takes hold of you with gripping force. The narratives are not always clear, but they are so enriched with lyrical pageantry that clarity is unnecessary and would only spoil them.
Such meaning without clarity is essentially the literal transcription of the ineffable, now rendered as something real in the midst of a verbal ocean, but conveyed in ways that cannot be described – only marvelled at.
“I moved through the corridors of my life, glens (geographies and histories – some were filled with disputes I couldn’t outrun, curated by transplanted and furniture that would never figure into my autobiography) and null and the tide of voices that followed my ship, left more crimes, hollowed-out ghosts.” – A House of Hollow Wounds, p. 201
These stories are at once dark and unsettling and pulsating with the nocturnae of Lovecraft and the scintillating profanities of Noir. Yet they are entangled with life’s rich and sympathetic textures, the echoes of yearning, the expressions of tenderness in the crack of bones, the love that swarms like a constant loss over the breadth of everything.
“Alone, I walk the mute banks of the hungry river in my great black overcoat. The rippled light of the street lamps & the glittering stars hide the minced red weed I have abandoned to the tomb-still limbs of nothing.” – Tears & the Stars Fall, The Sommerset Tales, p. 235
“In a stand of slumbering stones while the wind was a succession of desperate screams, she revealed herself to me, talon and eye as sharp as the executioner’s duty.” – She Comes in Blood, The Sommerset Tales p. 243
A proper critical response is not within the gift of this simple piece of adoration. This is a celebration, merely, of a unique blend of stimulations, the gathering of a thousand impulses in one place – soul-shattering crescendos, arias of disillusion and heartbreak, funkadelic breakdowns and the emotional spasms of modern jazz.
If Poe contends that poetry aspires to the condition of music, A House of Hollow Wounds delivers.
Cries in the darkness have never shone so brightly.
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