Extract from my real-time review here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/cassildas-song-editor-joe-pulver/
LES FLEURS DU MAL by Allyson Bird
"Dumas had the black tulip."
'The Black Tulip' (based on Dumas) is the first TV drama serial I remember watching as a child in the 1950s.
And that is just the start of a dark cornucopia of artistic and literary references. Probably this Bird story is the most amazing work within this book's fields we know that you might ever read, and need to read again, but perhaps without fully transcending its apparent personal aspects (one of the paintings discovered by a writer of weird in New Zealand and "Jealousy within groups of artists") and also its universal references - a work to be read time and time again to try find the pure base colours of its foundation canvas that truly underpins some of these creatively staccato sentences and its otherwise poetic tentacles of Carcosan rhapsody and intentional fallacy.
I will only mention below a few of my own found references deriving from and filling out what I earlier dubbed the Yellow Jungianism...
Bird's time travelling Juliette who creates that very Jungianism, it turns out, by visiting Leonora at different times, both of them in a subtle Sapphic Union supporting this book's earlier 'collect imaginary' thus revisited within this book's fields we know.
"Paris. July 1938. Fritz Henle would be here now taking his photographs, some in Montmartre, memories of a wonderful city before the occupation."
I have just finished reviewing (HERE
) 'The Siren of Montmartre' by Leopold Nacht, a book that is steeped in a sensibility of German occupied Montmartre and resonates coincidentally with this, Bird's own siren-like story.
(This recent real-time review actually links HERE
to my own Baudelaire 'lurching together' verselet from the 1960s. It feels as if Juliette actually visited ME when I was writing that verselet then! And perhaps even more remarkably that review HERE
linked to the three Gongoozlers!)
"Why would I live in a world created by someone else—it could turn out to be hell and I have enough of that already. I don’t even know if you really exist."
The explicit ability to create fiction wherein we can inhabit for real.
And then, of course, Juliette must have visited our own little on-line coterie of the noughties, I sense, as well those Gongoozlers in 1988... It seems all there...
"One day I won’t be left out. The women will have a voice eventually. I’ll be recognized one day.’"
"‘Ah. He’d insulted me once a very long time ago so I thought I’d do that. Not my greatest hour but funny at the time.’"
"‘There was another who offended you.’
‘The other—mmmmm there was one who played Bottom in the Shakespeare play and when he tried to remove the head it wouldn’t come off—everyone said the head looked so real.’
‘What happened to him next?’
‘Sideshow for a time then his real head was put back on. He still thought he was an ass though so he was committed to the Belmont Mental Institution.’"
"Juliette had many enemies, too. There was one in particular who hated poets, writers, and any artists who ‘interpreted’ the yellow sign—he would try to bring about their demise in some way. Silence them. Shut them down. She knew exactly where he was and Juliette had been told that he would not catch up with her just yet. She always lived on the edge."
Juliette was even present, I sense, when Gilman wrote the Yellow Wallpaper and Van Gogh ate his yellow paint.
I feel sincerely that this is an important work in the realms of weird literature. Eminently and strangely satisfying. Preternaturally startling. And I have only scratched the textured surface of its references, dealing mainly with those that are meaningful to me. Those meaningful to you may be quite different and I can easily collect-imagine that they will all be there waiting for you to find when you read this remarkable Bird work. Each ladder of references, a Yellow-seeking tontine?
Above all, this work, unlike the earlier one above I reviewed, now does make Carcosa soar, arc and, yes, scar. Scar indelibly.
(Meantime, beware! - Juliette may leave things in your own work to show she's been there.)