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The Abnormalities of Stringent Strange - Rhys Hughes (2)

My gestalt real-time review of THE ABNORMALITIES OF STRINGENT STRANGE by Rhys Hughes continued from HERE.

The New Adjacents:

.The review will appear in the ‘comment’ stream below as and when I read each section of the novel in random single sittings — however long this strange process may take within the stringent strictures of my otherwise normal life.

11 Responses to *

  1. Pages 71 – 87
    “I still prefer the atonalities of Bartok, Varese, Schoenberg. Guess I’m old school.”
    …except Bartok, to my mind, was not especially atonal. The story proceeds with a ratchetting cyborg clockwork motion which is both Whovian and Wizard-of-Oz-like but not really either of those two attempts at describing it by me, as many twists take place and a new quest commences using another invention of airflight … and how much more of this wonder-piled-on-wonder the reader can take depends on who the reader is. It’ll either give you a headache or it will continue to thrill you. I am in the latter category as I leave headaches behind me like shed skins. There is one amazing concept here, among many others, this one being about a fourth wall as the book’s page via which the characters can actually issue sponsorship messages for the readers to unsubliminally receive.. For me, this would make no sense at all if I were reading this real book as an ebook. There is even an adjustment made so as not to antagonise any modern female readership. And the ontology of omnipotence matching greater omnipotence… This book sort of exemplifies that in itself.

  2. Pages 89 – 107
    I don’t know if it’s just me but there seems to be a certain mixed-up flabbiness in these sections about Big and Little Italy during the onward thrust of Stringent’s adventures – but only a flabbiness when compared to the focussed hyperthrust of the previous sections … as if proving that hyperthrust is only hyperthrust if you’ve also got flabbythrust to compare it with. I love, however, in these flabby sections, the name of the Douche and Muscle Leany, and the hard and soft jazz exponents (to match my earlier conception during this review of hard and soft atonalists) in some sort of Mafia schism and, of course, the coal-powered robot with whom our hirsute hero has sexual congress.

  3. Pages 109 – 123
    “With no coherent plan of action, they simply ran in a random direction, hoping for inspiration.”
    …as the book itself has it, while resorting to more and more outrageous metafictional asides.
    As well as being a very entertaining Flash Gaydar SF adventure – with a group of characters that share Stringy’s various outlandish concocted aircraft a bit like the children in Swallows and Amazons – this is also arguably similar to a particular French ‘anti-novel’ about Manchester where all there is to narrate about is the rain, rain and more rain, with here, in this Rhys Hughes book, the rain being torrential conceits or bouts of self-referential authorial sparring with the reader … ‘witting’ if not wetting our brains.
    But here Stringy is suddenly abducted. But no spoilers. That’s all I’m saying. Unless you pay me to trail behind me banner-adverts of plot twists even before they happen.
    You can never relax with Rhys Hughes fiction.
    One thing to remember, a Melodramatic Bomb is just as dangerous as any other bomb.

  4. Meta-sponsored string2 within this review – leading, if clicked, to an advert of itself.

  5. I’ve just remembered the title of the anti-novel about rain: L’Emploi du Temps by Michel Butor – an apt title but I don’t think there has been any rain at all so far in Stringent Strange!

  6. Pages 125 -129
    “…he ended standing engulfed in her cleavage, globes of sweet lady flesh on both sides squeezing tightly and holding him firmly in place.”
    When I invented the word ‘flabbythrust’ earlier – upon being faced with a flabby part of this book – I had no idea that Stringy would later end up here faced with the sort of scandalously concupiscent mission described by this section! This book is now getting really daft and I blame the editors who have already been blamed explicitly from within the very text that they are editing so they have not even edited out such criticisms of themselves, so what can we expect?
    I have read a lot of Rhys Hughes work in the past and never – not even in ‘The Brothel Creeper’ collection – have I encountered such goings on as can be found in this section!

  7. Pages 131 – 146
    If characters are metafictional then they are collaborators with the author, thus they are writers themselves – and this fact is coupled with readers being subject to collateral damage from events in the plot – and all that brings us to a very serious section to neutralise the previous daftnesses and where I feel much more involved, whereby Stringy’s previous flight companions are faced with duelling gladiatorially as writers. And indeed real named writers get involved, too, but no mention of two writers who are already fighting a writers’ duel for fame to the death since three and a half years ago, viz. Rhys Hughes and DF Lewis, as documented HERE!

  8. Page 147 – 162
    At the end of the previous section, we are invited to skip this one, because it doesn’t move the story on. Skipping it by leapfrogging it like some events in Toynbeean history were earlier explicity leapfrogged by Stringy when he entered the HIPZI Alternate World from our own Alternate World as readers. I have however absorbed it osmotically and it seems to involve seven named real readers* in very well-written fight scenes with some hero writers – in tune with readers being ‘involved’ by collateral damage as I mentioned above, and similar to how John Howard referred to them#, an author who has also featured in his own fiction the Nazis’ dream of their built ‘whitish’ city.

    * Tim Love, Steve Mattsson, Tim Uhl, Anthony Cardno, Marty Kardon, Adrian Chamberlain and Jason E. Rolfe.

    # “– perhaps this is because the reader as ‘voyeur’ is not in fact only that, but is a voyager as well. The reader is involved; the reader can know – and be known.”

  9. Pages 163 – 167
    “Bent rivets and chain links rained in torrents.”
    Ahhh! Here, suddenly, we have rain!
    Meanwhile, as we rejoin the plot proper, I wonder if the many named famous writers do mind being included as characters in this book when, as I reported earlier, they are thus effectively co-writers of it, by the book’s own internal logic!

  10. Pages 169 – 184
    “‘This mode of transport is called Latitude Cars. Just as cable cars only run on the cords they are suspended from, so these sledges can only travel along lines of latitude,’ said Malcolm.”
    …and there is something very neatly and freshly ‘narrative’ about such devices – just as we follow Stringy on his string theory of plot to his native Africa together with plot and character reprises of the Tarotplane, the aviatrix etc. etc., and we learn, too, that one of Stringy’s tutelary character-friends now has a form of swearing Tourette’s just as this book’s narrative itself has constantly had a Meta-Tourette’s of concertina-conceits ad absurdum. The afflictions are similar. And the reader is afflicted, too, retrofuckcausally.

  11. Pages 185 – 199
    Not a denouement so much as a denudement, and there are plot spoilers galore to divulge but I won’t. Suffice to say that I think the author of ‘The Abnormalities of Stringent Strange’ himself has the same ability as provided by Stringent’s Third Abnormality, especially when, at the end of this novel, he effectively begs we readers to clamour for sequels of this book from the publisher of it!
    Loved the first half of this novel (a Rhys Hughes hyperthrust), but found the second half a flabbythrust. Yet this author’s flabbythrust is most other authors’ hyperthrust. And his hyperthrust (when it happens) is usually beyond the capability even of the great authors* who are named or appear in this book as characters and meta co-writers.

    * Philip José Farmer, Beatrix Potter, Oscar Wilde, Paul Di Fillippo, A.A. Attanasio, Fritz Leiber, Norman Mailer, Bernard Cornwell, Ayn Rand, Neil Gaiman, Pierre Menard, Jorge Luís Borges, Thomas Ligotti, Tim Lebbon, Gertrude Stein, John Steinbeck, Thomas Pynchon, Ernest Hemingway, John Updike, Noel Coward, Stanislaw Lem, Kevin J. Anderson, Keith Laumer, William Tenn, Mercedes Lackey, S.P. Meek, Ray Cummings, Neil R. Jones, Charles R. Tanner, Raymond Z. Gallum, Henry Hasse, Felipe ¡Que Dick! and others.

    “…he had given her the extra eighty-eight orgasms over a period of three days.”
    Cf: My real-time review of this signed special edition of the book, i.e. limited to 88 copies.