Saturday, May 5, 2012


CELEBRANT has received a positive review in Publishers Weekly:

Phantasmagorist Cisco (The Tyrant) explores the concept of reincarnation in a chimerical story about a homeless man named deKlend—who may actually be institutionalized in a sanitarium—and his attempt to make a pilgrimage to the imaginary country of Votu, a fantastical realm where time runs backward, the inhabitants worship five “natural” robots that formed spontaneously, and gangs of theriomorphic waifs (rabbit girls and pigeon girls) struggle to survive as urban scavengers. As deKlend’s quest progresses, he meets Phryne, a lead addict who self-medicates her lead poisoning by absorbing the energies from other people’s incestuous encounters, and Goose Goes Back, a soul inhabiting a bizarre fusion of machine and cadaver until it can be reincarnated. An extensive expansion of topics only touched upon in “The Thing in the Jar,” Cisco’s contribution to The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, this fusion of surrealist travelogue and journey of self-discovery is an impressive work of weird fiction, and its images and ideas will resonate with readers long after the novel ends. (June)


On behalf of CELEBRANT and all its resonations, Phantasmagorist Cisco says "Thank you!" My thanks also to those who attended my May Day reading in New York.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful book!

The living master of confusion made into the dreams of another's reality.

Michael, this idea might seem rather low brow, but have you considered writing a novel in an open choose your own adventure template? A meta layered dream narrative where the reader becomes an active character in the novel through a set of rules/mechanisms could be beyond brillant, at your prose level.

MCisco said...

Something of the sort had occurred to me, but I wonder if it would work at novel length. Julio Cortazar did something of the kind with HOPSCOTCH, in which the chapters could be read in a variety of different orders, but how many readers will actually read it skipping to and fro? I think the enjoyment there comes in having the option more than in exercising it.

Not that I wouldn't do such a thing, but it would have to be brief, and there would have to be something more to it than mere novelty. Such an approach would enable you to run a garden of forking paths scenario, but who wants to read and reread something to get all the different outcomes, and do I want to make a work that would tend to be outcome driven? Finding a productive way to use the variable ending system so that it would be more than just a gimmick is the key.

Anonymous said...

Yes, HOPSCOTCH is a wonderfully inventive novel, and I doubt it has much appeal to anyone, to be read in its more experimental manner. Yet, this need not be a bad thing, for the door is ajar for those who wish to journey further.

My general thought is in agreement to some of your concerns. The general nature of a story and a book is so structured in our thoughts, perhaps on a neurological level of brain acceptance, that to diverge from that results in an activity the brain tends to reject, and or branded as a novelty.

You understand this far better than myself.

Still, I am wanting of the experience, as others are. Our numbers are small, but loyal - I'd hope.

My general take is the setting of certain stories are more likely to yield better results. A dream like narrative might possess what is seemingly the act of dreaming, each reading allowing new motifs and visions to arrive. Yet, the reader is progressing. One might consider these random additions to the plot senseless, and if so they can be avoided for a traditional read, but if accepted over the bulk of a story they assume a density of their own.

The above uses branching stories in a way similar to French New Wave cinema, revealing/ providing perspectives that are questionable when compared to other movies, but to itself a coherence exists.

The long story in a dream narrative allows branching story lines, for you the author can force upon the reader that any branch eventually leads to your set conclusion. In one version if the boy is run over on pupose, or by chance, need not stop the vehicles forward progress, although the nature of the character can certainly alter.

Episodes, seems a functional form to allow branching variables, but arriving back to a known future heading point.

What I find difficult in reading branching story lines
are references to "You," the shock of being pulled out of a story's absorbing flow, and restrictions to how I would likely react. The confusion of dreams, with a sliver trail may provide a solution.

The NARRATOR set my thoughts down this lines of consideration, for war is a nightmare, and to have experienced that story from the mind of one of the inmates seemed so right. A mind that was interacting with decisions to kill, flee, laugh, run shouting with joy into the arms of the enemies' sight only not to be seen,and seemingly unable to do. Or for a moment do I take flight with the Dead Head Moth, seeking a droplet of honey for my thirst, or to expend memories of my youth and a failed chance to father fairer wings then my own, only to return burned by a passing bullet?

Thank you for being for it certainly has been a joy.

MCisco said...

Rightly or wrongly, people think in terms of cause and effect. So the weird happenings, some of them anyway, have to become bindingly efficient in the ensuing story. Unity is one of the things that makes the novel what it is; you can scrap unity of course, but I don't think doing that would lead to anything all that gratifying unless there were some point, which is still a kind of unity. So, if you have to deal with unity, you then can work out some perverted unity and keep it from locking up your project.

I think that the narratives we tell ourselves about our waking hours are already pretty dreamlike, that dreams don't have to work all that hard to make themselves dreamy.

I like episodes, but when I read episodic writing I begin to get more and more frustrated and nostalgic for something with a single, copious time, instead of all these local times. Episodic time keeps throwing me back on my own time, while copious time gives me scope to spread out.
You can dictate choices, this or that, to readers, but for one thing I don't know that readers really make those choices, and secondly I think there's something bullying about those kinds of choices. If you really want to give the reader "room to interpret," with scare quotes around it because I don't know exactly what that means even if I can't do without the idea, then don't give them choices, give them a lot of room and a lot of time. Not so much French New Wave, maybe, or alongside it, I want Tarkovsky all the time.

Anonymous said...

Brillant! Tarkovsky, sums up your writing so well. Give the story the time it needs to unfurl, and it's weird wondrous reality is begatted.

If there could be a "machine," that is an absolute observer of human life, with a langaunge able to communicate pure unfiltered reality, what indeed might it reveal of the stories we tell ourselves?

Weirdmonger said...

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DF Lewis