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Steve Spence

"The Return of the Doom-Headed Three" by Daniel Y. Harris & Rupert M. Loydell

pub. Swan World, 112 pages.

Anthony Burgess wrote an introductory book on James Joyce entitled Here Comes Everybody and
you could say that this latest escapade from the joint pens of Daniel Y. and Rupert M., (please note the Oxford comma) are in the tradition of such over-abundance, where science fiction meets pulp faction meets modern up-to-the-minute poetics within a discourse of such varying dizziness and manic erudition that anything goes, within a relatively structured series of formats and ongoing interrogations, that is.

This is a book that refers endlessly, in its onward rushing display of over-the-top absurdity, a tongue-in-cheek plethora of information and disinformation which suggests the infinite in its search
for an avoidance of boredom and a desperate need on behalf of its authors to create, amidst a cacophony of voices and an overabundance of material coming from a thousand different directions
at once. Who are the Doom-Headed Three? Refer to the cheap but glossily retro S/F cover design for one possible answer or perhaps consult the back-cover blurb for another. I could hazard a guess as to which author contributed which poems or passages (they are intermingled) but this would be to miss the point entirely. The key here has to be go with the flow and if you find that you’re not enjoying yourself then pick another book, go for a walk, play your guitar or find a suitable alternative occupation. That said, I found this to be a pretty enjoyable read on the whole and I laughed, puzzled over (never for long, move on when stuck being a prime strategy here) and felt myself engulfed in a mesmerising cornucopia of mania and referential ‘nonsense’.

Take this extract, for example, from page 24, which reminds me of bits of Ed Dorn’s Westward Haut, where colloquial, mixed language is used to good effect:

       Where? In this pastiche. Pastiche?
       You dis. Mock cognate?
       Dude, where y’at?

       I at pasticcio.
       Yo, ya blazing homes?
       Naw, da blunt da pate de foie gras.

       It’s Sherlock Marlap,
       right professor? My bad,
       jocular. Tinker.

       Pick. Leave ’em miffed,
       dead in they        cribs.                                                                                                                        
        Sack the objet

       trouve. Da link-mutt,
       drive by, gangland
       pathos  and twisted

       gospel of point blank.
       Bunch O’Randum Facks
       is in da house.

In contrast, this prose passage from page 67:

       Left  behind in the  shadows, I  flick  through  The Rough
       Guide to Heaven and find that the souls of the departed
       will never return. No clouding issues of  salvation can be
       accommodated;  there is a  gulf that  separates  us  from
       reality and several  models  of martyrdom available to us
       all. Magic and medicine, poetry and song, have opened a
       window of opportunity  for a glimpse of the hereafter. It
       is not only  the  physical landscape  that is changing; wel
       come to my ghost zoo and the  embers of the fire inside.

These extracts are pretty much picked out at random but you can find connections if you look hard enough. There’s a ‘theological’ aspect to the prose passage which could just be echoed in the stanzas above by the reference to ‘gospel’ though the context is clearly entirely different. How these texts were put together remains a part of their charm and intrigue. Both extracts can be enjoyed for their particular use of language, regardless of what the reader makes of their content and the whole book is filled with a variety of approach and of wide reference points which somehow manage to mesh together. There’s a ‘Raymond Chandler’ way of coming at things at times, which posits the pastiche in the style rather than in the thing that’s being said, while here (on page 90) we have an overt allusion to Ken Kesey’s novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, in the character of the power hungry nurse who rules the roost:

       Ms. Nightingale? No, Ratchet.
       Nurse Ratchet.
       We thought you died
       on Mount Vesuvius
       with your speculum? …………

It’s a question of enjoying the language, its variety and its ‘postmodern’ rewiring of narrative discourse, referring back, perhaps, to the fiction of writers such as Michael Moorcock, but forward also into the unknown. This is the third collaboration between Harris and Loydell and I somehow suspect it won’t be the last. Feast your eyes boys and girls and create your own meanings from this melange of ‘pre-apocalyptic euphoria’ and enjoy the ride.


Copyright © Steve Spence, 2018