The Far Side of the Lake – Steve Rasnic Tem

Real-Time Review continued from HERE



“She beat on the glass but they would not turn and look at her.”

The book’s third vignette, but now a cross between stone and air: the tangibility of rain (or creatures that live in the wet like rain?) creating a subsuming (as if hugging her more and more) of a woman by visions of strangers (including, inter-generationally, her young daughter also as a stranger) in her house and other accoutrements of death; yet someone that could eventually be depicted in stone, forever, I guess, or through “grey glass” making it simply look like stone. It is almost as if ‘Presage’ actually presaged such a review of itself as this one: cast through a glass darkly [- a dystopic vision ahead of only ebooks to read!?] “…the clouds of mist which covered the ground and lowered the sky and filled her mouth...” (12 Feb 12 – another hour later)


A male version – in synergy with ‘Presage’ – being similarly subsumed, but here by vagrants — and by a type of inter-generational amnesia that works perfectly in the context of this book so far.  I have also discovered an external synergy of some coincidental power with a story called ‘Stamping Ground’ by Carole Johnstone that I reviewed here.  This a form of dance of the derelicts, a frighteningly effective pattern to be scried from the patterns of people that surround us and who, here, without the glass between, can get too close despite your aversion choreography still managing to drag you into their moves….  [And like Tom in the Lake story possibly seeing food as alien and, for some oblique reason, needing to be kept beyond the sell-by date on purpose just as an excuse to throw it away. As if foxing or corner-crimping or tearing or marginalising are ingredients of an incurable disease? Perhaps one day I’ll eat my words.] (12 Feb 12 – another 90 minutes later)


“The glass was extraordinarily clean. A good omen. In fact the glass was so clean you’d hardly know it was there.”

Indeed, glass that is remarkably still clean, after fingering it as my ipad’s screen: to move its inner furniture around.  I thought that Tem had gone into overdrive with some of the earlier stories. This one demonstrates, I feel, an overdrive of an overdrive. No lingering doubts about this author now; not that I would have already let them linger for long ever since embarking on this public, fish-bowl journey of a real-time review with this book’s first story.  ‘Aquarium’, meanwhile, is absurdist like the Train story, but a completely fresh slant upon such modernism, while maintaining a pungently traditional linearity around its startling inner structure of a crazy kaleidoscope, and with a prose-style / subject-matter that is (are) richly textured, even in the open process of conveying this book’s  erstwhile themes and thoughts, its depths and surfaces, all with impeccable imaginative force. A world of a professional-seeming cataloguer (himself an aquarium ‘Tarr and Fether’ ‘insider’), a cataloguer of real antiquities of furniture, including furniture of childhood ‘correction’ within a historically structural world: half hotel, half orphanage, half aquarium.  Letting this book’s accoutrements linger on the tongue of literature itself: the book’s inter-generationality as orphan connections (“Families make us human“), oh so true for the ambiance of our reading of this book, plus another car-board rear-view mirror, allowing us to watch the retrocausalities of each story filtering the visionary power through a new prism of the next story – and then the next. Especially this one. (12 Feb 12 – another 4 hours later)




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