The history of art is littered with Great Men and the Muses they use as stepping stones to brilliance. In this shockingly lyrical, endlessly rich and luxurious nightmare of a novel, the Muse turns. Yet, it is not so much a tale of vengeance or comeuppance as it is a heroine’s journey, as Anonyma survives doomscapes almost beyond imagination and the transgressions of mere men, mere artists, survives the horrors imposed upon the feminine to rediscover her own magic and power. Anonyma, novel and narrator, holds up a dark mirror to our paradigm of art as a kind of device for reducing women to Platonic ideals while staging theophanies for men. But she also holds the mirror to herself, her sisters, even, daring to hope, a daughter. Anonyma is a novel full of blood and love and despair and courage.
Praise for Anonyma
“Anonyma is a lush phantasmagoria as well as an all too real nightmare. The talent and strength of Farah Rose Smith shines on the pages as it shines through the darkness.”
– Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Pallbearers Club.
“Anonyma is an explosion of language and imagery, dense and uncompromising. Filled with beauty, horror, and a cleansing rage, this book casts a searing eye over the corrupted relationship between women, men, and Art. A decadent treat.”
– Nathan Ballingrud, Author of The Visible Filth and North American Lake Monsters
“The history of art is littered with Great Men and the Muses they use as stepping stones to brilliance. In this shockingly lyrical, endlessly rich and luxurious nightmare of a novel, the Muse turns. Yet, it is not so much a tale of vengeance or comeuppance as it is a heroine’s journey, as Anonyma survives doomscapes almost beyond imagination and the transgressions of mere men, mere artists, survives the horrors imposed upon the feminine to rediscover her own magic and power. Anonyma, novel and narrator, holds up a dark mirror to our paradigm of art as a kind of device for reducing women to Platonic ideals while staging theophanies for men. But she also holds the mirror to herself, her sisters, even, daring to hope, a daughter. Full of blood and love and despair and courage, this is a novel like few others I have encountered.”
– Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, Author of Weird Tales of a Bangalorean
“Farah Rose Smith’s Anonyma is both passionate and despairing, showcasing a distinct point of view and a powerful aptitude for the relationship between content and form. Smith’s writing evaluates the darkest possibilities of artistic narcissism and self-loathing, bolstered by bleak philosophical insight and gorgeously lyrical prose. Essential reading for admirers of dark literature.”
– Mike Thorn, Author of Darkest Hours
“The painful intensities that Farah Rose Smith choreographs in her fiction are genuine, and urgent. For sensitivity, and for focus on the power of individual words, she is unmatched.”
– Michael Cisco, author of Unlanguage and Antisocieties
“Anonyma is a hallucinogenic, decadent vision-quest in response to severe physical and emotional abuse and existential dread. The literary landscape behind this novella is astonishing in its scope and in the genius of its imagination. At times, I was favorably reminded of Les Chants de Maldoror by Comte de Lautréamont—or rather a brilliantly feminist response to that surreal, visionary work. There’s a dark triumph in Anonyma’s visceral and supernatural suffering and (at times) self-defeating exploration of identity, which is paradoxically inspiring. Anonyma evokes a plaintive yearning for the nurturing of life, both the wounded persona’s own and the lives of those female multitudes inside of her.”
– Jon Padgett, author of The Secret of Ventriloquism
Viscerally succumbing you within a life of an artist though a crucible of pain and suffering, art and toxic love, with violence and abuse, a surreal and real ballad with Anonyma, trapped in the web of Nicholas and ‘a Doom Artist,’ all delivered with poetic potency and beauty.
An unconventional first person narrative, meditations and retrospective reflections with prose style that purposely demands care to grasp understanding in the raw scenes, disquietness and the surreal before Anonyma with a memorable journeying with exorcism and metamorphosis through an abyss and extraordinary realm of existence.
“I envision him as vividly as when he last stood before me, a wisp of black and blonde approaching from a farther wood. Nicholas Bezalel, the Jester King, the Mastermind of the Majestic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a creature—and a creature he was. A Nordic-looking man with long legs like a spider. He towered over all of us, in body, in spirit, in wealth. But something was unsavory about him, and all of us questioned the origin of this phantom.”
“The Noctuary was a dream construction of my own, but there are elements of existing things in there. The idea of a black tower with a great golden theatre hidden in the underground floors… while I would love to claim that as my own innovation, I have to give credit to F. Krespel von Rehm, who wrote of such a place in the final chapters of The Almanac of Dust.” When asked if there are any works he still aspires to draw from, he thinks deeply for some time before answering. “As a fan of Von Aurovitch, I have naturally had a fascination with The Scaerulldythareaum for some time.”
“I have the look of death again, underneath the icy hue—spectral light on a lifeless stage. Sorcery and dark wishes are never without a conjurer. They set their roots deep beneath the hardwood here. All the stage, a sinner’s web—and I, the captured fly. I find myself in a passion of dying, more so than in previous days of early waking. I do not want to die, in the strictest sense. Though I am tempted by the dark pull. The passionate embrace of nothingness beyond the wall of twisted life and death. I can think of no better solution for myself in such a state. I fail because my body has withered to the point of atrophy, in a tragic misalignment of age and acuity that can only be attributed to the illnesses festering inside of me. I have been too honest. So honest, that even the mask of glamour cannot hide my deteriorating mind.”
“I am Anonyma. A ruin in this city, swept up by blackened rain. I cradle oblivion in my arms; am at war with clocks over lifetimes broken apart in silent stories. I am not without a kind of freedom—the freedom of suffering. But what is to be said of a woman who holds such depths of darkness within her? I am one of these, at best, and never without sight or sound to measure. Walking dead above the ground for years, after dismissal from the clouds, left sour. A bitter hall of whispers, thick with the milk of memories. I bury myself with a daily kiss to scepters and bones. You have found me—bound, and quite alone—warring with the world falling around me.”
“There is something to be said for the stillness of a woman in exile. The faint sway of yearning and yielding. The quiet mess—with feeling, without feeling. There may be some hidden value in the depths of depressive seclusion, but as of now, I do not know them. Can’t know them, perhaps. Not with the fright of memory. Burned into my mind, are the images of those days. There is clarity there, so unwelcome that I feel it burrowing into my bones. Some days I can barely bring myself to stand, let alone walk, and attend to all that must be attended to.”
“What might one do, when they realize how many moments were stolen moments, placed in the hands of a monster? Am I in the place of regret, or ready to throw up my hands? If all could have been avoided, my mind begins. But it couldn’t have been. The little girls lost in a sea of becoming find their nets and crevices. There will be stings and stains, pain and powerlessness. One cannot shield the young from such plays of the soul. It takes its course with each of us. What might I know in truth, if I learn from hearing alone? If I do not live a life on this earth as painful, as erratic, and as real as those before me? Exits presented themselves in rags and riches. Means of escape in the prick of cold metal, or the depths of the river. I could have taken them. I could have. But I didn’t. And in that, there is everything—or nothing.”
“All around me I can see the nothing. I have met it, embraced it, allowed it within every orifice, pore, and hole. There is a loathing for the shape of me. I won’t look at it anymore. I want to feel his hands on my chest—on my throat. I want to die in his arms as I am. This is love they bottle in a broken world.”
“We basked in the archaic pessimism of Von Aurovitch’s works. In addition to his massive catalogue of sculptures, paintings, etchings, and machines, he released two written works. One, a collection of essays from his earlier years, detailing his philosophical leanings and journey of self-discovery in extreme locations across the globe. The other, his fragmented translation of the Scaearulldytheraeum, a book purported to have been pulled from a parallel dimension, detailing the most precious details regarding life, death, and worlds beyond the realm of human sight. These were the obsessions that drove him mad, warping his once whimsical and somber art into machinations of madness.”
“This depression carries none of the subliminal delicacies of the romantic tradition. There is, rather, a sharp brutality to my melancholy. The kind of somber weight that causes a dull ache in the chest and rib cage, a slowing of motor skills, and the sense that a black veil had been cast down upon me from some unknown region in space-time. There will be no enjoyment in former passions, no rationality even in the simplest of conflicts. My mind had become a battleground, riddled with the pounding and scraping and wheezing of a hard-fought and never-ending war. One of thoughts, one of emotions, and one of memories.”
“There was not a drop of magic in the world so potent as his touch. No matter the mass of evil in it, the persuasion, or the looming agony.”
“All is numb in this sky of impossibility. Broken bodies—vessels of flesh through which one experiences the earth—keep living. Keep living.
I am she without myself, because this is not me.
Men who deal in dreams should know better or know nothing at all. Captive hearts, in glass. I imagine toothless gums in infancy, teetering on the edge of the web, pouring drool. It pours and pours, cascading over the woven strings like liquids of passion on porcelain flesh.”
About Farah Rose Smith
Farah Rose Smith was born and raised in Rhode Island. Her writing has appeared in Lackington’s Magazine, Darker Magazine (Russia), Spectral Realms, Vastarien: A Literary Journal, Nightscript, Dead Reckonings, and more. Smith holds a BA in Comparative Literature from Hunter College and is currently working towards a Master’s degree in English Literature, Language, and Theory, focusing on Disability Theory, Medieval Studies, Supernatural Fiction, Decadence, and the Russian Silver Age. She lives in New York City with her husband and their three cats.