Book Review: The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature by Christopher Slatsky | More2Read
 

The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature by Christopher Slatsky


 

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Purchase From Grimscribe Press

 


 

About The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature

From the author of Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales comes this devastating collection of fifteen stories and essays. A father’s desperate search for his missing child leads to a cosmic haunted realm. A woman returns to her childhood home to find a past preserved in a semblance of life. A young man and his canine companion are plunged into the heart of an occult government exercise deep within a Pacific Northwest forest. An elderly man is subject to mysterious experiments as he descends into dementia. And, in the title novella, a forensic anthropologist is called to the site of the mass suicide of an anti-natalist cult obsessed with contacting Nature.

 


 

Praise For The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature

 

“Slatsky, more than any writer I know, has an ability to fathom human pain in a way that neither dismisses it or dilutes it but rather shows the way pain opens us all up to the inhuman. A powerful book of stories, each of which tears off the face of the so-called real in a different, alarming, enlightening way.”
—Brian Evenson, author of A Collapse of Horses and Song for the Unraveling of the World

“In [Slatsky’s] writing, the mundane trembles atop the darkly numinous. Displaying a remarkable variety of formal innovation, the pieces collected in The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature slice through the conventions of daily existence to the profound and terrifying absence undergirding it. In the best tradition of Ligotti and [Nicole] Cushing, Slatsky’s work wrestles with the void, to produce an art uniquely his.”
—John Langan, author of Sefira and Other Betrayals and The Fisherman

“The sense of loss in these stories is profound but balanced by a powerful yearning for wonders sublime and ineffable. Whether grotesque, conjuring dread and horror, or plunging the reader’s imagination into the fantastic, the strangeness never feels forced and seems innate to the writer. With The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature, Christopher Slatsky embeds himself among the best writers of the contemporary North American Weird Tale.”
—Adam Nevill, author of The Ritual and The Reddening

“The gritty landscapes and detailed, hallucinogenic transformations in these extraordinary stories are somewhat reminiscent of Ramsey Campbell’s work, but Slatsky’s journeys lead us into weird visions even more darkly grotesque as his characters walk that delicate line between madness and illumination. The sensibility here as he explores the ineffable qualities of nature and our place within it (as just another animal) evokes the best of Algernon Blackwood, but through the lens of characters caught in downward spirals of grief and despair. Few writers of weird fiction go as dark as Christopher Slatsky.”
—Steve Rasnic Tem, author of Ubo and Deadfall Hotel

“A book of dreams and lamentations. Slatsky writes powerfully of absence, of grief, discovering cosmic horror in the agony of loss and a kind of bereavement in cosmic despair. Throughout The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature, stories of human tragedy become windows to an empty universe. The view is at once sobering, inspiring, and profoundly sad.”
—Daniel Mills, author of Moriah and The Lord Came at Twilight

Christopher Slatsky achieves a sense of dread and disorientation through the accumulation of small details, compounding into physical settings that are at once both familiar and dream-like, environments that embody the struggle between cosmic entropy and human loss. Navigating one of his stories is like exploring an abandoned factory or gutted house, uncovering buried jewel and charred bone, and discovering snapshots of your own life amongst the detritus. His prose is beautiful, his range breathtaking. I have admired his work in the past, but this generous volume has cemented my opinion: he is absolutely one of the finest writers of horror and the uncanny working today.”
—Jeffrey Thomas, author of Punktown and The Unnamed Country

“Christopher Slatsky’s second collection, The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature, is a marvel of horror and weird fiction. The stories in its pages speak equally to loss and existential horror as they do the far-flung mysteries of the universe and the terrifying wonder those mysteries can awaken. On every page, Slatsky forges a strange, mesmerizing alloy of the sublime, the spectral, and the scientific. In his hands, the weird becomes an entryway to dark and disturbing metaphysical speculation. He evokes the threat of malign demiurges in space exploration, the inexplicable nature of all being in personal tragedy. Call it cosmic hauntology. Call it the despair of the numinous. Call it whatever you will, it’s uniquely Slatsky, and it will twist your mind in the best possible ways. The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature proves beyond any doubt that horror and the weird are as much a vessel for serious philosophy as they are for a shudder-inducing tale. I cannot recommend it enough.”
—Kurt Fawver, author of The Dissolution of Small Worlds

“…Slatsky’s voice is rare and thus commendable for his total devotion to the darkest, most funereal, dead dreamer’s songs… If you like your horror pitch black—this is it!”
—Dejan Ognjanovi?, Dante’s Pick in Rue Morgue magazine, #192, Jan./Feb. 2019

“…Slatsky’s The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature is one tremendous emotional gut punch after another. And yet these stories are stimulating to the intellect while also managing to hit that sweet spot where beauty and the strange wrap around one another to create something truly, unflinchingly, and even delicately weird. Slatsky is one of the very best we have, hands down.”
—Robert S. Wilson, Co-editor in Chief at Nightscape Press

“…a powerful voice tapped deep into the vein of both human and cosmic sorrow. These are stories that traverse crushing grief and malleable time, and Slatsky handles both the intimate and the numinous with a deft, incisive hand. …It’s really no wonder why Grimscribe chose Slatsky to throw them headfirst into the ring, so to speak, as this is a collection consistent in quality and diverse in content, unified by an unflinching pessimism that roils beneath its surface. And yet, it does not place itself above its characters—instead empathizing with their trials and the meaningless hurt they experience. The result is a deep, affecting resonance, matched only by the reader’s own horror of recognition.”
—Carson Winter, Signal Horizon

“Slatsky may also be the greatest visual stylist that horror fiction has ever known. He creates these perfect paragraphs, these incredible tableaus, of just mind-shattering power… After reading stories like ‘Phantom Airfields’ or ‘The Carcass of the Lion’, which to me are some of the best horror fiction currently being written, you have to put the book down, kind of let what you just experienced soak in, come to terms with what you just read and try to understand the strange feelings you just had overwhelm you… Slatsky’s walking terrors enter your psyche, it burrows so deep that it will be with you for the rest of your days.”
—Scott Dwyer, The Plutonian, editor of Pluto in Furs

 


 

Review

I will be reading these gradually and add reviews of ones I like whilst reading. I had to try two and sample the authors work.

 

Phantom Airfields

There is a devastating loss of a young child with a father at his end of hope and has ideas of ending it all and harm, a trigger warning for someone in a dark low place at present.

A spaceman character in this and possibly providing one small step to a little closure.

A short somber disquieting tale permeating the heart for a time.

 

“Everything rots. The world dilapidates. Everyone will vanish into nothingness.”

“Wide open space. Helps me think.”

“Fantasizing about hurting himself was the only semblance of control he had these days.”

 

Engines of the Ocean

A case of shady and obscure memories with an absorbing haunting tale of discoveries with a curious Cordelia traveling back to her childhood home.

 

“That room in the basement. The stuff of childhood terrors. She’d never actually entered it, only glimpsed the brick-lined interior on those rare occasions the door had been left ajar. The unpleasant scent of the space was forever in her memory. A sweaty residue—or was it more like the ocean?
The room had always been off-limits. It was where her father wrote his ideas down, sketching various machine designs as a hobby. A frustrated engineer, relegated to a field service technician position for the city’s water department, she’d never seen any of his finished projects actually operating. The weird machines of unknown function never made it from the page to fruition, and nothing ever led to a promotion.”

“The mind was an unreliable thing, all too often preserving dark moments while neglecting the joyful. There was some light in between the cracks of a dreary childhood, and most were illuminated by their adventures at the ocean.”

“She’d fallen into the uncanny valley of sentiment, a childhood imperfectly replicated.”

 

The Carcass Of The Lion 

 

The short starts with a nicely crafted evocation of two women, friends, one a beekeeper with bees around her, along with a great little simile.

“The beekeeper’s veil stuck to Sylvia’s sweaty forehead, fine gaps in the material blurring Hazel’s body into a gauzy ghost. The flurry of insects around her now made it appear as if she had a halo of bees. The hive boxes seemed strange in this setting, like building blocks left behind by a monstrous child. Sylvia continued walking alongside a stream that originated in the forest, bubbling from below into a thin path to join a shallow pond the bees and other wildlife used as a water source.

“Hazel. Dearest. What in the world are you up to out here?”

Hazel turned on hearing Sylvia’s voice, startled by the sight of her in full beekeeper regalia, as if she were a bug-eyed alien from a 50s sci-fi flick just stepped from its saucer.”

Then there is talk of an enemy, Cancer.
Sylvia wonders later in the very realm of the past, retreading, reviving terrors and fears, these complexities all brought back again by another encounter with this species and she ponders on the whole real truth of it all and the deeper layers of complexities in relation to it.
Maybe a folk horror this could be along with existential visceral writing.
There is a great arrangement of words with this short poetic sympathy of a tale incorporating beauty and splendor, somberness and death.

Also to note, I am no expert and sometimes doubt my summarizes.

“Random, vicious events splayed out across history’s timeline, contrasted against humanity’s calculated depravity. No rhyme or reason to anything—unless it was humanity’s proclivity for barbarism. A roll of the dice by a malicious gambler.”

“She was an imaginative child. Whatever it was would be long dead now. Maybe she’d dreamt the whole encounter.

But it wasn’t just the strange animal sighting long ago that prevented her from going into the woods—the idea that some faiths prayed to nature, and practiced their rituals deep within sacred groves, was also deeply worrisome. Communicating with vine-clad gods under leaf shade, dancing upon sidhe mounds with demi-gods below centuries old branches—the very thought filled her with a delicious fear. Hadn’t she once played hide-and-seek here? The thought was a blur. She didn’t recall having any companions her age to play with in the area, but the impression she’d hidden deep inside a hole out there while something tried to find her was persistent. She shuddered at the morning chill and the memory. The woods terrified, the woods exhilarated.”

“She was just an artist imagining what could’ve been. Dreams were all well and good, but the practical aspects of life all too often atrophied aspirations. Marriages failed. Parents weak and filled with rage.”

“Nature created glorious structures with no intent or foresight, the Giant’s Causeway being one such example. Competence without comprehension. The illusion of purpose by the purposeless.

But she couldn’t imagine how this heptagram star-shape was possible by chance alone, by unthinking bees, without a guiding hand. The colors in the comb were captivating, a nacreous sheen, though such a simple description didn’t adequately convey the depths of its beauty. Sylvia felt tongue-tied, dizzy and sour-mouthed.”
 

The Numinous in God, Nature, and Horror 

“Why this submissive dread, this overwhelming fascination with the ineffable that invariably informs so much art, so many religions, and horror fiction specifically? Most importantly, does the numinous reside within the believer and non- believer; the deist, polytheist, monotheist, atheist, and the secularist throughout human history?”

He poses some very deep questions like these and leaves plenty to ruminate along with two paintings a first for me learn of by Woman before the Rising Sun (Woman before the Setting Sun) by Caspar David Friedrichand and Wind Blown Grass Across the Moon by Hiroshige.

 


Rising Sun (Woman before the Setting Sun) by Caspar David Friedrichand


Wind Blown Grass Across the Moon by Hiroshige.


 

He talks on memories from a younger self and references Blackwood’s “The Man Whom the Trees Loved, I have to re-read, and then talks on “the terrifying grandeur of weird storytelling” what a great treatise on these matters, awe struck.

Just ponder over this excerpt:

“I have a distinct memory of when I was 5 and we’d just moved from Southern California to Oregon, to our new home, a house hidden away in the woods on an isolated 32-acre forest covered mountain. I remember the first night there, standing by myself outside, looking into the dark woods free of any light pollution in such a distant place. I was dumbstruck by the majesty and mystery of it all. Like Sanderson in Blackwood’s “The Man Whom the Trees Loved,” I too was consumed by what I can only describe as a pantheistic fervor and raw atavistic fear at what I could not comprehend lurking within the darkest depths of the forest. I experienced that pious terror in the grandeur and power where nature, religion, and horror embrace.

The vastness of the natural world may invoke reactions similar to those moved by pious revelations, and this is of great relevance to the terrifying grandeur of weird storytelling. The uncanny is omnipresent, and seems to be an innate aspect of being human, of how we view the world and how the irrational, surreal, and disturbing distortion of the physical world invokes unease.”

Another interesting recommendation arises with Necromancers by R.H Besnon.

He may have penned the name of this collection from writing this piece as I notice these two lines “Vastness. Light years. Parsecs. Immeasurable gulfs.”

This work discusses the numinous, God, Nature and horror, fear and wonder, there be views expressed one may agree or disagree, he does successfully bring to account matters, hearts at battle with, ones from many denizens of this earth that cannot be dismissed without tangible things.

 

Excerpts

 

“Hiroshige’s Wind Blown Grass Across the Moon accomplishes something similar. While it would be a chauvinistic mistake to make a one-to-one comparison, Hiroshige’s portrayal of grass contrasted against a full moon is similar to Woman Before the Rising Sun; both evoke terror and wonder in the face of Nature.”

“There’s an ominous quality to these arts—in paintings, film, music, literature, the emphasis on nature occulted, yet also gloriously pious, conveys a sense of awe, of the universe’s scope and our infinitesimal place in it, of God, of beauty and mystery. There are so many fascinating examples amongst various cultures I can’t possibly do justice to the varieties of art that explores the connection between God, Nature, and fear.”

“Humanity’s insignificance in the face of storms, the ocean and its depths, vistas, massive mountain ranges, the vastness of the cosmos, in the complexity of the infinite, of numbers, Fibonacci patterns, fractals, infinite repetitions in the natural world, doesn’t require theism to inspire and thrill. Nature is awe-inspiring. Nature is terrifying. We’re all the product of the same evolutionary processes; we have a numinous seed planted in our heads regardless the culture or era we were born into.”

 


 

About Christopher Slatsky

 

Christopher Slatsky’s stories have appeared in Shadows & Tall Trees, Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vastarien: A Literary Journal, and elsewhere. His debut collection, Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales (Dunhams Manor Press), was released summer of 2015. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

 



 

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 15 March 2021