The Phantasmagorical Imperative and Other Fabrications
by DP Watt
Egaeus Press, 2014
Hardcover, 222 pages
Reviewed by Mario Guslandi
An emerging new talent in the British literary scene, DP Watt is the author of strange, neo-decadent, weird fiction. Call it dark fantasy, or slipstream, whatever. They’re fascinating, not easy to read, sometimes irritatingly obscure stories, but never ordinary, never predictable. The prose is elegant, and the context reveals culture and education. Hence,what better publisher than the stylish imprint Egaeus Press, providing an exquisite hardcover limited edition apt to ravish any real book lover?
A typical example of Watt’s offbeat fiction is “The Ten Dictates of Alfred Tesseler”, a disconcerting, hypnotic but scarcely intelligible novella probing the secrets of death and after-death and the baffling experience of time traveling.
The title story “The Phantasmagorical Imperative” (what a knack for unusual titles!) is a mesmerizing tale about magic brought into a small Cornish town by an odd traveling show, while “Holzwege” is a bizarre example of decadent horror smartly blending sex and death , and “Vertep” is a musical nightmare triggered by a haunted jack-in-the-box.
Sometimes, however, Watt contrives to appear deceptively simple, as in “14 ml of Matt Enamel # 61” (again, please note the title…) , a straightforward narrative, where a man obsessed with model trains reunites with an old friend with an appalling, malicious twist in the tale, and in the melancholy “A Harvest of Abandon”, a story of loneliness depicting the life’s sunset of a writer relocated from London to the Scottish country after his wife’s death.
If you favor perceptive, enigmatic, thought-provoking fiction, here’s your cup of tea..