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Dadaoism (An Anthology)
edited by Justin Isis and Quentin S. Crisp
Chômu Press, 336 pages

Dadaoism (An Anthology)
Quentin S. Crisp
Quentin S. Crisp was born in 1972 in North Devon, England, and grew up in the Devon countryside, close to the sea. He spent five years working with Wolf and Water Theatre Company as an actor and stage manager. During this period of his life he concentrated most of his energies on the band, The Dead Bell, for whom he played bass guitar and wrote lyrics. He entered Durham University in 1996. As part of his degree course he spent a year in Japan. In the year 2000 he graduated with a first and took a job teaching English in Taiwan. He currently resides in Twickenham, on the outskirts of London.

Quentin S. Crisp Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

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According to editor Quentin S. Crisp the term "dadaoism" -- obviously a neologism -- is a portmanteau of "dadaism" and "daoism." Fine enough, but we're not any wiser. Having now read the anthology, which includes a total of twenty-six contributions (short stories, novellas, poems) my own feeling is that "dadaoism" is another synonym for "weirdness." Never mind labels, anyway. The book features a bunch of weird material and what really matters, to me at least, is whether it's valuable stuff or not. Weird fiction, per se, is neither good nor bad. Many of the stories featured in the present book, however, seem exclusively aimed at being weird.

A standing example is "Portrait of a Chair" by Reggie Oliver, a British author that I consider one of the very best dark fiction writers around. The story he has contributed is a surrealistic piece about a man temporarily turned into a chair. That's just it and, needless to say, the tale is far from Oliver's usual very high standard. Similarly, other contributors, committed to produce something really weird (or "dadaoistic," if you want) seem to forget that creating good fiction should always be the first and main end point for any writer. Fortunately, some authors appear able to keep up the good work even when intent upon "dadaoismize."

Katherine Korey provides "Autumn Jewel," an emotional, perceptive tale where the sad reality of actual life mingles with the events taking place in a fictional work.

Nina Allan's "Timelines" is yet another example of the author's narrative talent (and unrelenting fascination with watches and clocks…)

"Body Poem" by Peter Gilbert is a splendid story told in a beautiful narrative style, reporting the biography of an unusual poet who uses the skin of living women instead of paper to create his poems.

The enigmatic but very atmospheric " Testing Spark" by Daniel Mills portrays a young man employed in a strange factory.

The best tale, in my opinion, is Paul Jessup's "Orange Cuts," a short but poignant tableau showing life's cruelty and its ability to destroy our hopes and our dreams. "Dadaoistic" or not, it is certainly a superb piece of fiction.

Copyright © 2012 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.


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