a novel by Paul A. Green
This unique fusion of occultural fantasy and speculative fiction evokes a subversive transmutation of everyday life, in which Qabalistic magick elides with quantum physics to create a fissile reality – a voyage into dangerous zones...
Lucas, a failing student, urgently seeks out his father Nick, psychedelic-era wreck and self-proclaimed channel for "Qabalistic knowledge", now confined to a mental hospital alongside Wolfbane, a forgotten rock & roll icon. Pauline, ultra-rationalist mother and burnt-out teacher, dreads their encounter.
Her nightmares seem realised when Nick escapes and Lucas disappears – to enter a parallel world, peopled by a rogues' gallery of bohemian riff-raff and sacred harlots, whose operations – artistic, criminal or magickal – are scribed with hallucinatory intensity. He undergoes poetic – and erotic – initiation.
It's a story worm-holed with dark wit and satiric allusions. The manias of an imploding alternate world are only a modulation of our more familiar obsessions, here at the base levels of The Qabalistic Tree, amid the broken shells and debris – the Qliphoth – of our Creation.
Secret societies, insane hippies and occult train routes collide in a mind-boggling yarn of hedonistic spiritual ascension.
The Qliphoth, since you ask, is the Qabalistic name given to cosmic evil and the Qabalah, and its attendant beliefs, run through Paul A. Green's debut novel like letters in a stick of rock. This is handy since one of the pivotal locations of his mind-bending stream of consciousness parable is an English seaside town, magically hidden from the world since the Forties and now crumbling into incestuous chaos.
On the surface this tale seems fairly straightforward, though it draws heavily from the tangled fictions of Burroughs and Vonnegut. Lucas Beardsley, a failed student, has a blazing row with his uptight politically correct mother and ventures into the night to visit his father, a 1960s counter-culture casualty incarcerated in the local loony bin. The book then unfolds from all three perspectives - father, mother and son - as these characters search for the truth about each other while the occult forces of the Order of the Brazen Head weave their arcane web around them. From intense narration to first-person hallucination, it's a book that draws you in and leaves you gasping for air. Or clarity. Whichever comes first.
It's clear that Green's history as a poet has followed him into fiction, as each sentence drips with fantastic imagery and the mesmerising rhythm of someone well versed in, well, verse. A telephone becomes "a cold lobster of plastic" emitting "the noise of burning insects". Elsewhere "eyes fly across the blinking darkness like luminous spermatazoa". It's wonderfully, maddeningly inventive stuff, though these relentless verbose tendencies do mean that many characters end up sounding the same. Sadly, like too many small press books, the legibility is marred by weird punctuation errors and spelling mistakes which, given the fractured nature of the story, almost feel deliberate.
Thankfully, Green isn't nearly as deferent to the pretentious world of aetheric magicks as some authors and he approaches the subject with a dry wit which enlivens the more stodgy passages. Such a dense approach to complex spiritual subject matter can backfire horribly (see: Guy Richie, Revolver) but Green's runaway prose is compelling enough to keep things focused.
– Dan Whitehead, Death Ray Sci-fi Magazine (UK)
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– George Amabile
About the Author
Paul A. Green grew up in South London, and studied at Oxford and the University of British Columbia. His plays have appeared on BBC Radio 3, CBC Radio Canada, RTE Ireland, Capital Radio and Resonance FM London. His poetry has been disseminated in magazines, anthologies and, increasingly, in audio formats via alternative radio stations, podcasts, and on-line journals like www.culturecourt.com.
The enigma of the paranormal has been a constant theme in his work, exemplified in plays like Ritual of the Stifling Air, The Voice Collection, and Babalon, his speculative drama about occult rocket scientist Jack Parsons, recently performed by Travesty Theatre in London. The Qliphoth probes still further into these eldritch realms...
"I am happy to have an opportunity to say that The Qliphoth is magnificent, both in range and depth of arcane snoopage. When Paul was my student in the drear wilds of Canada, I said to him and a few of his grad school cronies this about style: 'First you learn the rules perfectly, then break them magnificently.' And now we have this novel to prove he was listening."
– J. Michael Yates
"An End-Time fabulation in the lineage of Burroughs and Ballard: complex, fast-twitch language spasms, loud with interference and radio static. The voices of the new dead transmit warp knowledge. Straight-blade satire. Deadpan humours. A word quest launched from the edge-lands of arcane knowledge."
– Iain Sinclair
"...a stream of the funniest, most hip and haunting prose, where the DNA dialogue and descriptive powers of Ken Kesey, James Joyce, Lawrence Durrell and JD Salinger are fused into the tissue of the fiction... a tale from the Old (stranger-than-fiction) Country to take its place beside those of Doug Coupland, Bill Gibson and Spider Robinson..."
– George McWhirter