Archive for the birds Category

DESK JOB REVIEW FRESH FROM SCOTLAND

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, birds, Butterflies, dark fiction writer, desk job, Glasgow, Great Britain, horror writer, Knightswood, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, Moths, mythology, Neil K. Henderson, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, revenge, Romance, Scotland, set in Australia, Teresa Tunaley, Uncategorized, United Kingdom, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN
DESK JOB

DESK JOB BY ROD MARSDEN

Review by Neil K. Henderson

Knightswood, Glasgow G13 4SB, Scotland, U.K.

DESK JOB: SARAH IN OFFICE-LAND by Rod Marsden, ISBN 978-1-937769-14-7 Night to Dawn Books, P.O. Box 643, Abington, PA 19001, USA (www.bloodredshadow.com) 243 pp.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

Set in the offices of a big Sydney business concern in the 1990s, DESK JOB, by former Masque Noir editor Rod Marsden, reads like staring through a hothouse window at a weird menagerie of mismatched captive fauna. Among the exotic and nightmarish metaphors for office ‘types’ – such as praying mantises (women ‘of a certain age’ out for blood at a sniff of male impropriety), dung beetles (sycophants to the mantises), hawks (upwardly mobile managers), caterpillars (semi-comatose top brass), mules (disregarded drudges) and butterflies (pretty young do-nothings) and their older, drabber moth counterparts – real human souls live out daily dramas in this infernal inversion of Alice’s Wonderland. Animal behavior is controlled by the government-imposed political correctness dictates of the period. No-one dares infringe the rights of a ‘protected species’. On the other hand, it’s open season on the native wildlife. Tensions mount. Fear, paranoia and madness ensue, until one employee is murdered by another while most are too busy watching their own backs to notice. It‘s the kind of mess you’d need a psychic investigator to work out.

Enter Sarah Hollingsworth, who’s seen it all already in a dream. She can read people’s minds to present the reader with psychological profiles and biographical insights into the group of characters under the microscope. (She even interviews the victim!) This lets her give the kind of non-judgmental overview that keeps things nicely in balance and stops the reader (and some of the characters) from totally losing the plot. She also provides a few surprises along the way with her own interaction among the forces of the mystical realm. It’s a testament to Rod Marsden’s easy style, that the whole unfolding kaleidoscope of animal imagery, social comment and dark fantasy reads with a page-turning immediacy that keeps the attention gripped until a satisfactory conclusion is reached. (Not so much a Who Dunnit, this, as a Why Dunnit.)

But that conclusion is not the end of the book. What Marsden does with the remaining third is to literalise the previously metaphorical types as living dream creatures, in a totally fantastical coda  section reflecting back the Lewis Carroll motifs from a new perspective. Sarah here ventures through an interdimensional portal, like Alice’s looking glass, to interact with real mantises and beetles and a Queen of Hearts who wants to psych out the office workers visa computer consoles and hand-mirror gateways. A fast and furious fantasy adventure follows – ensuring the novel achieves a flying finish.

Sandwiched in between the episodic close-ups on specific cases in part one, collected quotes from contemporary Australian books on office psychology provide a comic Greek chorus to the developing drama. These interludes continue as a unifying factor through the second part. Here, the lika-lika bird (every conversation starts or ends with “Like a…”) rears her gorgeously plumaged head. She’s still young and uncorrupted, prior to landing that fatal office job. Her outside view is refreshingly alternative. There is also the graffiti-spraying mall rat, destined to become a mule, or even a hawk, someday.

It is difficult to encapsulate in a brief review the complex interplay of fantastical dream situations, figuratively represented actuality and actualised fantasy contained in DESK JOB. Odd magical moments come to mind, such as the vision of several ‘brown-nose’ dung beetles lining up to boil themselves in a cauldron because the praying mantis they worship likes soup. There’s also the annoying whistling man who appears in the office every so often, and is perfunctorily assaulted by a member of staff. Then there’s the cats which periodically pop through mirrors or get their tails pulled by startled mortals. Particularly amusing is the scene near the end of lika-lika birds all crowding round one such hand-mirror, convinced that the cat which just appeared was cleverly programmed in by the manufacturers. I can just see them haunting all the shops in Sydney asking for the mirrors with the pop-out cats.

Does that make sense? Not maybe on the face of things, but in the context of this curiously individual and delightfully engaging novel it makes perfect sense. If you don’t believe me, I recommend you take a psychic trip through the portal of its covers and experience it for yourself. DESK JOB is a book with “Read Me” written all over it.

 

Note: Neil K. Henderson cleverly ends his review with an off hand reference to the Alice books. Meanwhile Neil is busy on his own novels which are most curious and fun to read.

 

 

A TAIL TO TELL

BOTH A TAIL AND A TALE TO TELL. WHAT FUN!

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LOVE – DESK JOB STYLE

Posted in Australia, birds, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Love, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, revenge, Romance, set in Australia, Sex, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN
THE BLOOD OF A STUPID MULE

LOVE IN THE WORLD OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS CAN END IN SOMETHING THAT WOULD MAKE THE ST. VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE LOOK TAME IN COMPARISON.

Decades ago there was this television show titled Love – American Style. In the lyrics of the song accompanying the show we were informed that this love is stronger than the red, white and blue meaning the American flag. I suppose the idea here was that without love there wouldn’t be an America or at least an America anyone would care to live in. I could follow this logic trail when a kid without too much difficulty. It was a silly show but fun in places. Like Captain Nice,  it isn’t likely to return to television and rests comfortably in the hearts and minds of certain old timer couch jockeys. Even so, it did evoke a certain pleasant attitude to both love and, yes, sex which may not have stood the greater test of time.

My Desk Job is set in the mid-1990s, long past the Hippy era with its Laugh-In and its Love – American Style and its Captain Nice. And long past when John Lennon and Yoko Ono could make some kinda political statement about peace by being in bed in front of the whole world.

Love and romance are forbidden on the three floors of Desk Job. Rules and regulations are against the male mules fraternizing with the female mules even on their coffee breaks. The male hawks sometimes get away with fraternizing with female mules and, when something goes wrong with the relationship, a praying mantis is born.

Praying mantises enforce the rules and regulations. They are followed around by the dung beetles who adore them. Nothing is lower or more worshipful of your average praying mantis than your dung beetle. Even so, praying mantises do not care for dung beetles. They have no interest in love or romance except to put an end to it. This they are generally good at doing. They love the smell of fear in the morning.

Every once in a long while, however, two mules rise up and declare their love for one another in defiance of authority.The praying mantises then must act before this defiance spreads.

Now you might think that there’s a lot of sexual activity going on in the office between the female butterflies and the male hawks. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes,  the butterflies do use their sexuality in order to do as little work as possible. This does, in a way, make them the whores of the office. Even so, they are only just smart enough to realize that the tease is all they need to get their way and they need only have sex with a hawk if that’s what they really want to do. Besides, the praying mantises and their faithful dung beetles are always on the look out for bad behavior.

Meanwhile the moths, remembering their glory days as butterflies, manage to get by on the memories of old timer hawks and mules. Also the sympathy of younger hawks and mules. They are far more skilled at the art of getting others to do their work for them than the butterflies but, then again, they need to be. Even so, good looks fading or not, a hawk or a mule might take a romantic or sexual interest in a moth. It could happen.

The grand old caterpillar is generally above matters of a sexual or romantic nature. He is content to puff away on his water pipe and let the hawks and the praying mantises keep his floors in good order. If, of course, he were to show an interest in romance it would be with someone of at least hawk status. To find another caterpillar to romance, especially a female caterpillar, he would have to go to another building. This is a lot of effort for a caterpillar. What’s more, there are very few female caterpillars around though numbers of them, year by year, are on the increase.

So, if you are a mule then head down and get on with your computer work. There are praying mantises cruising by with their dung beetle sidekicks. The hawks need your help if they are to soar high and you must keep your job. And do be careful on those lunch and coffee breaks. Be sure not to say anything inappropriate that might give away your humanity. You need to be seen as a good, hard working mule and nothing more. You never know who may be watching and listening. Mules have been betrayed by mules and hawks by hawks. And waiting with her spiked forearms in the background is the ever menacing praying mantis. Snip! Snip! 

 http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

TO WALK LIKE A LIKA-LIKA BIRD

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, birds, dark fiction writer, desk job, Great Britain, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, set in Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN

THE LIKA- LIKA BIRD

Today the lika-lika bird is the new, improved ‘bush telegraph’.

If you want your local news but not from the tele then have a chat with your nearest lika-lika. Of an afternoon, on a work day, you will find her at the mall. On weekends in summer you will find her at the beach.

If you want to spread the word about something then take a lika-lika into your confidence. She’s sure to find the best way to get your message out there. Of course there are some naughty lika-likas that go in for graffiti. Sometimes their feathers are ruffled by the law.

Today there are former lika-likas in news print, radio and, yes, television. They are also in advertising.

Lika-lika birds can be found in Australia, the USA, Great Britain, Japan, China and lots more locales. They tend to get around. They like to have fun in the sun and hang out with mall rats and surfers. Freedom and gossip are their meat and bread.

For more information on this rather active flapper check out Desk Job.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/