Russell Bittner

by Horror Sleaze Trash on April 11, 2012

Russell recently re-located to Ellicott City, MD from Brooklyn, NY via one long winter-from-hell at Donner Summit, CA.  He’s presently testing the waters in Ellicott City for the prospects of itinerant troubadours. Russell’s work has been widely published in print and on the WorldWideWeb.  His first novel, Trompe-l’œil, appeared via Amazon-Kindle in March, 2011, and again a month later at Smashwords. He believes, with Hobbes, that “life is short, brutish and nasty.”  He also believes, with Donne, however, that art is long; and that no man is one, entire of itself—either an island or a work of art.

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“Accismus…in extremis

I learned a new word today (accismus)—which Microsoft’s Word apparently doesn’t even recognize as English—and it was thanks to Rachel Kendall’s short story “51 Weeks” that I learned it.  Accismus is a rhetorical term for coyness—to wit:  “a form of irony in which a person feigns a lack of interest in something that he or she actually desires.”

For instance, if you remember your reading of Aesop’s Fables, you’ll remember the sly fox who pretends not to care for the grapes.  That, good reader, is accismus.

Accismus is the perfect word, at least to my of thinking, to describe one’s considered approach to The Bride Stripped Bare. Why?

“The Seedy Underbelly”?  Poetry—pure poetry—of the grittiest kind.

“Solid Gold.”  Autobiographical?  If so, not precisely from ‘Tales of Suburbia.’

“You’re…”.  One of those slice-of-life (and, in this case, death) sketches that begins at the tail end of an ellipsis and ends with the same construction.  ‘All of eternity in an instant’ we might call it.  ‘Vita interrupta’ we might also call it.  Or, we might just call it “You’re…”.

“The Pleasure Principle” paints the picture of a dystopia few of us—except those scarred from birth, or created from the ‘demon seed,’ would really care to imagine, much less experience ‘up front and personal.’

“Will Travel”?   As Marc Lowe, Fiction Editor at Mad Hatters’ Review, suggests, this short owes something to Gaspar Noé.  But the violence of Noé’s film “Irréversible” is tempered by Rachel Kendall’s own take on alleged prey, alleged predator.  Where does fantasy leave off, and reality come careening in with its bone-crushing cudgel?  As Rachel, herself, writes at the bottom of the first page of the story (p. 70):  “…there is nothing more disappointing than climax.”

“Birth Control”?  Once again, pure poetry—constantly, if begrudgingly, in motion.  Motherhood never sounded so dismal.

“Penny Whistle”?  A kind of crossover between the stories of Guy de Maupassant and the films of Federico Fellini.  Disturbing and comforting at the same time.  Life—and not just a bride—stripped bare.

“Still Life.”  Experimental fiction.  Who dares to say whether the experiment succeeded?  I, for one, do not.

“Sweetmeats” is good.  Just damned good!  And one of the best ficitionalized entries in the ‘nature versus nurture’ issue I’ve ever read.

“Foetus.”  Another experimental piece—and, quite simply, over my head.  Or beyond my means.

“Le Café Curieux” is a pastiche of five surrealistic scenes, all of which take place in the same location (le Café—or, at one point—the Club Curieux), but over the course of eighty-four years.  The mood of each scene reflects the customs, the speech, the concerns of the time—1932; 1953; 1974; 1995; 2012—but the evolution of the clientele (from living mannequins to actresses to ladies of leisure—or is it really “of the night”? a bit hard to say—to an expectant mother to an attendee at an art exhibit featuring all of the above in the act of dining, but dead) suggests that le Café Curieux is going nowhere fast.  Unless it’s straight downhill.

And finally, “Reduction” is, well, reductio ad absurdum: one human being can’t any more be consumed by another—literally speaking—than pigs can fly.  But in Rachel’s skillful hand, the reductio is always a dark and dirty treat.

And so, as Rachel herself suggests in her story “Axis” … “Draw the curtains, pour the wine and raise the stakes.”  The game will be well worth the candle!

Russell Bittner

Author of Trompe-l’oeil

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