Aldous Huxley came to mind when I read the word perception in the title of this collection of 36 short stories, described as ‘mind-bending’ in the author’s blurb. Perhaps hinted at by the psychedelic eye which adorns the front cover of C R Dudley’s book. But this is not 1954 and no-one is shocked anymore when spying through keyholes or dumbfounded to see what lies behind the opened doorways. However, curiosity remains.
I then turned to the word fragments. In my tangle of neural pathways, the word conjures associations with the Dead Sea Scrolls. I imagine little pieces of parchment, crumbling to dust when grasped at in the desert heat. Glimpses of something whole, yet impossible to fully behold in the barren wastelands of a desolate and isolated self. OO-er!
Yet the observations contained within C R Dudley’s book are not those of an out of reach, age-old despair. Answers may well disappear in the blown wind, but the impressions left on my emotions were of an enduring pleasure. C R Dudley does not appear to set out to unravel the ancient knots of a universal fabric or frustrate the reader with nonsensical koans in the hope of future illumination. Instead, she playfully explores the psyche, blending her visions with myths and imagined futures
She wears her knowledge lightly and paints her pictures brightly. What emerges from her mind are 36 meditations. Some playful, some dark, but all well crafted and each a gift. A chocolate whorl of hand-picked treats. I found myself enjoying the book in a similar fashion. A couple of stories a night. Each one to be savoured, each one different. Here a surprising hazelnut centre, there an unexpectedly sharp fruitiness. Everyone a delight.
I see there are many nuanced layers to this box of confection and know I will enjoy gorging on it all over again. As the Magician said, if you don’t see it then you are a ‘Point-misser’. Five well-deserved elephants.