In the introductory notes to this novel the
author is described as a poet, sculptor, painter, and performance artist. I gather from
that description that The Vorrh is his first published novel.
The book commences with three quotes one of which is from Heart
of Darkness by Joseph Conrad; regrettably there was not a companion quote
from Titus Groan/Gormengast by Mervyn Peake as that would have
properly set the tone for the ensuing opus. I hesitate to use the term novel as the
separate story strands of the work did not entirely cohere: indeed one strand set totally
apart from the rest of the work for the whole book but I digress.
The titular vorrh is a primeval forest, possibly the primeval forest
abutting the transplanted (brick by brick, beam by beam) European city of Essenwald. Those
who enter the vorrh risk losing their memory, perhaps their soul and definitely run the
risk of being eaten by one-eyed anthropophages: apelike creatures whose heads are within
their chests. But former Sergeant Williams, a British colonial policeman, and now
oneofthewilliams is making the crossing; an endlessly travelling French dissipate has been
invited to sample a day in the heart of the vorrh by a citizen of Essenwald; and Ishmael,
a putative Cyclops also resident in Essenwald, are travelling into the vorrh.
Somewhere this set of tales, and the rogue one I shant mention
again, was meant to tell a story. I think the vorrh consumed that story and left this
listless hulk in its place.
On the upside this was a very well written work, with wondrous imagery and
a brilliant use of ideas. Unfortunately, the parts stayed parts and never came together as
a functioning whole. A shame and great opportunity missed.