Jeff Gardiner's A Glimpse of the Numinous was published in early 2012 by Eibonvale Press.
Click here to visit Jeff Gardiner's official website.
Here's a description of A Glimpse of the Numinous:
A girl born with a number for a name, destined to become a new messiah – a seagull who becomes a household pet and national celebrity – flashing patterns of light as a key to your darkest fears – an impoverished family with a murderous secret. In these fourteen stories of this his first collection, Jeff Gardiner shows a startling range of styles and imagination, from visceral horror to lyrical literary prose.
Keen psychological insight is allied to a shrewd knowledge of ancient myth and mysticism. Gardiner's recurring interest is in religion and spirituality and the strange traces these almost outlawed strangers have left on modern urban life. His characters are often dangerous and unreasonable, their actions unpredictable, a far cry from the rational universe we like to think we share. Look again at your world and let Gardiner show the glimpses you've been missing of the doors that beckon you to other ways of seeing. The ominous, the luminous... the numinous.
A REVIEW OF JEFF GARDINER'S A GLIMPSE OF THE NUMINOUS
Before I write anything else, I think I'd better explain what the word numinous means, because the reader should know what it means before reading this collection. Numinous is an adjective describing the power or presence of a divinity (this word was popularised by the German theologian Rudolf Otto). It has two aspects: mysterium tremendum (a tendency to invoke fear and trembling) and mysterium fascinans (a tendency to attract, compel and fascinate). Both of these aspects can be found in Jeff Gardiner's stories.
This collection contains fourteen stories. Here's information and my thoughts about the stories:
A Glimpse of the Numinous
- A fascinating and mysterious story of a man whose brother wants him to keep an eye on his wife.
- The author explores sexuality and hidden desires in this story in an intriguing way.
- An interesting story of Eloise, who's interested in numerology and searches answers from numbers.
- 351073 is a spiritual story.
- The protagonist of this story is a bit mysterious being, who is curious about things. I think it's possible to say that the protagonist is some kind of a spirit who wanders from being to being and from place to place.
- This is a beautiful story, which needs to be read in order to understand what's going on.
- An unsettling story about a young man whose roommate is fascinated by flashing lights in order to see his darkest fears.
- This story is a good example of a well written horror story.
- An interesting and a bit weird story of a woman who falls in love with a man, who lost his best friend when he was young.
- The author explores a difficult subject in this story.
- A story about Ray who raises a seagull called Gavin. Gavin becomes a national celebrity.
- Gull Power is an amusing story about a guy who chooses a different way of life for himself and his pet.
More Sinned Against...
- A story about Adam who falls in love with Fern, who's in love with Sheldon. Fern suddenly becomes religious and everything changes.
- This is an interesting story about relationships and religious beliefs.
- A shocking and also a bit melancholic story about Donny and Hazel. Donny suffers from mental illness and Hazel has to look after him.
- It was interesting how easily the author switched narration from Donny to Hazel.
- A short, beautiful and strangely erotic tale about a woman who loves a tree.
- I liked the way the author wrote about the woman's feelings.
Bred in the Bone
- A brilliant story about a young guy and his strange family.
- It was interesting to read how the guy visited his friend's house and was amazed at what he sees, because his house was different.
- The ending of this story is excellent, because the reader finds out what kind of a family the guy really has.
- A tale about Jerry and Wayno who begin to fight with each other without glasses.
- I liked the way the author described the events and how things escalated towards the ending.
- A fascinating and well written story about Emma who adores a rock star called Dionysus.
- The ending of this story is brilliantly shocking.
- A story about Sophie, who get a palm reading from a man called Zeke, who seems to know too much about her life.
- I liked this story very much, because the author explored an interesting theme.
- A tale about a man who has had problems with his wives and decided to become a writer.
- The author explores the man's feelings and frustration in an interesting way.
A Glimpse of the Numinous is an interesting and challenging short story collection, because each story is different and handles a different subject. Jeff Gardiner writes fluently about feelings, sexuality, mental illness, relationships, sensuality, mythical happenings, religious themes etc (some themes may be difficult for certain readers, but others are more accessible and it's easier to read about them). It's a bit difficult to describe some of these stories, because the reader needs to experience them personally in order to fully understand them, but it's possible to say that these stories and their strange happenings will intrigue readers.
In my opinion Jeff Gardiner shows great promise in writing speculative fiction, because his stories are genuinely fascinating, weird and original. His stories contain horrible happenings, strange characters and all kinds of emotions from love to hate, so they're quite difficult to forget after reading. It's nice to read Jeff Gardiner's stories, because he writes unflichingly about several different difficult things (he doesn't shy away from difficult subjects, but handles them easily and without fears).
The characters in Jeff Gardiner's stories are more or less strange - some are nice, but others aren't. Some characters act normally and have normal feelings, but others act in mysterious and unpredictable ways. It may be a bit difficult to identify with certain characters, because they're strange characters, but it's possible to identify with a couple of characters.
I was impressed by Jeff Gardiner's use of English. He writes beautiful prose and he's capable of changing his writing style when needed. I have to mention that Heartwood is a good example of a beautifully and emotionally written story (it isn't a long story, but it's a wonderfully told story).
My favourite stories are A Glimpse of the Numinous, Bred in the Bone, 351073, Heartwood, Phobophilia, Gull Power, Delirium Tremens, Dionysus and Past Away. I think that the author shows lots of potential in these stories. A Glimpse of the Numinous is a fantastically weird story, which explores sexuality and mythical things. Delirium Tremens reminds me a bit of Clive Barker's visceral stories, because it's an unsettling story, which is told from two different perspectives (it's a powerful horror story). Phobophilia is one of the best new horror stories I've read, because it's a truly unsettling story about a guy becomes obsessed with death. 351073 is a comfortingly spiritual story about a man whose daughter becomes fascinated by numerology (I liked how the author wrote about the daughter's fascination for numbers).
The author also shows talent for adding bits of inventive humour to his stories. The slightly sarcastic humour adds a nice atmosphere to certain stories. For example, it was fun to read what Sophie thought about TV channels in Past Away. I also enjoyed reading about the main character's exploding wives in Writer's Block.
Before I write the final words of this review, I'll mention that the cover art by David Rix fits this collection perfectly. I like the cover art very much.
I enjoyed reading this short story collection, because each story was different (it was great that the stories ranged from fantasy to horror). If you enjoy reading short stories and want to read something different, you'll like this collection, because it contains excellent stories. I'm sure that Jeff Gardiner's A Glimpse of the Numinous is one of the best and most versatile short story collections of 2012, because it'll be difficult to find similarly versatile collections.