The Conduit and Other Visionary Tales of Morphing WhimsyRichard Gessner
fantasy, magical realism, short stories
"What Gessner does best, perhaps, is create microcosms — self-contained worlds in which he has made up the rules and established the action. I'm reminded of a drop of water, which, under van Leeuwenhoek's microscope, turned out to be teeming with alien creatures possessed of varied modes of swimming. I am reminded of Blake: Gessner dramatizes the Romantic poet's belief that there is a world in a grain of sand. The Conduit, one of the more visionary pieces, demonstrates Gessner's ability to expand space and uncover its inhabitants in a seemingly infinite regression. It begins as the tale of a man who has been stabbed in the heart crawls into a sewer pipe to die, but the pipe is an existential anomaly — 'Huge, wide, longer than all-seeing memory' — and harbors not only the wounded man, but also a good chunk of the universe.
"The surreal aspects of Gessner's stories recall the work of French author Raymond Roussel (1877-1933). In Roussel's novel Locus Solus, for example, we encounter a scientist who has invented a balloon-powered, road- building machine, which, using human teeth of varying hues of brown, is assembling a mosaic of a Native American warrior. While this is the sort of oddity a reader shouldn't be surprised to turn up in a Gessner fiction, the language Roussel uses is Victorian in its formality and almost scrupulously objective — at least in translation — as might befit a scientist. Roussel's novel is carried not so much by his style as by an array of ingenious curiosities. Gessner strikes a more equal balance between the poetry of the prose and the parade of strangeness, between whimsical wordplay and the progression of the tale itself.
"He is also relentlessly funny. Virtually every paragraph in Excerpts from the Diary of a Neanderthal Dilettante — the title is self-explanatory — presents the reader with material worthy of a stand- up routine." — Vincent Czyz
Richard Gessner's fiction has been published in Air Fish: an anthology of speculative work, Rampike, Ice River, Coe Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Happy, The Act, Sein und Werden, Skidrow Penthouse, The Pannus Index, Fiction International and many other magazines. A collection, Excerpts from the Diary of a Neanderthal Dilettante & The Man in the Couch was published by Bomb Shelter Props. Gessner's drawings and paintings have appeared in Raw Vision, Courier News, Asbury Park Press, Rampike, Skidrow Penthouse, and exhibited at Pleiades Gallery, Hamilton Street Gallery, Cry Baby Gallery, The Court Gallery and the Donald B. Palmer Museum. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey.