A Cup of Tea at the Mouth of Hell by Luke Tarzian
This is a book that I have been meaning to get to for a while and finally had the chance to actually read it. It's A Cup of Tea at the Mouth of Hell by Luke Tarzian.
Luke Tarzian is one of those writers that has the ability to both entrance and crush me. If I could liken him to anyone it's Sarah Chorn and they both throw meaty emotive fiction at you. So, without further ado let's get to it.
BRIEFLY, A WORD ABOUT ORDER
Order is the focal point around which existence revolves. Without order there is only chaos. And in the halls of Damnation (pronounced Dam-NAWT-ion, thank you kindly) the first sign of impending chaos is a cup of tea made without the water having first been well and properly boiled in a kettle.
Why is this relevant, O nameless narrator, you ask? Who cares about the preparatory order of tea in the fires of Hell?
Lucifer, dear reader. After all, how does one expect to properly greet the newcomers to Hell without having first had a hot cup of tea to bulwark the cold?
Behold The Morning Star, frantic on the annual Morning of Souls, the arrival of Damnation’s newest recruits.
Someone has misplaced the kettle.
There are many reasons that writing a cohesive review for Luke Tarzian's books can be difficult. For one, you don't have the luxury of being able to fit them into a category of this or that. At times the prose is difficult to describe, the story may have no discernible points as it goes backwards, forwards, sideways and sometimes into itself. However, there is always constant, they are viscerally emotive and raw. They exude honesty and strip the soul bare. They are like reading an exposed nerve, but ultimately they are brave.
Whether that being for Luke Tarzian's willingness to try something that he doesn't know will work or if it is due to the fact that he puts his whole self on show like an exhibit at a Gunther Van Hogen exhibit.
No matter how hard it is to describe Luke Tarzian's work, he is without doubt one of the most interesting authors I have read. He brings that quality that I have only read a few times, that willingness to bring experimentation to the table, to try something new. This is what makes him interesting. At times I can get lost, not knowing what the hell is going on and be totally confounded, and at other times I have been totally disorientated in his labyrinthine imagination, not being able to find the string that will lead me out safely. Do I care? The short answer is no! There are many other things I like about Luke Tarzian's stories and sometimes not knowing what is going on doesn't particularly phase me.
The story of A Cup of Tea at The Mouth of Hell centres around Studemire, secretary to the Morningstar, the Lord of Hell. It all kicks off when Lucifer's kettle is stolen by the agents of heaven. This causes Lucifer to spiral into a fit of depression that affects the kingdom of Hell, and all those around him. Now this may seem like an insignificant matter, but it is really important as it was Lucifer's mother's kettle and holds a special significance to the Lord of Hell. The story then spirals out of control bringing in lots of different elements.
However, essentially A cup of tea at the mouth of Hell is an Anatomy of grief, a soul laid bare, how even the smallest of things can affect an individual and whilst there is plenty of humour in there, we know that it is a front and the humour is just papering the cracks, a sticking plaster for the hurt underneath.
As usual, the book is full of Luke Tarzian's wonderful prose, his ability to convey emotion and some cuttingly absurdist scenarios.
Following the actual story there is a series of personal essays that denote the authors fragile recovery, a roadmap to Luke Tarzian's mental state, a sinewy map of one step forward and two steps back that plague anyone that has had to deal with trauma and how dragging yourself out of the quagmire of dismay is at best soul crushing and at worst soul destroying, and sometimes defeat is the only winner in this competition.
I have to say that it has taken me a while to read this book knowing the subject matter, but once I took in that mental whoosh of breath I felt ready to explore this book, and it has taken me a while to digest this story. Like I said, it's hard to review, It's a dichotomy of feelings, on the one hand it is like an open wound, but within this there is outright silliness and absurdity, like the phallic forest. I mean .... At times, the book is an ordeal, because grief is exactly that. It is an ordeal, one at times that can at times seem insurmountable and this is conveyed through the book. However, I wish more people would come to Luke Tarzian’s books and experience them, because that is exactly what they are - an experience. They are a miasma of thought, emotion and ideas beautifully wrapped in elegant prose.