Benjamin Uminsky's Reviews > An Emporium of Automata

An Emporium of Automata by D.P. Watt
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it was amazing
bookshelves: fantastic-weird-lit, ex-occidente

This was a wonderful collection of the bizarre, supernatural, uncanny, and flat-out weird. The collection is separated into three parts: Phantasmagorical Instruments, Geneological Devices, Ex Nihilo.

I think a far more insightful and discerning reader can make better sense than I as to how each story was placed in one of those three sections... unfortunately, I can only surmise a few key themes in each section. In fact, when I thought I started to comprehend, one of the stories in Ex Nihilo (Archaic Artifical Suns), seemed to be a a beautifully complementary piece to Dr. Dapertutto's Saturnalia (found in Phantasmagaorical Instruments). I will say this, Geneological Devices seemed to be comprised of a number of vignettes that all tied to together through the focus on a female character. Whatever the case may be, I was unable to solve this little puzzle box... my frustrations aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of fantastic literary gems.

While I found the vast majority of all of these tales to be entirely captivating, I think that I was most enchanted by the stories in Ex Nihilo and Phantasmagorical Instruments... not to say that I didn't like the stories in Geneological Devices.

A common leitmotif that makes a fairly ubiquitous appearance throught out the collection is the art of performance (or more specifically, how performance can have a devasating effect through the shaping and even warping of individual reality). This theme was nicely explored in "Erbach's Emporium of Automata" (1st story), "Dr. Dapertutto's Saternalia", "Archaic Artifical Suns", and "Pulvis Lunaris".

So as to not deliver an overly verbose review, the following are one or two stories from each of the three sections of the collection that I was most enchanted by...

"Room 89": Really spooky weird tale that explores the mind set of a classist misanthrope who finds himself cast into a harrowing oubliette. The scene with the mirror and what transpires afterwards had a very Jean Ray eeriness to it.

"The Condition": Talk about an absolute and horrific cultural "armageddon". This one was a bit haunting, particularly by the immediate effect it has on the patient who's condition could only be assuaged by the playing of his favorite record.

"The Architect": Ah yes... the quintessential discovery of esoteric knowledge. But I really liked the metaphor of the children's school being built onto a sinking swamp... it seemed to nicely represent the sinking fortunes and dreams of the main character.

And from the last section...
"Memento Mori": A nifty conte cruel told from a very strange perspective. The author did a wonderful job masking the irony until delivering a wicked denouement. The irony in this cruel tale was exquisite... a little more artful than a Level tale and a bit more soulful/introspective than a Birkin.

I gladly recommend this collection to any reader of the weird, fantastic and supernatural (or any reader of great lit). Dan from Ex Occ seems to have a real knack for picking winners. This is now three straight EO titles (Valentine, Berguno, and Watt) that I have been blown away by. Well done Mr. Watt... I look forward to 10 DICTATES OF ALFRED TESSLER.

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Quotes Benjamin Liked

D.P. Watt
“For, ultimately, isn't all laughter only the echo of an original revolt against the almighty: a never-ending scream against the absurdity of our exile from him?”
D.P. Watt, An Emporium of Automata

Reading Progress

May 16, 2011 – Shelved
May 16, 2011 – Shelved as: fantastic-weird-lit
May 19, 2011 – Started Reading
May 20, 2011 –
page 21
May 22, 2011 –
page 40
May 26, 2011 –
page 66
May 27, 2011 –
page 119
May 29, 2011 –
page 222
May 29, 2011 – Finished Reading
April 19, 2013 – Shelved as: ex-occidente

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