Reviews of Pearlman
“Pearlman,” by David Russell, is a novella of unparalleled breadth and a first rate work of speculative fiction. It also draws on scientific accounts as it considers various issues, including synchronicities between nature and history. The writing is lush, and it pulls the reader into the story.. Myth, history, the earth, and science meet, mate, collide and get compressed and then decompressed into a panorama of the past, present and future possibilities for humanity.
At the beginning, an auto accident projects a not very cautious driver, not into an afterlife sequence, but a pre and post-human life visionary journey through the history of the earth and life on the earth. The moving force, the modus operandi, is incessant change, which breaks down into the play of similars and opposites, in and on the earth, then moving into human history. It then considers the synchronicity between aspects of nature, human nature and human history.
This following quotes convey a sense of both the scope of his vision and beauty of language. Early in the story, the unnamed narrator meets Fiton, magician supreme, who appoints him as his successor, with these words: “With your newfound, absolute mobility, you will oscillate, rebound between past and future at will, restructure the truths of the past, excavate them from submersion in lies and evasions. You will revise and reform the events of the future before they happen, when they are latent in the womb of potentiality. To hone your sense of direction, you will fall from the skies onto the world’s most ancient temple sites, cast down by disintegrating man-made birds. But for the present, now you are fortified. You must return to your next combat and its benign consequence.”
That particularly memorable sequence happens soon enough. The narrator assumes the identity of a Spaniard who kills an Araucanian warrior in battle, which is a part of actual history, then meets the mate of that warrior who just happens to also be an incarnation of the moon goddess. In a magical ceremony they consecrate themselves to the consummation the unity of love and hate. Their love story, with its attractions and repulsions – her lover was her husband’s killer in battle — parallels the generation and destruction in the natural world.
“As we struggled, competed in perfect harmony, the young mountains rose anew in our background. With a metaphysical rope, we had bridged the span of geological time, in the process going through a whole gamut of shape-shifts, embracing all the biological forms. We had willed ourselves and each other into unicellular status and then gone the whole gamut from amoebae to primates.”
In Pearlman’s visionary journeys, some real science is presented. This includes how earthquakes influence volcanic activity, and where life on earth arises – whether in terrestrial warm, moist spots or in volcanic fissures under the ocean.
The narrator continues his journey through the worlds of strife, or opposing opposites, in nature and history. He cites the famous physicist, Wolfgang Pauli, that strife underlies the physical world, which presumably includes the indeterminacy of quantum waves. But synchronicities can be found in strife. The narrator believes that there is synchronicity between the cataclysmic earthquakes and volcanism in Chile, and social strife, which manifested in the Allende period going back to strife among the Araucanian and other Indian tribes and later with the Spanish. He quotes Lisa Paul Streitfeld, Pablo Neruda and Gonzalo Rojas on the play of opposites.
“Pearlman” by David Russell is an inspired work. It is fun to read, stimulates unconventional approaches to knowledge and scientific inquiry, and is written in language that is a feast for the senses.
David Russell is an accompanied multi-media author, whose work includes erotic fiction and poetry, paintings and other artwork, music and song. David also did a very distinguished translation (which I enjoyed reading, a lot) of the famous Spanish classic, “The Araucana” by Ercilla y Zuniga that pre-dated and influenced Cervantes’ “Don Quixote.” It is available on Amazon as La Araucana by Alonso de Ercilla and Zuniga, translated by David Russell
This is a fascinating story about a man who travels through time and the world – mostly through the history of Chile, a country that has always fascinated him even though he’s British by birth. He’s been with the conquistadores, slaughtering the indigenous population of Chile – and there he meets a warrior queen, and this moment changes his whole life.
Even though she knows he killed her husband, she seduces him, then she reveals to him she’s really the ancient Chilean goddess Auchimalgen; and then she tells him he is going to be a time traveller from now on – and his job is going to be to explain history to future generations, and even to predict future events.
In a very poetic way, David Russell makes us follow his hero’s travels – the earthquakes, the wars, the encounter with the beautiful and mysterious woman… Science and romance, history and personal stories merge in a most unique way in this impressive story.
Pearlman, David Russell’s mythological fantasy and time travel, is a story to be enjoyed on many levels. Pearlman, Russell’s contemporary hero—someone as precious as a jewel, someone in search of a precious jewel—has a fascination for the period of the Spanish conquests and wishes to travel back in time to that era. The story was partly inspired by a passage in the Spanish epic La Araucana, concerning the conflict between the Conquistadores and the Native Chileans, in which the narrator, a Spanish soldier, is approached by Tegualda, a native woman, who asks him to lead her to her husband’s body, so she can pay her last respects. Tegualda, a noblewoman in the original epic, turns into a moon goddess. She and the hero have a physical and metaphysical tryst, and are mutually enlightened.
Russell gives a factual backdrop to a fictional story set in Chile, one of the most unstable places on earth—abounding in earthquakes and volcanoes and political instability. As a romance writer and reader, I recommend this story to romance readers.
Thank you for sharing this very interesting and imaginative read. I have to confess, I have not read anything like it, entwining realism, romance, science, history, mythology and literature–so much!
The idea of the earth as a bubble is fascinating, and resonates w my Buddhist beliefs.
I thrilled at the mention of Bolano, a favorite author.
Thanks again. It’s the sort of text one has to read more than once and that urges the reader to connect with its rich network of references.
Arya Francesca Jenkins
Excerpt from Pearlman:
Her skill in undoing my armour was worthy of any trained white man. “We are supremely adaptable; we learn avidly from those we observe and oppose”, she whispered, her teeth gleaming in her smile. As I saw the chain mail and the cuirass lying there, discarded, I saw that the rust had all disappeared.
Deft hands tenderly peeled my sweat-ridden leather and cotton; it was lovely to be nursed without immediate wounds to distract from the exquisite sensations.
“You must be proud of your exertions!” she said. The power in her words was akin to a duelling challenge. (The time warp flashed me into my happy collaboration with that beautiful fitness trainer, when I imagined that lithe, toned form excelling itself at the Olympic High Jump as her prelude to our delicious consummation.)
I looked up towards her breasts, to see the matching metal, discs, chains, bangles – an array of gold, silver and jade; I sensed their resilience beneath their cover. She read my response with total ease; with a radiant smile, she whispered “do as you have been done by.”
My hands trembled a little as I delicately negotiated the pins and clasps, but I succeeded in making a harmonious pattern of them, like a crown at the head of my discarded armour. It was good to have gained intimate knowledge of those metallic treasures in the museums.
The face of a full moon, reciprocating its radiation on Tegualda’s face and eyes, beamed its glittering reflections, as if casting off a diaphanous robe, to reveal the perfect body of its illuminated rocks, bouncing back and forth around the elaborated grid of our variegated metalwork – steel, bronze, silver and gold – its luminosity almost suggesting that it would all come to life, radiant in the flames of their smelting, almost as two armies facing each other. In turn, the beams flooded our faces, giving an external flourish to our luminous vibrancy charged from within.
She took my hand, and made it caress her sealskin robe: “please do the honours”. I lifted it at the bottom. My hands reached up inside it until they could feel her firm but still slender waist. Repeating my earlier gesture, she raised her arms in surrender and conquest, the robe clouding into a transient veil over her noble features.
Then Tegualda cast off her gleaming white cotton camisera for me with all the challenging flourish of a toreador. She tamed me and fired me simultaneously with her lovely self-revelation.
The walls of my time-capsule were fractured. There glistened across the world, ricocheted back and forth across the centuries a composite of the world’s beauties, celebrated in poetry and song, painting and sculpture, melted, distilled and poured into one vibrant, impassioned, soul-suffused body. Egyptian and Grecian statues and mural figures melted into an array of Hollywood dream sublimities deeply embedded in my memory. This was a spiritual earthquake, embracing all history and culture, the distilled essence of all artistic striving poured into one giant goblet.