Flowing in the Gossamer Fold

By Ben Spivey

Blue Square Press
August 2010, Paperback
164 pages


Reviewed by J.A. Tyler


Blue Square Press is a new press with only one book to its credit: Ben Spivey’s Flowing in the Gossamer Fold. Ben Spivey is also on the masthead of Blue Square Press (alongside internet literary compatriot David Peak). These are indicators to make us perhaps rethink the definition of vanity publishing, to wonder about our relationship to those whom we publish, in other words, to worry.

This is my warning fired back at you the discerning reader: Do not worry.

Flowing in the Gossamer Fold is a wonderful book with a straightforward tone but an underlying surreal style, a fantastic kind of limbo where the next page may offer more concrete narrative elements of this man who has lost his motivation and who is only goaded on by his imagination: “I felt the stars at the bottom of the ocean, and the anchor in the sky, holding the balance of everything. My mother’s hand reaching for help. My hand just out of reach. I asked, Will you help me cover them? She nodded, a film of smoke coating her smile.” Or the next page may offer an enthralling and brusque form of dreamscape where this same man is holding painfully tight to a mannequin or a cigarette or a sexual encounter or a piece of what has passed:

She lit another Marlboro, putting it between her lips. Examining her features, I noted her baroque figure on the wall, cast in shade from the lamp-light, an awful yellow shade.  The holes have to be closed in the right order; removing them in the correct order is very important to the home’s stability. The home is like a heart. I want to ruin them, I said. I’ve been searching inside of them for so many years, and I’ve found nothing worthwhile.

And beyond Spivey’s obvious talent and cool-hand approach with language, what felt really good and right and nice in this book was its consideration of phrasing, its thinly touched sentences and tightly wound words:

I stepped inside the hole behind the bookshelf, and through it I fell into the ocean. I swam to the surface, through the cutting water. The salt stung my nostrils. From under the water the light in the sky shook. My eyes blinked, rough with salt, when I made it to the surface. The light at the surface, shining on the top of the ocean was like a flashlight beamed off glass. I breathed deep. I don’t know how long I swam; it seemed like a lifetime.

Flowing in the Gossamer Fold contains so many sentences that are shaped by a lack of words, by moments where many extra words were possible but remained unused, where Spivey shows us the restraint and control that make great writers great writers.

We see this happen: An upstart press publishes its own co-editor’s name on its first book and maybe takes away a little of the magic for us, maybe leaves us a little colder than we were before – but Blue Square Press has, with Ben Spivey’s Flowing in the Gossamer Fold, every right to dodge the negative sentiments or prickly connotations that often come with such seemingly nepotistic print-play. It is clear that Blue Square Press is serious about its literature and it is also clear that Spivey deserves the publication of Flowing in the Gossamer Fold – these words enchant and provoke, these words are worth their press.

For those of you who might worry, do not. Ben Spivey’s Flowing in the Gossamer Fold is the real deal, a book that is eagerly and rightfully accumulating readers.