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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?"

At the library the other day, I found The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont. The jacket blurb mentioned Walter Gibson who wrote 282 of the 325 Shadow novels that were published between 1931 and 1949. When my husband and I were first married, a local radio station began re-broadcasting the radio series about The Shadow. I remember being enchanted with the idea of the series, so completely and hopelessly out-of-date. We would turn out the lights and listen to program in the dark. Completely hoaky...and I loved it.

So I put the novel in my book bag, eagerly anticipating a fun read. The first thing that caught my attention was not the Walter Gibson character, but the young writer Lafayette Ron Hubbard. Huh? Then names like H.P. Lovecraft, Fitzgerald, H.L. Mencken, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Dashiell Hammett, Houdini, Harry Blackstone, and the names of pulp fiction writers like Lester Dent (Doc Savage) and Robert E. Howard (Conan, the Barbarian). The novel begins in 1937, the year H.P. Lovecraft died and the year Hitler began the Anschluss. Whooo...this is getting interesting.

I go back and read the entire jacket blurb. Oh, this will be so much better than I expected!

What authors have been influenced by the pulp fiction writers of the 30's and 40's (most particularly by Lovecraft, who enjoyed no success in his lifetime)? Stephen King, Jeffery Deaver, Glen David Gold, John Carpenter, Clive Barker, Anne Rice...

"The Shadow knows."

Here is the cover and more info.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

thoughts while reading... **and an addition

Quotes from Leonardo's Notebook (a compilation of his various sketches and notes):

"That figure is most admirable which by its actions best expresses the passion that animates it."

"Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake?"

"It is as great an error to speak well of a worthless man as to speak ill of a good man."

"If any one wishes to see how the soul dwells in its body, let him observe how this body uses its daily habitation."

"Science is the observation of things possible, whether present or past. Prescience is the knowledge of things which may come to pass, though but slowly."

The sketches are, of course, fascinating, but the addition of his notes on each makes his genius even more overwhelming.

I'm about half way through the 640-odd pages of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and enjoying it very much. At this point, it appears that the "Jonathan and Mina" characters are reincarnated in Paul and Helen and that Dr. Seward, Arthur, the Texan (what was his name?), and Jonathan (the four young men who unite in an effort to destroy Dracula) are Dr. Rossi, Paul, Hugh James, and Dr. Bardo. This may not be the case, but the similarities are there. I've also noticed that it is a dangerous thing to be a librarian in this version of the myth (Jen and Deborah, beware) as the poor librarians who aid our heroes often meet rather tragic ends as a result of their efforts to locate information. I find it reads nicely... although I was initially a bit annoyed by the frequent breaking off of Paul's narrative as he relayed the background piecemeal to his daughter. I would have preferred fewer interruptions, but I have not minded at all the descriptions that others have complained about; in fact, have felt they add greatly to the atmosphere.

The "twist" is becoming quite evident although clues were available earlier. Does it hang together completely? Well, given the subject matter and the length, it is doing OK so far. There are logical questions, but perhaps logic is ill-placed in a story about Dracula. I like making the comparisons to Bram Stoker's original version, but it has been ... years since I've read it. Reading Kostova's version, different though it may be, does bring back quite a bit of Stoker's Victorian interpretation.

addition: In one of the serendipitous or synchronicitous moments, I checked Wandering Woman's blog and found this terrific link to the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul...which has been prominent in The Historian.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Hearing Trumpet

About half way through The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington now. Not at all what I expected. The importance of dreams and symbolic imagery is evident very early, but the significance of the symbolism escaped me. I felt that Carrington was using her own experiences, so I've been doing some research and find that it is probably true, but in the surrealistic vein of an artist-- so much is still beyond me.

I was not at all familiar with Carrington, for whom Max Ernst left his wife, but she was part of that group of surrealists that included Ernst, DuChamp, Breton, Picasso, and Dali...a heady combination. Here is a biographical link that gives a brief overview of her life and work. Here and here and here are some of her paintings.

Her paintings, I find, appeal to me. I'm not at all sure of my opinion of the book. Perhaps, now it will make more sense (I know the novel is surrealist in nature, but I'd still like to better understand and maybe even enjoy it).