I want to share this fascinating essay on J.R.R. Tolkien by the American writer Gene Wolfe. I am a fan of both writers and I think that this is one of the best essays about Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings I’ve ever read. I will post selected highlights from Wolfe’s essay, but I wholeheartedly recommend that you read the whole essay. There is a link to the essay at the end of this post. I hope you enjoy it and I’d love to hear your thoughts on what Wolfe wrote about Tolkien’s most famous books.
Take this kiss upon the brow! And, in parting from you now, Thus much let me avow — You are not wrong, who deem That my days have been a dream; Yet if hope has flown away In a night, or in a day, In a vision, or in none, Is it therefore the less gone? All that we see or seem Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar Of a surf-tormented shore, And I hold within my hand Grains of the golden sand — How few! yet how they creep Through my fingers to the deep, While I weep — while I weep! O God! Can I not grasp Them with a tighter clasp? O God! can I not save One from the pitiless wave? Is all that we see or seem But a dream within a dream?
Am I dreaming you or are you dreaming me? If you dream about someone, does that mean they are also dreaming about you at the same time?..
I’m not trying to be all philosophical or “far out, man”. I wanted to write a post about why I chose “Who’s Dreaming Who” as the title of this blog and this is what happened. I was led to that beautiful poem by Poe because the final two lines from the first stanza were in my head: “All that we see or seem // Is but a dream within a dream.” Which then led me to share this quote I’ve always liked by Alan Watts about life and dreams:
I’m currently working on a longer review of Stephen King’s Night Shift, but I wanted to post a review of a horror story today, Halloween 2020. So here is a brief review of King’s A Good Marriage. It was published in 2010 as part of the novella collection: Full Dark, No Stars. The story was adapted for the big screen in 2014.
What happens when, on a perfectly ordinary evening, all the things you believed in and took for granted are turned upside down?
When her husband of more than 20 years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband.
How well do you really know someone? Could a close member of your family be hiding an incredible secret? In “A Good Marriage”, Stephen King explores these ideas with the skill of a truly gifted writer.
My horror-themed month continues with one of the best John Constantine, Hellblazer stories: Dangerous Habits. For this, we have to go back in time to 1991 when Garth Ennis became the regular writer of DC Comics’ horror title Hellblazer. This was in the days before the Vertigo imprint existed. (Alas, it is no more!) Hellblazer was “suggested for mature readers,” and was one of a group of “mature” titles being published at that time. These included Swamp Thing, Sandman, Animal Man, Doom Patrol, and Shade the Changing Man.
John Constantine has faced all manner of ghosts, demons, and even serial killers before. But this time it’s serious! Years of smoking 30 cigarettes a day has left John with terminal lung cancer. That’s right, he’s going to die, and there aren’t any magic spells he knows to make it go away. In fact, he’s even contemplating giving up and ending it all. Who would’ve thought it? “Conjob” Constantine not even trying to talk or trick his way out of something? Unbelievable! But hang on a minute. Perhaps there are a couple of possibilities still open to him. Now you think about it, if anyone can actually pull this off, it has to be John Constantine, right?
“Gray Matter” first appeared in the magazine Cavalier in October 1973. It’s taken from Stephen King’s first collection, Night Shift (1978), which contains twenty of his earliest short stories. These stories were originally published between 1970 and 1977. This collection includes Children of the Corn, Quitters Inc., The Lawnmower Man, Trucks, The Ledge, Jerusalem’s Lot, and more.
My Summary & Thoughtson “Gray Matter”
A young boy runs into a 24-hour convenience store during a heavy snowstorm. He looks terrified and asks the owner, Henry, to sell him a case of beer for his father. Henry and the two locals in the store know the boy well. He is Richie Grenadine’s son Timmy, and his father often sends him to buy his beer, making sure it’s the cheapest beer in the store. Richie used to come and buy it himself until fairly recently.
‘Outsiders visit Dunwich as seldom as possible, and since a certain season of horror all the signboards pointing toward it have been taken down.’
Lovecraft wrote The Dunwich Horror in 1928 and it was first published in the April 1929 issue of Weird Tales. He is said to have rated it highly and described the story as being “so fiendish” that his editor at Weird Tales“may not dare to print it.” It is now considered one of the core tales of the Cthulhu Mythos.
It has finally cooled down over here in Yonago, Japan, after a late and hot end to the summer. The leaves are starting to fall and we can feel autumn in the air. This time of the year is one of my favourite times for reading and I like to bring in a Halloween theme to my selections for October.
I don’t read as much horror as I used to. As I get older, I find that I enjoy weird fiction more than the gore-soaked horror of my teenage years. So, what exactly is weird fiction? Instead of consulting wikipedia, here is a brief definition from Penguin Random House:
“It’s a literary style that can blend speculative fiction with elements of horror, fantasy, magical realism, Lovecraftian Cosmicism, and others to create a genre that is surreal and deeply unnerving.”
Title: Die Writer: Kieron Gillen Art: Stephanie Hans Series: Die Format: Kindle Edition Length: Vol.1, 184 pages; Vol.2, 168 pages Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Die is a pitch-black fantasy where a group of forty-something adults have to deal with the returning, unearthly horror they only just survived as teenage role-players. If Kieron’s in a rush, he describes it as “Goth Jumanji”, but that’s only the tip of this obsidian iceberg.
Like many, I was shocked and saddened by the news of Chadwick Boseman’s passing last month. I enjoyed his performances as Black Panther in the Marvel movies, especially his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War. It got me thinking about the Black Panther comic book, a title I’ve never read. I’ve only read Fantastic Four issue #52 (July 1966) in which the character made his debut, penned by the legendary creative combo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Author: K.J. Parker Title: The Devil You Know Series: Saloninus #2 Format: Kindle Edition Length: 124 pages Rating: ★★★★☆
The greatest philosopher of all time is offering to sell his soul to the Devil. All he wants is twenty more years to complete his life’s work. After that, he really doesn’t care.
But the assistant demon assigned to the case has his suspicions, because the philosopher is Saloninus–the greatest philosopher, yes, but also the greatest liar, trickster and cheat the world has yet known; the sort of man even the Father of Lies can’t trust.