September 30, 2005
A Night in the Lonesome October
Life is full of doors that don't open when you knock, equally spaced amid those that open when you don't want them to. ~ Roger Zelazny
It's September 30th and tomorrow begins my annual ritual of re-reading Roger Zelazny's A Night In The Lonesome October.
I love this book. Every year I read a chapter a day throughout the tenth month of the year; it is my personal October advent calendar. Each chapter summarizes a day in the life of Snuff, a dog. Snuff and his master are players in a strange game that encompasses events and characters that feel familiar, but their group adventure is utterly original. In fact figuring out who the strange cast of oddities are is half the fun. Zelazny found a smug way to avoid any copyright concerns by simply not naming the characters he co-opted for the story. This dog-day diary begins on October 1st and concludes on October 31st. Some chapters are a page long, others are more substantial. All of them build a story that is part metaphysical mystery, part vintage throwback shtick, part Gothic horror. There are vampires and vivisectionists and pet familiars (through which the story is narrated). There is a great detective and his portly friend. There are homages to classic horror writers and nods to a few mystery-shrouded historical figures.
Like most Zelazny it is fast reading, so it takes up very little of time each day, except for the final day and one or two others that are meaty chapters. Of course, I've read it over and over and so my desire to finish the book all in one sitting passed a long time ago. I read it at more of a mosey these days. It's an act of savoring and not the gush of "I have to know how it ends" exuberance. It's my wine not my whiskey.
I cannot recommend a better October read. If you think you don't like Zelazny because the word "Amber" makes you cringe, put those feelings aside. This is altogether different. It's out of print, but there are paperbacks and hardcovers all over the net -- Amazon.com and Half.com both have copies aplenty.
I just dug up my copy. This is the second second october I'll have tried this. What do you think teh odds are that I'll make it this time?
Posted by: Karl Elvis MacRae at September 30, 2005 05:15 PM