Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Day in the Lonesome October-fest, October 6

The continuing account of reading A Night in the Lonesome October with an nine-year-old, out loud and during the day.

October 6

Excitement. I heard the mirror crack this morning, and I ran and raised holy hell before it, keeping the slitherers inside. Jack heard the fuss and fetched his mundane wand and transferred them all to another mirror, just like the Yellow Emperor. This one was much smaller, which may teach them a lesson, but probably not. We're not sure how they did it. Continued pressure on some flaw, most likely. Good thing they're afraid of me.
As I was reading this section, Lily was making the face that people make when they’re listening to something they don’t understand, but which they hope will become clear later in the conversation. I was going to explain about the Yellow Emperor, but we got distracted and never returned to it. It’s not essential to the appreciation of the story, and you can certainly get the gist from context, and this goes back to my earlier point of just how good Zelazny was at writing a story that could be appreciated on many different levels.

Jack retired and I went outside. The sun was shining through gray and white clouds and only the crisp scents of autumn rode the breezes. I had been drawing lines in my head during the night. What I'd tried to do would have been much easier for Nightwind, Needle, or even Cheeter. It is hard for an earthbound creature to visualize the terrain in the manner I'd attempted. But I'd drawn lines from each of our houses to each of the others. The result was an elaborate diagram with an outer boundary and intersecting rays within. And once I have such a figure I can do things with it that the others cannot. It was necessarily incomplete because I did not know the whereabouts of the Count, or of any other players who might not yet have come to my attention.

This is what distracted us. Lily made that same face again, so I told her that Snuff was trying to find the location of the final ritual, which will be at the center of the pattern of the players’ residences.

She still seemed confused, so I just told her that Snuff was employing Common Core math.

Hey, Grey doesn't get thrown down the well for another two chapters!

She then asked if Sherlock Holmes was a real person, and I told her that he was fictional, but that he was based on an associate of Arthur Conan Doyle, Dr. Joseph Bell.

I then mentioned that ACD *hated* writing the Holmes stories after a time, and that his real passion was writing his boring Napoleonic War books. Lily thought this was the most fascinating bit of trivia imaginable.

We talked about this at considerable length. She also really enjoyed the bit at the end of the chapter:
Down in the cellar the Thing in the Circle had become a Pekingese.
"You like little ladies?" it asked. "Come and get it, big fella."
It still smelled of Thing rather than dog.
"You're not really very bright," I said.
The Peke gave me the paw as I departed, and it's hard to turn your leg that way.

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