Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Day in the Lonesome October-fest, October 31 and Conclusion

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

October 31

This was it. Lily was really nervous about Lynette's fate. She didn't really have any commentary until the ritual was already underway, and then she was the audience every author wants, gasping and cheering at all the right times.

Cheer Moment: He seized hold of the girl's left shoulder with his teeth and dragged her down from the altar.  With that rapid backing motion I had seen him employ before, he dragged her quickly before us toward the north, whence he had come, to my right.

Gasp Moment: The report of a gunshot filled the air and Larry staggered, a dark blot appearing and spreading high upon his left shoulder.  The vicar held a smoking revolver, pointed in his direction.

Lily really liked the Count, I think, in part, because she's on a vampire kick. She doesn't otherwise like villain protagonists. 

She was worried when the vicar attacked the Count, though confused about the mechanism.
     "Dirt from one of your own caskets," the vicar replied, "mixed with pieces of my church's altar stone relic, left over from more papish times.  Fingerbone of St. Hilarian, according to the records. 
Lily: What's he talking about?
Me: You'll see. Listen to the end of what he's saying.
 You require your consecrated soil, but overconsecration is like the difference between a therapeutic and a debilitating dose of strychnine.  Do you not agree?"
I do love that line, because it seems so characteristically Zelaznian, but it's certainly confusing to a little kid (though, she's not the intended audience, so it's hard to fault him for that).

Me: Okay, that's probably no clearer. You know how you'll get sick if you take too much medicine? It's like that. 

Cheer Moment: The Count muttered a reply in a foreign language, as the wolf disappeared with Lynette; and I realized that, from all his talks with Larry, plus his knowledge of drugs, and the samples he had obtained, he had succeeded several days ago in developing his own ideal dosage, and I had just witnessed the Great Detective's greatest disguise yet.  I howled a "Well done!" into the night.  Later, a "Good luck!" came back to me.

Another Cheer Moment: "Pret-ty kit-ty," he repeated.  Then he turned and walked away in the direction whence he had come.
     "Put me down!" she cried.  "I can't leave now!"
     He sat down just beyond the firelight and commenced petting her.

I needed to spell out the deal with Carpe baculum, but she dug it once I did.

Not strictly relevant to this specific readthrough, but a friend suggested the top ten best/worst Zelazny puns and Jack had braced himself. Then his arm moved, hand dipping into the satchel and out, emerging quickly, casting the wine bottle of slitherers into the Gateway, to gunk it up. He grinned at me. "Any port in a storm," he observed. certainly belongs there.

She really appreciated the ending, which I do think was the perfect conclusion to the story: 
    I turned and looked back in time to see the experiment man start down the southern slope, carrying the Count.
     "Hi, cat," I said.  "I'll buy you that drink yet."
     "Hi, dog," she said.  "I think I'll let you."
     Jack and Jill went down the hill.  Gray and I ran after.
Great book and great experience reading it. I wouldn't change a thing about either. Thanks for reading along with me.


  1. LOVE "Any port in a storm." Probably my favorite Zelazny pun. (And this is coming from a big fan of the LORD OF LIGHT classic, by which all other puns are measured.)

    1. ANITLO seems so perfect for its format that I don't think I'd want to see an adaptation for the screen, because I think it would lose too much of its unique appeal in the process of being reworked for a different medium.

      That said, I think a limited series graphic novel adaptation (scripted by Neil Gaiman, of course) would be pretty great, but only if

      A.) It includes "Any port in a storm", and
      B.) Jack mugs for the reader as he says it.

    2. Funny--just the other day I was thinking about how an adaptation of ANITLO might work. I was trying to figure out if it could be brought to the screen via traditional animation. (It seems like CGI just wouldn't have the right feel; I'd need it to look more like THE SECRET OF NIMH or something.) But maybe you're right, and it just wouldn't work that way.

      I love the idea of a graphic novel adaptation, with the stipulations you mentioned. Someone email Neil!

      As far as the book being perfect goes, when I got to the last few chapters this time I did remember one small complaint I have: why didn't the Count just kill the Vicar instead of Owen? I mean, why "send a message" to the Vicar when you could just eliminate him completely? Seems to me that killing someone is a far more effective way of keeping them in check than just sending a message.

      We can't really argue that the Count is playing by the rules of the game (which is often the excuse cited for lack of violence in other situations), because if he killed Owen, that shows he was already willing to kill a player.

      I'm sure it's possible to come up with a reason for why the Count would do things this way, but to the best of my knowledge it's never addressed in the book--and that's my problem. To me, it shows the author's hand anytime an action doesn't make sense and only exists because it's necessary to the plot.

      However, it's possible I missed something. Do you recall a reason for why the Count would have killed Owen and not the Vicar?

      In any case, I still count ANITLO as probably my favorite book--so, like Snuff noticing a crack in the slitherers' mirror, I'm apparently able to overlook what I perceive as a single small flaw.

    3. I had a similar thought when Snuff observed something along the lines of the fact that Jack's knife offers them considerable protection against mundane violence. So clearly mundane violence is an option. Any particular reason Jack didn't stab his opposition (initially, three out of shape, middle-aged men) when he got to the fire? Sure it's *gauche*, but I'd rather be thought tacky than doom the world to the tentacled jackboot of alien god oppression. "Sorry, Jill, they were like that when I got here."

      The one with Owen bothers me less. I figure that he was a target of opportunity. The Count got him when he went outside to check on the baskets. The vicar turned out to be a much savvier player than anybody anticipated. (He had Countermeasures (GET IT?!) against the Count when it was widely believed that the Count was out of the game. I figure that the precautions he was taking would have made it prohibitively difficult for the Count to get a clean shot against him. Needle points out earlier that the Count is the kind of vampire that needs to be invited inside. He couldn't be sure of maintaining his secrecy and killing both the Vicar and Tekela, so he went after a softer target instead.

  2. Found your blog today, really enjoyed your read with your daughter. Lonesome is one of my most favorite Zelazny stories.

    Thanks for posting these! :)

    1. Thank you! It's a great story and I'm glad we could share our experience with you. We might read it again this year, but she's leaning towards a different Zelazny story right now.