Saturday, December 02, 2006

Darkness Weaves

Been a big reading weekend so far. Started with a re-read of Novalyn Price's memoir, One Who Walked Alone. Novalyn dated Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan, in the 1930s. She'd saved her diaries from when she was in her twenties and used them to write the book when she was not quite 70. It's a slow book and reads much like you would think a young girl's diary would read, but it's the longest first hand account of Howard's life. Her friendship with Howard runs right up to three weeks before his suicide. Like most of Howard's friends, she didn't see it coming, though looking back the signs were everywhere.
From there I went to Darkness Weaves with Many Shades, one of Karl Edward Wagner's novels about his anti-hero Kane. Many folks, seeing the Frank Frazetta covers of the Kane paperbacks, assumed he was a red headed Conan knock off. Kane carried a sword and ax and fought monsters but his creation was inspired more by the Gothic novels of the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer. This is a dark dark book and it does indeed weave with many shades of violence, passion, revenge, and horror. I noted at one point, during a pitched sea battle, my heartbeat had actually picked up a little. Always a sign that a writer has done that improbable bit of magic of actually involving a reader so deeply in his plot that the reader feels what is happening almost as if he or she were there. Bloody impressive. Wagner was another talent who died too soon. He didn't commit suicide as cleanly as REH, but he basically drank himself to death, and knew what he was doing. His friends not only saw it coming, they had to watch.
Not sure what I'll read next. Maybe something light...

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