Books #14, #15, and #16 of 2013

Yeah, I’ve been reading a bit but not keeping up with blogging. The end of the school year is insane, even more insane than the beginning and middle of the school year. Forgive the lapse!

Black Dogs: A Novel is another finely crafted short meditation by Ian McEwan. Is there meaning in the Universe, or do things unfold merely in a giant net of cause and effect and random chance? The narrator of the novel grapples with these worldviews when confronted by his in-laws: mother-in-law has moved from a clinical rationalism to spiritualism and mysticism, while her husband maintains his scientific worldview. Their conflicting POVs move them to live separate lives in distant locales. While the narrator works on a memoir of his in-laws’ experience, several deeply symbolic and synchronistic events occur, and I will say nothing more lest I spoil the read. The best book of its sort I’ve read since Robertson Davies’ Deptford trilogy.

And speaking of moving from clinical rationalism to spiritualism and mysticism (or vice-versa), I had a blast reading Esoteric Christianity, Or The Lesser Mysteries by Annie Besant. I recall as a youngster confined in a sweltering pew for eternal Sunday mornings and Vacation Bible School classes wondering how the interesting parables and admonitions and poems and tales in Scripture could result in such befuddling, disgusting, hate-filled, confused, and outrageously dull church services. Besant believed like other esotericists that there is a surface church for the unenlightenable, and a true Church for the Initiate. Tolle, lege!

And as long as Ramsey Campbell keeps on churning out spooky stories and novels, I’ll keep reading them.
begins with a refreshing return to form for Campbell–it reads initially like The Doll Who Ate its Mother, or the stories from The Height of the Scream. Taut, sharp sentences, and concise impressionist descriptions. But alas it’s not sustained, and the excesses of Campbell’s later style–clunky misapprehensions between characters, labored punning, and awkward and obvious false trails frustrated what began with much promise. Had Ghosts Know been a 100-page novella it would have worked swimmingly. Go back into his catalog and check out The Face that Must Die instead of this one.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s