Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! with "A Night in the Lonesome October"

Well the Read Along for A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny has come to an end after 31 days of attempting to read only one chapter a day.

I don't want to spoil anything for those who have not read (or who are not caught up), but I did want to share a few final thoughts.

As a general recap, the story is narrated by the dog Snuff, a companion to Jack who is a player in a Game that is not fully explained until late in the game. Other players of this Game also have animal companions, and most of what we see is Snuff trading information with the other animal companions. Through this, great friendships are formed. During the month of October, the players all go about collecting ingredients and preparing for Halloween night, when the Game begins.

Humor is also a big part of the book, from shape-shifting Things trying to woo Snuff by turning in to different dogs, to a disguise rendered so well that all characters are clueless to the true identity, aside from Snuff.

The characters of the book are some you may recognize from other spooky tales - some more overtly than others.  The Great Detective, the Count, and the Good Doctor are a few that everyone is sure to recognize.  It is an intriguing dynamic to see these classic characters interact.

Perhaps even before next October, I would like to reread this book.  There are so many little things mentioned throughout that don't make sense until you find out what is really going on, which isn't until the last week. I'd really like to start from the beginning now knowing what's going on!

That being said, I still really enjoyed the book the first time through. There's great friendships, lots of mystery, and most of all anticipation - as the whole book leads up to the final day and everything until then is just preparation.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Read Along: Week Three - "A Night in the Lonesome October"

Last week's discussion of Roger Zelazny's A Night in the Lonesome October raised the question of what inspired this quirky novel. Apparently this mix of humor, mystery, suspense, and horror is what happens when someone dares/bets a talented author that he can't make Jack the Ripper a sympathetic character.

The consensus was that it's successful so far. Half-way through the month, we continue to be endeared by not only Snuff and the other watch animals, but also the total loyalty between Snuff and Jack. 

This week, things take a turn for the darker, but if anyone knows who's to blame for the mysterious murder, they're not sharing. There's also more cooperation between other players, but they are just as reciprocal as their companions - they will trade ingredients, sure, but few players offer something for nothing. October 17th shows the mad tossing around of body parts that takes place in the cemetery during one such exchange.
What an image Zelazny creates with “'Has anyone the broken vertebrae of a hanged man?’” and then a moment later “something white and rattling flashed through the starlit air” (90). So that removes any doubt about the nature of the ingredients that Jack and Snuff collect. It remains to be seen what they’ll be used for though…

With the last day of the week beginning with the ominous line “Soon it begins,” I know we’re in for another exciting week!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

To Review: "Tell Me a Story" by Scott McClellan

It's been a while since my last book review, so here's the next one that'll be on the blog soon. It's Tell Me a Story by Scott McClellan, and it just arrived in my mailbox this week from Moody Publishers!

To give you a taste, here's a line from the back of the book:
All the best stories have a few things in common; sometimes we just have to step back from our daily routine to see them....When we recognize the elements of a great story, we begin to see our lives as a part of God's story. ...We are right in the middle of a page-turner - and God is in it with us.
Look for my review coming soon!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Read Along: Week Two - "A Night in the Lonesome October"

"Why are you growling, friend?" Jack asked. 
I shook my head. I was not sure. (18)

This week Snuff has been meeting with other watchers and trading information.

One of the other watchers got into a tight spot, and Snuff saved her, showcasing the relationship between the watchers. Of course, their masters are still competitors, but "it's too early in the Game to begin eliminating players" (41). Of course this rescue counts as another favor and favors are to be traded like information. It's a very reciprocal system and each of the watchers obey the unwritten rule. 

One of the Things in the master's house has the ability to shapeshift and keeps attempting to woo Snuff by transforming into different types of dogs, which is increasingly funny as we read Snuff's commentary about all the elements the Thing got wrong. All of the Things are trying to escape, using whatever trickery possible, but Snuff is too good of a watchdog for that. 

We meet the Great Detective, who is investigating some murders and grave robberies. Perhaps the players of the Game are to blame. Who knows what type of "ingredients" they are collecting! There were some hints that point to the possibility that Dr. Frankenstein is involved, which would explain the grave robberies at least. 

All in all, a very exciting week full of mystery and humor!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Read Along: Week One - "A Night in the Lonesome October"

While week one of October was a short one, it was definitely an exciting one in the Night in the Lonesome October read along. I’m having a hard time only reading one chapter a day because I want to learn more about this exciting life of Snuff, the watchdog and narrator!

In the first three chapters, I specifically enjoyed seeing Snuff from three different sides: first, with his
interactions with the antagonizing Things; second, with another watcher (a cat no less!); and third, with his master, Jack (and later his new acquaintance, Needle, a bat).

It’s the relationship with Jack that has me most invested and quotes like “He had donned his cloak and said to me, ‘Snuff, fetch!’ And from the way he said it, I knew that it was the blade he required” (11) only add to the intrigue.

Slowly but surely, we get to see more of Snuff and Jack’s mission – they go out collecting ingredients every night, and on night three, we learn that a new player has entered the “Game,” though we do not know what the game is.

I’m still only reading the chapter on the day I'm supposed to, but it's a only been a little tease so far with chapters less than three pages.

You can follow the read along on Twitter (#GoodDogSnuff and @ChiReviewPress).

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Read Along: "A Night in the Lonesome October" by Roger Zelazny

“The last great novel by one of the giants of the genre.”  —George R. R. Martin

“Jack the Ripper meets Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes, and a few other choice individuals in this romp through the annals of literary horror and mystery. . . . Zelazny’s quirky humor and Wilson’s appropriately creepy drawings complement each other in grand style.”  —Library Journal

Apparently it is a tradition among Roger Zelazny's fans to read A Night in the Lonesome October one chapter a day during, you guessed it, October. The chapters are even aptly titled "October 1," "October 2," etc. So this month, I'll be joining the Chicago Review Press in doing a read along!

Today I met Snuff, a watchdog and the narrator of the novel. It is his job to help his master, Jack, as well as keeping watch, of course. Together, they are the keepers of curses and their work is "very important." I don't know much else yet, as the first chapter is only two pages long!

If you have a copy, grab your book and read chapter one—it's October 1st! You can follow our adventure on Twitter (#GoodDogSnuff and @ChiReviewPress). I'll be updating weekly as we progress through the book.