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.


  1. Possibly Zelazny's best single novel (others may prefer Lord of Light, which is rather different). The two adjectives that best characterize it for me are "charming" and 'lyrical." Sweet little love story (albeit unconventional), with five major plot twists in the last ten pages. Roger is at the top of his form, here.
    The novel also gives an example of Zelazny's biggest flaw as a novelist: he's sloppy. (As an editor-in-potentia, this should interest you) In the last chapter, we find Morris and McCab slain by the Count, gratuitously resurrected barely a page later, and then dead again a few lines later. This is obviously an error, since their resurrection serves no plot purpose. I am a great fan of Zelazny's, but stuff like this makes me moan "Oh, Roger, will you please pay attention to what you're doing?" It slightly interferes with the flow of what is otherwise a terrific ending, IMO.
    I'd recommend reading it in one or two goes, next time. The Chapter a Day routine ruins the flow.

    1. I did notice the resurrection, too...I was trying to defend it as part of whatever spell made them all change form. But you're likely right, it was probably an oversight. I'm glad you wanted to reread it immediately, too! I will take your advice and read straight through. Thanks for your comments!

    2. It's because it serves no plot point that I put the resurrection down to oversight. If you read the two Amber series, you'll run into a few instances where he appears to have forgotten what he's already written, but he gets slack there, since the books were written over a long course of years and he was busy dying when he did the last one. It's particularly glaring in Lonesome October because it happens over such a short period of text. If Roger didn't catch it, why didn.t the editor?

    3. That's true, it didn't serve any plot point, but it was very creepy!

  2. Also, this is one of very few books that, after I finished reading the first time, I turned right around and started it again. No higher praise is possible.