An Evil Guest--Gene Wolfe


What an oddity--a film noir Lovecraftian Mythos science fiction novel/musical.

Despite his acclaim in the Science Fiction world as well as in Catholic Blogland, I have to admit that Gene Wolfe is a writer who defeats me more often than not. I find his novels hard going for the most part. Even his short stories are challenging.

In this one, I had a hook. Wolfe latched into both the noir novel genre and the mythos (although that is not completely clear until near the end of the book). And then there's the title. . . who exactly is the evil guest? (The epigraph tells you, but it tells you very little.)

Perhaps it is the densely packed symbology, or perhaps it is my own intellectual density, but I'm hard-pressed to make hide nor hair of this book. I got to the end of it, finding that I enjoyed it thoroughly even while I don't have any notion of what Wolfe's point was in writing it.

The story centers around an up and coming actress is who catapulted to stardom by a man who wishes to use her charms to hunt down/lure in another person who is of interest to the FBI for reasons that it is hard to discern. The young lady is approached by the second man of interest and asked to star in a production of a musical featuring a Volcano God. Through many twists and turns and several murders, we are taken on a course that finally careens toward R'lyeh where the Storm God (as he is called by the local natives) lies dreaming. And all together now: That is not dead that can eternal lie, and with strange aeons, even death may die. Having encountered the Storm God, to everyone's detriment, the story resolves itself with our heroine hieing herself off to Woldercan, the world of wonders to meet Gideon Chase, the man who catapulted her to stardom.

And the point? Honestly, I haven't a clue. It was one of the most exasperating things. And yet despite my own incomprehension of what Mr. Wolfe was about, I found that i enjoyed the book immensely. Maybe enough to go back at some future date and puzzle through the whole thing again.

Highly recommended.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 3, 2009 7:49 AM.

1000 Novels You MUST Read was the previous entry in this blog.

A Study in Scarlet--Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the next entry in this blog.

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