Monday, September 21, 2009

Tut-tut, it Looks Like Rain

It has been raining in Northeast Georgia for approximately 10 days. Forecasters think that the rain will be continuing into early October with little respite. Freakouts ensue; my Facebook feed is swamped -- pun intended -- with folks bemoaning the rain.

I am perfectly content in this rainy weather. Perfectly satisfied to stay indoors, I've watched classic movies, puttered about the kitchen, napped, and read. Thank goodness for the R.I.P. reading challenge. I finished my first book for the challenge last week, The Dark Clue, by James Wilson. The Dark Clue is about two of the characters from Wilkie Collins The Woman in White -- Walter Hartright and Marion Halcombe -- attempting to unearth the life of eccentric artist J.M.W. Turner in order to write a commissioned biography. Of course Walter becomes obsessed with Turner, not necessarily Turner the Man, but Turner's genius.

This atmospheric novel reminded me of Dan Simmons Drood in the entire man-goes-mad-searching-for-the-Truth storyline. Like Drood, I appreciated that the ending wasn't neat and tidy with answers for everything. In fact, I think Dan Simmons could learn a thing or two from James Wilson. For one, The Dark Clue is written in the form of letters and journals which provided Hartright's path from observer of facts to a completely obsessed and biased wannabe Turner. This is much like Wilkie Collins' ravings in Drood, except that in The Dark Clue we have Marion's balanced journal to provided a reliable narrator to some degree; through Marion we gain knowledge of Turner's life and works and we can track Walter's downward spiral. My one problem with Drood was that I really wished there had been an outside narrator or something to balance out Wilkie.

Spoiler alert >>>>> Okay, I'm going to warn The Woman in White enthusiasts. Walter rapes Marion in this book. I thought it would bother me, but it completely worked. I always thought that Walter and Marion had an odd relationship in The Woman in White. All of this "dear brother" and "kind sister" crap didn't cut it with me. Laura seemed like this meek little lamb that Marion and Walter were always trying to guard and save and love. Walter and Marion are more on par intellectually, so I can see underlying passions taking hold. The rape scene was weird, very much Walter taking advantage, but Marion liked it.

For my R.I.P. short story collection I'm reading Tod Robbins' Who Wants a Green Bottle? And Other Uneasy Tales. The collection was published in 1926 and I chose this collection because it contains the short story, "Spurs", that inspired Freaks. I haven't read that story yet -- I'm saving it -- but I just finished the first tale, "Silent, White and Beautiful" about a psychopathic sculptor who ends up killing several people -- wife, mother-in-law, and two neighbor children -- to embalm them in plaster and make perfect sculptures.

I hear thunder rumbling in the distance and rain plashing on the windows so I'm off to make some cocoa and read some more gruesome short stories.

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