Sunday, February 25, 2024

I'm Going to GaryCon

So, I'm going to GaryCon. For the first time ever. Less than a month from now.

It'll be great to see some of my old TSR colleagues from my time there. Also to put a face on folks I know online but haven't met in person.

If you'd like to touch bases, drop me a note in the comments. 

--John R.

   --current reading: THE MOON CHILD by Aleister Crowley (1917) 

Aleister Crowley on Dunsany

 So, I knew that one of Lord Dunsany's books was reviewed by Aleister Crowley. What I did not know until a few days ago is that Crowley critiques Dunsany in passing, in what might have made for an interesting blurb.

The passage in question comes three-quarters of the way through Crowley's occult novel THE MOON CHILD (1917).  Crowley writes 

Lord Dunsany's stories are 

the perfect prose jewels 

of a master cutter and polisher,

 lit by the rays of an imagination 

that is the godlike son 

of the Father of All Truth and Light;


 [page 209 chapter 18: 

The Dark Side of the Moon]


---John R.

--current reading: THE JOURNAL OF JULIUS RODMAN by Edgar Poe (best described as 'Poe does Lewis & Clark').

Saturday, February 10, 2024

KIlby's Nauglamir

 Dear Valmer

Here's what I suggest.

Send me a comment connected to this post. If you'll include yr email address in the unpublished comment, I'll delete said comment and respond to you directly.

--John R.


Three Books

So, I hadn't had a chance to get into a bookstore for a while, and held off ordering from Amazon, that great big bookstore in the sky (or perhaps the ether), since we were away for a brief visit to Rockford / Lake Geneva / & Milwaukee and having books come while we're having mail held is inviting trouble. Once we were back I did a little catching up:


THE ALABASTER HAND by A. N. L. Munby 

--Read twice before, finding it enjoyable but derivative; this time I thought better of it. After all, if you're going to imitate somebody it might as well be the best (in this case, the ghost stories of M. R. James). Plus the book was written under difficult circumstances (in a prisoner-of-war camp). Jared Lobdell was interested in this book but never articulated why.


BLOOD & THUNDER: THE LIFE AND ART ODF ROBERT E. HOWARD by Mark Finn

--a well-researched new (-ish) biography of R.E.H., creator of Conan. Meant to be a corrective of the de Camp biography and its many shortcomings.


THE MAJOR AND THE MISSIONARY: THE LETTERS OF WARREN HAMILTON LEWIS AND BLANCH BIGGS ed. Diana Pavlac Glyer

--the back-and-forth correspondence between C. S. Lewis's brother and said a missionary living and working in New Guinea: pen friends who never met. I heard this one read out as a play-for-voices at a Mythcon years ago and enjoyed it then; I expect to enjoy it again now that it's available in book form.


There's a fourth book, by Barfield, but that has not yet arrived.


--John R.

--current reading: Finn's Howard.




Friday, January 26, 2024

Peruvian Tolkien Society





So, recently I found out from fellow Tolkien scholar Erik Mueller Harder* that there is a Peruvian Tolkien Society (La Sociedad Tolkien Peruana), a newly founded group. What's more, they were having their next meet (via Zoom) the very next day. The book they had chosen was THE HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT. Seeing that I had written that book, Erik thought I might be interested in joining in. Long story short, as my uncle wd say: I contacted them and they invited me to join the meeting. It wound up being an enjoyable time, a book group discussion crossed with a Q&A.  I found them knowledgable and articulate. I was glad to be invited and glad I accepted.

--John R.

*we both worked on the Marquette reprocessing project, though mostly at different times.  


Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The Page Turner

 



So, our local bookstore took a hit this week when during the Great Freeze of January 14th broken waterpipes in an unused room overhead (owned by the bookstore's landlord) caused flooding. Anyone who's seen how books and water don't mix can appreciate the mess that ensued.


They've been a good neighbor in the community, hosting events like 'Nerdcon'. Fortunately they have already announced plans to re-open --in the space about three blocks away until recently occupied by downtown Kent's game store, Game Kastle. Which was the first I heard about the game store's having closed.

For those who wd like to help out as Page Turner works to get back on their feet again, they've opened up a GoFundMe page -- at first set with a goal of $10,000, since bumped up to $20,000.

So, here's hoping that this uses up their year's supply of drama all in one go.

--John R.

P.S. For the sake of full disclosure, this is where I've been taking boxes of my books as I sort through them and send them out the door in the ongoing downsizing.* So I feel a bit sad that books I thought were going to a safe home, not all of whom made it. And I'll have to come up with a good place for the four boxfuls I'm gathered up and set aside for the next time.


*the latest lot is mainly made up of  Robertson Davies and Joseph Conrad 




Sunday, January 14, 2024

Tolkien on the sacrament

  

So, when slowly reading my way through the new edition of JRRT's LETTERS, I find that in some cases I'm more struck by passages we already knew from the 1981 edition than the new material, fascinating though that may be. For example, what are we to make of this passage from Letter to Michael (page 74, #66)?  

 

 

Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated,

I put before you the one great thing on earth: the

Blessed Sacrament . . . . . There you will find romance,

glory, honour, fidelity, and the one true way of all

your loves upon earth . . .  Death.

 

page 74. Letter to Michael (#66)

 

Unlike (say) Lewis, Tolkien seems to have been less interested in the formal doctrine of the Church (though he was well-versed in it) than he took great comfort in its rites and rituals. This I suspect was at the root of his opposition to the replacement of Latin with the vernacular.*

 

As for the sacrament, and the priority he assigns to it: is he here relating his experience of being in the presence of God?

 

--John R.

current reading: two essays by Joseph Conrad on the sinking of the Titanic.