Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October is narrated by a dog, despite which is not face-punchably unreadable. That’s a pretty major achievement in its own right, because even having a pet in a book is an invitation to twee, and having them narrate, well.

The dog in question belongs to a famous 19th-century historical figure, who works with and against other famous historical (and literary) figures to perform an occult ritual in the proper way on the proper time. More than that is spoilers, and no I don’t care how much the dustjacket gives away. You’re not supposed to know it going in.

The 19th-century literary mish-mash element of it works well, the mood is convincingly supernaturally autumnal, and the style works for the book. Despite that, the story is marked by Zelazny’s characteristic flaw, which is that he’s way too obviously making it all up as he goes along.

The early relationships between characters, and certain early plot events, make no sense in terms of what we come to know later in the book. As in Amber, you get the sense that he had a cool idea, and decided to meander with it to see where it went, and then published the result without going back to rewrite the inconsistent beginning. This ad-hoccery clearly doesn’t bother a lot of people, as the Amber books are well-regarded, but it bugs the hell out of me to have a book so obviously inconsistent with itself.

Still, it’s a pleasant enough light diversion, and worth reading around this time of year.


{{}} said {{timeAgo(comment.datetime)}}