(urth) The Sorcerer's House

John Watkins john.watkins04 at gmail.com
Mon Mar 15 19:05:14 PDT 2010

Evil Guest, yes.  I liked the pulpy feel and the Cthulhu stuff, and I
actually liked Cassie (which I think is a minority opinion.)

Pirate Freedom, no.  Just a puzzlebox.

On Mon, Mar 15, 2010 at 11:01 PM, James Crossley <ishmael at drizzle.com>wrote:

>  On 3/15/10 1:59 PM, "Russell Wodell" <wrustle at gmail.com> wrote:
>  As in *Castleview* and parts of *Free Live Free*, there is such a
> plethora of weird incidents, conveyed at really breakneck speed by a
> typically laconic and unemotional Wolfe narrator, that I find the necessary
> suspension of disbelief very difficult.
> Wolfe is very much smarter than I am, so he must anticipate something of
> this reaction. The story seems to demand being read straight; yet there are,
> for another example, no less than three sets of identical twins at large,
> plus an evil dwarf bent on rape (who is explicitly identified with a Dickens
> character I will not name here).
> Does he want us to laugh? I add that Wolfe's few explicit attempts at
> humour, such as his Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe parodies, have always
> struck me as leaden failures.
> Russell Wodell
> I’m about two-thirds of the way through *Sorcerer’s House* and find myself
> in agreement with much of what you’ve said.  I can’t really imagine how this
> stuff reads to anyone not very familiar with Wolfe’s work.  The characters
> seem inconsistently buffoonish and brilliant, and major events are glossed
> while inconsequential conversations take up paragraphs—to all appearances.
> As with other late-period Wolfe, the surface reading is off-putting not
> because of baroque vocabulary or complexity, but for opposite reasons.
>  Everything is played so straight and so (apparently) simplistically that
> there’s next to no pleasure to be had for anyone not racking his brains to
> keep up with the subtext.  Now, I love the puzzling subtext and think the
> book is worth reading just for that, but what I always really enjoyed about
> the greatest Wolfean works was the richness available on all levels.
> Does anyone on the list really find these late volumes—I’m thinking of *Evil
> Guest* and *Pirate Freedom*, and even *Memorare*—enjoyable as anything
> other than puzzleboxes?
> James
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