Goto Thread: PreviousNext
Goto:  Message ListNew TopicSearchLog In
Genre authors who used to be favorites but aren't any more
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 4 December, 2019 04:28PM
Unless this is too negative of a topic, I thought there might be some interesting comments on the subject of genre authors one used to relish but not much now.

Edgar Rice Burroughs isn't square in the middle of the weird fiction genre, but he occurs to me. I've revisited a few of his books in the past few years and read a few of them to the end, but while I kind of enjoyed them -- A Fighting Man of Mars was one, the first ERB I ever read, I think -- I'd admit that he's not a dhadow of the author for me that he was around age 14-16.

Perhaps more surprisingly, Lord Dunsany doesn't hold my interest, I find; he was such a favorite back in the day of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy releases, mostof which I bought as soon as they were published. But when I revisit him now, I usually find it takes too much effort to stay with him -- though I still appreciate "The Hoard of the Gibbelins."

Re: Genre authors who used to be favorites but aren't any more
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 4 December, 2019 09:43PM
Interesting, Dale.

Sometimes I read Dunsany and I'm really impressed, even at my advanced age of 72.

Because I got them free, I'm reading Doyle's Holmes series, and I actually appreciate it more than I had 40 years ago. They've be so overexposed over time that they can be a literary cliche, and yet...

And frankly, Kipling (also free) has blown me away, sometimes.

But I'm also aware that Dunsany was quite prolific, and this volume of output, over time, implies a chance for variation on style, yes, and quality.

To me, for CAS, there are "inspired" works, and "paycheck" works. I have not yet tired--and likely never will--of the inspired works, which I first found in 1970 in a bookstore in La Jolla, CA. It was the Ballentine Zothique volume.

Do you see volume of output over time as a major factor in the enjoyment of (or lack) authors whom you had formerly rated higher than you now do?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: Genre authors who used to be favorites but aren't any more
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 4 December, 2019 10:33PM
Sawfish, I'll give Dunsany another try, I'm sure, but a few years ago I thought I'd reread what had been one of my most favorite books -- the first Ballantine collection of Dunsany, At the Edge of the World; and it just wasn't holding my interest. By the way, it was around the time that I bought it that I began to write the date of purchase in my books. The book isn't right at hand, but I think it was March 11, 1970. I think the problem for me, now, with Dunsany, is that I am a better reader than I was at 14, in the sense that I pick up more of what the other was doing. Dunsany really did mean a lot of his stories to come across as "dreams," insubstantial literary fancies, and that insubstantiality doesn't appeal to me. But when I was a kid I got involved with the stories in spite of that "dreamer" pose of the aristocrat's.

Similarly, a few years ago I tried to reread Lovecraft's Dream-Quest, which I'd duly bought in the Ballantine series (with such an attractive Gallardo cover). But here too, the book didn't hold my interest.

On the other hand, I think my readings of Lovecraft's "Colour Out of Space" in recent years impress me even more than when I was a kid. No doubt of my liking it as a youngster. But now I find it to be better than just a creepy story. Lovecraft surpassed himself in the relative restraint with which he presented the miserable affliction that came upon family and farm. This is perhaps the only time in his fiction that Lovecraft's bleak view of the human prospect really comes through artistically; honestly, one might recall the book of Job. Notoriously, this is not a "Cthulhu Mythos" story. Another story that has grown with me, by the way, is Leiber's "A Pail of Air"; but where I once was a fan of the Fafhrd and Mouser stories, I now find.... well, you get my drift.


"Do you see volume of output over time as a major factor in the enjoyment of (or lack) authors whom you had formerly rated higher than you now do?"

Hmm -- I suppose so. There needed to be enough material by an author to give the young me the sense of a body of work to explore. I did tend, from early on, to specialize, as a reader or listener. That is, if I liked an author I would probably want to go on and read a lot more of his or her work, investing time and my meagre funds in it, just as, rather than buying what were reputedly the best LP record albums of a bunch of groups and single performers, I would "specialize" in a few favorites. Were lots of young people who care about books and music like that? But surely many didn't specialize so much... I did try new books and music, but I was quite the one for latching on to certain ones and going into quite a bit of such depth as I was then capable of.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 4 Dec 19 | 10:35PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Genre authors who used to be favorites but aren't any more
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 5 December, 2019 12:00AM
In the other thread I mentioned two relevant authors (Lovecraft and Howard) I used to be fans of before growing out of them to pursue other works closer to my taste, so I won't say so much about that here, except that Lovecraft is something I can only read on occasion. I appreciate his unique voice, but I find it too melodramatic, and I'm not a fan of the way he piles on so many references to weird names and suggestions that mean nothing to me.

In regards to Dunsany, I think I was a bit hasty to call him one of my favorites in the other thread, since I'm really only into his "Dreamer's Tales", which I feel is his strongest body of short fiction, as most of these stories feel less like passing dreams and more like deep appreciations of both human and inhuman nature. For the most part I agree with you about Dunsany's fiction resembling, on average, a series of passing dreams (though I'm not bothered by that, and admire their own cloudy strength), but I think he has stories that delve deeper into their impressions, some of them glorious and some of them haunting. This is all a matter of taste of course; I'm not aiming to argue over this because people are moved by different things. I just wished to express some of what moves me.

I agree that Lovecraft's Dream-Quest is one of his least impressive things, and also agree that his "Colour Out of Space" is phenomenal for all the reasons you mentioned. It's still one of my favorite horror stories, and I'll give it another read very soon. I think there is much credit to some of his Dunsanian things though, like "The White-Ship" and "The Strange High-House in the Mist." The former probably falls into the "passing dreams" category, but Lovecraft expresses those dreams with such feverish passion I can never forget.

Re: Genre authors who used to be favorites but aren't any more
Posted by: zimriel (IP Logged)
Date: 5 December, 2019 12:18AM
I don't think I shall ever grow out of Dunsany's 'Pegana' stories.
Robert Howard is possibly best experienced in the Savage Sword comics.

Re: Genre authors who used to be favorites but aren't any more
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 5 December, 2019 10:46AM
kojootti Wrote:
---------------------------------------------
>
> In regards to Dunsany, I think I was a bit hasty
> to call him one of my favorites in the other
> thread, since I'm really only into his "Dreamer's
> Tales", which I feel is his strongest body of
> short fiction, as most of these stories feel less
> like passing dreams and more like deep
> appreciations of both human and inhuman nature.
> For the most part I agree with you about Dunsany's
> fiction resembling, on average, a series of
> passing dreams (though I'm not bothered by that,
> and admire their own cloudy strength), but I think
> he has stories that delve deeper into their
> impressions, some of them glorious and some of
> them haunting. This is all a matter of taste of
> course; I'm not aiming to argue over this because
> people are moved by different things. I just
> wished to express some of what moves me.
>
> I agree that Lovecraft's Dream-Quest is one of his
> least impressive things, and also agree that his
> "Colour Out of Space" is phenomenal for all the
> reasons you mentioned. It's still one of my
> favorite horror stories, and I'll give it another
> read very soon. I think there is much credit to
> some of his Dunsanian things though, like "The
> White-Ship" and "The Strange High-House in the
> Mist." The former probably falls into the "passing
> dreams" category, but Lovecraft expresses those
> dreams with such feverish passion I can never
> forget.

Perhaps I should mention, in fairness to Dunsany, that many years ago I'd spotted a paperback edition of his novel The Curse of the Wise Woman and bought it, but never felt much appetite for reading it; & then I did read it at last, & found its evocation of the outdoors, at least, pleasing. I think there's a pretty decent chance I'll pick up the Ballantine paperback of The Charwoman's Shadow again someday and enjoy it; I liked it enough for a couple of readings back in the 1970s.

Thanks for mentioning "The Strange High House in the Mist." For me that's not a compelling one -- but a real fantasy authority, John Rateliff, regards it as HPL's "single best story."

[sacnoths.blogspot.com]

Re: Genre authors who used to be favorites but aren't any more
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 5 December, 2019 11:01AM
Well, this thread leads me to a related question, but maybe nobody will want to 'fess up! -- namely, do you, like me, have books on your shelves that you acquired many years ago, back when you were more interested in such-and-such an author, but you still have never read them or only dipped into them? I sure do. Examples would include E. R. Eddison's Mistress of Mistresses and A Fish Dinner in Memison -- which I have had for over 40 years and not yet read; the Owlswick edition of Dunsany's Tales of Three Hemispheres; the two Hannes Bok books in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series -- and so on. Regrettably, I've owned Ballantine's two-volume edition of Hodgson's The Night Land for a long time, and have read the first volume, I think, but just have not managed to read the whole thing. I ended up getting the rewritten version by James Stoddard and I ought to get into that one of these days.

I mentioned Eddison. He might be an author who used to be a favorite -- I would have thought of myself as a big fan of The Worm Ouroboros, which I read twice in the early 1970s -- but it seems I can't get very far even in a rereading of the Worm these days. I don't think it's simply the archaic style, since I actually like reading some old books -- Spenser's Faerie Queene, for example -- and I think I like William Morris more now than when I first read him 40-odd years ago. But somehow or other The Worm doesn't seem to hold my interest now.

Re: Genre authors who used to be favorites but aren't any more
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 5 December, 2019 10:12PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish, I'll give Dunsany another try, I'm sure,
> but a few years ago I thought I'd reread what had
> been one of my most favorite books -- the first
> Ballantine collection of Dunsany, At the Edge of
> the World; and it just wasn't holding my interest.
> By the way, it was around the time that I bought
> it that I began to write the date of purchase in
> my books. The book isn't right at hand, but I
> think it was March 11, 1970. I think the problem
> for me, now, with Dunsany, is that I am a better
> reader than I was at 14, in the sense that I pick
> up more of what the other was doing. Dunsany
> really did mean a lot of his stories to come
> across as "dreams," insubstantial literary
> fancies, and that insubstantiality doesn't appeal
> to me. But when I was a kid I got involved with
> the stories in spite of that "dreamer" pose of the
> aristocrat's.
>
> Similarly, a few years ago I tried to reread
> Lovecraft's Dream-Quest, which I'd duly bought in
> the Ballantine series (with such an attractive
> Gallardo cover). But here too, the book didn't
> hold my interest.
>
> On the other hand, I think my readings of
> Lovecraft's "Colour Out of Space" in recent years
> impress me even more than when I was a kid. No
> doubt of my liking it as a youngster. But now I
> find it to be better than just a creepy story.
> Lovecraft surpassed himself in the relative
> restraint with which he presented the miserable
> affliction that came upon family and farm. This
> is perhaps the only time in his fiction that
> Lovecraft's bleak view of the human prospect
> really comes through artistically; honestly, one
> might recall the book of Job. Notoriously, this
> is not a "Cthulhu Mythos" story. Another story
> that has grown with me, by the way, is Leiber's "A
> Pail of Air"; but where I once was a fan of the
> Fafhrd and Mouser stories, I now find.... well,
> you get my drift.
>
>
> "Do you see volume of output over time as a major
> factor in the enjoyment of (or lack) authors whom
> you had formerly rated higher than you now do?"
>
> Hmm -- I suppose so. There needed to be enough
> material by an author to give the young me the
> sense of a body of work to explore. I did tend,
> from early on, to specialize, as a reader or
> listener. That is, if I liked an author I would
> probably want to go on and read a lot more of his
> or her work, investing time and my meagre funds in
> it, just as, rather than buying what were
> reputedly the best LP record albums of a bunch of
> groups and single performers, I would "specialize"
> in a few favorites. Were lots of young people who
> care about books and music like that? But surely
> many didn't specialize so much... I did try new
> books and music, but I was quite the one for
> latching on to certain ones and going into quite a
> bit of such depth as I was then capable of.

I really enjoyed and related to much of this, Dale.

Not sure what "period" Dream Quest is a part of, but in my mind there are a number of Lovecraft stories ("Cats of Ulthar") that I find really unappealing. And yet Picture in the House, Nyarlathotep, The Call of Cthulu, and yes, The Color Out of Space, I found, and still find, very compelling.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish



Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
Top of Page