A Night in the Lonesome October

October is upon us.

I have a tradition: Every year, starting on October first, I read one chapter a day of Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October.  In the book, each chapter represents one night in the story.  I say without exaggeration that this is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

It is a Lovecraftian story, though at first glance you might not think so.  But read this plot description from Wikipedia:

A Night in the Lonesome October is narrated from the present-tense point-of-view of Snuff, the dog who is Jack the Ripper‘s companion. The bulk of the story takes place in London and its environs, though at one point the story detours through the dream-world described by Lovecraft in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath… It is revealed as the story progresses that once every few decades, when the moon is full on the night of Halloween, the fabric of reality thins, and doors may be opened between this world and the realm of the Great Old Ones. When these conditions are right, men and women with occult knowledge may gather at a specific ritual site, to either hold the doors closed, or to help fling them open. Should the Closers win, then the world will remain as it is until the next turning… but should the Openers succeed, then the Great Old Ones will come to Earth, to remake the world in their own image (enslaving or slaughtering the human race in the process).

If you have not read A Night in the Lonesome October, I envy you the experience.  But I do get something new from each reading.  It might just be my favorite Lovecraftian story, because it manages to combine a Lovecraftian plot with the atmosphere of October and Halloween.  And of course, a story in which Jack the Ripper is the good guy can’t be passed up.  Other characters include Sherlock Holmes, Larry Talbot, Count Dracula, and on and on.

Do yourself a favor and read it.  If you don’t yet own it, please buy it through this link; it will support The Lovecraft eZine.  And, hey: If you’ve read it, comment below with your thoughts on this great book!

Mike

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P.S. Of course, the title of the book is taken from Edgar Allan Poe’s poem Ulalume.  Play the video below for a wonderful reading of that poem.

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7 responses to “A Night in the Lonesome October

  1. A year or 2 ago we had a discussion about reading this book a chapter a night. I ended up writing to Gahan Wilson to ask if Roger Zelazny ever said anything about it. He said Mr. Zelazny never said anything one way or the other. This year I’m listening to the audiobook narrated by the author.

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  2. A Night in the Lonesome October is one of my favorite mythos stories. I have no doubt it was a favorite of Zelazny’s as well because if you get a chance to hear his audio version you can tell he was enjoying reading the story. I always listen to the story around Halloween and I never get tired of hearing it.

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  3. It’s good and I like it but for my October book every year I read Ray Bradbury’s book From the Dust Returned. Just a suggestion for those that may not know it. Plenty of Lovecraft themes but filtered through Bradbury’s unique style.

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