One should never discount these "old" works. Therein sometimes lie gems.
If we may rely on Walpole's account of its composition, The Castle of Otranto was fashioned rapidly in a white heat of excitement, but the creation of the story probably cost him more effort than he would have us believe. The result, at least, lacks spontaneity. We never feel for a moment that we are living invisible amidst the characters, but we sit aloof like Puck, thinking: "Lord, what fools these mortals be!"
Birkhead, Edith. The Tale of Terror A Study of the Gothic Romance (p. 15). Kindle Edition.
My emphasis added. For this is what every writer should be striving for: To make the physical book -- or whatever reading/listening device is involved -- vanish so that the reader is right there with the characters.
Thank you, Edith Birkhead of 1921!
When ruling is based, and made stringent, on fear of an outside opponent, and someone has the brilliant idea of escalating yet to marking a personal opponent as an outsider, and it catches.
Might be easier to stomach going in without knowing how the episode goes and likely part of the reason that one was picked: no way really. Because no sucker-punch surprise horror can surpass the terror of inevitability, of seeing the evil the pettiness, the hysterical fanaticism and envy wreaths, knowing all the while the devastation it lead to.
I'm a bit discomfited by the part women play on this, saints or demons with little true humanity, but as a whole, a masterful depiction that ages all too well for my ease of mind.
Giles Corey, the contentious, canny old man, takes the badass-crown with his memetic "More weight". He knew what it was all about, and everyone could keep their saintliness debate to themselves. With Proctor the sinner and Hale the naive believer, they make a nice triad.
I have to say, this one really swept me on the undertow. My brain is a bit fuzzy after all those hours of intense reading. Classic book hangover.
The next thing I have to say, is that the prot is a huge egotistical dick. Funny, charming, engaging, likely quite intelligent, given his job. And in this cluster-F of a case for all around, the most fucked up person of all.
Which is a bit funny, given that his issues are the only ones that are not relevant to the case in the end.
I also though a lot about what I remember from my childhood, and how much gets lost in the years. I get this anxiety to start keeping a diary.
And kept sounding that King's quote in my head
I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12 - Jesus, did you?
There is a lot I'd like to comment on, but it'll be spoilers all around, so really, really, REALLY don't click if you have not read the book.
Going on what I was marking as I was reading:
- That first transition from third person to first was a wowzer. It's jarring because it's detached, and it implies a certain level of fucked up. And it aligns with the dancing around that he does throughout the case.
- Ryan about his college-mates, on his diary. Not a people person, huh?
“a herd of mouth-breathing fucktard yokels who wade around in a miasma of cliché so thick you can practically smell the bacon and cabbage and cow shite and altar candles.” Even assuming I was having a bad day, I think this shows a certain lack of respect for cultural differences."
- On regulation having excavations reporting human remains over the nine feet line, just because it still cracks me up:
"I suppose they figure that anyone who has the enterprise to dig down more than nine feet without getting spotted deserves a little leeway for sheer dedication."
- Fast tracking through the archaeological site:
“Fair enough,” he said, and started pointing. “Neolithic settlement, Bronze Age ceremonial stone, Iron Age roundhouse, Viking dwellings, fourteenth-century keep, sixteenth-century castle, eighteenth-century cottage.”
*snort* Your run of the mill little town, then? And of course, the shitty politic-economical reality
"the fucking government is going to bulldoze this whole site and build a fucking motorway over it."
- Sam's toast. I was snickering over the part he didn't know. It's magnitudes grimmer humor after all is done.
- Ryan has this moment (over Rosalind, of course)
"I wanted this girl who was like no girl I had ever known,"
I'm really starting to HATE that line. WHAT are all the girls like? How is any girl DIFFERENT FROM ALL OTHER GIRLS? WHY should being different make you BETTER. It implies that a woman, a common woman, a normal woman (whatever that means) is NOT good enough. AND FUCK THAT!!
At any rate, by this point, I didn't know whether to tear my hair out, shout, or thump him with his own book. Cassie warned him. He was so concentrated on his own, he did not realize she was not showing him her soul scars just for a lark.
- As we wrap up:
"I am intensely aware, by the way, that this story does not show me in a particularly flattering light."
But before you decide to despise me too thoroughly, consider this: she fooled you, too. You had as good a chance as I did. I told you everything I saw, as I saw it at the time.
Nice try Ryan. No dice. Maybe I'm too jaded. I pray I'm never played by psychopath (I confess over the years I've had some serious doubts about one woman I was casual friends with, the memories still make me fidget sometimes) graduated to the homicide leagues, and his pile of reasons are neat, weighty and high. And still. Man, you blew up you life yourself. Systematically.
This was, in the end, the most hideous realization of all: Rosalind had not, after all, implanted a microchip behind my ear or drugged me into submission. I had broken every vow myself and steered every boat to shipwreck with my own hand. She had simply, like any good craftswoman, used what came her way.
- The two trio parallels, of course.
- Sophie's verdict (I cackled)
After a few dates, though, and before the relationship had really progressed enough to merit the name, she dumped me. She informed me, matter-of-factly, that she was old enough to know the difference between intriguing and fucked up. “You should go for younger women,” she advised me. “They can’t always tell.”
The thing is, for all the personal vs character stuff (which sounds ranty but actually enriched the experience for me, lol), I had a grand time. I could not put it down. It is strong in voice. It has hilarious passages, and lovely ones (specially on friendship, as adults and as children), and of course, disturbing ones. And it is absolutely gripping.
Whew! Done. Sleep now.