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Adalbert is a forum for me, to post ephemera, photography, poetry, occasional travel notes, and various spontaneous motions. Cover photo: Parsonage where my great-grandfather spent his early years. Taken near Liegnitz, Silesia, ca. 1870.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Early Long: The Hounds of Tindalos (1978)

Just not long ago absorbed, or re-assimilated, The Hounds of Tindalos, by Frank Belknap Long:  wiki.  I recall the fundraiser to bury the author properly when he died in 1994.  I remember reading at the time (although this conflicts with the Wikipedia article) that Long's body was held for some time in cold storage at a funeral home.
I read only a few of the stories originally, reading the entire book this time.  The luminous cover by Rowena Morrill:  wiki, is as at least as memorable as the tome's contents.  

When I first read The Hounds of Tindalos and The Space Eaters as a youth, I ranked them on a level close to Lovecraft's own work.  Now, I see them as uneven pieces of writing.  The character of "Howard" in The Space Eaters, who is based on Lovecraft, is shrieking and supercilious (and "Frank" isn't much better). Were one to encounter "Howard" of The Space Eaters in real life, the person would invite a slap in the face.  If "Howard" is meant to have any similarity to Lovecraft, the portrait denigrates him.  The statements from the personage, dismissing Poe and Blackwood for instance, seem decidely out of character, when triangulated with HPL's actual letters.  The depiction is all the more puzzling when one considers that Long knew Lovecraft in person, and by correspondence, extremely well.  The description of one of the entities, like an thread-like, white arm reaching down from the stars, and running down a tree, and other moments, is effectively frightening. But the story possesses many clumsy turns and melodramatic touches as well. At the beginning, "Howard" discusses malign cosmic beings eating their way through space.  Just then, what do you know -- a guy appears out of the night who has encountered just such a creature.  What are the odds?

The Hounds of Tindalos is of a higher order than The Space Eaters.  Chalmers' description of his drug experience is febrile and transcendent.  The short story ends a bit too abruptly and choppily, though (although hey, James F. Morton shows up by proxy).  Some other pieces in the collection, such as Second Night Out, have their passages of effective supernatural writing.  But too often the work has flaws, at its worst becoming incoherently goofy, as with The Peeper (or for that matter in another book by Long, his HPL memoir, Dreamer on the Nightside). 

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