Alazzar's Reviews > A Night in the Lonesome October

A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
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May 01, 2010

it was amazing
Read from May 01 to 02, 2010 — I own a copy

[Originally read May 1-May 2, 2010]

I'll start by saying that I came upon this book largely by accident, and it turned out to be one of the greatest accidents of my life -- WAY better than that time I soiled myself on stage during my first-grade performance of the Nativity story ("Three wise men?" More like "Two wise men and their dumpy friend with no control over his bladder").

Anyway, I'd gotten on ye olde Internet before heading to the library so I could figure out what they had checked in that I might want to pick up. I searched for Zelazny's name, though I'm not sure what I expected to find, as I'd searched it many times before and already knew the results: 7 titles at my local library, 5 of which were Amber books I already owned. The other two didn't particularly interest me.

So, being that I've been on a horror kick, I settled on Salem's Lot.

I went to the library, located the book with ease. Normally I'd be on my way, but I decided to browse a bit. In doing so, I found myself wandering towards a dark corner of the library, where the Zelazny books sat on a bottom shelf. I thought maybe I'd take a look at those 2 non-Amber books I hadn't read, and maybe they'd look good.

There weren't two non-Amber books.

There were three.

I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but the cover art of A Night in the Lonesome October immediately drew my attention. Who were all of those characters? What were they up to? What was with the animals?

I had to know.

So I read a chapter. Seeing the humanized interaction between two dogs was enough to get me hooked right away. ("May I see your teeth?" "Yes. Here. May I see yours?" "Of course.") Explaining the standard behavior of dogs in a human, conversational way was just so interesting to me. And I knew that if it was Zelazny, it had to be good.

So, Salem's Lot made it back to the shelf. I wish it hadn't.


Because now, only one day later, I have to make a trip back to the library to get it. Because I finished this gem of Zelazny's in about a day. It was that good.

If you're a fan of the Amber series, you may want to check this out. It draws a lot of similarities, in that there are tentative alliances built around a mutual exchange of information, and you can never be sure whom to trust. The animal characters are all particularly interesting, because -- despite their human intelligence -- they still retain some of their bestial characteristics. For example, the rat is naturally distrusting of the cat and the owl, simply because of what they are. Yet he can still hold a civilized conversation with them.

Zelazny was a master of the intricate plot line, and this novel emphasizes that point. I'm amazed at how he's able to juggle all of the different characters and keep track of exactly who knows what. And, of course, no matter how familiar you think you are with Zelazny's style, he still manages to come up with twists that you never would have expected.

The only downside to this book is the art. I gather Gahan Wilson's art is supposed to be pretty famous from magazines and the like, but I admittedly can't see why. It added nothing to the book. If anything, it detracted from Zelazny's writing. Still, the book was so good that I'll give it 5 stars, simply because I think Zelazny shouldn't be punished for Wilson's terrible illustrations.

[Re-read October 5-9, 2011]

Just as good as the first time, if not better. I'm pretty sure this is a book I'm going to read every October for the rest of my life.

[Re-read October 1-31, 2012]

This year, I'm gonna try the time-tested tradition of reading a chapter of Lonesome October each day in October. Very excited to be revisiting this classic! UPDATE: As planned, I read a page every day. And as expected, the book was fantastic. Definitely reading this again next October.

[Re-read October 1-31, 2013]

[Re-reading October 1-X, 2014]
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Reading Progress

05/01/2010 page 87
10/01/2012 page 1
0.0% "This year (2012), I'm gonna do what a lot of Zelazny fans have done in the past: read a chapter of Lonesome October each day in October! FANTASTIC!"
10/01/2013 marked as: currently-reading
11/01/2013 marked as: read
10/01/2014 marked as: currently-reading
11/01/2014 marked as: read
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