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Book Discussions > A Night in the Lonesome October

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message 1: by Christine (new)

Christine McCann | 489 comments Hi everyone - hopefully everybody who wanted a copy got one!

Each chapter represents a single day in October. So I'm going to try to post each day about the new chapter. Try to keep spoilers concealed in general, so people can participate safely even if they aren't up to the current day.


message 2: by Juliette (new)

Juliette | 17 comments Will do! Thanks for setting this up!


message 3: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Sounds great! I plan on reading just one chapter a day as the book progresses. Looking forward to the posts.


message 4: by Nadine in NY (new)

Nadine in NY Jones | 6333 comments Mod
Yay me! My library hold came in and I picked it up yesterday! I'm IN!! I just read up to "October 1" - I'm going to try very hard to stick to one day a day. (I might be able to do this, since I have so many other books in progress, so I can resist the temptation to keep reading.)

I can't believe I'd never heard of this book before! I had always counted myself a Zelazny fan, but apparently I wasn't a very good fan! I've never read this before, so I am trusting all of you long time fans to keep spoilers hidden!!

This book ticks so many categories, too! There is a cat on the cover, it looks like it's going to involve a few mythical creatures, it's from a nonhuman perspective (at least, so far it is), it's got pictures, it has a month in the title, and - assuming Halloween plays some role in the plot - it's set around a holiday that is not Christmas, and finally, it's got a somewhat eccentric character.


message 5: by Anna (new)

Anna (annaholla) | 174 comments It's my first time reading, too! I'm also trying to stick to the one-chapter-per-day, which shouldn't be *too* hard, as I currently have four other books in progress (one of which I have to finish for book club on Saturday...)

I'm planning to check off the "holiday other than Christmas" prompt.


message 6: by Naina (new)

Naina (naynay55) | 113 comments I really tried to read it one day at a time...but then I got very sucked in and read it all today. It was my first time reading it, and I really enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to discussing it with you all over the course of this month!


message 7: by Christine (new)

Christine McCann | 489 comments Hi everyone! The weekend was crazy, so I think I'll go through the prologue and October 1st today. Then we'll give people all of today to read October 2nd, and check in on that tomorrow.

I think it's fine to openly discuss general plot as we go, but if a particularly significant plot twist occurs, hide it in spoiler tags. Does that sound good to everybody?

So - Prologue:

I love how we get a lot of information right away. But it's not spoon-fed, and it's not definitive. Snuff could be the natural dog of an anonymous sorcerer. But I think we all want to believe he's a supernatural creature, called and given dog form so the sorcerer can carry out Terrible But Necessary deeds in the neighborhoods around SOHO . . . like Whitechapel for instance.

October 1st:
Snuff casually understates what's going on in Jack's house. He definitely seems to have things under control. But for how long? And what is the purpose of keeping so many monsters locked up in one's house? Must have to do with the "big bit of business due soon."


message 8: by Christine (new)

Christine McCann | 489 comments Naina wrote: "I really tried to read it one day at a time...but then I got very sucked in and read it all today. It was my first time reading it, and I really enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to discussing it wit..."

:D I think all the re-readers have been there!

I got the audiobook (had to order a CD from Amazon), and I'm so glad I did. Not only is it unabridged, it's read by Zelazny himself, shortly before his death. I feel like it's treasure I need to guard and protect!

Zelazny definitely reinforces the casual tone, and his gravely, matter-of-fact delivery is a perfect conduit for Snuff's narration. :)


message 9: by Nadine in NY (new)

Nadine in NY Jones | 6333 comments Mod
Snuff says he was "summoned" so I was assuming he's supernatural, and that's why other dogs are (mostly) afraid of him. This reminds me of Diana Wynne Jones's book, Dogsbody, which I read earlier this year (I used it for "from a non-human perspective" - it would also work for "recommended by an author you love" if you love Neil Gaiman).


message 10: by Juliette (new)

Juliette | 17 comments I especially love the exchange in the prologue with the dogs showing each other their teeth. That bit always makes me laugh. And in the first chapter the Thing in the Circle that took the shape of an attractive female dog.
I love the humor displayed. Sometimes subtle, sometimes not.

I would love to know what Snuff was before he was summoned to be Jack's watchdog.


message 11: by Nadine in NY (new)

Nadine in NY Jones | 6333 comments Mod
Yes, "may I see your teeth?" was hysterical!! I have two dogs and that really made me laugh - I described it to my daughter this morning, too.


message 12: by Patricia (new)

Patricia I'm loving the conversation between Snuff and Graymalk. Do you think Snuff could have been a Lannister in his previous life?


message 13: by Christine (new)

Christine McCann | 489 comments October 2:

"Perhaps because I am a cat and it amuses me to be arbitrary . . ." :D


message 14: by Nadine in NY (new)

Nadine in NY Jones | 6333 comments Mod
I read Oct 2 last night and it was so hard to not read farther! But I stayed strong. Once I let myself read ahead, that's it, I won't stop.


message 15: by Juliette (new)

Juliette | 17 comments Oct. 2. In which we learn of new characters...
Graymalk the cat who belongs to Crazy Jill (who lives over the hill).
Nightwind the owl, consort of Morris and MacCab (who wants to do ill to Snuff).
and
Quicklime, the black snake who lives in the belly of the mad monk, Rastov.


message 16: by Juliette (new)

Juliette | 17 comments Oct. 3
Needle the bat belongs to the Count.
We learn that there are players. And there are Openers, and there are Closers.


message 17: by Christine (new)

Christine McCann | 489 comments Yes! The October 2nd reference to "It has begun" seems to refer to The Game, which is played by Openers and Closers.

And everyone involved seems quite shady:

Jack & Snuff - keepers of multiple curses, grave robbers, they use a magic knife to "obtain ingredients" and are discovered in the process, requiring them to flee.

Crazy Jill & Graymalk - broom-riders conversant with the use of mummy dust to bring ill luck.

Morris & McCab & Nightwind - dangerous enough that Snuff avoids them, and the actual user of said mummy dust.

Rastov & Quicklime - mad monk and a snake who's also playing cursing games in the neighborhood.

The Count & Needle - hmm, a count whose companion is a bat; wonder who this could be? :)


message 18: by Juliette (new)

Juliette | 17 comments Oct. 4.
I don't know why, but I always find it funny when somebody calls a dog a "Son of a bitch". That Thing in the circle is great!

New characters, Cheeter the squirrel with "The old man who lives up the road"
The detective and his rotund companion.

Apparently it's rude to ask if a player is and opener or closer.

So, in Norse mythology Balder (Baldr, Baldur) was killed with mistletoe (which the old man is cutting down with a sickle). His mother had dreams of his death so she went around and made every plant on Earth promise to never hurt Balder, except mistletoe, it was too young at the time. So the Gods often sat around throwing or shooting things at Balder (like shooting him with an arrow, but since the wood promised not to hurt him, it doesn't kill Balder) as entertainment. Loki tricked Balder's brother into throwing a spear made of mistletoe at him and that is how Balder died. If you look at the drawing for this chapter, you'll see that the Old man's sickle has Norse runes on it.


message 19: by Malaraa (new)

Malaraa Juliette wrote: "Oct. 4.
New characters, Cheeter the squirrel with "The old man who liv..."

In addition to the mistletoe connection, there is the squirrel Ratatoskr who was the messenger who ran along Yggdrasil.

Anyone know the connection between Rastov (I'm assuming Rasputin?) and his snake? I don't remember a snake in any of the stories I've heard about him, but all the other animals so far seem to have a connection.

But Grrrrahhh! 2...pages...a....day! (Plus a picture) I don't know how long I can be good! :D

It's cute, and I like it so far, but it's so hard to read for that short a time! But I really want to do this by the days the first time, so I'm trying hard.


message 20: by Christine (new)

Christine McCann | 489 comments If you think you'll enjoy it more reading ad lib, I say go for it. But yes, there can be some pleasure in self-inflicted abstention too.


message 21: by Malaraa (new)

Malaraa Oh if I get too crazy with it, I'll just go for it, but when there's a specific layout like this, I like to at least try to stick to it, even if it's hard! :)


message 22: by Juliette (new)

Juliette | 17 comments Sanasai wrote: "Anyone know the connection between Rastov (I'm assuming Rasputin?) and his snake? I don't remember a snake in any of the stories I've heard about him, but all the other animals so far seem to have a connection. ..."

What is you're thinking on the connection between the owl and Morris and MacCab?

I also say go for it, especially if it is taking away the joy of reading it and especially if this is your first reading. This is not my first time reading this book and I know it will not be my last. I read it every October because it makes me happy, and I always seem to find something new.


message 23: by Malaraa (new)

Malaraa The owl connection was a little weak for me, but then, I had to google the reference to realize he was an occultist of a certain era. I was assuming since he was a scholarly type who read and wrote a lot of languages, they gave him a "wise" owl to represent that.


message 24: by Diane (new)

Diane | 14 comments Just found this thread now and have requested the book through inter-library loan...will probably come in on Tuesday since Monday is a holiday (or I can hope that it will arrive tomorrow?!). In any case, it looks great! Thanks for the suggestion and for starting this thread. I'm looking forward to reading this book and hope it makes me happy too! For me it will check off "a book with pictures" prompt as I've already checked off the others.


message 25: by Nadine in NY (new)

Nadine in NY Jones | 6333 comments Mod
Sanasai wrote: "... all the other animals so far seem to have a connection. ..."


What connections?!!


message 26: by Christine (new)

Christine McCann | 489 comments To me the only animals that seem to obviously "go with" their owners are Graymalk (witch and her cat familiar - classic), Needle (bat and vampire, presumably), and Cheeter (see above re: druidic/Norse connections).


message 27: by Nadine in NY (new)

Nadine in NY Jones | 6333 comments Mod
Ohhh I thought the names were sort of call-outs to classic characters! That there was an archetypal cat & witch with names like Greymalk & Jill, that sort of thing. That's exactly the sort of thing Zelazny would slip in.


message 28: by Malaraa (new)

Malaraa Yeah I may be reading too much into the type of animal that each get, but with the cat and bat right off, my brain automatically started trying to make other connections. :)


message 29: by Patricia (new)

Patricia A few more characters have just entered The Game and seems sides are being taken. I am loving the story and the illustrations really do the book justice.
I'm making lists and lists of everything. The characters and their companions, the "things" in Jacks house, the histories in mythology, and the sides of the openers and closers. Also, my favorite quotes.
This is the most fun I've had reading a book and I am so glad of these postings. They really help as this is my first read!


message 30: by Christine (new)

Christine McCann | 489 comments Welcome, Patricia! I'm so glad you're having fun with it. Things are heating up, and the pattern Snuff is sussing out is intriguing . . .


message 31: by Mike (new)

Mike | 443 comments Finally got my copy! I have to get caught up, and since its an Interlibrary Loan and due on 10/26 with no renewals allowed, I will have to finish early too.

Finished through October 4th this morning.


message 32: by Malaraa (new)

Malaraa And....gave in and finished! lol

I lasted a little while, and the cat helped. He stalled me out all yesterday at the 21st, because he decided he really really loved the book and needed to sprawl across the pages.

Really a fun story though, I enjoyed it a lot! Telling it through the eyes of the human characters would have been too serious and disturbing for me I think, but through the animal helpers, it was perfect.


message 33: by Christine (new)

Christine McCann | 489 comments I agree, Sanasai - telling it through Snuff's eyes was a perfect approach.

You know, one thing that annoys me about this book is the depiction of Watson as a fat buffoon - a mistake all too many homages make.

Watson was an intelligent, knowledgeable, courageous man, which underlines how exceptional Holmes is, as well as giving the reader someone to identify with and not feel so dumb when they fail to make the connections the Great Detective does!


message 34: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Ok, I am still reading a chapter a day and wondering what’s up with Snuff and the pattern he is walking between the game players. Is it a pentagram? No, no don’t tell me as I know more will be revealed!


message 35: by Mike (new)

Mike | 443 comments I'm up to October 20th, which is only page 116 out of 280. I was getting spoiled with the short chapters, but some long ones seem to be coming up.


message 36: by Christine (new)

Christine McCann | 489 comments "Good dog you've got there - knows how to close a door." :)


message 37: by Christine (new)

Christine McCann | 489 comments Aha! We got a Lovecraft reference. The icon Rastov keeps was seemingly created by the author of the Necronomicon.

Anyone have thoughts about the vicar and his motivations/goals?


message 38: by Christine (new)

Christine McCann | 489 comments Just popping in to say that "lay doggo" is my favorite verbal phrase ever!


message 39: by Patricia (new)

Patricia The story is definitely taking a more sinister turn. I finally know who Growler is and I’ve had to buy the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft. I was hoping to use these online book clubs to get thru my to read lists. I find that I just keep adding to them. Too many books and too little time. I want to read everything!


message 40: by Nadine in NY (new)

Nadine in NY Jones | 6333 comments Mod
I'm going out of town for a few days and only packing my tablet, so e-books only - so I read ahead last night to the 22nd, and I will read ahead again tonight, and then on Friday I'll catch up. The chapters are getting longer now! And I finally figured out what "opener" and "closer" means (view spoiler)


message 41: by Christine (new)

Christine McCann | 489 comments I accidentally on purpose listened through 10/26 today. I always feel so bad for Snuff when he has a strenuous physical task!

The relationships between the openers and closers are intriguing - it's really as much a social battle as a magical one, I guess!


message 42: by Malaraa (new)

Malaraa Have to confess I hated the rev more for hitting Graymalk (and Snuff) in the 23'd more than for any of the other bad things he does. He can chain people up, be suspected of murder, and be an "opener", but hitting kitty crossed the line! Snuff seems more like a spirit or something in the shape of a dog, so I could believe he'd be ok (still not right though), but poor Gray is just a clever kitty!


message 43: by Christine (new)

Christine McCann | 489 comments Agreed! We knew he was dangerous, but that chapter just made him VILE.

So I think it's fun to try to identify everyone on the cover. It seems trivial at first, but then some of them seem tricky.

Here's a numbered image and my first shot at IDs.

1. Jack?
2. The Count
3. Bubo
4. Snuff
5. Cheeter
6. Graymalk
7. Jill
8. Rastov
9. Quicklime
10. Larry Talbot
11. The Great Detective?
12. Lynnette
13. ?
14. The Experiment Man
15. Igor?
16. Great Detective's Companion
17. The Good Doctor
18. Nightwind
19. MacCab
20. Morris
21. Tekela
22. The Vicar
23. Owen


message 44: by Patricia (new)

Patricia I count only 22 characters on my cover. Cant find Nightwind. I do own the paperback. Could the cover have been edited or am I blind?


message 45: by Christine (new)

Christine McCann | 489 comments It's not you - the title covers Nightwind - you can juuust make out his lower body perched on the mantel bust.

And I just realized that without the title, you could also see Needle - I missed him in the linked image! He's in the upper right corner. But with the title, he's completely covered.


message 46: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Thank you! Both are completely covered in my 2014 paperback edition. Arghhhh.


message 47: by Juliette (new)

Juliette | 17 comments For the cover I'm gonna go with the artist breaking the fourth wall. WE are Jack. Snuff is looking at us, number 19 is raising a glass to us in greeting as if we've just walked into the room and he's the first to see us, and 22 who is obviously the Vicar is giving us the stink-eye. Which for me makes 1 the detective and 2 the count.


message 48: by Juliette (new)

Juliette | 17 comments Chapter 22 is supposed to be an homage to The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft: Dreams of Terror and Death. Has anyone read it? I keep telling myself every year I read this chapter that "I will read the Dream Cycle before I read this book next October", and I haven't yet.


message 49: by Juliette (new)

Juliette | 17 comments Chapters 23 and 24.
In 23 Snuff is caught by the vivisectionists. In chapter 24, during the disaster that happens in their home:
"Martin Farquhar Tupper lay atop Elizabeth Barrett Browning, their covers torn."
Apparently both Tupper and Browning (and Browning's husband) wrote poems or stories against animal vivisection during that time period.


message 50: by Christine (new)

Christine McCann | 489 comments Juliette wrote: "For the cover I'm gonna go with the artist breaking the fourth wall. WE are Jack. Snuff is looking at us, number 19 is raising a glass to us in greeting as if we've just walked into the room and he..."

Ooh, I love this interpretation!


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