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01/15/2018

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I think that among Williams aficionados Shadows is generally considered his weakest novel, the weakness attributed to the fact that it was his first attempt at fiction. I tend to agree -- I put off reading it till the mid-90's and found it disappointing.

I've read The Greater Trumps twice, first in the late 70's, then again in 1992 in conjunction with reading Tim Powers' novel Last Call, which also deals with the Tarot. I don't remember too much about it, although I recall thinking that the climax, with the supernaturally-created snowstorm, was very well done.

I keep meaning to revisit Williams, as his name comes up here fairly often. I'd probably start with War in Heaven, as that was the first one of his I read way back when.

Oh, and speaking of Powers, a bumper edition of his short fiction has just come out -- 'Down and Out in Purgatory.'


I resisted the very strong temptation to dig around for biographical and critical info about any of these novels or about Williams in general before I had read them. I like to limit the role of preconceptions in my reaction to any work. But I'm very curious about how Shadows fits into his overall development. There seems to be pretty clearly a lot of authorial admiration for Considine.

The snowstorm is a good bit. It occurs to me that that may have something to do with the fact that it is a very real physical event, not one of the murky supernatural ones.

You've recommended Powers before. I should give him a try.

Back in the late 70's/early 80's I was something of an Inklings geek, so I read a fair amount of the critical material on Williams that I could find at the time (there wasn't a whole lot, really). I've seldom revisited it though, so my memory of it is pretty foggy.

Powers is kind of like Williams on uppers. P.K. Dick meets Graham Greene?

Sounds...bizarre.

Speaking of P. K. Dick, has anyone watched Electric Dreams? We have just watched the first two episodes (They are stand-alone episodes.), and they are very good. Too intense to binge watch, which is why we have only watched two.

AMDG

They do have some sexually offensive stuff.

AMDG

Looked at my copy of War in Heaven last night and was extremely surprised to see that I had noted on the inside cover that I had re-read it in June of 2005. I don't remember that at all, although to be fair that was a bit of a trying time in my life and I may have just decided to read it as an escape of sorts. In any case I've got no memories of that revisit. If I do decide to read a Williams then, it'll probably be either The Place of the Lion or Many Dimensions.

Declare is generally considered Powers' best novel and is a good place to start with him.

After reading now three posts of yours on Williams I can't say I'm convinced he needs to be read, as Lewis and Tolkien do. But if I did ... I would go for the Tarot book. I happen to know a lot about Tarot.

I think I'd agree about Williams vs Tolkien and Lewis. Worth reading, yes. Essential, no.

Rob, I'm sort of glad to hear you don't remember that reading. Makes me feel better about my memory lapses. :-)

Thanks for that tip, Janet. I'd wondered about that show. I really haven't read much of PKD, just the Electric Sheep one, which didn't make a big impression on me.

I tried to read Electric Sheep when the original BR came out, but I couldn't make it through. Bill has read it twice, though, now and then.

Electric Dreams has the feel of the movies.

AMDG

I just don't remember anything at all about it, except that there was this main character who was sort of miserable, and that I didn't see how they got Blade Runner out of it.

Its often a bad idea to read a lot of any author all at once. All their quirks start jumping out at you

True. I knew that might happen with Williams, and it did. I probably would have liked Greater Trumps better if I'd read it alone, but I don't think that's the case with Shadows of Ecstacy.

I just don't remember anything at all about it, except that there was this main character who was sort of miserable, and that I didn't see how they got Blade Runner out of it.

Exactly.

AMDG

Years (and I mean years) ago I read The Place of the Lion and enjoyed it a lot. I tried a couple of others, I think Shadows of Ecstasy and Descent into Hell and I couldn't get on with them.

I didn't think much of Shadows of E, obviously, but Descent Into Hell is a truly profound (no pun intended) work. Not everybody's cup of novelistic tea though, as it's also a truly weird work.

I could see someone enjoying War in Heaven or All Hallows Eve but finding Descent something of a drag. But I do think it is quite profound, as you say.

A number of years ago I read a novel that reminded me a little of it, Julien Green's 'Each Man in His Darkness,' and although I've meant to I've but never followed up with any more Green.

Descent is definitely a drag. :-)

After years and years of Rob's recommendations of Each Man in His Darkness, I have ordered a copy.

Drag indeed. And scary, but it may be his best.

AMDG

I thought I'd mentioned Green before but I didn't remember when or in what context.

You definitely have but I don't remember the details either.

And, of course, most of the comments have disappeared. ;-)

It came up several times in the context of general discussions about books we liked0.

AMDG

Not *most*. I think I've been off Haloscan longer than I was on it. Still , it's lamentable.

I meant most of the discussion about Each Man in His Darkness. After searching for Julien, I think I should have said all.

AMDG

Oh I see. Yeah, I couldn't find any trace of him.

Green wrote at least one "mystical" novel, Then Shall the Dust Return, but I've not read it.

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