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The Animal Farm (Complete – Part 1) George Orwell

The animals of Manor Farm take over the farm when Mr. Jones dies and decide to make a set of rules for a fair society. Corruption settles when the pigs start living like humans and change the rules, removing anyone who dares question them.
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Animal Farm

A Fairy Story By George Orwell

MR. JONES, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses forthe night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the popholes.

With the ring oflight from his lantern dancing from side to side, he lurched across the yard,kicked off his boots at the back door, drew himself a last glass of beer fromthe barrel in the scullery, and made his way up to bed, where Mrs. Jones wasalready snoring.

As soon as the light in the bedroom went out there was astirring and a fluttering all through the farm buildings. Word had gone roundduring the day that old Major, the prize Middle

White boar, had had astrange dream on the previous night and wished to communicate it to the otheranimals. It had been agreed that they should all meet in the big barn as soonas Mr. Jones was safely out of the way. Old Major (so he was always called,though the name under which he had been exhibited was Willingdon Beauty ) was so highly regarded on the farmthat everyone was quite ready to lose an hour’s sleep in order to hear what hehad to say.

At one end of thebig barn, on a sort of raised platform, Major was already ensconced on his bed of straw, under a lantern whichhung from a beam. He was twelve years old and had lately grown rather stout,but he was still a majestic-looking pig, with a wise and benevolent appearancein spite of the fact that his tushes had never been cut. Before long the otheranimals began to arrive and make themselves comfortable after their differentfashions. First came the three dogs, Bluebell, Jessie, and Pincher , and then the pigs, who settled downin the straw immediately in front of the platform. The hens perched themselveson the window-sills, the pigeons fluttered up to the rafters, the sheep andcows lay down behind the pigs and began to chew the cud. The two cart-horses,Boxer and Clover, came in together, walking very slowly and setting down theirvast hairy hoofs with great care lest there should be some small animalconcealed in the straw. Clover was a stout motherly mare approaching middlelife, who had never quite got her figure back after her fourth foal. Boxer wasan enormous beast, nearly eighteen hands high, and as strong as any twoordinary horses put together. A white stripe down his nose gave him a somewhatstupid appearance, and in fact he was not of first-rate intelligence, but hewas universally respected for his steadiness of character and tremendous powersof work. After the horses came Muriel, the white goat, and Benjamin, thedonkey. Benjamin was the oldest animal on the farm, and the worst tempered. Heseldom talked, and when he did, it was usually to make some cynical remark forinstance, he would say that God had given him a tail to keep the flies off, butthat he would sooner have had no tail and no flies. Alone among the animals onthe farm he never laughed. If asked why, he would say that he saw nothing tolaugh at.

Nevertheless, withoutopenly admitting it, he was devoted to Boxer; the two of them usually spenttheir Sundays together in the small paddock beyond the orchard, grazing side byside and never speaking.

The two horses hadjust lain down when a brood of ducklings, which had lost their mother, filedinto the barn, cheeping feebly and wandering from side to side to find someplace where they would not be trodden on. Clover made a sort of wall round themwith her great foreleg, and the ducklings nestled down inside it and promptlyfell asleep. At the last moment Mollie, the foolish, pretty white mare who drewMr. Jones’s trap, came mincing daintily in, chewing at a lump of sugar. Shetook a place near the front and began flirting her white mane, hoping to drawattention to the red ribbons it was plaited with. Last of all came the cat, wholooked round, as usual, for the warmest place, and finally squeezed herself inbetween Boxer and Clover; there she purred contentedly throughout Major’sspeech without listening to a word of what he was saying.

All the animalswere now present except Moses, the tame raven, who slept on a perch behind theback door. When Major saw that they had all made themselves comfortable andwere waiting attentively, he cleared his throat and began:

“Comrades,you have heard already about the strange dream that I had last night. But Iwill come to the dream later. I have something else to say first. I do notthink, comrades, that I shall be with you for many months longer, and before Idie, I feel it my duty to pass on to you such wisdom as I have acquired.

I have had a longlife, I have had much time for thought as I lay alone in my stall, and I thinkI may say that I understand the nature of life on this earth as well as anyanimal now living. It is about this that I wish to speak to you.

Now,comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours? Let us face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short. We are born, we are given just so muchfood as will keep the breath in our bodies, and those of us who are capable ofit are forced to work to the last atom of our strength; and the very instantthat our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty.No animal in England knows the meaning of happiness or leisure after he is ayear old. No animal in England is free.

The life of an animal is misery and slavery: that is the plain truth.

“But is this simply part of the order of nature? Is it because this land of ours is so poorthat it cannot afford a decent life to those who dwell upon it? No, comrades, athousand times no! The soil of England is fertile, its climate is good, it iscapable of affording food in abundance to an enormously greater number ofanimals than now inhabit it. This single farm of ours would support a dozen horses, twenty cows, hundreds of sheep and all of them living in a comfort and a dignity that are now almost beyond our imagining. Why then do we continue in this miserable condition? Because nearly the whole of the produce of our labouris stolen from us by human beings. There, comrades, is the answer to all ourproblems. It is summed up in a single word Man. Man is the only real enemy wehave. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork isabolished for ever.

“Manis the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, heis too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yethe is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them thebare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps forhimself. Our labour tills the soil, our dung fertilises it, and yet there isnot one of us that owns more than his bare skin. You cows that I see before me,how many thousands of gallons of milk have you given during this last year? Andwhat has happened to that milk which should have been breeding up sturdycalves? Every drop of it has gone down the throats of our enemies. And youhens, how many eggs have you laid in this last year, and how many of those eggsever hatched into chickens? The rest have all gone to market to bring in money for Jones and his men.And you, Clover, where are those four foals you bore, who should have been the support and pleasure of your old age? Each was sold at a year old you will never see one of them again. In return for your four confinements and all your labour in the fields, what have you ever had except your bare rations and a stall?

“And even the miserable lives we lead are not allowed to reach their natural span. For myself I do not grumble, for I am one of the lucky ones. I am twelve years old and have had over four hundred children. Such is the natural life of a pig. But noanimal escapes the cruel knife in the end. You young porkers who are sitting infront of me, every one of you will scream your lives out at the block within ayear. To that horror we all must come cows, pigs, hens, sheep, everyone. Eventhe horses and the dog s have no better fate. You, Boxer, the very day thatthose great muscles of yours lose their power, Jones will sell you to theknacker, who will cut your throat and boil you down for the foxhounds. As for the dogs, when they grow old and toothless, Jones ties a brick round their necks and drowns them in the nearest pond.

“Is it not crystal clear, then, comrades, that all the evils of this life of ours spring from the tyranny of human beings? Only get rid of Man, and the produce of our labour would be our own. Almostovernight we could become rich and free. What then must we do? Why, work nightand day, body and soul, for the overthrow of the human race! That is my messageto you, comrades: Rebellion! I do notknow when that Rebellion will come, it might be in a week or in a hundredyears, but I know, as surely as I see this straw beneath my feet, that sooner orlater justice will be done. Fix your eyes on that, comrades, throughout the short remainder of your lives! And above all, pass on this message of mine to those who come after you, so that future generations shall carry on the struggle until it is victorious.

Animal Farm“And remember, comrades, your resolution must never falter. No argument must lead you astray. Never listen when they tell you that Man and the animals have a common interest, that the prosperity of the one is the prosperity of the others. It is all lies. Man serves the interests of no creature except himself. And among us animals let there be perfect unity, perfect comradeship in the struggle. All men are enemies. All animals are comrades.”

At this momentthere was a tremendous uproar. While Major was speaking four large rats had creptout of their holes and were sitting on their hindquarters, listening to him.The dogs had suddenly caught sight of them, and it was only by a swift dash fortheir holes that the rats saved their lives. Major raised his trotter forsilence.

“Comrades,”he said, “here is a point that must be settled. The wild creatures, suchas rats and rabbits are they our friends or our enemies? Let us put it to thevote. I propose this question to the meeting: Are rats comrades?”

The vote was takenat once, and it was agreed by an overwhelming majority that rats were comrades.There were only four dissentients, the three dogs and the cat, who was afterwards discovered to have voted on both sides. Major continued:

“I have little more to say. I merely repeat, remember always your duty of enmitytowards Man and all his ways. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy. Whatevergoes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend. And remember also that infighting against Man, we must not come to resemble him. Even when you haveconquered him, do not adopt his vices. No animal must ever live in a house, orsleep in a bed, or wear clothes, or drink alcohol, or smoke tobacco, or touchmoney, or engage in trade. All the habits of Man are evil. And, above all, noanimal must ever tyrannise over his own kind. Weak or strong, clever or simple,we are all brothers. No animal must ever kill any other animal. All animals are equal.

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“And now,comrades, I will tell you about my dream of last night. I cannot describe thatdream to you. It was a dream of the earth as it will be when Man has vanished.But it reminded me of something that I had long forgotten. Many years ago, whenI was a little pig, my mother and the other sows used to sing an old song ofwhich they knew only the tune and the first three words. I had known that tune in my infancy, but it hadlong since passed out of my mind. Last night, however, it came back to me in my dream.

And what is more, the words of the song also came back words, I am certain, which were sung by the animals of long ago and have been lost to memory for generations. I will sing you that song now, comrades. I am old and my voice is hoarse, but when I have taught you the tune, you can sing it better for yourselves. It is called Beastsof England.”

Old Major clearedhis throat and began to sing. As he had said, his voice was hoarse, but he sang well enough, and it was a stirring tune, something between Clementine and La Cucaracha. The words ran:

Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland,
Beasts of every land and clime,
Hearken to my joyful tidings
Of the golden future time.
Soon or late the day is coming,
Tyrant Man shall be o’erthrown,
And the fruitful fields of England
Shall be trod by beasts alone.
Rings shall vanish from our noses,
And the harness from our back,
Bit and spur shall rust forever,
Cruel whips no more shall crack.
Riches more than mind can picture,
Wheat and barley, oats and hay,
Clover, beans, and mangel-wurzels
Shall be ours upon that day.
Bright will shine the fields of England,
Purer shall its waters be,
Sweeter yet shall blow its breezes
On the day that sets us free.
For that day we all must labour,
Though we die before it break;
Cows and horses, geese and turkeys,
All must toil for freedom’s sake.
Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland,
Beasts of every land and clime,
Hearken well and spread my tidings
Of the golden future time.

The singing of this song threw the animals into the wildest excitement. Almost before Major hadreached the end, they had begun singing it for themselves. Even the stupidest of them had already picked up the tune and a few of the words, and as for the clever ones, such as the pigs and dogs, they had the entire song by heart within a few minutes. And then, after a few preliminary tries, the whole farm burst out into Beasts of England in tremendous unison. The cows lowed it, the dogs whined it, the sheep bleated it, the horses whinnied it, the ducks quacked it.

They were so delighted with the song that they sang it right through five times in succession, and might have continued singing it all night if they had not been interrupted.

Unfortunately, theuproar awoke Mr. Jones, who sprang out of bed, making sure that there was a foxin the yard. He seized the gun which always stood in a corner of his bedroom,and let fly a charge of number 6 shot into the darkness. The pellets buriedthemselves in the wall of the barn and the meeting broke up hurriedly. Everyonefled to his own sleeping-place. The birds jumped on to their perches, theanimals settled down in the straw, and the whole farm was asleep in a moment.

CHAPTER II

THREE nights laterold Major died peacefully in his sleep. His body was buried at the foot of the orchard.

This was early inMarch. During the next three months there was much secret activity. Major’sspeech had given to the more intelligent animals on the farm a completely newoutlook on life.

animal_farm_election_2012_poster_by_jaguaro-d55puizThey did not know when the Rebellion predicted by Major would take place, they had no reason for thinking that it would be within their own lifetime, but they saw clearly that it was their duty to prepare for it. The work of teaching and organising theothers fell naturally upon the pigs, who were generally recognised as being thecleverest of the animals. Pre-eminent among the pigs were two young boars named Snowball and Napoleon, whom Mr. Jones was breeding up for sale. Napoleon was alarge, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar, the only Berkshire on the farm,not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way. Snowballwas a more vivacious pig than Napoleon, quicker in speech and more inventive,but was not considered to have the same depth of character. All the other malepigs on the farm were porkers. The best known among them was a small fat pignamed Squealer, with very round cheeks,twinkling eyes, nimble movements, and a shrill voice. He was a brillianttalker, and when he was arguing some difficult point he had a way of skippingfrom side to side and whisking his tail which was somehow very persuasive. The others said of Squealer that he could turn black into white.

These three had elaborated old Major’s teachings into a complete system of thought, to which they gave the name of Animalism. Several nights a week, after Mr. Jones wasasleep, they held secret meetings in the barn and expounded the principles ofAnimalism to the others. At the beginning they met with much stupidity andapathy. Some of the animals talked of the duty of loyalty to Mr. Jones, whomthey referred to as “Master,” or made elementary remarks such as”Mr. Jones feeds us. If he were gone, we sho uld starve to death.”Others asked such questions as “Why should we care what happens after we aredead?” or “If this Rebellion is to happen anyway, what differencedoes it make whether we work for it or not?”, and the pigs had greatdifficulty in making them see that this was contrary to the spirit ofAnimalism. The stupidest questions of all were asked by Mollie, the white mare.The very first question she asked Snowball was: “Will there still be sugarafter the Rebellion? “

“No,”said Snowball firmly. “We have no means of making sugar on this farm.Besides, you do not need sugar. You will have all the oats and hay youwant.”

“And shall I still be allowed to wear ribbons in my mane?” asked Mollie.

“Comrade,” said Snowball, “those ribbons that you are sodevoted to are the badge of slavery. Can you not understand that liberty isworth more than ribbons? “

Mollie agreed, butshe did not sound very convinced.

The pigs had aneven harder struggle to counteract the lies put about by Moses, the tame raven.Moses, who was Mr. Jones’s especial pet, was a spy and a tale-bearer, but hewas also a clever talker. He claimed to know of the existence of a mysteriouscountry called Sugarcandy Mountain, to which all animals went when they died.It was situated somewhere up in the sky, a little distance beyond the clouds,Moses said. In Sugarcandy Mountain it was Sunday seven days a week, clover wasin season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on thehedges. The animals hated Moses because he told tales and did no work, but someof them believed in Sugarcandy Mountain, and the pigs had to argue very hard topersuade them that there was no such place.

Their most faithful disciples were the two cart-horses, Boxer and Clover. These two had greatdifficulty in thinking anything out for themselves, but having once acceptedthe pigs as their teachers, they absorbed everything that they were told, andpassed it on to the other animals by simple arguments. They were unfailing in their attendance at the secret meetings in the barn, and led the singing of Beasts of England, with which the meetings always ended.

Now, as it turnedout, the Rebellion was achieved much earlier and more easily than anyone hadexpected. In past years Mr. Jones, although a hard master, had been a capablefarmer, but of late he had fallen on evil days. He had become much disheartenedafter losing money in a lawsuit, and had taken to drinking more than was goodfor him. For whole days at a time he would lounge in his Windsor chair in thekitchen, reading the newspapers, drinking, and occasionally feeding Moses oncrusts of bread soaked in beer. His men were idle and dishonest, the fields were full of weeds, the buildings wanted roofing, the hedges were neglected,and the animals were underfed.

June came and thehay was almost ready for cutting. On Midsummer’s Eve, which was a Saturday, Mr.Jones went into Willingdon and got so drunk at the Red Lion that he did notcome back till midday on Sunday. The men had milked the cows in the earlymorning and then had gone out rabbiting, without bothering to feed the animals.When Mr. Jones got back he immediately went to sleep on the drawing-room sofawith the News of the World over his face, so that when evening came, theanimals were still unf ed. At last they could stand it no longer. One of thecows broke in the door of the store-shed with her horn and all the animalsbegan to help themselves from the bins. It was just then that Mr. Jones wokeup. The next moment he and his four men were in the store-shed with whips intheir hands, lashing out in all directions. This was more than the hungryanimals could bear.

With one accord,though nothing of the kind had been planned beforehand, they flung themselvesupon their tormentors. Jones and his men suddenly found themselves being buttedand kicked from all sides. The situation was quite out of their control.

They had never seenanimals behave like this before, and this sudden uprising of creatures whomthey were used to thrashing and maltreating just as they chose, frightened themalmost out of their wits. After only a moment or two they gave up trying todefend themselves and took to their heels. A minute later all five of them werein full flight down the cart-track that led to the main road, with the animalspursuing them in triumph.

Mrs. Jones lookedout of the bedroom window, saw what was happening, hurriedly flung a fewpossessions into a carpet bag, and slipped out of the farm by another way.Moses sprang off his perch and flapped after her, croaking loudly. Meanwhilethe animals had chased Jones and his men out on to the road and slammed thefive-barred gate behind them. And so, almost before they knew what washappening, the Rebellion had been successfully carried through: Jones wasexpelled, and the Manor Farm was theirs.

For the first fewminutes the animals could hardly believe in their good fortune. Their first actwas to gallop in a body right round the boundaries of the farm, as though tomake quite sure that no human being was hiding anywhere upon it; then theyraced back to the farm buildings to wipe out the last traces of Jones’s hatedreign. The harness-room at the end of the stables was broken open; the bits,the nose-rings, the dog-chains, the cruel knives with which Mr. Jones had beenused to castrate the pig s and lambs, were all flung down the well. The reins,the halters, the blinkers, the degrading nosebags, were thrown on to therubbish fire which was burning in the yard. So were the whips. All the animalscapered with joy when they saw the whips going up in flames. Snowball alsothrew on to the fire the ribbons with which the horses’ manes and tails hadusually been decorated on market days.

“Ribbons,”he said, “should be considered as clothes, which are the mark of a humanbeing. All animals should go naked.”

When Boxer heardthis he fetched the small straw hat which he wore in summer to keep the fliesout of his ears, and flung it on to the fire with the rest.

In a very littlewhile the animals had destroyed everything that reminded them of Mr. Jones.Napoleon then led them back to the store-shed and served out a double ration ofcorn to everybody, with two biscuits for each dog. Then they sang Beasts ofEngland from end to end seven times running, and after that they settled downfor the night and slept as they had never slept before.

But they woke atdawn as usual, and suddenly remembering the glorious thing that had happened,they all raced out into the pasture together. A little way down the pasturethere was a knoll that commanded a view of most of the farm. The animals rushedto the top of it and gazed round them in the clear morning light.

Yes, it was theirseverything that they could see was theirs! In the ecstasy of that thought theygambolled round and round, they hurled themselves into the air in great leapsof excitement. They rolled in the dew, they cropped mouthfuls of the sweetsummer grass, they kicked up clods of the black earth and snuffed its richscent. Then they made a tour of inspection of the whole farm and surveyed withspeechless admiration the ploughland, the hayfield, the orchard, the pool, thespinney. It was as though they had never seen these things before, and even nowthey could hardly believe that it was all their own.

Then they filedback to the farm buildings and halted in silence outside the door of thefarmhouse. That was theirs too, but they were frightened to go inside. After amoment, however, Snowball and Napoleon butted the door open with theirshoulders and the animals entered in single file, walking with the utmost carefor fear of disturbing anything. They tiptoed from room to room, afraid tospeak above a whisper and gazing with a kind of awe at the unbelievable luxury,at the beds with their feather matt resses, the looking-glasses, the horsehairsofa, the Brussels carpet, the lithograph of Queen Victoria over thedrawing-room mantelpiece. They were lust coming down the stairs when Mollie wasdiscovered to be missing. Going back, the others found that she had remainedbehind in the best bedroom. She had taken a piece of blue ribbon from Mrs.Jones’s dressing-table, and was holding it against her shoulder and admiringherself in the glass in a very foolish manner. The others reproached hersharply, and they went outside. Some hams hanging in the kitchen were taken outfor burial, and the barrel of beer in the scullery was stove in with a kickfrom Boxer’s hoof, otherwise nothing in the house was touched. A unanimousresolution was passed on the spot that the farmhouse should be preserved as amuseum. All were agreed that no animal must ever live there.

The animals hadtheir breakfast, and then Snowball and Napoleon called them together again.

“Comrades,” said Snowball, “it is half-past six and wehave a long day before us. Today we begin the hay harvest. But there is anothermatter that must be attended to first.”

The pigs nowrevealed that during the past three months they had taught themselves to readand write from an old spelling book which had belonged to Mr. Jones’s childrenand which had been thrown on the rubbish heap. Napoleon sent for pots of blackand white paint and led the way down to the five-barred gate that gave on tothe main road. Then Snowball (for it was Snowball who was best at writing) tooka brush between the two knuckles of his trotter, painted out MANOR FARM fromthe top bar of the gate and in its place painted ANIMAL FARM. This was to bethe name of the farm from now onwards. After this they went back to the farmbuildings, where Snowball and Napoleon sent for a ladder which they caused tobe set against the end wall of the big barn. They explained that by theirstudies of the past three months the pigs had succeeded in reducing theprinciples of Animalism to Seven

Commandments. TheseSeven Commandments would now be inscribed on the wall; they woul d form anunalterable law by which all the animals on Animal Farm must live for everafter. With some difficulty (for it is not easy for a pig to balance himself ona ladder) Snowball climbed up and set to work, with Squealer a few rungs belowhim holding the paint-pot. The Commandments were written on the tarred wall ingreat white letters that could be read thirty yards away. They ran thus:

THE SEVEN COMMANDMENTS

1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.

2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or haswings, is a friend.

3. No animal shall wear clothes.

4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.

5. No animal shall drink alcohol.

6. No animal shall kill any other animal.

7. All animals are equal.

It was very neatly written, and except that “friend” was written “freind” and one of the “S’s” was the wrong way round, the spelling was correct all the way through. Snowball read it aloud for the benefit of the others. Allthe animals nodded in complete agreement, and the cleverer ones at once beganto learn the Commandments by heart.

“Now,comrades,” cried Snowball, throwing down the paint-brush, “to thehayfield! Let us make it a point of honour to get in the harvest more quicklythan Jones and his men could do.”

But at this momentthe three cows, who had seemed uneasy for some time past, set up a loud lowing.They had not been milked for twenty-four hours, and their udders were almostbursting.

After a little thought, the pigs sent for buckets and milked the cows fairly successfully,their trotters being well adapted to this task. Soon there were five buckets of frothing creamy milk at which many of the animals looked with considerable interest.

“What isgoing to happen to all that milk?” said someone.

“Jones usedsometimes to mix some of it in our mash,” said one of the hens.

“Never mindthe milk, comrades!” cried Napoleon, placing himself in front of the buckets. “That will be attended to. The harvest is more important. Comrade Snowball will lead the way. I shall follow in a few minutes. Forward, comrades!The hay is waiting.”

So the animals trooped down to the hay field to begin the harvest, and when they came back in the evening it was noticed that the milk had disappeared.

CHAPTER III

HOW they toiled andsweated to get the hay in! But their efforts were rewarded, for the harvest wasan even bigger success than they had hoped.

Sometimes the workwas hard; the implements had been designed for human beings and not foranimals, and it was a great drawback that no animal was able to use any toolthat involved standing on his hind legs. But the pigs were so clever that theycould think of a way round every difficulty. As for the horses, they knew everyinch of the field, and in fact understood the business of mowing and raking farbetter than Jones and his men had ever done. The pigs did not actually work,but directed and supervised the others. With their superior knowledge it wasnatural that they should assume the leadership. Boxer and Clover would harness themselvesto the cutter or the horse-rake (no bits or reins were needed in these days, ofcourse) and tramp steadily round and round the field with a pig walking behindand calling out “Gee up, comrade!” or “Whoa back, comrade!”as the case might be. And every animal down to the humblest worked at turningthe hay and gathering it. Even the ducks and hens toiled to and fro all day inthe sun, carrying tiny wisps of hay in their beaks. In the end they finishedthe harvest in two days’ less time than it had usually taken Jones and his men.Moreover, it was the biggest harvest that the farm had ever seen. There was nowastage whatever; the hens and ducks with their sharp eyes had gathered up thevery last stalk. And not an animal on the farm had stolen so much as amouthful.

All through thatsummer the work of the farm went like clockwork. The animals were happy as theyhad never conceived it possible to be. Every mouthful of food was an acutepositive pleasure, now that it was truly their own food, produced by themselvesand for themselves, not doled out to them by a grudging master. With theworthless parasitical human beings gone, there was more for everyone to eat.There was more leisure too, inexperienced though the animals were. They metwith many difficulties for instance, later in the year, when they harvested thecorn, they had to tread it out in the ancient style and blow away the chaffwith their breath, since the farm possessed no threshing machine but the pigswith their cleverness and Boxer with his tremendous muscles always pulled themthrough.

Boxer was theadmiration of everybody. He had been a hard worker even in Jones’s time, butnow he seemed more like three horses than one; there were days when the entirework of the farm seemed to rest on his mighty shoulders. From morning to nighthe was pushing and pulling, always at the spot where the work was hardest. Hehad made an arrangement with one of the cockerels to call him in the morningshalf an hour earlier than anyone else, and would put in some volunteer labourat whatever seemed to be most needed, before the regular day’s work began. Hisanswer to every problem, every setback, was “I will work harder!”which he had adopted as his personal motto.

But everyone workedaccording to his capacity The hens and ducks, for instance, saved five bushelsof corn at the harvest by gathering up the stray grains. Nobody stole, nobodygrumbled over his rations, the quarrelling and biting and jealousy which hadbeen normal features of life in the old days had almost disappeared. Nobodyshirked or almost nobody. Mollie, it was true, was not good at getting up inthe mornings, and had a way of leaving work early on the ground that there wasa stone in her hoof. A nd the behaviour of the cat was somewhat peculiar. Itwas soon noticed that when there was work to be done the cat could never befound. She would vanish for hours on end, and then reappear at meal-times, orin the evening after work was over, as though nothing had happened. But she always made such excellent excuses, and purred so affectionately, that it was impossible not to believe in her good intentions. Old Benjamin, the donkey,seemed quite unchanged since the Rebellion. He did his work in the same slow obstinate way as he had done it in Jones’s time, never shirking and never volunteering for extra work either.

About the Rebellion and its results he would express no opinion.

When asked whether he was not happier now that Jones was gone, he would say only “Donkeys live along time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey,” and the others had to be content with this cryptic answer.

animalfarmflagOn Sundays there was no work. Breakfast was an hour later than usual, and after breakfast there was a ceremony which was observed every week without fail. First came the hoisting of the flag. Snowball had found in the harness-room an old green table cloth of Mrs. Jones’s and had painted on it a hoof and a horn in white. This was run up the flagstaff in the farmhouse garden every Sunday 8, morning. The flag was green, Snowball explained, to represent the green fields of England, while the hoof and horn signified the future Republic of the Animals which would arise when the human race had been finally overthrown.

After the hoisting of the flag all the animals trooped into the big barn for a general assembly which was known as the Meeting.

Here the work of thecoming week was planned out and resolutions were put forward and debated. Itwas always the pigs who put forward the resolutions. The other animalsunderstood how to vote, but could never think of any resolutions of their own.

Snowball and Napoleonwere by far the most active in the debates.

But it was noticed that these two were never in agreement: whatever suggestion either of them made, the other could be counted on to oppose it. Even when it was resolved athing no one could object to in itself to set aside the small paddock behindthe orchard as a home of rest for animals who were past work, there was astormy debate over the correct retiring age for each class of animal. The Meeting always ended with the singing of Beasts of England,and the afternoon was given up to recreation.

The pigs had set aside the harness-room as a headquarters for themselves. Here, in the evenings,they studied black smithing, carpentering, and other necessary arts from books which they had brought out of the farmhouse. Snowball also busied himself with organising the other animals into what he called Animal Committees. He was indefatigable at this. He formed the Egg Production Committee for the hens, the Clean Tails League for thecows, the Wild Comrades’ Re-education Committee (the object of this was to tamethe rats and rabbits), the Whiter Wool Movement for the sheep, and various others, besides instituting classes in reading and writing. On the whole, theseprojects were a failure. The attempt to tame the wild creatures, for instance,broke down almost immediately. They continued to behave very much as before,and when treated with generosity, simply took advantage of it. The cat joined the Re-education Committee and was very active in it for some days. She was seen one day sitting on a roof and talking to some sparrows who were just out of her reach. She was telling them that all animals were now comrades and that any sparrow who chose could come and perch on her paw; but the sparrows kept their distance.

The reading and writing classes, however, were a great success. By the autumn almost every animal on the farm was literate in some degree.

As for the pigs,they could already read and write perfectly. The dogs learned to read fairly well, but were not interested in reading anything except the Seven Commandments.

Muriel, the goat,could read somewhat better than the dogs, and sometimes used to read to the others in the evenings from scraps of newspaper which she found on the rubbish heap. Benjamin could read as well as any pig, but never exercised his faculty.So far as he knew, he said, there was nothing worth reading. Clover learnt the whole alphabet, but could not put words together.

Boxer could not get beyond the letter D. He would trace out A, B, C, D, in the dust with his great hoof, and then would stand staring at the letters with his ears back, sometimes shaking his forelock, trying with all his might to remember what came next and never succeeding. On several occasions, indeed, he did learn E, F, G, H, but bythe time he knew them, it was always discovered that he had forgotten A, B, C,and D. Finally he decided to be content with the first four letters, and used to write them out once or twice every day to refresh his memory.

Mollie refused to learn any but the six letters which spelt her own name. She would form thesevery neatly out of pieces of twig, and would then decorate them with a floweror two and walk round them admiring them.

None of the otheranimals on the farm could get further than the letter A. It was also found thatthe stupider animals, such as the sheep, hens, and ducks, were unable to learnthe Seven Commandments by heart. After much thought Snowball declared that theSeven Commandments could in effect be reduced to a single maxim, namely:”Four legs good, two legs bad.” This, he said, contained theessential principle of Animalism. Whoever had thoroughly grasped it would be safefrom human influences. The birds at first objected, since it seemed to them that they also had two legs, but Snowball proved to them that this was not so.

“A bird’s wing,comrades,” he said, “is an organ of propulsion and not ofmanipulation. It should therefore be regarded as a leg. The distinguishing mark of man is the hand, the instrument with which he does all his mischief.”

The birds did notunderstand Snowball’s long words, but they accepted his explanation, and allthe humbler animals set to work to learn the new maxim by heart. FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD, was inscribed on the end wall of the barn, above the Seven Commandments and in bigger letters When they had once got it by heart, the sheep developed a great liking for this maxim, and often as they lay in the field they would all start bleating “Four legs good, two legs bad! Four legs good, two legs bad!” and keep it up for hours on end, never growing tired of it.

sheep-orwell

Napoleon took no interest in Snowball’s committees. He said that the education of the young was more important than anything that could be done for those who were already grown up. It happened that Jessie and Bluebell had both whelped soon after the hay harvest, giving birth between them to nine sturdy puppies. As soon as they were weaned, Napoleon took them away from their mothers, saying that he would make himself responsible for their education. He took them up into a loft which could only be reached by a ladder from the harness-room, and there kept them in such seclusion that the rest of the farm soon forgot their existence.

The mystery of where the milk went to was soon cleared up. It was mixed every day into the pigs’ mash. The early apples were now ripening, and the grass of the orchard was littered with windfalls. The animals had assumed as a matter of course that these would be shared out equally; one day, however, the order went forth that all the windfalls were to be collected and brought to the harness-room for the use of the pigs. At this some of the other animals murmured, but it was no use. All the pigs were in full agreement on this point, even Snowball and Napoleon. Squealer was sent to make the necessary explanations to the others.

“Comrades!” he cried. “You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples. Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed in our duty? Jones would come back! Yes, Jones would come back! Surely, comrades,” cried Squealer almost pleadingly, skipping from side to side and whisking his tail, “surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back?”

Now if there was one thing that the animals were completely certain of, it was that they did not want Jones back. When it was put to them in this light, they had no more to say. The importance of keeping the pigs in good health was all too obvious. So it was agreed without further argument that the milk and the windfall apples (and also the main crop of apples when they ripened) should be reserved for the pigs alone.

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Book Reviews Dean Koontz

From the corner of his eye (Dean Koontz)

Horrormeister Koontz looks heavenward for inspiration in his newest suspense thriller, From the Corner of His Eye, which is chock-full of signs, portents, angels and one somewhat second-rate devil, a murky and under characterized guy named Junior Cain who throws his beloved wife off a fire tower on an Oregon mountain and spends the rest of the novel waiting for the retribution that will surely come.
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But not before a series of tragedies ensues that convince Junior that someone or something named Bartholomew is out to exact vengeance for that crime and the series of other murders that follow.
Bartholomew’s own troubles begin with his birth, which transpires moments after his father is killed in a traffic accident as he is taking his wife to the hospital, and continue with the loss of his eyes at the tender age of three. Young Bartholomew has visionary gifts, though to his mother, a nice lady who’s renowned for her pie-making abilities as well as her sweetly innocent nature, he’s just a particularly smart kid who can read and write before his second birthday. Eventually, Bartholomew regains his sight, Junior Cain gets his comeuppance and fate conspires to bring love into the Pie Lady’s life, reward the faithful and put a happy ending on this genre-bending tale. Koontz will no doubt rocket right to the top of the bestseller list with this inventive, if somewhat slower-paced, read. —Jane Adams, Amazon.com

Review

This is not merely a novel of suspense; it is also a story of belief and reflection, of choices and thebeauty that can blossom from doing what is right, rather than what is easy. While dazzling the reader with magnificent turns of phrase that will evoke simultaneous admiration and envy, [Koontz] alternates the mood between tenderness and suspense. A novel that is absolutely perfect from opening word to closing sentence’ Bookreporter.com ‘Koontz tries to create serious literature, and he largely succeeds in FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE’
USA Today
‘Uplifting and optimistic. There’s nothing sentimental…in this book, though a complex philosophical thesis is at its heart. A knuckle-biter from start to finish’ Toronto Star ‘FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE may be Koontz’s crowning achievement in a lengthy career already filled with triumphs. In this first-rate thriller, non-stop action keeps one turning the pages in spite of the book’s length’
Minneapolis Star Tribune
‘Readers in search of a pull-out-the-stops, multigenre thriller need look no further than FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE’ Denver Post ‘A fascinating theme…peopled with interesting characters, a fast-paced plot, and some imaginative theories about the nature of science and faith. Koontz has written another winner’ Toronto Sun ‘He succeeds in creating and fleshing out a cast of remarkable and unique characters. Koontz builds mansions of place and time. FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE is a suspenseful, entertaining and thought-provoking novel, examining the depth of the human spirit, our capacity for good and evil…and the consequences of even the simplest deed’ Harrisburg Patriot-News ‘An ambitious exploration of the intricacies of human relationships’ Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ‘Highly entertaining’ Chicago Tribune ‘Koontz connects these [characters’] stories with his usual ingenuity. He has always had near-Dickensian powers of description, and an ability to yank us from one page to the next that few novelists can match’ Los Angeles Times ‘Though over 600 pages, the book never seems long. The characters are vivid and emotionally exciting, creating a fast and compelling read. Highly recommended’ Library Journal ‘A psychologically complex suspenser’ New York Daily News ‘Fans of Dean Koontz are in for another thrilling treat. Once again we [are] mesmerized by his gift for…colorful prose’ Oakland Press ‘Koontz is famous for the way he falls in love with his characters. They’re so richly and compellingly drawn, you can practically hear them breathing from the page. FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE is chuckfull of hope an wonderment, good and evil, familial adoration, and characters you’ll wish lived next door. You’ll never want to leave the worlds Koontz draws you into. Settle in for one remarkable read of awesome possibilities’ Lexington Herald-Ledger ‘Full of more surprises than the average Koontz offering — and that is saying much. His opening is like a man announcing he will juggle bowling balls while frying eggs and piloting an air balloon. Preposterous — but Koontz proceeds to do it, and much more. Koontz does not bore’ San Diego Union Tribune ‘Exceptional writing and storytelling. Year after year, Koontz provides fresh ideas’ San Antonio Express News ‘A heart-pounding tale of Biblical proportions. [Koontz] proves once again that he still has the power to scare the daylights out of us’ Ottawa Citizen ‘Very appealing characters… For some time now, Koontz has been quite ambitious with the themes of his thrillers. FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE is the most ambitious yet. Here joy is definitely in the journey’ Flint Journal ‘A wonderful read. The pacing is perfect, keeping the reader in exquisite tension. This is a deeply satisfying, rich novel. You may have nightmares about [the villain] but you’ll love the other characters. Singularly and collectively, they are unforgettable. FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE is magic’ New Orleans Times Picayune ‘Delightful…fascinating and terrifying’ Detroit News and Free Press ‘Dean Koontz almost occupies a genre of his own. He is a master at building suspense and holding the reader spellbound’ Richmond Times-Dispatch ‘Vintage novel writing… The reader waits intensely for the final showdown’ Calgary Sun ‘Dean Koontz is not an author to be taken for granted. Each of his books stands alone; they do not fit a pattern. FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE is full of well-developed characters which is a trademark of Koontz’s. Highly diverse characters…marvelous people’ Fort Meyers Beach Observer ‘Probably the most creative and most far-reaching book he has ever written. Riveting…well-written. This book says a great deal about why Koontz is on top of his field — he’s very good’ Deseret News ‘An explosion of emotion and wonder. The tale is spun so masterfully that it is as gripping a novel as you’ll find, and as thought-provoking’ Baton Rouge Sunday Advocate ‘In his latest novel, Dean Koontz has achieved a literary miracle. A tapestry of intrigue and suspense…stunning physical description, unique turns of phrase… FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE will make readers stop, think, and ultimately appreciate “the many ways things are”‘ Fort Worth Star-Telegram ‘A fascinating piece of work…stuffed to the gunwales with colorful characters and plot twists. It’s virtually a Charles Dickens epic for the 21st century’ Locus From The Corner Of His Eye was no.7 in the Sunday Times and Observer bestseller lists

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Book Reviews

The Fall of the House of Usher (Complete)

house-of-usher-1mraj8mThe Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings is a collection that displays the full force of Edgar Allen Poe’s mastery of both Gothic horror and the short story form. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with an introduction and notes by David Galloway.
Son coeur est un luth suspendu;
Sitot qu’on le touche il resonne.
DE BERANGER.
During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.  I know not how it was–but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit.  I say insufferable; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasureable, because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible.  I looked upon the scene before me–upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain–upon the bleak walls–upon the vacant eye-like windows–upon a few rank sedges–and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees–with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium–the bitter lapse into everyday life–the hideous dropping off of the veil.  There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart–an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime.  What was it–I paused to think–what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher?
The Fall of the House of Usher 01
It was a mystery all insoluble; nor could I grapple with the shadowy fancies that crowded upon me as I pondered.  I was forced to fall back upon the unsatisfactory conclusion, that while, beyond doubt, there are combinations of very simple natural objects which have the power of thus affecting us, still the analysis of this power lies among considerations beyond our depth.  It was possible, I reflected, that a mere different arrangement of the particulars of the scene, of the details of the picture, would be sufficient to modify, or perhaps to annihilate its capacity for sorrowful impression; and, acting upon this idea, I reined my horse to the precipitous brink of a black and lurid tarn that lay in unruffled lustre by the dwelling, and gazed down–but with a shudder even more thrilling than before–upon the remodelled and inverted images of the grey sedge, and the ghastly tree-stems, and the vacant and eye-like windows.
Nevertheless, in this mansion of gloom I now proposed to myself a sojourn of some weeks.  Its proprietor, Roderick Usher, had been one of my boon companions in boyhood; but many years had elapsed since our last meeting.  A letter, however, had lately reached me in a distant part of the country–a letter from him– which, in its wildly importunate nature, had admitted of no other than a personal reply.  The MS gave evidence of nervous agitation.  The writer spoke of acute bodily illness–of a mental disorder which oppressed him–and of an earnest desire to see me, as his best, and indeed his only personal friend, with a view of attempting, by the cheerfulness of my society, some alleviation of his malady.  It was the manner in which all this, and much more, was said–it was the apparent heart that went with his request–which allowed me no room for hesitation; and I accordingly obeyed forthwith what I still considered a very singular summons.
Although, as boys, we had been even intimate associates, yet I really knew little of my friend.  His reserve had been always excessive and habitual.  I was aware, however, that his very ancient family had been noted, time out of mind, for a peculiar sensibility of temperament, displaying itself, through long ages, in many works of exalted art, and manifested, of late, in repeated deeds of munificent yet unobtrusive charity, as well as in a passionate devotion to the intricacies, perhaps even more than to the orthodox and easily recognisable beauties of musical science.  I had learned, too, the very remarkable fact, that the stem of the Usher race, all time-honoured as it was, had put forth, at no period, any enduring branch; in other words, that the entire family lay in the direct line of descent, and had always, with very trifling and very temporary variation, so lain.
It was this deficiency, I considered, while running over in thought the perfect keeping of the character of the premises with the accredited character of the people, and while speculating upon the possible influence which the one, in the long lapse of centuries, might have exercised upon the other–it was this deficiency, perhaps, of collateral issue, and the consequent undeviating transmission, from sire to son, of the patrimony with the name, which had, at length, so identified the two as to merge the original title of the estate in the quaint and equivocal appellation of the “House of Usher”–an appellation which seemed to include, in the minds of the peasantry who used it, both the family and the family mansion.
I have said that the sole effect of my somewhat childish experiment–that of looking down within the tarn–had been to deepen the first singular impression.  There can be no doubt that the consciousness of the rapid increase of my supersition–for why should I not so term it?–served mainly to accelerate the increase itself.  Such, I have long known, is the paradoxical law of all sentiments having terror as a basis.  And it might have been for this reason only, that, when I again uplifted my eyes to the house itself, from its image in the pool, there grew in my mind a strange fancy–a fancy so ridiculous, indeed, that I but mention it to show the vivid force of the sensations which oppressed me.  I had so worked upon my imagination as really to believe that about the whole mansion and domain there hung an atmosphere peculiar to themselves and their immediate vicinity– an atmosphere which had no affinity with the air of heaven, but which had reeked up from the decayed trees, and the grey wall, and the silent tarn–a pestilent and mystic vapour, dull, sluggish, faintly discernible, and leaden-hued.
Shaking off from my spirit what must have been a dream, I scanned more narrowly the real aspect of the building.  Its principal feature seemed to be that of an excessive antiquity.
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The discoloration of ages had been great.  Minute fungi overspread the whole exterior, hanging in a fine tangled web-work from the eaves.  Yet all this was apart from any extraordinary dilapidation.  No portion of the masonry had fallen; and there appeared to be a wild inconsistency between its still perfect adaptation of parts, and the crumbling condition of the individual stones.  In this there was much that reminded me of the specious totality of old wood-work which has rotted for long years in some neglected vault, with no disturbance from the breath of the external air.  Beyond  this indication of extensive decay, however, the fabric gave little token of instability.  Perhaps the eye of a scrutinizing observer might have discovered a barely perceptible fissure, which, extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction, until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn.
Noticing these things, I rode over a short causeway to the house.  A servant in waiting took my horse, and I entered the Gothic archway of the hall.  A valet, of stealthy step, thence conducted me, in silence, through many dark and intricate passages in my progress to the studio of his master.  Much that I encountered on the way contributed, I know not how, to heighten the vague sentiments of which I have already spoken.
While the objects around me–while the carvings of the ceilings, the sombre tapestries of the walls, the ebon blackness of the floors, and the phantasmagoric armorial trophies which rattled as I strode, were but matters to which, or to such as which, I had been accustomed from my infancy–while I hesitated not to acknowledge how familiar was all this–I still wondered to find how unfamiliar were the fancies which ordinary images were stirring up.  On one of the staircases, I met the physician of the family.  His countenance, I thought, wore a mingled expression of low cunning and perplexity.  He accosted me with trepidation and passed on.  The valet now threw open a door and ushered me into the presence of his master.
The room in which I found myself was very large and lofty.
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The windows were long, narrow, and pointed, and at so vast a distance from the black oaken floor as to be altogether inaccessible from within.  Feeble gleams of encrimsoned light made their way through the trellised panes, and served to render sufficiently distinct the more prominent objects around; the eye, however, struggled in vain to reach the remoter angles of the chamber, or the recesses of the vaulted and fretted ceiling.  Dark draperies hung upon the walls.  The general furniture was profuse, comfortless, antique, and tattered.  Many books and musical instruments lay scattered about, but failed to give any vitality to the scene.  I felt that I breathed an atmosphere of sorrow.
An air of stern, deep, and irredeemable gloom hung over and pervaded all.
Upon my entrance, Usher rose from a sofa on which he had been lying at full length, and greeted me with a vivacious warmth which had much in it, I at first thought, of an overdone cordiality–of the constrained effort of the ennuye man of the world.  A glance, however, at his countenance, convinced me of his perfect sincerity.  We sat down; and for some moments, while he spoke not, I gazed upon him with a feeling half of pity, half of awe.  Surely, man had never before so terribly altered, in so brief a period, as had Roderick Usher!  It was with difficulty that I could bring myself to admit the identity of the wan being before me with the companion of my early boyhood.  Yet the character of his face had been at all times remarkable.  A cadaverousness of complexion; an eye large, liquid, and luminous beyond comparison; lips somewhat thin and very pallid, but of a surpassingly beautiful curve; a nose of a delicate Hebrew model, but with a breadth of nostril unusual in similar formations; a finely-moulded chin, speaking, in its want of prominence, of a want of moral energy; hair of a more than web-like softness and tenuity; these features, with an inordinate expansion above the regions of the temple, made up altogether a countenance not easily to be forgotten.  And now in the mere exaggeration of the prevailing character of these features, and of the expression they were wont to convey, lay so much of change that I doubted to whom I spoke.  The now ghastly pallor of the skin, and the now miraculous lustre of the eye, above all things startled and even awed me.  The silken hair, too, had been suffered to grow all unheeded, and as, in its wild gossamer texture, it floated rather than fell about the face, I could not, even with effort, connect its Arabesque expression with any idea of simple humanity.
In the manner of my friend I was at once struck with an incoherence–an inconsistency; and I soon found this to arise from a series of feeble and futile struggles to overcome an habitual trepidancy–an excessive nervous agitation.  For something of this nature I had indeed been prepared, no less by his letter, than by reminiscences of certain boyish traits, and by conclusions deduced from his peculiar physical conformation and temperament.  His action was alternately vivacious and sullen.  His voice varied rapidly from a tremulous indecision (when the animal spirits seemed utterly in abeyance) to that species of energetic concision–that abrupt, weighty, unhurried, and hollow-sounding enunciation–that leaden, self-balanced and perfectly modulated guttural utterance, which may be observed in the lost drunkard, or the irreclaimable eater of opium, during the periods of his most intense excitement.
It was thus that he spoke of the object of my visit, of his earnest desire to see me, and of the solace he expected me to afford him.  He entered, at some length, into what he conceived to be the nature of his malady.  It was, he said, a constitutional and a family evil, and one for which he despaired to find a remedy–a mere nervous affection, he immediately added, which would undoubtedly soon pass off.  It displayed itself in a host of unnatural sensations.  Some of these, as he detailed them, interested and bewildered me; although, perhaps, the terms, and the general manner of the narration had their weight.  He suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses; the most insipid food was alone endurable; he could wear only garments of certain texture; the odours of all flowers were oppressive; his eyes were tortured by even a faint light; and there were but peculiar sounds, and these from stringed instruments, which did not inspire him with horror.
To an anomalous species of terror I found him a bounden slave.  “I shall perish,” said he, “I must perish in this deplorable folly.  Thus, thus, and not otherwise, shall I be lost.  I dread the events of the future, not in themselves, but in their results.  I shudder at the thought of any, even the most trivial, incident, which may operate upon this intolerable agitation of soul.  I have, indeed, no abhorrence of danger, except in its absolute effect–in terror.  In this unnerved–in this pitiable condition–I feel that the period will sooner or later arrive when I must abandon life and reason together, in some struggle with the grim phantasm, FEAR.”
I learned, moreover, at intervals, and through broken and equivocal hints, another singular feature of his mental condition.  He was enchained by certain superstitious impressions in regard to the dwelling which he tenanted, and whence, for many years, he had never ventured forth–in regard to an influence whose supposititious force was conveyed in terms too shadowy here to be re-stated–an influence which some peculiarities in the mere form and substance of his family mansion, had, by dint of long sufferance, he said, obtained over his spirit–an effect which the physique of the grey walls and turrets, and of the dim tarn into which they all looked down, had, at length, brought about upon the morale of his existence.
He admitted, however, although with hesitation, that much of the peculiar gloom which thus afflicted him could be traced to a more natural and far more palpable origin–to the severe and long-continued illness–indeed to the evidently approaching dissolution–of a tenderly beloved sister–his sole companion for long years–his last and only relative on earth.  “Her decease,” he said, with a bitterness which I can never forget, “would leave him (him the hopeless and the frail) the last of the ancient race of the Ushers.”  While he spoke, the lady Madeline (for so was she called) passed slowly through a remote portion of the apartment, and, without having noticed my presence, disappeared.
I regarded her with an utter astonishment not unmingled with dread–and yet I found it impossible to account for such feelings.  A sensation of stupor oppressed me, as my eyes followed her retreating steps.  When a door, at length, closed upon her, my glance sought instinctively and eagerly the countenance of the brother–but he had buried his face in his hands, and I could only perceive that a far more than ordinary wanness had overspread the emaciated fingers through which trickled many passionate tears.
The disease of the lady Madeline had long baffled the skill of her physicians.  A settled apathy, a gradual wasting away of the person, and frequent although transient affections of a partially cataleptical character, were the unusual diagnosis.  Hitherto she had steadily borne up against the pressure of her malady, and had not betaken herself finally to bed; but, on the closing in of the evening of my arrival at the house, she succumbed (as her brother told me at night with inexpressible agitation) to the prostrating power of the destroyer; and I learned that the glimpse I had obtained of her person would thus probably be the last I should obtain–that the lady, at least while living, would be seen by me no more.
For several days ensuing, her name was unmentioned by either Usher or myself: and during this period I was busied in earnest endeavours to alleviate the melancholy of my friend.  We painted and read together; or I listened, as if in a dream, to the wild improvisations of his speaking guitar.  And thus, as a closer and still closer intimacy admitted me more unreservedly into the recesses of his spirit, the more bitterly did I perceive the futility of all attempt at cheering a mind from which darkness, as if an inherent positive quality, poured forth upon all objects of the moral and physical universe, in one unceasing radiation of gloom.
I shall ever bear about me a memory of the many solemn hours I thus spent alone with the master of the House of Usher.  Yet I should fail in any attempt to convey an idea of the exact character of the studies, or of the occupations, in which he involved me, or led me the way.  An excited and highly distempered ideality threw a sulphureous lustre over all.  His long improvised dirges will ring for ever in my ears.  Among other things, I hold painfully in mind a certain singular perversion and amplification of the wild air of the last waltz of Von Weber.  From the paintings over which his elaborate fancy brooded, and which grew, touch by touch, into vagueness at which I shuddered the more thrillingly, because I shuddered knowing not why;–from these paintings (vivid as their images now are before me) I would in vain endeavour to educe more than a small portion which should lie within the compass of merely written words.  By the utter simplicity, by the nakedness of his designs, he arrested and overawed attention.  If ever mortal painted an idea, that mortal was Roderick Usher.  For me at least–in the circumstances then surrounding me–there arose out of the pure abstractions which the hypochondriac contrived to throw upon his
canvas, an intensity of intolerable awe, no shadow of which felt I ever yet in the contemplation of the certainly glowing yet too concrete reveries of Fuseli.
One of the phantasmagoric conceptions of my friend, partaking not so rigidly of the spirit of abstraction, may be
shadowed forth, although feebly, in words.  A small picture presented the interior of an immensely long and rectangular vault or tunnel, with low walls, smooth, white, and without interruption or device.  Certain accessory points of the design served well to convey the idea that this excavation lay at an exceeding depth below the surface of the earth.  No outlet was observed in any portion of its vast extent, and no torch, or other artificial source of light was discernible; yet a flood of intense rays rolled throughout, and bathed the whole in a ghastly and inappropriate splendour.
I have just spoken of that morbid condition of the auditory nerve which rendered all music intolerable to the sufferer, with the exception of certain effects of stringed instruments.  It was, perhaps, the narrow limits to which he thus confined himself upon the guitar, which gave birth, in great measure, to the fantastic character of the performances.  But the fervid facility of his impromptus could not be so accounted for.
They must have been, and were, in the notes, as well as in the words of his wild fantasias (for he not unfrequently accompanied himself with rhymed verbal improvisations), the result of that intense mental collectedness and concentration to which I have previously alluded as observable only in particular moments of the highest artificial excitement.  The words of one of these rhapsodies I have easily remembered.  I was, perhaps, the more forcibly impressed with it, as he gave it, because, in the under or mystic current of its meaning, I fancied that I perceived, and for the first time, a full consciousness on the part of Usher, of the tottering of his lofty reason upon her throne.  The verses, which were entitled “The Haunted Palace,” ran very nearly, if not accurately, thus:

I. In the greenest of our valleys,
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace–
Radiant palace–reared its head.
In the monarch Thought’s dominion–
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair.

II. Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow;
(This–all this–was in the olden Time long ago)
And every gentle air that dallied,
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
A winged odour went away.
III. Wanderers in that happy valley
Through two luminous windows saw
Spirits moving musically
To a lute’s well tuned law,
Round about a throne, where sitting
(Porphyrogene!)
In state his glory well befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen.
IV.
And all with pearl and ruby glowing
Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.
V.
But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch’s high estate;
(Ah, let us mourn, for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him, desolate!)
And, round about his home, the glory
That blushed and bloomed
Is but a dim-remembered story,
Of the old time entombed.
VI.
And travellers now within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows, see
Vast forms that move fantastically
To a discordant melody;
While, like a rapid ghastly river,
Through the pale door,
A hideous throng rush out forever,
And laugh–but smile no more.

I well remember that suggestions arising from this ballad, led us into a train of thought wherein there became manifest an opinion of Usher’s which I mention not so much on account of its novelty (for other men* have thought thus,) as on account of the pertinacity with which he maintained it.  This opinion, in its general form, was that of the sentience of all vegetable things.
But, in his disordered fancy, the idea had assumed a more daring character, and trespassed, under certain conditions, upon the kingdom of inorganization.  I lack words to express the full extent, or the earnest abandon of his persuasion.  The belief, however, was connected (as I have previously hinted) with the gray stones of the home of his forefathers.  The conditions of the sentience had been here, he imagined, fulfilled in the
method of collocation of these stones–in the order of their arrangement, as well as in that of the many fungi which overspread them, and of the decayed trees which stood around– above all, in the long undisturbed endurance of this arrangement, and in its reduplication in the still waters of the tarn.  Its evidence–the evidence of the sentience–was to be seen, he said, (and I here started as he spoke,) in the gradual yet certain condensation of an atmosphere of their own about the waters and the walls.  The result was discoverable, he added, in that silent, yet importunate and terrible influence which for centuries had moulded the destinies of his family, and which made him what I now saw him–what he was.  Such opinions need no comment, and I will make none.
Our books–the books which, for years, had formed no small portion of the mental existence of the invalid–were, as might be supposed, in strict keeping with this character of phantasm.  We pored together over such works as the Ververt et Chartreuse of Gresset; the Belphegor of Machiavelli; the Heaven and Hell of Swedenborg; the Subterranean Voyage of Nicholas Klimm by Holberg; the Chiromancy of Robert Flud, of Jean D’Indagine, and of De la Chambre; the Journey into the Blue Distance of Tieck; and the City of the Sun by Campanella.  One favourite volume was a small octavo edition of the Directorium Inquisitorum, by the Dominican Eymeric de Gironne; and there were passages in Pomponius Mela, about the old African Satyrs and OEgipans, over which Usher would sit dreaming for hours.  His chief delight, however, was found in the perusal of an exceedingly rare and curious book in quarto Gothic–the manual of a forgotten church–the Vigiliae Mortuorum Secundum Chorum Ecclesiae Maguntinae.
I could not help thinking of the wild ritual of this work, and of its probable influence upon the hypochondriac, when, one evening, having informed me abruptly that the lady Madeline was no more, he stated his intention of preserving her corpse for a fortnight, (previously to its final interment), in one of the numerous vaults within the main walls of the building.  The worldly reason, however, assigned for this singular proceeding, was one which I did not feel at liberty to dispute.  The brother had been led to his resolution (so he told me) by consideration of the unusual character of the malady of the deceased, of certain obtrusive and eager inquiries on the part of her medical men, and of the remote and exposed situation of the burial-ground of the family.  I will not deny that when I called to mind the sinister countenance of the person whom I met upon the staircase, on the day of my arrival at the house, I had no desire to oppose what I regarded as at best but a harmless, and by no means an unnatural, precaution.
At the request of Usher, I personally aided him in the arrangements for the temporary entombment.  The body having been encoffined, we two alone bore it to its rest.  The vault in which we placed it (and which had been so long unopened that our torches, half smothered in its oppressive atmosphere, gave us little opportunity for investigation) was small, damp, and entirely without means of admission for light; lying, at great depth, immediately beneath that portion of the building in which was my own sleeping apartment.  It had been used, apparently, in remote feudal times, for the worst purposes of a donjon-keep, and, in later days, as a place of deposit for powder, or some other highly combustible substance, as a portion of its floor, and the whole interior of a long archway through which we reached it, were carefully sheathed with copper.  The door, of massive iron, had been, also, similarly protected.  Its immense weight caused an unusually sharp grating sound, as it moved upon its hinges.
Having deposited our mournful burden upon tressels within this region of horror, we partially turned aside the yet unscrewed lid of the coffin, and looked upon the face of the tenant.  A striking similitude between the brother and sister now first arrested my attention; and Usher, divining, perhaps, my thoughts, murmured out some few words from which I learned that the deceased and himself had been twins, and that sympathies of a scarcely intelligible nature had always existed between them.
Our glances, however, rested not long upon the dead–for we could not regard her unawed.  The disease which had thus entombed the lady in the maturity of youth, had left, as usual in all maladies of a strictly cataleptical character, the mockery of a faint blush upon the bosom and the face, and that suspiciously lingering smile upon the lip which is so terrible in death.  We replaced and screwed down the lid, and, having secured the door of iron, made our way, with toil, into the scarcely less gloomy apartments of the upper portion of the house.
And now, some days of bitter grief having elapsed, an observable change came over the features of the mental disorder of my friend.  His ordinary manner had vanished.  His ordinary occupations were neglected or forgotten.  He roamed from chamber to chamber with hurried, unequal, and objectless step.  The pallor of his countenance had assumed, if possible, a more ghastly hue–but the luminousness of his eye had utterly gone out.  The once occasional huskiness of his tone was heard no more; and a tremulous quaver, as if of extreme terror, habitually characterized his utterance.  There were times, indeed, when I thought his unceasingly agitated mind was labouring with some oppressive secret, to divulge which he struggled for the necessary courage.  At times, again, I was obliged to resolve all into the mere inexplicable vagaries of madness, for I beheld him gazing upon vacancy for long hours, in an attitude of the profoundest attention, as if listening to some imaginary sound.  It was no wonder that his condition terrified–that it infected me.  I felt creeping upon me, by slow yet certain degrees, the wild influences of his own fantastic yet impressive superstitions.
It was, especially, upon retiring to bed late in the night of the seventh or eighth day after the placing of the lady Madeline within the donjon, that I experienced the full power of such feelings.  Sleep came not near my couch–while the hours waned and waned away.  I struggled to reason off the nervousness which had dominion over me.  I endeavoured to believe that much, if not all of what I felt, was due to the bewildering influence of the gloomy furniture of the room–of the dark and tattered draperies, which, tortured into motion by the breath of a rising tempest, swayed fitfully to and fro upon the walls, and rustled uneasily about the decorations of the bed.  But my efforts were fruitless.  An irrepressible tremor gradually pervaded my frame; and, at length, there sat upon my very heart an incubus of utterly causeless alarm.  Shaking this off with a gasp and a struggle, I uplifted myself upon the pillows, and, peering earnestly within the intense darkness of the chamber, hearkened– I know not why, except that an instinctive spirit prompted me–to certain low and indefinite sounds which came, through the pauses of the storm, at long intervals, I knew not whence.  Overpowered by an intense sentiment of horror, unaccountable yet unendurable, I threw on my clothes with haste (for I felt that I should sleep no more during the night,) and endeavoured to arouse myself from the pitiable condition into which I had fallen, by pacing rapidly to and fro through the apartment.
I had taken but few turns in this manner, when a light step on an adjoining staircase arrested my attention.  I presently recognized it as that of Usher.  In an instant afterwards he rapped, with a gentle touch, at my door, and entered, bearing a lamp.  His countenance was, as usual, cadaverously wan–but, moreover, there was a species of mad hilarity in his eyes–an evidently restrained hysteria in his whole demeanour.  His air appalled me–but anything was preferable to the solitude which I had so long endured, and I even welcomed his presence as a relief.
“And you have not seen it?” he said abruptly, after having stared about him for some moments in silence–“you have not then seen it?–but, stay! you shall.”  Thus speaking, and having carefully shaded his lamp, he hurried to one of the casements, and threw it freely open to the storm.
The impetuous fury of the entering gust nearly lifted us from our feet.  It was, indeed, a tempestuous yet sternly beautiful night, and one wildly singular in its terror and its beauty.  A whirlwind had apparently collected its force in our vicinity; for there were frequent and violent alterations in the direction of the wind; and the exceeding density of the clouds (which hung so low as to press upon the turrets of the house) did not prevent our perceiving the lifelike velocity with which they flew careering from all points against each other, without passing away into the distance.  I say that even their exceeding density did not prevent our perceiving this–yet we had no glimpse of the moon or stars–nor was there any flashing forth of the lightning.  But the under surfaces of the huge masses of agitated vapor, as well as all terrestrial objects immediately around us, were glowing in the unnatural light of a faintly luminous and distinctly visible gaseous exhalation which hung about and enshrouded the mansion.
“You must not–you shall not behold this!” said I, shudderingly, to Usher, as I led him, with a gentle violence, from the window to a seat.  “These appearances, which bewilder you, are merely electrical phenomena not uncommon–or it may be that they have their ghastly origin in the rank miasma of the tarn.  Let us close this casement;–the air is chilling and dangerous to your frame.  Here is one of your favourite romances.
I will read, and you shall listen;–and so we will pass away this terrible night together.”
The antique volume which I had taken up was the “Mad Trist” of Sir Launcelot Canning; but I had called it a favourite of Usher’s more in sad jest than in earnest; for, in truth, there is little in its uncouth and unimaginative prolixity which could have had interest for the lofty and spiritual ideality of my friend.  It was, however, the only book immediately at hand; and I indulged a vague hope that the excitement which now agitated the hypochondriac, might find relief (for the history of mental disorder is full of similar anomalies) even in the extremeness of the folly which I should read.  Could I have judged, indeed, by the wild overstrained air of  vivacity with which he hearkened, or apparently hearkened, to the words of the tale, I might well have congratulated myself upon the success of my design.
I had arrived at that well-known portion of the story where Ethelred, the hero of the Trist, having sought in vain for peaceable admission into the dwelling of the hermit, proceeds to make good an entrance by force.  Here, it will be remembered, the words of the narrative run thus:
“And Ethelred, who was by nature of a doughty heart, and who was now mighty withal, on account of the powerfulness of the wine which he had drunken, waited no longer to hold parley with the hermit, who, in sooth, was of an obstinate and maliceful turn, but, feeling the rain upon his shoulders, and fearing the rising of the tempest, uplifted his mace outright, and, with blows, made quickly room in the plankings of the door for his gauntleted hand; and now pulling therewith sturdily, he so cracked, and ripped, and tore all asunder, that the noise of the dry and hollow-sounding wood alarmed and reverberated throughout the forest.”
At the termination of this sentence I started, and for a moment, paused; for it appeared to me (although I at once concluded that my excited fancy had deceived me)–it appeared to me that, from some very remote portion of the mansion, there
came, indistinctly, to my ears, what might have been, in its exact similarity of character, the echo (but a stifled and dull one certainly) of the very cracking and ripping sound which Sir Launcelot had so particularly described.  It was, beyond doubt, the coincidence alone which had arrested my attention; for, amid the rattling of the sashes of the casements, and the ordinary commingled noises of the still increasing storm, the sound, in itself, had nothing, surely, which should have interested or disturbed me.  I continued the story:
[40] “But the good champion Ethelred, now entering within the door, was sore enraged and amazed to perceive no signal of the maliceful hermit; but, in the stead thereof, a dragon of a scaly and prodigious demeanour, and of a fiery tongue, which sate in guard before a palace of gold, with a floor of silver; and upon the wall there hung a shield of shining brass with this legend enwritten–

Who entereth herein, a conqueror hath bin;
Who slayeth the dragon, the shield he shall win;

And Ethelred uplifted his mace, and struck upon the head of the dragon, which fell before him, and gave up his pesty breath, with a shriek so horrid and harsh, and withal so piercing that Ethelred had fain to close his ears with his hands against the dreadful noise of it, the like whereof was never before heard.”
Here again I paused abruptly, and now with a feeling of wild amazement–for there could be no doubt whatever that, in this instance, I did actually hear (although from what direction it proceeded I found it impossible to say) a low and apparently distant, but harsh, protracted, and most unusual screaming or grating sound– the exact counterpart of what my fancy had already conjured up for the dragon’s unnatural shriek as described by the romancer.
Oppressed, as I certainly was, upon the occurrence of the second and most extraordinary coincidence, by a thousand conflicting sensations, in which wonder and extreme terror were predominant, I still retained sufficient presence of mind to avoid exciting, by any observation, the sensitive nervousness of my companion. I was by no means certain that he had noticed the sounds in question; although, assuredly, a strange alteration had, during the last few minutes, taken place in his demeanour. From a position fronting my own, he had gradually brought round his chair, so as to sit with his face to the door of the chamber; and thus I could but partially perceive his features, although I saw that his lips trembled as if he were murmuring inaudibly. His head had dropped upon his breast yet I knew that he was not asleep, from the wide and rigid opening of the eye as I caught a glance of it in profile. The motion of his body, too, was at variance with this idea–for he rocked from side to side with a gentle yet constant and uniform sway. Having rapidly taken notice of all this, I resumed the narrative of Sir Launcelot, which thus proceeded:
“And now, the champion, having escaped from the terrible fury of the dragon, bethinking himself of the brazen shield, and of the breaking up of the enchantment which was upon it, removed the carcass from out of the way before him, and approached valorously over the silver pavement of the castle to where the shield was upon the wall; which in sooth tarried not for his full coming, but fell down at his feet upon the silver floor, with a mighty great and terrible ringing sound.”
No sooner had these syllables passed my lips, than–as if a shield of brass had indeed, at the moment fallen heavily upon a floor of silver–I became aware of a distinct, hollow, metallic, and clangorous, yet apparently muffled reverberation. Completely unnerved, I leaped to my feet; but the measured rocking movement of Usher was undisturbed. I rushed to the chair in which he sat. His eyes were bent fixedly before him, and throughout his whole countenance there reigned a stony rigidity. But, as I placed my hand upon his shoulder, there came a strong shudder over his whole person; a sickly smile quivered about his lips; and I saw that he spoke in a low, hurried, and gibbering murmur, as if unconscious of my presence. Bending closely over him, I at length drank in the hideous import of his words.
“Not hear it?–yes, I hear it, and have heard it. Long–long–long–many minutes, many hours, many days, have I heard it–yet I dared not–oh, pity me, miserable wretch that I am!–I dared not– I dared not speak! We have put her living in the tomb! Said I not that my senses were acute? I now tell you that I heard her first feeble movements in the hollow coffin. I heard them–many, many days ago–yet I dared not–I dared not speak! And now–to-night–Ethelred–ha! ha!–the breaking of the hermit’s door, and the death-cry of the dragon, and the clangour of the shield!–say, rather, the rending of her coffin, and the grating of the iron hinges of her prison, and her struggles within the coppered archway of the vault! Oh whither shall I fly? Will she not be here anon? Is she not hurrying to upbraid me for my haste? Have I not heard her footstep on the stair? Do I not distinguish that heavy and horrible beating of her heart? MADMAN!” here he sprang furiously to his feet, and shrieked out his syllables, as if in the effort he were giving up his soul– MADMAN ! I TELL YOU THAT SHE NOW STANDS WITHOUT THE DOOR !”
As if in the superhuman energy of his utterance there had been found the potency of a spell–the huge antique panels to which the speaker pointed, threw slowly back, upon the instant, their ponderous and ebony jaws. It was the work of the rushing gust–but then without those doors there DID stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the lady Madeline of Usher. There was blood upon her white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame. For a moment she remained trembling and reeling to and fro upon the threshold, then, with a low moaning cry, fell heavily inward upon the person of her brother, and in her violent and now final death-agonies, bore him to the floor a corpse, and a victim to the terrors he had anticipated.
From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled aghast. The storm was still abroad in all its wrath as I found myself crossing the old causeway. Suddenly there shot along the path a wild light, and I turned to see whence a gleam so unusual could have issued; for the vast house and its shadows were alone behind me. The radiance was that of the full, setting, and blood-red moon which now shone vividly through that once barely-discernible fissure of which I have before spoken as extending from the roof of the building, in a zigzag direction, to the base. While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened–there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind–the entire orb of the satellite burst at once upon my sight–my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder–there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters–and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the “HOUSE OF USHER.”
 
Read more about the movie: http://horrorpedia.com/2014/02/20/the-fall-of-the-house-of-usher/

Categories
Book Reviews

Dean Koont'z Relentless

When an author is plagued by his worst critic, he tries his best to escape his deadly review. Get in another thrilling story from the master of chases, Dean Koontz.
relentless
The stunning new thriller from one of the world’s bestselling authors. Hostile reviews may have hastened the deaths of some writers, but Cubby Greenwich is made of sterner stuff. At least this is what he tells himself, meanwhile obsessing about the scathing review of his latest bestseller by Shearman Waxx in a national newspaper.

Dean Koontz
Dean Koontz

A feared and therefore revered critic, Waxx has an aura of mystery about him that has carried him far as an arbiter of taste, but the mystery itself is about to break cover. In an unexpected encounter with Waxx, Cubby says one innocent word, but it is the wrong word, and it seems to trigger an inhuman fury in the critic, who becomes bent on destroying Cubby and everything he loves. For it soon becomes apparent that Waxx is not merely a ferocious literary enemy, but a ruthless sociopath. When Cubby finally learns the truth, can he save himself and his family from the appalling danger they are in? The terror has only just begun!

Jules’ Review

5 stars
I always loved books with a good pace and a good lovely vibe. And a psychotic serial killer who wants to reform the world. But not the Dexter Morgan type..
I got this book on a special offer and I loved it from the beginning. The characters are well built, rounded, and I could see much of Dean Koontz himself in the akward author in love with his wife, loving his funny dog with a strange power.
From my knowledge, Dean Koontz does not have a kid, but if he did, he would be the same as Milo, a small “Einstein” with the brain and “PERSEVERENCE” to attain anything.
The story starts with a bad review of Cubby’s latest book done by Waxx who, according to the Wikipedia that Milo read, was an “enema” (meant enigma). Now, this dude, he’s not very fond of authors that do not fit his model of a new world (spoiler alert: his mother’s model of a new world). And he goes off to kill them in horrific ways, some of them explained throughout the book (although I do appreciate Dean Koontz holding back the gore when it came to the murder description of the two girls). I do NOT want to know how kiddies are murdered.
With a single word and a lot of premeditated work, he brings Doom to Cubby’s life, putting all of them into mortal danger.
The flee to live theme is visible again as in many of Dean Koontz’s books and also the witty and ever so wonderful dialog between the cuple.
I so wish my conversations with my lover were as witty as this.

This is a thing I’ve learned: Even with a gun to my head, I am capable of being convulsed with laughter. I am not sure what this extreme capacity for mirth says about me. You’ll have to decide for yourself.

Favourite parts The strong women present in these books. First Vivien, then Penny’s mother and then Penny herself. All know how to use a gun and think vegetarianism is for pussies.
I also loved the funny teleporting dog and Milo’s power of thought.
And the explanations of the names used. Wilfred was one of my favourites.
Least favourite parts: I’m not a critic by far, but I thought the ending was too short. I wanted more. Maybe this is a good thing. And mentioning that atrocity was created in an artificial way, made me think of Dean Koontz’ Frankenstein series. Maybe they all melt together somehow.
Relentless is not at all what you would call a realistic thriller, what with an organisation dedicated to destroying people who don’t write the sort of books they approve of, and a couple of unexplained science-fiction elements that don’t quite seem to fit in (teleporting dogs, anyone?) But it was great fun to read, genre boundary-breaking, a mixture of intelligence and incredulity. I shall certainly be reading Koontz again.
Get it from Amazon

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Book Reviews

The Tudor Series – The Constant Princess (Philippa Gregory)

The Constant Princess is a historical novel by Philippa Gregory, published in 2005. The novel depicts a fictionalized version of the life of Catherine of Aragon.
the-constant-princess
“I am Catalina, Princess of Spain, daughter of the two greatest monarchs the world has ever known…and I will be Queen of England.”Thus, bestselling author Philippa Gregory introduces one of her most unforgettable heroines: Katherine of Aragon. Known to history as the Queen who was pushed off her throne by Anne Boleyn, here is a Katherine the world has forgotten: the enchanting princess that all England loved. First married to Henry VIII’s older brother, Arthur, Katherine’s passion turns their arranged marriage into a love match; but when Arthur dies, the merciless English court and her ambitious parents — the crusading King and Queen of Spain — have to find a new role for the widow. Ultimately, it is Katherine herself who takes control of her own life by telling the most audacious lie in English history, leading her to the very pinnacle of power in England.
Set in the rich beauty of Moorish Spain and the glamour of the Tudor court, The Constant Princess presents a woman whose constancy helps her endure betrayal, poverty, and despair, until the inevitable moment when she steps into the role she has prepared for all her life: Henry VIII’s Queen, Regent, and commander of the English army in their greatest victory against Scotland.

Jules’ Review – Compelling Drama about the Waiting Game

Book cover
Rating: 4/5
ISBN: 9780007190317
ISBN-10: 000719031X
Audience: General 
Format: Paperback 
Language: English 
Number Of Pages: 528
Published: May 2006
Dimensions (cm): 19.6 x 13.3  x 3.2 
Weight (kg): 0.36 
I loved this book. I honestly could not put it down after I started reading it.
It’s the story of the young princess Infanta Catalina of Spain born to parents who are both rulers and warriors.

Aged four, she is betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, and is raised to be Queen of England. She is never in doubt that it is her destiny to rule that far-off, wet, cold land. Her faith is tested when her prospective father-in-law greets her arrival in her new country with a great insult; Arthur seems little better than a boy; the food is strange and the customs coarse.
Being the child of her warrior mother, she is decided to fulfill her mission to create a strong alliance between England and Spain.
She is married to the throne heir, prince Arthur, son of Henry VII and learns to love her husband in the only 4 months they are together.
When the studious young man dies  in Wales, taken down by fever, she is left to make her own future: how can she now be queen, and found a dynasty? Only by marrying Arthur’s young brother, the sunny but spoilt Henry. His father and grandmother are against it; her powerful parents prove little use.

Yet Katherine is her mother’s daughter and her fighting spirit is strong. She will do anything to achieve her aim; even if it means telling the greatest lie, and holding to it. Bound by a promise made to the dying husband, she tells the world that the marriage has not been consumated since the price was impotent and that she was still a virgin.
Henry VII is feeling that the young princess would make a good bride for him and proposes to her just to be refused due to the age difference.
Waiting is now the game to see who will fold back first and the power struggle begins again as Spain wishes her either returned in the country where she could be married to a duke or married to the next prince in line, Henry (VIII).
She is bethroted to Henry VIII who is 6 years younger and is not allowed to see him. She waits for 7 years until the old king dies and the new king comes to collect his bride.
She keeps on strong with her claim of virginity but the seed of doubt is planted and the new king starts fancying new skirts around the castle when the new queen is pregnant.
She has a mis-carriage and eventually finds out about the Boleyn girls who are looking for her spot next to the king not as mistresses but as queens. Her strong will brings her husband back and also secures her position on the throne for the next 20 years when she is called to judgment on her original lie.
Very good book indeed. The young queen is a strong person, never faltering, never giving up, even when all odds are against them.
Philippa Gregory proves yet again that behind the apparently familiar face of history lies an astonishing story: of women warriors influencing the future of Europe, of revered heroes making deep mistakes, and of an untold love story which changes the fate of a nation.
Favourite scene: the description of Alhambra (I hope I spelt it right), the cunningness when battling the scots.
Least favourite scene: The waiting after the stilbirth (if it was me, I would have gone to the pallace to beat some sense in the cheating SOB)
Wiki Page for The Constant Princess

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Book Reviews

The Creature (John Saul)

This was an absolute thriller and John Saul in the master at suspense! He strings you along till you almost have it figured out, but then the plot thickens and you continue to wonder just what will happen next. The overall plot of the book is the best; it will scare you, amaze you, make you wonder, sadden you, and terrify you as the plot suddenly unfolds in the most interesting ending that will keep you begging for more!!!
creature-hologram-card-small
Bantam, 1989
To the Tanner family, Silverdale beckons as a marvelous opportunity. For here, in this serene picture-postcard-pretty town nestled high in the majestic Rockies, a job promotion awaits Blake; new friends and activities beckon Sharon. And in the windswept mountain air, their shy, nature-loving son, Mark, will have the ideal opportunity to overcome the physical frailty an illness has caused.
Silverdale. It is the perfect town. Even Silverdale High School seems perfect–a model school where well-behaved students make their parents and teachers proud. And the football team never—ever—loses.
But soon, too soon, Sharon Tanner will come to doubt the sanctuary of her family’s perfect new surroundings. Too soon she will begin to suspect the things she cannot yet know:
The secret rituals masked as science to which Silverdale’s innocent children are unwittingly subjected…
The hidden places in deep cellars where steel gleams coldly against the dark—the steel of cages built to contain an unimaginable evil…
The sudden violence that turns a loving child murderous…
Soon—perhaps too late—Sharon Tanner will realize that beneath Silverdale’s perfect facade a terrible presence watches…and waits. Through sleepless, fear-racked nights she will listen to an eerie cry of unfathomable rage and pain. A wail so horrifyingly unearthly it could belong to no living thing, animal or human, she has ever known.
And then, with crushing suddenness, Sharon will know—know that within Silverdale, perhaps within her own home, a monstrous evil is harbored, and evil so unspeakable it has no name except…Creature.

From Publishers Weekly

The latest horror novel from consistently bestselling Saul ( Suffer the Children ; Hellfire ) is set in Silverdale, Colo., a company-town variation on Spielberg surburbia. There, conglomerate TarrenTech provides the high school teams with every advantage, including a high-tech sports clinic. Dr. Martin Ames beefs up the brawny, aggressive teenagers, and it’s to him that newcomer Sharon Tanner goes for answers when her gentle son Mark turns into a belligerent jock overnight. This slick, high-concept thriller, which might have been titled Stepford High , won’t surprise anyone, but it should please the author’s fans as it continues Saul’s focus on children as the vehicles and victims of unnatural forces. 100,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild selection.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

YA– An excellent example of the horror genre, although not as extreme as Stephen King. When Craig Tanner is offered a promotion by TarrenTech and the family moves to Silverdale, Colorado, everything seems perfect. It is a company town with quaint houses, little commercialization, and a community that supports its sports teams. Mark Tanner develops dramatically as an athlete after several sessions at the Rocky Mountain High sports center where the football players are given workouts. This is only the beginning of a training program that has some terrifying results. Creature will be widely read by athletes and sports fans.
– Anne Paget, Episcopal High School, Bellaire, Tex.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A powerful high-tech company. A postcard-pretty company town. Families. Children. Sunshine. Happiness. A high school football team that never-ever loses. And something else. Something horrible … Now, there is a new family in town. A shy, nature-loving teenager. A new hometown. A new set of bullies. Maybe the team’s sports clinic can help him. Rebuild him. They won’t hurt him again. They won’t dare
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Book Reviews

The Illiad – Homer

One of the first epic masterpieces, written in the same period as the Trojan war, the Illiad depicts the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achiles.
illiadThe poet invokes a muse to aid him in telling the story of the rage of Achilles, the greatest Greek hero to fight in the Trojan War. The narrative begins nine years after the start of the war, as the Achaeans sack a Trojan-allied town and capture two beautiful maidens, Chryseis and Briseis. Agamemnon, commander-in-chief of the Achaean army, takes Chryseis as his prize. Achilles, one of the Achaeans’ most valuable warriors, claims Briseis. Chryseis’s father, a man named Chryses who serves as a priest of the god Apollo, begs Agamemnon to return his daughter and offers to pay an enormous ransom. When Agamemnon refuses, Chryses prays to Apollo for help.
Apollo sends a plague upon the Greek camp, causing the death of many soldiers. After ten days of suffering, Achilles calls an assembly of the Achaean army and asks for a soothsayer to reveal the cause of the plague. Calchas, a powerful seer, stands up and offers his services. Though he fears retribution from Agamemnon, Calchas reveals the plague as a vengeful and strategic move by Chryses and Apollo. Agamemnon flies into a rage and says that he will return Chryseis only if Achilles gives him Briseis as compensation.

Book 2

Hecamede and Nestor
Hecamede and Nestor

To help the Trojans, as promised, Zeus sends a false dream to Agamemnon in which a figure in the form of Nestor persuades Agamemnon that he can take Troy if he launches a full-scale assault on the city’s walls. The next day, Agamemnon gathers his troops for attack, but, to test their courage, he lies and tells them that he has decided to give up the war and return to Greece. To his dismay, they eagerly run to their ships.
When Hera sees the Achaeans fleeing, she alerts Athena, who inspires Odysseus, the most eloquent of the Achaeans, to call the men back. He shouts words of encouragement and insult to goad their pride and restore their confidence. He reminds them of the prophecy that the soothsayer Calchas gave when the Achaeans were first mustering their soldiers back in Greece: a water snake had slithered to shore and devoured a nest of nine sparrows, and Calchas interpreted the sign to mean that nine years would pass before the Achaeans would finally take Troy. As Odysseus reminds them, they vowed at that time that they would not abandon their struggle until the city fell.
Nestor now encourages Agamemnon to arrange his troops by city and clan so that they can fight side by side with their friends and kin. The poet takes this opportunity to enter into a catalog of the army. After invoking the muses to aid his memory, he details the cities that have contributed troops to the Greek cause, the number of troops that each has contributed, and who leads each contingent. At the end of the list, the poet singles out the bravest of the Achaeans, Achilles and Ajax among them. When Zeus sends a messenger to the Trojan court, telling them of the Greeks’ awesome formation, the Trojans muster their own troops under the command of Priam’s son Hector. The poet then catalogs the Trojan forces.

Analysis

By the end of Book 2, Homer has introduced all of The Iliad’s major characters on the Greek side—his catalog of the Trojan troops at the end of Book 2 leads naturally into an introduction of the Trojan leadership in Book 3. The poem has already established the characters of Agamemnon, proud and headstrong, and Achilles, mighty but temperamental, whose quarrel dominates the epic. Now the poet provides description of two supporting actors, Odysseus and Nestor. Though both of these figures appear in Book 1, the army’s flight to its ships in Book 2 motivates their first important speeches and thus establishes a crucial component of their role in the epic: they are the wise, foresighted advisors whose shrewdness and clarity of mind will keep the Achaeans on their course. Furthermore, in successfully restoring the troops’ morale, Odysseus and Nestor confirm their reputation as the Achaeans’ most talented rhetoricians.
In addition to prompting the speeches of Odysseus and Nestor, the Achaeans’ flight to the ships serves three other important purposes in the narrative. First, it shows just how dire the Greek situation has become: even the army’s foremost leader, Agamemnon, has failed to recognize the low morale of the troops; he is wholly blindsided by his men’s willingness to give up the war. The eagerness with which the troops flee back to the harbor not only testifies to the suffering that they must have already endured but also bodes ill for their future efforts, which will prove much harder given the soldiers’ homesickness and lack of motivation. But second, and on the other hand, by pointing out the intensity of the Greeks’ suffering, the episode emphasizes the glory of the Greeks’ eventual victory. Homer’s audience knew well that the war between the Greeks and Trojans ended in Troy’s defeat. This episode indicates just how close the Greek army came to abandoning the effort entirely and returning to Greece in disgrace. That the troops prove able to rise from the depths of despair to the heights of military triumph conveys the immensity of the Greek achievement.
Third, the flight to the ships indirectly results in the famous catalog of the Achaean forces. Nestor’s advice that the troops be arranged by city ensures that the soldiers will be motivated: by fighting side by side with their closest friends, they will have an emotional investment in the army’s success, and their leaders will more easily be able to identify them as either cowardly or courageous. While the catalog of forces may seem rather tedious to modern readers—though it does build tension by setting up an all-out conflict—it would have greatly inspired Homeric audiences. Even the effort seemingly necessary to recount the catalog is epic and grandiose. The poet seems to invoke all nine Muses as he proclaims, “The mass of troops I could never tally . . . / not even if I had ten tongues and ten mouths” (2.577–578). The sack of Troy was a Panhellenic effort, and even the smallest cities played a part. Each Greek who heard the tale could take pride in hearing the name of his city and its ancient, mythic leaders mentioned as participants in this heroic achievement. By calling these men to mind, Homer doesn’t bore his audience but rather stirs them, evoking their honorable heritage.
Agamemnon’s demand humiliates and infuriates the proud Achilles. The men argue, and Achilles threatens to withdraw from battle and take his people, the Myrmidons, back home to Phthia. Agamemnon threatens to go to Achilles’ tent in the army’s camp and take Briseis himself. Achilles stands poised to draw his sword and kill the Achaean commander when the goddess Athena, sent by Hera, the queen of the gods, appears to him and checks his anger. Athena’s guidance, along with a speech by the wise advisor Nestor, finally succeeds in preventing the duel.
That night, Agamemnon puts Chryseis on a ship back to her father and sends heralds to have Briseis escorted from Achilles’ tent. Achilles prays to his mother, the sea-nymph Thetis, to ask Zeus, king of the gods, to punish the Achaeans. He relates to her the tale of his quarrel with Agamemnon, and she promises to take the matter up with Zeus—who owes her a favor—as soon as he returns from a thirteen-day period of feasting with the Aethiopians. Meanwhile, the Achaean commander Odysseus is navigating the ship that Chryseis has boarded. When he lands, he returns the maiden and makes sacrifices to Apollo. Chryses, overjoyed to see his daughter, prays to the god to lift the plague from the Achaean camp. Apollo acknowledges his prayer, and Odysseus returns to his comrades.
But the end of the plague on the Achaeans only marks the beginning of worse suffering. Ever since his quarrel with Agamemnon, Achilles has refused to participate in battle, and, after twelve days, Thetis makes her appeal to Zeus, as promised. Zeus is reluctant to help the Trojans, for his wife, Hera, favors the Greeks, but he finally agrees. Hera becomes livid when she discovers that Zeus is helping the Trojans, but her son Hephaestus persuades her not to plunge the gods into conflict over the mortals.

Analysis

Like other ancient epic poems, The Iliad presents its subject clearly from the outset. Indeed, the poem names its focus in its opening word: menin, or “rage.” Specifically, The Iliad concerns itself with the rage of Achilles—how it begins, how it cripples the Achaean army, and how it finally becomes redirected toward the Trojans. Although the Trojan War as a whole figures prominently in the work, this larger conflict ultimately provides the text with background rather than subject matter. By the time Achilles and Agamemnon enter their quarrel, the Trojan War has been going on for nearly ten years. Achilles’ absence from battle, on the other hand, lasts only a matter of days, and the epic ends soon after his return. The poem describes neither the origins nor the end of the war that frames Achilles’ wrath. Instead, it scrutinizes the origins and the end of this wrath, thus narrowing the scope of the poem from a larger conflict between warring peoples to a smaller one between warring individuals.
But while the poem focuses most centrally on the rage of a mortal, it also concerns itself greatly with the motivations and actions of the gods. Even before Homer describes the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon, he explains that Apollo was responsible for the conflict. In general, the gods in the poem participate in mortal affairs in two ways. First, they act as external forces upon the course of events, as when Apollo sends the plague upon the Achaean army. Second, they represent internal forces acting on individuals, as when Athena, the goddess of wisdom, prevents Achilles from abandoning all reason and persuades him to cut Agamemnon with words and insults rather than his sword. But while the gods serve a serious function in partially determining grave matters of peace and violence, life and death, they also serve one final function—that of comic relief. Their intrigues, double-dealings, and inane squabbles often appear humorously petty in comparison with the wholesale slaughter that pervades the mortal realm. The bickering between Zeus and Hera, for example, provides a much lighter parallel to the heated exchange between Agamemnon and Achilles.
Indeed, in their submission to base appetites and shallow grudges, the gods of The Iliad often seem more prone to human folly than the human characters themselves. Zeus promises to help the Trojans not out of any profound moral consideration but rather because he owes Thetis a favor. Similarly, his hesitation in making this promise stems not from some worthy desire to let fate play itself out but from his fear of annoying his wife. When Hera does indeed become annoyed, Zeus is able to silence her only by threatening to strangle her. Such instances of partisanship, hurt feelings, and domestic strife, common among the gods of The Iliad, portray the gods and goddesses as less invincible and imperturbable than we might imagine them to be. We expect these sorts of excessive sensitivities and occasionally dysfunctional relationships of the human characters but not the divine ones.
The clash between Achilles and Agamemnon highlights one of the most dominant aspects of the ancient Greek value system: the vital importance of personal honor. Both Agamemnon and Achilles prioritize their respective individual glories over the well-being of the Achaean forces. Agamemnon believes that, as chief of the Achaean forces, he deserves the highest available prize—Briseis—and is thus willing to antagonize Achilles, the most crucial Achaean warrior, to secure what he believes is properly owed to him. Achilles would rather defend his claim to Briseis, his personal spoil of victory and thus what he believes is properly owed to him, than defuse the situation. Each man considers deferring to the other a humiliation rather than an act of honor or duty; each thus puts his own interest ahead of that of his people, jeopardizing the war effort.

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Book Reviews Stephen King

Four Past Midnight – Stephen King

A collection of stories that all have a twist
King has published a few of these collections. Different SeasonsHearts In AtlantisFull Dark No Stars, even the Bachman Books – each features pieces that, for many writers, would be published as individual books. Four Past Midnight is no exception: four stories that cover many different facets of King’s writing, but all intrinsically tied to this stage of King’s career.
4 Past Midnight is a collection of short stories by Stephen King.

The Langoliers

This is the story of the survivors of a mysterious phenomenon which had made 90% of an airplane (crew + passengers) disappear because they happened to be awake. The suvivors find themselves on a colourless alternate universe where everything is lifeless.
Not even the matches would light up. The apathy is caused by a set of creatures who feed on the life essence itself and find madness super sweet.
They decide to fly back through the same worm hole they came in but a few problem arise when the fuel won’t flow, then when it might not light, then the creatures are coming for them and at last, they can’t fall asleep again.
It’s a very good story and it got me thinking once I finished it … because it just happened that I was on an airplane.
It’s a great idea, with the execution both grounded and terrifying. Several of our natural fears are preyed upon – flying, being alone, creatures with scary teeth – but there’s a great second level of terror being worked into the story: the fear of losing (or wasting) time. (The concepts of wasting time and losing control are almost the primary antagonists in this story.)

The secret window

Yes, this 60 page novel has been turned into a 2h boring movie with Johnny Depp.
The difference between the book and the novel is the fact that the endings are completely different! In the movie, Johnny, after going mad (and having a split personality caused by the writer’s block), kills his wife and buries her under some corn in his back yard. In the book, the wife is saved by the sheriff who come to see him as he was acting odd.
Mort had created “Shooter” out of guilt for stealing a story early in his career titled “Crowfoot Mile” and had recently been suspected of another act of plagiarism, although he was innocent the second time.
http_%2F%2Fcdn.bloody-disgusting.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2014%2F07%2Fsecret-window-3.jpgLater, Amy and Ted Milner—a man she had an affair with before divorcing Mort—discuss her ex-husband’s motives. She insists that Mort had become two people, one of them a character so vivid it became real. She then recalls something Tom witnessed; when he drove past Mort alone, he took a look in his rear view mirror…and saw Shooter with Mort, although transparent. Amy then reveals that while digging through Mort’s house, she found Shooter’s trademark hat. She took it out to the trash, and planted it right-side up on a trash bag. When she returned, she found a note from Shooter inside the overturned hat, revealing that he has traveled back to Mississippi with the story he came for, “Crowfoot Mile.” Amy remarks that Mort had created a character so vivid, he actually came to life.
It’s a good novel, too bad they made that horrid movie from it..

The Sun Dog

sundogA Castle Rock-set prelude of sorts to the grotesquely underrated Needful Things (coming up in a few weeks’ time,), it features a camera that, whenever it takes a photograph, shows an unsettling black dog (another of King’s recurring themes, especially relevant in his post-addiction times)
The dog comes closer and closer to the camera with each new picture, until it eventually breaks free of the camera itself.
Again, it’s material that King had played with before, and would do again – the possession (no pun intended) that gives the user more than they ever wanted, exposing them to a terror that they push themselves to explore through their own curiosity – but it’s done succinctly here, and with real control. The inevitability is what pushes the story along – we want to see the dog escape, as horrifying as we know that will be.
In the epilogue, Kevin gets a computer for his following birthday. In order to test its word processor function, he types “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Rather than a printout of this text, the page reads, “The dog is loose again. It is not sleeping. It is not lazy. It’s coming for you, Kevin. It’s very hungry. And it’s very angry.”
 

The Library Policeman

Four Past Midnight - 03 The Library Policeman title page [illustration by Lars Hokanson]Set in Junction City, Iowa, The Library Policeman is the story of Sam Peebles, a middle-aged businessman who happens to have some overdue books. It seems a minor offense—but not to Junction City’s malevolent monster of a librarian. What follows is spine-tingling suspense as only Stephen King can deliver it.
Having noticed disturbing posters in the children’s library, including one featuring a frightening “Library Policeman” character, he discusses their appropriateness with Ardelia. After being rebuffed by her, Sam checks out the books with the warning that they must be returned on time or else “I’ll have to send the Library Policeman after you.”

Non fuimus, non sumus, atque numquam obliti erimus.

The source of this cannot be found, but the translation appears to be: “We are not, we have never been, and we will never be forgotten.” Perhaps this a reference to the distortions of memory upon which this entire story is based.

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Book Reviews

An Evening at GODs – Short Play

A one minit play, 1990

ANGELUS2DARK STAGE. Then a spotlight hits a papier-mache globe, spinning all by itself in the middle of darkness.
Little by little, the stage lights COME UP, and we see a bare-stage representation of a living room: an easy chair with a table beside it (there’s an open bottle of beer on the table), and a console TV across the room. There’s a picnic cooler-full of beer under the table. Also, a great many empties. GOD is feeling pretty good. At stage left, there’s a door.
GOD – a big guy with a white beard – is sitting in the chair, alternately reading a book (When Bad Things Happen to Good People) and watching the tube. He has to crane whenever he wants to look at the set, because the floating globe (actually hung on a length of string, I imagine) is in his line of vision. There’s a sitcom on TV. Every now and then GOD chuckles along with the laugh-track.
There is a knock at the door.
GOD (big amplified voice)
Come in! Verily, it is open unto you!
The door opens. In comes ST. PETER, dressed in a snazzy white robe. He’s also carrying a briefcase.
GOD
Peter! I thought you were on vacation!
ST. PETER
Leaving in half an hour, but I thought I’d bring the papers for you to sign.
How are you, GOD?
GOD
Better. I should know better than to eat those chili peppers. They burn me at both ends. Are those the letters of
transmission from hell?
ST. PETER
Yes, finally. Thank GOD. Excuse the pun.
He removes some papers from his briefcase. GOD scans them, then holds out his hand impatiently, ST PETER
has been looking at the floating globe. He looks back, sees GOD is waiting, and puts a pen in his out-stretched
hand. GOD scribbles his signature. As he does, ST. PETER goes back to gazing at the globe.
ST. PETER
So Earth’s still there, Huh? After All these years.
GOD hands the papers back and looks up at it. His gaze is rather irritated.
GOD
Yes, the housekeeper is the most forgetful bitch in the universe.
An EXPLOSION OF LAUGHTER from the TV. GOD cranes to see. Too late.
GOD
Damm, was that Alan Alda?
ST. PETER
It may have been, sir – I really couldn’t see.
GOD
Me, either.
He leans forward and crushes the floating globe to powder.
GOD (inmensely satisfied)
There. Been meaning to do that for a long time. Now I can see the TV..
ST. PETER looks sadly at the crushed remains of the earth.
ST. PETER
Umm… I believe that was alan Alda’s world, GOD.
GOD
So? (Chuckles at the TV) Robin Williams! I LOVE Robin Williams!
ST. PETER
I believe both Alda and Williams Were on it when you..umm…passed Judgement, sir.
GOD
Oh, I’ve got all the videotapes. No problem. Want a beer?
As ST. PETER takes one, the stage-lights begin to dim. A spotlight come up on the remains on the globe.
ST. PETER
I actually sort of liked that one, GOD – Earth, I mean.
GOD
It wasn’t bad, but there’s more where that came from. Now – let’s Drink to your vacation!
They are just shadows in the dimness now, although it’s a little easier to see GOD, because there’s a faint
nimbus of light around his head. They clink bottles. A roar of laughter from the TV.
GOD
Look! It’s Richard Pryor! That guy kills me! I suppose he was…
ST. PETER
Ummm… yessir.
GOD
Shit. (Pause) Maybe I better cut Down on my drinking. (Pause) Still… It WAS in the way.
Fade to black, except for the spotlight on the ruins of the floating globe.
ST. PETER
Yessir.
GOD (muttering)
My son got back, didn’t he?
ST. PETER
Yessir, some time ago.
GOD
Good. Everything’s hunky-dory, then.
THE SPOTLIGHT GOES OUT.
(Author’s note: GOD’S VOICE should be as loud as possible.)

Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947, the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father’s family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. After Stephen’s grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.

Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and then Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.

He and Tabitha Spruce married in January of 1971. He met Tabitha in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University of Maine at Orono, where they both worked as students. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men’s magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale (“The Glass Floor”) to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men’s magazines. Many of these were later gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

He wrote under the pseudonim Richard Bachman and he is wildly known for his complex stories, gripping endings and a hint of supernatural (more in the Dark Tower series). Every book started becoming a best seller and we will name just a few of his over 70 sets of novels and fiction stories: Salem’s Lot, Needful things, Dreamcatcher and the Talisman. Most of his books have been transformed into movies due to his $1 rule. He sold his author rights for a movie to young students for only $1, making lesser known audio-visual students popular after their release. Pet Semetary and Riding the bullet were such movies.
For more info, visit Wikipedia: Stephen King Wiki Page.

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Book Reviews

Why Do We Have to Live with Men? Bernadette Strachan

8 Women decided to give up men for various reasons and to isolate themselves in a commune in next to Lyme Regis in England for six whole months. Their lives turn up-side-down as they discover the sense of belonging and friendship that can either bring people together or drive them apart for good.
151
Why do we have to live with men? As another evening with her best friends and a few bottles of wine comes to an end, Cat O’Connor is left pondering this very question. And, escaping from a ruined love affair, she is about to find the answer. When Cat joins a group of women in a huge, decaying farmhouse deep in the countryside, she prepares to embark on six months without men. Cat is promised a nirvana of serenity where the chores are done without mutinous mutterings, where nourishing food simmers on the Aga and where feelings are taken seriously. But Cat soon discovers that women are no saints either .

Jules’ review

I had this book for a while now and after a short attempt to read it a few months back, I put it on my nightstand with the determination to either read it to the end or abandon it and wrap it nicely as a present for the upcoming birthdays.
It’s a definite keep!
I caught myself laughing really hard and I’m a hard person to please! The female characters are convincing, though quirky, and they each had their share of “scum” men. Stealing from their purses, cheating with dumb bimbos, or hiding a pregnant wife at home… Well, with the last one, I could definitely identify myself.
Having been the “other woman” once in my life, I could definitely see why Cat would fall for a man of life, older, wiser, with a cracking charisma. Well, she had daddy issues, I did not.
And I had to cringe at the scene where the wife visits her lover at work and then demands that she is laid off. The pregnant wife. She wouldn’t be pregnant if her dedicated lover would not have been banging her still. Pardon my French.
At least, in my case, he was quick about it and parted ways with the wifey, but this…. this had to be hard to endure. Come on! A beautiful, sexy, slender and classy wife… and she was , well, Cat. Normal. Just some roll in the hay, never to be serious with.
I had to feel for all of them, even for the small alcoholic of the group. But I loved Dave the most.
Dave was a sow of delicate tail curliness and with a massive ass oiled with the finest Prada creams. 🙂
I loved the way the country side is described, Will the vet, the town “noise” about the women living together and I must say, this story has brought on an urge to go visit the southern part of England again.
And maybe find myself a better man down there.
Favorite parts: walking the pig
Least favorite parts: If Cat loved Will and Will loved Cat – why did she have to go back to London to earn a social studies degree which is worth jack in the country side? She could have gone to vet school too or medicine. And what happened after 10 years when her mom died and could not take care of her brother?
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Overall grade: 4.5/5