Saturday, August 9, 2014

"I look at you and I ask whether I can ever enter into an alien mind and think as it thinks."

I finished Reefs of Earth earlier in the week. It is delightful from first to last. Ostensibly, it's about a group of aliens, mostly children, and their murderous adventures through Earth's backwoods. It is that. It is best described as a ROMP and as such, the focus on children is wildly appropriate.

Reefs uses its alien misanthropes (that word isn't quite correct) as a lens through which Lafferty can present the alienness of humanity in all of its strangeness. We see our petty sins and sour seriousness contrasted with rambunctious life. Earth-sickness may not be the contagion of Original Sin but it is something that kills the high spirit. Earth's Gravity inevitably tends to kill Pucan Levity.

"I ask the same question," Henry said. "From my viewpoint, I'm the man, you're the alien. How weird are the ways of Earth! Or as it is written, 'Can anything good come from Earth?'"

Some quick thoughts:
- It's mentioned briefly that Willy McGilly and others are Pucas. I wonder if Pucas are mentioned elsewhere in Lafferty stories.
- I admit to loving the gleeful violence. "We got to start killing people," Charles said. "We can't keep leaving everybody to last."
- I'd love it if people started calling me Pandemonium John.
- "Pirates are perhaps the greatest invention of Earth people"
- One drinking reference merits a closer look but I can't find it now.
- Catherine de Medici

I should have written something sooner after finishing. I've been on vacation with my family and details of the novel are already slipping. I was reading for the joy of it and didn't dog-ear more than one page (the tobacco reference I posted) or mark or write down favorite quotes. I console myself with the thought of many future re-reads.

I've also read at least half a dozen new-to-me Lafferty stories in the past few weeks. I probably won't give them their proper posts anytime soon. I do want to mention, though, that I followed Kevin's advice and have read a few stories out loud to my children. The three I've read are "The Hole on the Corner," "Narrow Valley," and "Nine Hundred Grandmothers." It's been a fun experience watching their smiles and giggles. They groan because they are frustrated by the lack of tidy conclusions in these stories. But they are happy groans of longing, little signals that they've tasted something satisfying and wish to dwell in those moments longer instead of being shunted back to the ordinary of bedtime.

1 comment:

  1. Q: Do you know any children like those in Reefs Of Earth?

    Lafferty: Sure, I've probably known a dozen bunches of children like those in Reefs Of Earth. Some of them I lose track of later (I think they go back to where they came from), and some of them merge in with the mass of humans (they are a gang of black-hearted fakers when they do this), and none of them grow up as visibly Puca. There's a lot about the Puca phenomena that I don't understand.

    Q: Were you a Puca-ish child when you were younger? Did you attempt to conquer the world?

    Lafferty: Nah, I wasn't a Puca-ish child. I never plotted to kill my parents or wanted them dead. And I never plotted to conquer the world, except figuratively. Those mean kids are fun to watch but tricky to be.