Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"I forget a lot of the people, and mix the others up before you get around to them again," said Doll.

For all of his truth-stretching and reality-bending, Lafferty writes as one with authority. A reader may either submit or rebel. There is no question of any reader ever subjugating the text. It is too wild, too free, and always too wildly and freely in control of itself. It controls you.

Often immoderate in its reckless refusal to plot straight, drunk on its own stories within stories, The Devil is Dead is a heady book.

I, the poor reader, don't pretend to understand what just happened. Even if Lafferty does more or less tie everything up in the end and put a bow on it.

I don't understand. But I submit. 

Because there is the fragrance of something bright and true under the shambling doubling uncertainties. Finnegan is a character estranged from himself. And in his estrangement we might recognize a share of something in ourselves, a yearning for wholeness. And there are glimpses of potential wholenesses in the communion of characters that happens frequently in the second half of the book (and not so infrequently in the first.)

This is not a review. I rarely do reviews. This is an almost-immediate post-read ramble. A small raving attempt at grasping this book from one possible angle.

"a joyous death to you all!"


  1. I also had the thought that this book would make an excellent HBO Original TV (mini-)series. It would probably never be huge but it could gain a devoted cult following.

  2. And I caught a few whiffs of The Man Who Was Thursday (but I haven't read that in 10+ years) in the secret groups/agents pursuing one another and in the entire "nightmare" atmosphere.

  3. Excellent rumination. My daughter read it a few years ago pretty soon after reading Thursday and she found Devil quite Chestertonian. It's been over a decade since I've read either. I'm looking forward to re-reads.

    (I second the HBO version!)

  4. John, "there is the fragrance of something bright and true under the shambling doubling uncertainties." - you caught it beautifully there. That is why I return to this book and Fourth Mansions so frequently, and I suspect why so many of us do. There are glimpses of a greater reality through the cracks in the story.