Monday, 28 January 2008

Excerpt from "Danse Macabre"

Here's yet another excerpt. I'm not sure I quite agree with Stephen King's assesment of literary analysis, but it sure makes for an amusing read.

To enter the world of horror fiction is to venture, small as a hobbit, through certain mountain passes ... and into the equivalent of the Land of Mordor. This is the fuming, volcanic country of the Dark Lord, and if the critics who have seen it firsthand are few, the cartographers are fewer. This land is mostly white space on the map . . . which is how it should be; I'll leave more detailed map making to those graduate students and English teachers who feel that every goose which lays gold must be dissected so that all of its quite ordinary guts can be labelled; to those figurative engineers of the imagination who cannot feel comfortable with the comfortable overgrown (and possibly dangerous) literary wilderness until they have built a freeway composed of Cliff's Notes through it--and listen to me, you people: every teacher who ever did a Monarch or Cliff's Notes ought to be dragged out of his or her quad, drawn and quartered, then cut up into tiny pieces, said pieces to be dried and shrunk in the sun and then sold in the college bookstore as bookmarks. I'll leave the longer arrows to those pharmacists of creativity who cannot feel totally at ease until each tale, created to hold some reader spellbound as each of us was at one time held spellbound by the story of Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, or The Hook, has been neatly dehydrates and poured into a gel capsule to be swallowed. That is their job--the job of dissectors, engineers, and pharmacists--and I leave it to them, along with the fervent wish that Shelob may catch them and eat them as they enter the Dark Lord's land, or that the faces of the Marsh of the Dead will first hypnotize them and then drive them mad by quoting Cleanth Brooks to them eternally in mud-choked voices, or that the Dark Lord himself will take them up to his Tower forever or cast them into the Cracks of Doom, where crocodiles of living obsidian wait to crunch up their bodies and silence their quacking, droning voices forever.
And if they avoid all that, I hope they catch poison oak.

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