Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Werewolf Cop?

For a while now, Thomp D. James has tried to convince me to read Andrew Klavan’s works without success.  It’s simply more fun to listen to him perform in The Revolting Truth or On the Culture than to read his heavy, dark novels.  Werewolf Cop happens to be the first novel of his I’ve read to completion, perhaps because Mr. Klavan (along with some help from my friend) convinced me that this would be a fun and over the top buddy cop novel.  This subterfuge only lasts the first part of the novel, but one is hooked and can’t put the book down after that point.

Werewolf Cop

The pulp fiction elements smack one right in the face from the onset: the pairing of a white knight Texas lawman and a smart aleck NYPD detective, the first murder having been committed with long swords, the villains being former KGB and SS officers, werewolves, and the name of the villain, Dominic Abend.  (Those of you with a small dose of Latin and smaller dose of German will realize this name means “Lord Night”–Lat. dominus and Ger. Abend.)  However, the more the Texan hero, Zach Adams, researches a  witness’s statement about Abend looking for “Stumpf’s Baselard” and the more tragic the story waxes on his single betrayal of his marriage, the more serious the tale becomes.  It is not the style of a pulp fiction to look soberly upon evil and then to tie it into the modern world.

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Simply Floored

Taking a look at the result of Cristian Mihai reblogging this article on his premier novel stunned me.  Never has one of my articles gained so many likes (almost 200) or so many new followers.  I give my thanks to Cristian Mihai and all those who read this article and encourage me to write on this blog.

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For those of you new to this blog, you’ll find that our main interests concern writing about authors, especially old ones–though, my partner has written about Stephen King and Andrew Klavan.  I was very much surprised by the quality I saw in Mihai’s work, which makes him one of the few contemporary authors I have written about here.  But, people have told me to branch out: my partner in particular has recommended King, Klavan, and Neil Gaiman to me, and a commentator to whom I expressed the desire to start reading contemporary fantasy again has sent me a huge list which I might finish ere my demise.  My friend and I were publishing articles on the authors listed in our respective top ten lists: jamesdthomps and Medievalotaku.  The contentious nature of these articles can be very amusing, and the best articles in this blog are probably our running arguments.  I also intend to write reviews on some of the works I have recently completed.  Look forward to those.

Happy New Year to you all!

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Medieval Otaku’s #9: Rudyard Kipling

To tell you the truth, it has passed my mind to doubt my choice of Rudyard Kipling for the ninth position.  After all, my friend’s choice of Andrew Klavan reflects that Klavan has taken a salient interest in the great religious question of our day.  In that regard, he may be called a modern day C. S. Lewis.  I have not read any of Klavan’s works myself–and my recent attempt to find his novels in a two story Barnes and Nobles failed to discover any of his novels.

Rudyard_Kipling

Anyway, why give prominence to Rudyard Kipling–not taking into consideration B&N’s disinclination to stock Klavan’s works?  I place Kipling above Klavan on the basis of machismo: Kipling knows more of what it takes to be a man than Klavan.  It may be more important to be spiritual, but true spirituality relies upon the manly attributes of fortitude and responsibility.  The highest degrees of spirituality are the most masculine, as reflected by God the Father, principium Trinitatis, whose Masculinity renders all other masculinity femininity in comparison, as C. S. Lewis avers.  After all, when one asks the Trappists what their former career was, one is very likely to hear that they were in the Marines–a fitting response for the toughest of the monastics!

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And it is significant that today’s age sees a decline in masculinity.  There seems to be more difficulty than ever for a man to be a man–as shown by the increased presence of homosexuals and the difficulty young men have in finding their place in a world leery of masculine aggressiveness and effeminized by excessive mercantilism and the softness of modern life.

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For such an age, Rudyard Kipling assumes more importance or at least as much as a Klavan, especially since his greatest stories geared toward male adolescents.  They are brimful of courage, respect, and obedience, which is the foundation of all manly virtue, as General Robert E. Lee wrote.  Young men deserve to be religiously exposed to The Jungle Books, Captains Courageous, the Just So Stories, and especially short stories like Riki-tiki-tavi and The White Seal, which I believe are contained in The Jungle Books.  Perhaps the best thing about these tales of courage is that they contain a mythological vibe, which is especially thrilling to the youth and no doubt results from Kipling’s poetic sense.  (A skill yet absent from Klavan.)  At the same time, the ethos of Kipling’s tales are of a more modern and Christian sort, hence more applicable to present times.

The best introduction to Kipling would have to be The Jungle Books themselves.  If one wants to concentrate on a short work, I recommend Riki-tiki-tavi.  I cannot but imagine that young men are severely deprived who exit adolescence without having read Kipling.

#9 Andrew Klavan

Here is an author that has every chance to move up the list, since he is still alive, writing, and producing novels like ‘A Killer in the Wind’ and ‘Agnes Mallory’ as well as his past contributions to the true crime genre such as ‘The Scarred Man’ and his excellent thriller-type novels Dynamite Road, Shotgun Alley and Damnation Street . These novels fit very well into my criteria for good and great novels. The language flows, he doesn’t write down to the reader. The plots are powerful. I think good book plots should be like a feast of steak and garlic and olives, maybe some cumin: strong flavors and bright colors. Leave out the drab everydayness of most authors.

All the ingredients of a good novel (From Wiki Commons)

All the ingredients of a good novel (From Wiki Commons)

Now, Kipling, the other #9 in discussion and much praised by Medieval Otaku, is certainly an author of note. As you read that post, keep in mind that the author, praising Kipling so much, has not even touched a book by Klavan. Now I grant that the two story Barns and Noble is impressive, but the fact that they are missing Klavan is not.  There is a reason that big bookstore chains are going out of business… They only provide bad copies of old authors and massive numbers of copies of the standard pulp writers that they feel safe with. Klavan is a controversial author to most publishers and booksellers (and libraries) because he is unabashedly conservative and Christian (and almost entirely politically incorrect. Before I move on and briefly mention two books by Klavan that I thought were great, I do want to mention that of the two of us, Medieval Otaku and I, I am the only one who has read both Kipling and Klavan. Kipling is often a lot like oatmeal, healthy, strong and filling, but bland. Try to read any of his little known stories like ‘The Light that Failed’ and you will see why Kipling does not rank on my list. His only really common story that people know is The Jungle Book, and they know a mutilated Disney version… Klavan, on the other hand, generally serves powerfully flavored foods that are also healthy. Some of his books are certainly dessert, but none are gruel.

There are two novels that stand out in my mind, the first partly because it was the first book by Klavan I ever read (The Uncanny) and the second he mentioned as one of his favorites. Despite the fact that most authors are really crappy about picking their best works, Agnes Mallory definitely is one of his best. I won’t say the best, because I always hope for better. I want to move him up the list sometime.

The Uncanny: Other than being a wild and uncanny ride, it is difficult to write something engrossing and valuable at the same time, and yet, in this novel Klavan succeeds. (He does it in Agnes Mallory as well.) I will copy something I wrote for The Dusty Thanes about the Uncanny. One of the characters has a medieval document who’s author writes about damnation and salvation.

This character [the author from above] writes … very poignantly about damnation. In his writing, essentially his last words, he reveals his knowledge that he is damned, and also his knowledge that with repentance, Christ’s sacrifice and love would redeem him despite his horrible crimes (and believe me, they are vile) and he rejects salvation through pride and fear and loathing of God, and willfully chooses damnation. This scene shakes the reader, makes the reader tremble with the awfulness of damnation, and effortlessly shows the orthodox Christian understanding that humans damn themselves.

Agnes Mallory: The only story that dealt with madness anywhere nearly as well was Stephen Kings ‘N’. However, Agnes Mallory has a serious advantage. One of Andrew Klavan’s consistent themes is the importance of people’s past, and culture’s past, to their present and their futures.  King’s constant theme is the futility of human action, and the difference is clear.

The last point I would like to make for Klavan is that he is one of the few good Christian novelists currently working. Klavan is fighting the cultural fight that so desperately needs fought. A common mistake that Christians make is to excuse their lack of excellence in something by saying ‘well, its for God, so the heart is what matters.’ This is absolutely not the case with Klavan, perhaps because he was an author before he was a Christian: and that is a sad assessment of the state of Christian authorship.

In any case, I am greatly looking forward to ‘Nightmare City’ out soon…