Monday, October 20, 2014

Halloween Reading: Night in the Lonesome October by Richard Laymon

I read some Richard Laymon including The Cellar while he seemed to be a well-kept secret in the horror community, more popular in Great Britain than the U.S.

Sadly he passed away too soon, at age 54, in the early aughts with several books still in the publishing pipeline.

I picked up some of his titles as they appeared in U.S. paperback editions, but someone I missed Night in the Lonesome October until Googling information on A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny as I prepared for my re-read.

The Laymon title's great Halloween season reading. It's almost like Haruki Murikami wrote a horror story. It's not quite as surreal as The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, but it's got a bit of that kind of flavoring, though there's no spaghetti-eating.

Night is narrated by Ed Logan, a college kid who's just been jilted by his girlfriend Holly who met a guy named Jay over the summer break and decided not to come back to school.

Despondent, Ed takes long walks in the little community of Wilmington near his school's campus. On a long hike through various neighborhoods on his way to the all-night Dandi Donuts, he's captivated by a girl who seems to be sneaking back into her house following a late-night assignation.

Hoping to learn more about the girl, Ed soon gets distracted by Eileen, Holly's sorority sister who thinks Holly treated him shabbily.

Soon things are steamy with Eileen, though Ed's not willing to give up on the wandering girl. Continuing searches connect him with a degenerate named Randy who's spotted Eileen and would like to have Ed lure her into his clutches.

When Ed escapes from Randy, his world gets progressively weirder. Is there something about October in Wilmington?

What's up with the homeless figures under the bridge? And what's up with the girl who Ed soon learns slips into different houses each night.

With some genuinely chilling horror scenes and a heart-pounding finale, Night is a fabulous, moody excursion with well-realized characters and a creepy town for them to exist within.

Not to be a prude, but my one quibble is that even for its strangeness, there's a bit at the end that leaves dreamlike and edges into male fantasy territory. So be it.

Overall the tale's rich, atmospheric, chilling and exciting.


Charles Gramlich said...

I liked Laymon quite a bit. Loved The Cellar, though I haven't read much by him lately. I still have a couple of his unread.

Sidney said...

I remember liking one called Tread Softly, and I let the book get away from me. Wish I'd held onto it now.

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