I am almost two and a half months into reading Lafferty’s Argo tales. I am near the end of Argo itself, and then there are the related items, some shorter works centered around the main books.
I’m beat. My next several reads are going to be easy. I have the next three lined up: STORMBRINGER by Michael Moorcock, YOU WILL NEVER BE THE SAME by Cordwainer Smith, THE LAST UNICORN by Peter S. Beagle. John C. Wright’s THE VINDICATION OF MAN will have to wait until the late spring. I can’t follow up a Lafferty read of this length with his stuff, I need a break!
I always go into a first Lafferty read knowing that I will probably be rereading it – especially the novels. So I don’t try to pick up every nuance on the first outing. I don’t make it an aim to seek out all etymological word plays (and he has a lot of them) or to tie in all references to theme, etc, etc. I do some, but I like to get a view of the forest on my first pass.
For instance, the first time I read Past Master (2012? 13?) there is a scene where More is at Mass on Golden Astrobe. The scene is bizarre, there are commercial advertisements, I believe the wine is some sudsy popular drink, a sign says something like these crispy sweet wafers brought to by! Such scenes passed me by in the first round as being just plain hilarious and bizarre fun. I didn’t realize at the time that it was also commentary by Lafferty against, or caricature of, Vatican II, which he opposed.
Anyway, going for easy for the next several rounds.
Reading the ARGO series has got me interested in fantasy in a way that I haven’t been… ever? Let me make a confession – this may be hard for some of you to hear – Tolkien bores me. Now, it may not be Tolkien himself, but the endless repetition of his work over the last several decades whereby if I see a knight on a horse (or a magical kingdom that needs to be saved) I am hitting the snooze button.
The ARGO series can only be classified, if we must choose a classification, as fantasy, perhaps, it may turn out, classifiable as a ghost story. It is a wholly different fantasy than I have read before. And there was fantasy before Tolkien. Eddison’s excellent The Worm Ourboros to name but one. So I am open to trying some more fantasy in the months to come.