Sę, why exactly do I love this book above all other books? I have my reasons. Oh, god, I have my reasons. And, rather than present these reasons to you in a meaningful and well-ordered list, I believe I will hurl random selections from my big bunch o' reasons at you, much in the way a slinger of mud slings his or her respective mud... Well. First of all, the style is poetic to the point of fevered lunacy. The feelings it evokes are better left unnamed, as attempting to label them would be utter folly. Second, the story is competent, visionary, and forms a well-integrated whole, in spite of seeming to ramble and fly off onto unconnected tangents (which are all resolved with the rest of the book in the end). This is one of the books, heck, THE book, which makes me all depressed when I remember it's just a book (until I recall the strange idea that all fiction is nonfiction in some other universe ~~ woohoo!)... The overall style, like all things of similar worth, refuses to be classed. It has elements of mystery, science fiction, fantasy, mysticism, comedy, tragedy, and even (most memorably to quite a few folks) a prominent helping of what some prudes might term pornography. All in all, it makes for very interesting reading. Thirdly, as poet Gavin Ewart penned (although in reference to Edward Lear rather than Davis Grubb), "The moral shines bright as a mermaid's hair...". This moral is, namely, a strong message of religious freedom and tolerance, and a lashing-out against the Organized Religions which crush the chiefly individual spirit of religion. Oy whatta book! A fourth point in its favor is the length of the book: it will not only make for interesting reading, but interesting reading which lasts a while, enough to satisfy your need for interesting reading. Fifthly, I like the logo on the front cover of the particular hardcover copy I first became acquainted with (illuminated above). Sure, this sez nothing for the ingenuity of the author, but I feel that I've said enough good about him that you folx get an idea of how I feel about his genius; and, besides, if it wasn't for the equally-great genius of some designer-of-covers (kudos to you, R. Adelson!), I would never have read this book (I know, "don't judge a book by its cover," yadda yadda yadda... I mean, the cover is really nice here!)
Well, now, you're probably asking yourself... I mean, actually pretending to ask me... WHAT'S THIS BOOK ABOUT, WENCESLAUS, or whatever your name was...?. So, I'll tell you. Sort of.
By now, the nations have lost all individuality and become one enormous mass of unseparated church and state called TRUCAD. Sweeley Leech and his daughter Fifi don't seem to like TRUCAD because of its dominance over the human freedoms which were once so well-known. He embarks on a crusade against the church to remind the world that dogmatic sectarianism and hypocrisy is never a part of a true religion. He preaches love and understanding rather than worship and prayer. He preaches a refreshening and renewal of the original ideas of Christianity. He preaches the Criste Lite.
The book just kind of sprawls out into wonder and brighter light from there, and, in their quest for the Criste Lite (so named to distinguish it from the garbled "Christ" upheld by the church), the Leech family encounters pretty much everyone you could hope to meet, including the Notorious Fu Manchu (don't laugh-- you haven't read the part about Fu Manchu yet. Save your laughter til then). And then there's the fairy part. Nestled in the first chapter of the book is the part about fairies, y'know, those flying magical things with pixie dust and whatnot. EVERYONE needs to read the fairy part, even if that's the only part they do read... chuckle.
The stuff written on the cover of the Zebra Books Edition (ISBN 0-8217-3807-0)
The stuff on the inside of the jacket of the Viking Press Edition (ISBN 0-670-12262-9)
SO. There you have it. I'm not going to say anything more, because, besides relatively short endorsements such as the previous, the book can only speak for itself. Thank you and goodnight.
West Virginia Library Page: Yeah, there USED TO be a picture of him under LIBRARY COMMISION POSTERS... That's ALL!
"When the Night Wind Howls": A song from Gilbert & Sullivan's "Ruddigore" which is prominently featured in Ancient Lights
Rasputin: the 'Mad Monk' does make a brief appearance in a sequence in chapter 18
Speaking of which, here, as if you cared, is a drawing of Rasputin which I sketched in my government class.
The Insidious Dr. FU MANCHU: The book, not the band
Dylan Thomas: revered repeatedly in Ancient Lights