Reviewer Praise for Awake in the Night

Here is a review AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND.


No spoilers.

I bought this novella having seen the recommendation from Adam Greenwood:

I fully agree that this is a really, really good book; indeed it is good in a way and at a level that I found almost bewildering. The level of the thing seems to be far above me – I was just aghast at the way the story kept twisting and reversing, again and again and again, yet with a complete sureness of touch and cohesion.

I have already said that, simply as prose, it is as original and high in quality as anything I’ve come across written by authors of the past couple of generations; the plotting is, if anything, even better.

Having said all this, I am not sure whether I got it all, indeed I am sure I didn’t. Without being in the slightest pretentious (in the way that Henry James, James Joyce or Samuel Becket – and innumerable lesser modernists – are so often pretentious; I mean that sense of deliberately trying to impress the reader with a conviction of the authors’ cleverness) I am nonetheless sure that JCW’s mind, specifically his fiction-writing persona inclusive of whatever inspirations effectual, is operating at a level considerably beyond mine.

The Roman Catholic church is fortunate in having someone as advocate of his quality – and indeed the whole nature of this fiction strikes me as the best kind of product of this most intellectually-sophisticated of Christian denominations.

Another element, which I would not regard as typically Catholic, but which I found profoundly resonant, was the general idea that the salvation was a thing that involved a man and wife, together. This seemed to come from the author’s heart and spoke to my own heart as an ideal, and indeed as a kind of ultimate or eventual existential necessity: that we are each individually, as man or woman, complementary half-persons, even at best.

I did not feel the book was anything so formal as an allegory, certainly there was no point-by-point correspondence going on – but without doubt there is an important and deliberate Christian relevance. This is a picture of the human condition in its essence. Indeed, it is the kind of book a Christian can and should learn from; and which may produce un-named stirrings and yearnings in the breast of a non-Christian.

I only finished the book today – so these are first impressions. What will be interesting will be to see and to feel how my ideas and evaluations develop over time, and (presumably) re-readings.

Awake in the Night Final

My comment:

My natural modesty forbids me from making a comment, except to say that the story was just not that good when I wrote it.

Maybe the editor changed it when I was not looking or something, or Titania, the beautiful and terrifying Queen of Elfland with the lightest brush of her charming wand.

I suppose you do not believe the Queen of Elfland theory, dear reader, but there is a strange alchemy to writing which this writer, at least, does not understand, and a stranger alchemy to reading. It is like walking into dreams.


Note: I have a sort-of declaration of interest to make here: Mr Charlton is a penpal of mine, and he knows me to be an admirer of his thought and work, and, besides, just to be sure, I commanded my human-ape hybrid minions, the Apeloids of Skull Island, connect a mind-control parasite from Starro the Conqueror to his nervous system and forced Mr Charlton, shrieking and weeping, his muscles locked and rigid, to watch while his trembling pen-hand against his will wrote this review.

Bruce Starro
He assures me he would have written the same thing had I not done that, but then my beautiful but evil daughter, the Princess Pingping the Unmerciful, helped him to escape from the Experiment Pits, so I am not sure what to believe. According to my last good report, he was shot down while fleeing on a hawkman rocketcycle, by my cyborg Pterodactyls in close pursuit, to crash somewhere in the rocky mountainscape known as The Haunted Labyrinth of Death. There is rumored to be an entryway into a freakish underground world ruled by dinosaurs and the longlost descendants of the serpent man of Atlantis. I am wise enough not to discredit these old tales. However, since I killed the insolent ornithopter pilot who was making the report, who claimed it was impossible for Charlton to suvive, I do not exactly know whether he yet lives to threaten my global ambitions. I will be seeking volunteers from among the gladiators on Death Row to enter the Labyrinth to search. That cannot go badly.