By Gerald Hausman
On The Road, USA
The islands, the near and distant rings of rock burned to carbon, salt and silt. The imprint of ferns on limestone. The fringes of mangrove. The green-gold eyes of panthers in the bottom lands and swamplands of Joe Lansdale and the inevitable boar the size of a building.
The mysterious dark eyes of wide-hipped women in Somerset Maugham's version of that moon-mad rascal Paul Gauguin dying of syphilis in Tahiti. And the iconic carved doorway he painted and left behind, as if that very portal was his own banishment from the earth and its disinterest in him.
The haunted and hunted eyes of Edgar Allen Poe, dark miscreant of words, inventor of early gothic fictions, that raven-eyed man, so far from the gorgons of Gahan Wilson, but so near to the heart of darkness and imagination that both inhabit as creators.
The dry wind of Texas mesquite and Larry McMurtry's doves, but more so the books of his life, the unspeakable beauty of books, the rarity of them and the dreamlike strangers who become attached to them.
The hanged woman's ghost in Jane Lindskold's Las Vegas, NM. A ghost, yes, but a real person too, both congealed in the parallel worlds of lostness, this and that other we call fantasy.
The Saroyans, father and son – the old man who turned memoir on a fiction-like lathe of beauty. And his son Aram, maker of one-word novels compressed into a single kernel of syllabic magic.
The fluid lines on walls of stone inscribed with butterfly-halved hooves of beasts and seraphic syllables echoed in the caves of the Four Corners, caves known to the huntsman in Zelazny's psychic bounty hunter chasing a cat's eye in the cosmos.
In that same high desert, the coyote trunk bait of Trent Zelazny's unleashed imagination jumps out at you – he has a character who masturbates and screws himself into invisibility, one stroke and bump at a time.
To the Midwest then and Old Man Pritchard's porch where the boy, Jimmy Nightshade of 97 Oak street is 13 years, eleven months, and 23 days – the summer leaves of Green Town, Illinois, turn from green to brown.
The London fog of various authors, rippers and writers all, tearing up the masonry of accepted and acceptable belief.
And finally the scapes of worlds untenanted by earthlings and worlds badly run by same, all wrapped in the veils of pure imagination.
Down the hallowed halls of Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, A.C. Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Robert Payson Terhune, Villiers de L'Isle Adam, Djuna Barnes and delve into the violet shadows, the shards of splintered light from one Leonard Cohen, Wilfred Owen, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ursula K. Le Guin.
Do you take the imagination bus?
It all comes down to...
...the book with wheels, wings, and hooves.
Books mentioned in this review
The Boar by Joe Lansdale
The Moon and Sixpence by Somerset Maugham
Poe: A Life Cut Short by Peter Ackroyd
Books by Larry McMurtry
Leaving Cheyenne by Larry McMurtry
Child of a Rainless Year by Jane Lindskold
The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze by William Saroyan
The Street by Aram Saroyan
Places of Mystery, Power and Energy by Bill Worrell
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne
The Greater Journey by David McCullough
1913 by Florian Illies
The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams
Eye Of Cat by Roger Zelazny
Rose for Ecclesiastes by Roger Zelazny
A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
The Day The Leash Gave Way by Trent Zelazny
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
Poems and Songs by Leonard Cohen
Collected Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay
The Seashell Anthology by Christopher Burns
The Wind's Twelve Quarters by Ursula K. Le Guin