The Green Man Returns: Numar gets serious

The Green Man Returns by Harold M. Sherman

Near the conclusion of Harold M. Sherman’s 1946 novel The Green Man, the eponymous Numar, visitor to Earth from the far-distant planet Talamaya, makes some startling predictions in a speech to the world from Chicago’s Soldier Field. Among other things, the green-skinned space wanderer tells mankind that a Great Light that will one day arise in the East will usher in a new age of spiritual enlightenment and “a new harmony of being with all things.” He also tells the book’s scatterbrained leading lady, Betty Bracken, immediately before his departure, “Perhaps we shall all meet again, somewhere.” Well, although the passage of several decades would be required, Numar, as it turns out, is as good as his word, as ... Read More

Gormenghast: Excruciating, nail-biting tension

Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake

Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books are a difficult series to categorize in terms of genre, as they really are in a league of their own. Whenever the subject of Peake has arisen in conversation and I've been called upon to describe them to the uninitiated, my efforts are always rewarded with baffled looks. The books defy most attempts at classification; and although they're usually put in the "fantasy" section of libraries and bookstores, the trilogy is bereft of the usual Tolkienesque fantasy trappings (mystical creatures, heroic journeys, magical quests). There are however, a few throwbacks to fairytales: a youthful hero who grows into manhood, a distressed — and sexually frustrated — damsel, a series of helpful or hindering secondary characters, and an insidious v... Read More