Download The Circus of Dr. Lao (Frontiers of Imagination) By Charles G. Finney – Vansonphu.com

The Circus of Dr. Lao (Frontiers of Imagination) THE MOST UNSETTLING THING I HAVE EVER READ As if in coda to my completion, a painter brought into my folks decorating store a dead hummingbird he found in the back of his van He brought it forward like an acolyte bearing the thin weight of his aged master, forward toward a raised dais, laying it down, then prostrating himself in supplication The painter said to me, lying the stiff, inert carcass upon my desk, I thought you could give it a good burial III just don t know how it THE MOST UNSETTLING THING I HAVE EVER READ As if in coda to my completion, a painter brought into my folks decorating store a dead hummingbird he found in the back of his van He brought it forward like an acolyte bearing the thin weight of his aged master, forward toward a raised dais, laying it down, then prostrating himself in supplication The painter said to me, lying the stiff, inert carcass upon my desk, I thought you could give it a good burial III just don t know how it got in there And so a soul was claimed This book is a monster It is a monster for the mirror it shines upon us all our humanity, and our vein attempts to circumvent it It begins calmly enough, an advert placed in the Abalone, Arizona newspaper, announcing the circus of Dr Lao was on its way But no one saw it on the roads And no one saw it on the rails We meet a scattering of characters, all used ingeniously by Mr Finney for what they bring to his plot These characters he sets in motion, automatons in Dr Lao s diabolical scheme From page one, the reader is aware of what to expect, for it is spelled out in the curving letters that slither through Mr Lao s advert We simply sit back, and feel the weight of suspense as it presses down upon our chests The weight lifts, and you feel giddy You re standing in a warm green pasture, rolling fields in the distance The sun shines bright above your head, warming your shoulders Clover peoples the grass, spores float on the breeze A butterfly, yellow, diaphanous wings, dips, swirls around your head, kisses your nose with its scratchy lepidoptera legs You re at peace Calm You feel you know your place in the world, are at one with it You see a spark in the sky Very tiny at first, and then it grows, expands, contorts It is silver and it catches the sun Glints You hear the whine of a motor, a clunking, sputtering sound As the glint falls, the noise rises, shivering your arms, causing the tiny hairs to stand on end Your skin warps, thins The sound is deafening You feel a pulse inside your head, your eardrums beat an irregular rhythm, your legs quiver and you fall Your arms are above your head the the weight of this object that is falling, falling, flames, you see as you look up are licking out, tasting the fragile air Palms pressed against your ears, you huddle into a fetal position, close your eyes, and wait for the silence that will come Abalone, Arizona, is a sleepy southwestern town whose chief concerns are boredom and surviving the Great Depression that is, until the circus of Dr Lao arrives and immensely and irrevocably changes the lives of everyone drawn to its tents Expecting a sideshow spectacle, the citizens of Abalone instead confront and learn profound lessons from the mythical made real a chimera, a Medusa, a talking sphinx, a sea serpent, witches, the Hound of the Hedges, a werewolf, a mermaid, an ancient god, and the elusive, ever changing Dr Lao himself The circus unfolds, spinning magical, dark strands that ensnare the town s populace the sea serpent s tale shatters love s illusions the fortune teller s shocking pronouncements toll the tedium and secret dread of every person s life sensual undercurrents pour forth for men and women alike and the dead walk again Dazzling and macabre, literary and philosophical, The Circus of Dr Lao has been acclaimed as a masterpiece of speculative fiction and influenced such writers as Ray Bradbury This strange slender deadpan novel I think Charles Finney is the first incarnation of Kurt Vonnegut from 1935 charmed me half to death when I first read it years ago And it pretty nearly did it again just now As the years rolled by I think it s got even stranger For one thing, for a silly fantasy about a circus full of the world s most mythical beings a sphinx, a chimera, a sea serpent, a mermaid, a werewolf, a hound of the hedges, whatever that is, along with Appolonius of Tyana, a magici This strange slender deadpan novel I think Charles Finney is the first incarnation of Kurt Vonnegut from 1935 charmed me half to death when I first read it years ago And it pretty nearly did it again just now As the years rolled by I think it s got even stranger For one thing, for a silly fantasy about a circus full of the world s most mythical beings a sphinx, a chimera, a sea serpent, a mermaid, a werewolf, a hound of the hedges, whatever that is, along with Appolonius of Tyana, a magician, and Yottle, a god, and so on and so forth turning up in a hick town in Arizona, where the phlegmatic locals suppose they may as well stroll down and check it out, and mostly aren t that impressed, and say many things like I never thought there was no sech animal and however did you catch this here satyr anyhow, Doctor and well, did you ever and ma you said you d get me a ice cream after Appolonius has created a live turtle out of mud , there s an awful lot of sex hanging over the proceedings Like a muggy fog or a moggy fug it seeps into everything For a kickoff there is the satyr, obviously, which may be three thousand years old give or take, but his musk sacs still work very well thank you, and there s many a good tune played on an old panpipe you know, and Miss Agnes Birdsong, a young school teacher, gets along with the satyr just fine A very educational sideshow The story is hardly there at all First the circus trundles into town, a weedy feeble sorry looking procession Then a number of citizens decide they may as well go and see it Then they visit the various crazy creatures in their tents and have banal conversations and Doctor Lao lectures them about each creature in a mock scholarly manner Then the main performance in the big top takes place, which is a demonstration by Appolonius of a witches sabbath, with a fair bit of whipping of naked witches, and then The spectacle of the ancient city Woltercan worshipping their god Yottle, who was the first and mightiest and least forgiving of all the godsThis involves the sacrifice of a virgin.End.There is a bizarre metafictional epilogue called The Catalogue An explanation of the obvious which must be read to be appreciatedThis is a cast list, which lists every single human or non human creature mentioned in the book with random comments, such as The sons of the railroad man a Ed junior Barefoot boy with cheeks of tan, except that his cheeks were pale and his mother wouldn t let him go barefoot b Little Howard Papa spanked him oftener than he did Ed junior.Or The clowns Pantaloons whose hearts are breaking.For fans of odd, discarded, wayward old novels THE SEVEN FACES OF DR LAO was one of my favorite movies as a kid, and I still love watching it from time to time Of course, it was based on this book Finney delivers a rather minimalist approach in dealing with his fable and trying to teach the people of a small western town a lesson I just didn t get much substance out of this novella compared to the film. A strange tale of a circus that comes to a quiet depression era town The story itself is kind of fun in a magical realist sort of way, but where the author really shines is when he steps out of the story telling to give pretty scathing critiques of society and progress Sort of reads like Kurt Vonnegut at times, especially in the glossary defining all the characters and inconsistencies in the book Good stuff although one reviewer is mistaken that his is Charles Finney s only book A very quic A strange tale of a circus that comes to a quiet depression era town The story itself is kind of fun in a magical realist sort of way, but where the author really shines is when he steps out of the story telling to give pretty scathing critiques of society and progress Sort of reads like Kurt Vonnegut at times, especially in the glossary defining all the characters and inconsistencies in the book Good stuff although one reviewer is mistaken that his is Charles Finney s only book A very quick perusal of the introduction of which I didn t read, and probably won t read says that he wrote books after this one, but his first novel was the only one to gain any kind of success The said reviewer also doesn t like R rated material in his books, nor effeminate actors I on the other hand either don t notice the r ratedness of books, or don t get shocked by such content, and haven t ever since the giggles and blushes of being an 8th grader reading the orgy scene at the end of Stephen Kings It This is a truly extraordinary book it packs into its short lengthcommentary on human nature in both its sad and wonderful aspects than many authors would struggle to depict through vast volumes of work I believe that in a just world this book would be considered among the paragons of American letters, right up there with free thinking luminaries like Mark Twain, who Charles Finney indeed often calls to my mind while reading The Circus of Dr Lao The whole story takes place in a day and, This is a truly extraordinary book it packs into its short lengthcommentary on human nature in both its sad and wonderful aspects than many authors would struggle to depict through vast volumes of work I believe that in a just world this book would be considered among the paragons of American letters, right up there with free thinking luminaries like Mark Twain, who Charles Finney indeed often calls to my mind while reading The Circus of Dr Lao The whole story takes place in a day and, indeed, you should be able to read this book in a few hours, and because of its brevity and depth it is one you can and should keep returning to like the best works of Twain, every new reading brings something slightly new, and a different perspective Finney s style never fails to be engaging, and there are many scenes here that always have me laughing aloud Some of the humour is cute, some clever, and some just makes you laugh because people can be pretty shitty and Finney just does a great job of showing exactly how and why this is, and you laugh because you know it s true as much as the hoity toity like to pretend they can hide this part of their nature I also found certain bits here to be wonderfully racey, especially for their time, and while I d definitely love to read this one to my kids if I ever had any, I think only the imaginary ultra cool schools would ever teach this one in class A lot of the characters are just there to be a part of Finney s dart board, and even though he starts by being gentle toward them they almost always fall short of his apparent expectation It s interesting to read the catalog of characters at the back and see how he fleshes out bits of their background and personality outside of the story, like a cool bit of post modern asidery well before the term was in vogue ever wonder what happened to so and so No Well I ll tell you anyway Finney even includes a series of questions you might just have been asking yourself while reading the book, but which you maybe were too embarrassed to voice aloud because you were afraid it might make you look stupid Nope, Finney seems to be saying, you damn well should have been asking whatsamatta, glod dam punk Basically I think your life should be somehow made better by reading this book, which is an effect that only the best literature can have There s a lot of discussion on this page about the movie based on this work, The Seven Faces of Dr Lao, which is fun but basically just light entertaining fluff compared with the original source It s as though Hollywood sucked all the meat out of the story and left just a sweet kids romp Don t relate or compare this to the film see and understand them as completely separate entities and you ll be a lot better off This book is a piece of timeless literature I hope that in a hundred years people will still be reading this and singing its praises I am fascinated by circus themes, which is why I picked up this odd little book A Chinese man brings a circus into the small hick town of Abalone, Arizona The advertising is itself funny, arousing the curiosity of the townspeople, most of whom end up going to the circus What happens there and the curiosities displayed by Dr Lao are the rest of the plot.For a start, it was quite interesting to see what an author in 1935 would have considered outlandish in a circus, considering there were frea I am fascinated by circus themes, which is why I picked up this odd little book A Chinese man brings a circus into the small hick town of Abalone, Arizona The advertising is itself funny, arousing the curiosity of the townspeople, most of whom end up going to the circus What happens there and the curiosities displayed by Dr Lao are the rest of the plot.For a start, it was quite interesting to see what an author in 1935 would have considered outlandish in a circus, considering there were freak shows of people with all kinds of physical conditions I think the Russian who was a bear was the most interesting of them all The creatures are taken mostly from folklore and mythology I also enjoyed Dr Lao s appearances, at times talking fluently in English and at other times using pidgin, clearly showing that perceptions are in the eye of the beholder.But beyond the excellent description of the circus and its inhabitants, the novel lacked a cohesive narrative Some of the scary things are not scary at all Most of the problems that arise are directed towards women The story is overall quite sexist in different ways with turning a woman into stone, orgies where women try to appease a deity, and caps it all with a virgin sacrifice Not pleased All said and done, however, this little book is a bit of a freak show in itself It is wonderfully obscure and twisted and bizarre For lovers of odd gems of literature, this is highly recommended Just expect to get slightly offended with the racism and sexism, but overlooking these can bring its own reward What an odd little book The Circus of Dr Lao is wellodd, surreal, humorous, jarring, unsettling, magical and bizarre It deserves to bethan an obscure classic The book starts out strange and just gets stranger There s not much to the story, a circus comes to the sleepy town of Abalone, Arizona and the townsfolk seem unimpressed but they ve got nothing better to do, so they go.There is a scene in which a lady has her fortune told It s so brilliant and brutal Wow Shirley Jackso What an odd little book The Circus of Dr Lao is wellodd, surreal, humorous, jarring, unsettling, magical and bizarre It deserves to bethan an obscure classic The book starts out strange and just gets stranger There s not much to the story, a circus comes to the sleepy town of Abalone, Arizona and the townsfolk seem unimpressed but they ve got nothing better to do, so they go.There is a scene in which a lady has her fortune told It s so brilliant and brutal Wow Shirley Jackson would have loved it This is an easy read, for all the weirdness, and short enough to be read in a day I think I ll still be thinking about it for a long time Recommended to fans of obscure classics A book quite unlike anything else I ve ever read It concerns the visit of Dr Lao s circus to a small Midwestern town during the Depression This is a very unconventional circus It s a collection of mythological creatures, but not everyone who sees them can agree about what they are There s really no plot at all, the book merely deals with the effects that Dr Lao s circus has on the various people who see it It s a kind of fable, with a definite touch of surrealism to it The early 1960s movi A book quite unlike anything else I ve ever read It concerns the visit of Dr Lao s circus to a small Midwestern town during the Depression This is a very unconventional circus It s a collection of mythological creatures, but not everyone who sees them can agree about what they are There s really no plot at all, the book merely deals with the effects that Dr Lao s circus has on the various people who see it It s a kind of fable, with a definite touch of surrealism to it The early 1960s movie version has very little in common with the novel A disturbing but magical book, and one you won t forget Originally published in 1935 An odd, mordant phantasmagoria There are traces of sexist and racist attitudes that don t sit well with me, but leavened by the urbane wit and rich imagination It s a strange book really, frivolous but thought provoking, and blessed with a wonderful set of appendices that remind me of Ambrose Bierce in Infernal lexicographer mode.


About the Author: Charles G. Finney

Charles Grandison Finney was an American news editor and fantasy novelist, the great grandson of evangelist Charles Grandison Finney https en.wikipedia.org wiki CharlesFinney was a fantasy novelist His first novel, The Circus of Dr Lao, was selected as the Most Original Book of 1935 at the first ever National Book Awards.


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