Quirky Books

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Highway Man by Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson is a popular mystery writer. Born in 1961, he is a modern contemporary artist who lives in a small Wyoming town. The Highway Man is part of a series, the Longmire Mysteries, that was picked up by Warner Brothers. It became a television series.

An intriguing tale of intertwining fates, there are several references to religious and poetic verse. Unknown to many people, during modern times, the highway man plays a role through many developments of ghosts stories as far back as the Canterbury Tales of the 1300s. Traditionally, it alludes to the four horsemen. The most obvious associations are on pages 33 and 70 when the deputy encounters a person marked for death. They are angry and overly aggressive.

There is also a poem entitled the Highway Man. It is written by Alfred Noyes in 1906. Someone might think these are unrelated; however, Johnson reasserts an association. Taking place on the Wind River Reservation, the ghouls are most prevalent as the moon ascends over the winding highway across the open land. This is essentially the first stanza of the poem.

I enjoy fictional stories that use foundations in philosophy or nonfiction to build a fictional world. It creates a bias to form a hidden platform of thought while reading the novel. When it is a mystery, it is like having a cheat card. The interesting twist occurs with new insight on how the author interprets the prior works into a new, hypothetical turn of events.

It is a reflection on modern events. Realistically, many of these ongoing (without giving away the end) have been going on for a long time. Kept to isolated events, it is another chapter. What if it was regular life? That could be the end. Faced with misery, life would be a hallow. The great suffering of mankind could develop as more people surrender their afterlife of vengeance.

There was a surprise ending. With the use of supernatural leanings, I was wondering if there is a character to blame for any events. Once again Investigator Walt Longmire solves the case. I enjoy the ghost of Bobby Womack. On page 48, he assists a hitchhiker. It is different, yet similar to the traditional ghosts who excel the position of becoming the highway man. He still has style and an amount of grace. There is still something iffy and undermining about his character.

Mystery and occult buffs will enjoy this book. Theologians will also delight in the subplot. If you like horror, there might be an uneasy sensation.

Poetry Breakdown
The Highway Man by Alfredo Noyes

Related Article
The Shield and Sword
Traditional Highway Man

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Coleridge's Ancient Mariner Editor Ellen Garrigues

Samuel Coleridge was born in Devonshire in the year 1772. With a lengthy life, he struggled with finances and an addiction to laudanum (an opiate). He died in 1834. Sixty-two years of life is a comparable long in comparison to his predecessors.

Coleridge's life has many paradoxes. He was born in a parish and his Father was a Priest. However, there is an implication the Coleridge was promiscuous and a prefers men. Coleridge is famous as a Poet; however, he only published a handful of poems. There is a spiritual or religious overtone to his writing; however, there is a sense of wanting to express scientific and philosophical ideals.

Ellen E. Garrigues was an Editor in the nineteenth century. I cannot find her biography. It is clear she is a person with interests in preserving the substantial poetry of her lifetime.

This poem, "Ancient Mariner," is not different from his usual work. Though the story is of a man joining a Sailing Crew, there is a distinctive subplot. It might be impossible for Coleridge to understand or write a believable plot without the use of religious imagery.

There are similarities to the Biblical Story of Job. A couple of Job's hardships include surviving a ship wreck and disastrous wedding. He was the only survivor; ergo, there is an ominous part of the story that only makes sense to Religious People. The Ancient Mariner forewarns Wedding Guest with his tale of the sea.

The language is easily understood. Several words are from Old English. Unlike Old English, the composition is mostly Modern English. Verses are rhythmic and easy to read. There is the overall plot of surviving a journey into the unknown. It has an abundance of imagery and playful nuance.

One of the key phrases for the subplot is, "Instead of the cross, the Albatross about my neck was hung." This awakening of belief in God might be an intentional reason or philosophical ideal to explain surviving wreckage that kills the other Sailors. It appears to explain a steady belief of having faith in God to endure through complications in life.

This book is a classic. It is a fun book to read because of the rise and fall of the meter and short, understandable words. It is a good example of poetic license in the eighteenth century. Poetic license was extremely formal. Though as entertaining to someone learning to read, it is insightful for Religious People and Theologians.

Related Article
Question from Misery

Poetry Breakdown
Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge