Contented Reader

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The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche

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The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche

Peter S. Beagle

Tachyon Publications

This book is worth the $15.95 just to read its second story, “Come Lady Death.”  It’s a story about an aging, bored socialite who, in an attempt to enliven the dull round of parties and dances, hosts a party and invites Death to attend as the guest of honor.  Of course Death accepts the invitation.  Has there ever been a story in which someone invites Death to a party and Death does not come?  Death is a more pleasant guest at this party than at the “Masque of the Red Death,” but still perhaps not exactly the first choice that would come to my mind when choosing the ideal guest.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a story in which someone invites Joy to a party.  Maybe it’s just the introvert in me, but I don’t think she would come.  What on earth would Joy do at a party?  Wander outside, probably, to look at the trees.

Peter S. Beagle is a master fantasy writer, of course.  I’m assuming that you know this already, but if you don’t, you need to rush to the library right this minute and get one or more of his books.  This collection would not be a terrible place to start, but I think I’d recommend The Last Unicorn.  If you’re of a certain age, you may remember it as a movie that seemed always to be on cable television.  You may not have realized that movie was inspired by a book of such astonishing crystal perfection that I don’t quite understand why it isn’t a mandatory part of the literary canon, like Hamlet.

There are other stories in this collection.  My second-favorite is the title story.  I didn’t realize, until I wrote the title here in this entry, that the story might well be titled simply for its difficulty in spelling.  More sparkling perfection of style.  I wonder what it’s like to live inside Peter Beagle’s head?  The evidence suggests that it’s absolutely lovely.  Peter Beagle, if you are reading this, don’t disillusion me.  I want to believe that someone in the world thinks the way you write.




Written by Contented Reader

August 8, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Posted in Reviews


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