September 18, 2005

Body and Blood

After reading most of The Island Of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories: Gene Wolfe is kind of obsessed with cannibalism, isn't he? I'm pretty sure this has to do with the Eucharist. (Searching for "Gene Wolfe"+cannibalism+eucharist yielded only one other example of this crashingly obvious thought, but a better search shows that other people have had it.)

Anyone know what's going on at the end of "Tracking Song"? Spoilers below.

My first thought: The narrator is dying, and the winged man accompanying the Great Sleigh is the Angel of Death.

Basis: There's no way the Sleigh can catch up to him going around. (The Urthsters tried to solve that, but it didn't work. ) And what would the winged man be anyway? The wings are very important, placed as they are at the end of the story. On the other hand, the narrator does say that the planet is small.

My second thought was that maybe we don't need to worry too much about the literal significance of the ending--the allegorical/metaphorical significance is more important. And you thought the first thought was a cop out.

(The Urthsters seemed to settle on the idea that the Cim was a firefly--scroll back and forth--but I think, maybe it's that dust that's getting used to make the reflector? Will go back and check, maybe. Parallels to the New Sun are inescapable.)

And how did Henry Farrell leave "The Eyeflash Miracles" off this list?

Posted by Matt Weiner at September 18, 2005 01:36 PM

Let's hear what you thought about "Seven American Nights."

Posted by: Jonathan at September 18, 2005 09:30 PM

That's the one I haven't read yet.

(On re-skimming "Tracking Song," I don't know that the dust idea makes any sense--it sounds like the dust is all in outer space; but the narrator says that he thinks he used to be bigger on another world. That sounds more like a soul than a body to me.)

Posted by: Matt Weiner at September 19, 2005 12:13 PM

Like many people I have an impressive library of books that I've bought and never read, but when I think of the smaller-but-still-considerable stack of books that I went to efforts beyond the ordinary to acquire (e.g., I spent some time looking for The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories prior to the 1997 reprint) and still never got around to reading, I seriously fear for my sanity.

Posted by: Richard Mason at September 19, 2005 01:11 PM

OK, I've read "Seven American Nights," and I don't think Washington DC would be viable as a port if there weren't other reasons for inhabiting it. It's too far up the river.

No seriously, I think Gene Wolfe ate my fudgsicle. I have no clue. Any hints?

Posted by: Matt Weiner at September 21, 2005 11:22 AM