Saturday, March 04, 2017

Robert W. Chambers revisited

Felt a bit better today, less tired and not as dizzy.  No appointments today for a change, so spent the afternoon quietly at home listening to music and re-reading Robert W. Chambers' short story "The Repairer of Reputations."

I had not read Chambers since my teenage years, and I had forgotten nearly all of it.  [Spoilers ahead!]  It is narrated by a troubled man in what was then the near future, and some parts of the story don't seem to add up.  But the first time you read the story you shrug that off, figuring that you'll eventually work out what is going on.

When I was younger, I was slightly baffled by the story and did not appreciate Chambers' artfulness in showing us everything through the eyes of an unreliable narrator.  In fact, you realize after a few pages, we are hearing a tale told to us by a madman  -- nobody and nothing he describes are likely to be true. 

The story was first published in the 1895 collection THE KING IN YELLOW and has achieved a new life through being referenced in recent movies and television shows.   I suspect, though, that readers who come to the book through that route will be as nonplussed by the story as I was in the 1960s. 


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