So you can read my books

Monday, July 11, 2016


What a title, right?  

What young boy scouring the bargain bins of the used book store could resist it?  Not me.

I, of course, took off the tattered cover when I read it at home or at break in school.  

I fought to stifle my laughter that came with every page.

What can I say?  

I was an easy audience:

lonely, ostracized, and yearning for fantastical adventures, courtesy of my discovery of Edith Hamilton's MYTHOLOGY.

Who was Thorne Smith?

 Thorne Smith was a massively successful fantasy writer now largely forgotten who posed himself the question, 

“What if someone could turn the various Olympian statues in the Big Apple’s museums into flesh and blood?” 

 Smith’s answer was The Night Life Of the Gods (1931), a cheerful Shaggy Dog of the New York variety, 

and a fine example of a book that no modern publishing house would touch with a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole.

I guess which explains why editors treat me as if I were wearing leper robes since Thorne Smith greatly influenced my writing.

 If Thorne Smith’s name is sounding suspiciously familiar,

perhaps it should, as he is the earnest scribbler behind Topper (1926),

 the very same Topper in which Cary Grant later starred (as a ghost), 

and which eventually became a staple of early television, featuring Leo G. Carroll and sponsored by Jell-O.

 Night Life Of the Gods unquestionably belongs in the canon of 20th century fantastic fiction

 (H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard were contemporaries of Thorne Smith), 

but in character and temperament, its closer kissing cousin is Hollywood — 

specifically Tinseltown’s beloved screwball comedies, 

a genre in which breakneck pace and the witty banter of the endlessly idle rich drove masterpieces like  

Holiday, It Happened One Night, and Bringing Up Baby.  

Hunter Hawk is a scientist who has discovered how to turn flesh into stone.  

His leprechaun love, Meg, knows how to turn stone into flesh.

With Night Life, the banter is almost all that holds the book’s first 150 pages together, 

since Smith unfolds his tale as a series of antic but disconnected incidents, 

most of which do nothing to advance the story or raise the stakes.

But you are having so much fun with the antics, you really do not care.

Finally, Hawk and Meg visit New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and first Mercury and then Bacchus are freed from their places. 

In short order, and in a total hodgepodge of Greek and Roman families, 

Hawk and Meg revivify Neptune, Apollo, Diana, Venus (de Milo), Perseus (complete with Medusa’s severed head), and Hebe, cup-bearer to the Gods. 

 With nearly all 21st century fictions revolving around the idea 

of taking damaged characters and bringing them, if not to a useful epiphany,

 then at least to some new phase in life,

 it is downright startling to encounter a work where no such considerations ever existed––

where hi-jinks themselves are the only horse in the race.

And truthfully, do we not all stand in need of a fine hour of good-natured laughter? 

If you like to laugh, do not pass up this book.



  1. I have several of his books and reread them at intervals. There is always room for laughter.

    1. Good to find another fan! Yes, there is always room for laughter. :-)

  2. I'll have to look him up.
    I read a blogger buddy's book - Deb's Daily Drivel - and a couple parts made me laugh out loud.

    1. Christopher Moore's BLOODSUCKING FIENDS made me laugh out loud, too. Movie rights were bought but the movie was never made. Rats!

  3. I've seen Topper!! Yes I love to laugh and will put him on my list. Keep in mind that what floats the boat of one publisher doesn't another. There will be the right publisher if you don't give up.

    1. Thanks, Teresa. I keep daydreaming that Neil Gaiman picks up one of my books and loves it and mentions it on his blog. Hey, I write fantasy remember? :-)

  4. I LOVE the screwball comedies of the 30's and early 40's! My own fave rave is My Man Godfrey. Then there are the great Thin Man flicks and classics like The Philadelphia Story. Remember when people talked like educated, sophisticated grown-ups in the movies. Sigh! I miss those days.

    Oh, and Topper is another classic.

    1. Yes, I miss the movies where the characters were intelligent, witty, sophisticated adults. :-(

      Now, each character, even if the are adult, seem marooned in permanent adolescence with the intelligence of a cucumber.

      But we can dream. :-)

  5. I've been familiar with Thorne Smith for years. Funny stuff, to say the least.

  6. Never heard of Thorne, but wouldn't mind reading some of his work. The first book that made me laugh out loud was Harlan Ellison's "Looking for Kadak" which is actually a short story from his collection Approaching Oblivion. Not just the events but the very language style of the narrator made me laugh.