July 28, 2008

Primal rage revisited

As a preteen run a muck with hormones and testosterone I found my way to the writings of Robert Howard. I carried a copy of Conan around with me for an entire school year, although it was a copy of the novel done from the script of the movie Conan the Barbarian it still filled my head at every available moment of free time during a most trying year in early high school. Who am I kidding, all the years in school were trying. When I finally moved on to the actual writings of Howard I had been through most of the other authors who penned his adventures, but there was just nothing like the original.
One of my friends had a ton of Conan books and gave them all to me one night. I was grateful to say the least. I spent several nights ripping through these books like a starving Ethiopian at a standard American Thanksgiving meal.... Then one day he showed up at my home, after a few years absence, and wanted to know if I still had the books. I took him into the den and showed him they were all in tact, ready for reading. He informed me that he was going through some sort of mid life crisis and wanted to know if he could have them back. I understood the nostalgic pull and simply couldn't refuse. He did give me quite a bit of redemption in the form of gift cards for a local book store. I didn't think too much about this for several more years......
This past birthday I was asked if there was anything in particular I would like from my kids. Out of nowhere came, "Conan the Cimmerian" by Robert Howard... Sure enough the evening of my birthday rolled around and I was presented with a very nice edition of the book handed to me by my four year old.... Being that I have the luck of Charlie Brown at Halloween, I was then informed that the tub wasn't draining... happy birthday dad!! After a long looking over, I discovered that the plunger mechanism that blocks the drain had broken so I fixed it. Amazingly enough I did it without getting my wife to handle it or calling on a little drunken Irishman to lead the way. When the sweaty task of ripping into the wall, finding and deciphering the plumbing, taking it all apart, getting to the broken piece and removing it was finished I settled in with the new chocolate covered Conan book, I did say my four year old handed it to me. Twenty five years had passed since my last reading so I wasn't really expecting much but I pressed on.
To my complete amazement I thoroughly enjoyed it. This go around what I liked about the character was pretty straight forward. Where as twenty five years ago I loved the pulp and gore, now I found myself enraptured by his disdain for useless people and mindless authority. His solutions are savagely simple to say the least and it takes no time at all to get through the books, a literary Jerry Springer as it were, no offense to the dearly departed's talent, I could never write that well, as you know... I just like the idea that when a threat appears you drop all pretense and go for the throat, literally in most of the stories. When Conan looks at a problem he sees it for what it is and begins to hack it apart until its gone. This ranks right up there with the "I just won the lottery" drive home or lay in the bed and stare out the window day dream. Think about it... there you are in line at the kwickie mart and the human stain in front of you is buying lottery tickets to the tune of, "Gimme six number fours, three number eights, two powerball quick picks..." then you step to the side... You take a deep breath and begin with, "Stand down slime covered foulness from the depths of the nine hells! May Crom show you little mercy when I slay thee for thy idleness and rudeness in keeping the line from moving!" Then you proceed to slash at all vital points of anatomy, filling with the lust of battle until none are left standing... You slowly drop your dollar fifty for the peach slushy in the blood dripping till and walk out with no remorse, no worry or thought of security surveillance or any lingering feelings of guilt. Sure there is always the danger of running across the better slayer, but your mind is clear and conscience clean, you are prepared to stand before your god and hold your head high knowing that you acted in a just manner. Damn, this would make going the mall a lot more fun than it really is....


HeartofGoldPlate said...

Actually, keeping things simple and to the point is a very big hurdle for most authors. I've heard lots of people argue that Tolkien needs an editor, and I know Anne Rice does.

When I think of Conan I think of the govuhnator and james earl jones being a snake. :D

Anonymous said...

I can't get past Arnie being Conan either, or that black chick with the really short hair that liked to kick everybody's ass.
Know what I really hate? It's those people that scratch off their scratchies while other people are standing in line behind them. Usually I just reach around and slap my money on the counter. I always get a rude look from them, but they're the ones holding up the line.
If I was allowed to carry my Katana in public, I'd put an end to their useless lives.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how when you read a book as a teen and then years later how the words are different in your mind.
Hope your four year old enjoyed seeing you reading the book.