Friday, May 16, 2008

Volcanic impetus superadded

My latest L.A. Times column is up early. This month I look at a strange, unfinished tale from 1881 entitled The Great Romance, by a New Zealander sporting the insoluble nom de plume "The Inhabitant."

Here's a sample:

Perverse by design or accident, the Inhabitant conveys an improbably gripping scene of mortal danger (in Volume 2) in a series of rhetorical questions, including this humdinger:

"Vast was the speed of the Star Climber, but might not some erratic fragment have a speed still vastly greater—hurled from the bosom of a monstrous volcano, whose pent-up pressure had consolidated diamonds, like mountains, and whose terrific discharge should leave the shattered ruby masses like an avalanche of loosened rock, and hurl outward fragments, large as little worlds, flying with all the speed of the parent orb, and all the mighty volcanic impetus superadded?"

(Shades of Keeler's famous sentence from Traveling Skull!)

* * *

James Parker's nuanced reading of Personal Days takes the lead slot over at the Barnes & Noble Review.

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