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Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of…

Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard

by Mark Finn

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I expected an easily accessible style. I expected solid scholarship and a passionate defense of Howard's legacy. What I didn't expect was to get so caught up in Mark Finn's picture of Howard's world that I didn't want to put the book down. Of course you should read this if you're a fan of Robert E. Howard and his work. You don't need me to tell you that. But even folks who only know Howard in passing will get caught up in this one. ( )
  Mrs_McGreevy | Nov 17, 2016 |
A magnificent examination of the life and works of Texas fantasy author Robert E. Howard, Finn dispels myths and delves deep into the man's troubled personal life through extensive research. Howard's life in the tiny, West Texas town of Cross Plains come to vivid life under Finn's steady hand--Finn's passion for the subject matter is almost physical in its intensity.

This is a short review, but make no mistake, this is an engrossing book that will bring the reader a whole new appreciation for Howard and his wide range of works. Had Julie Phillips not published "James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon" in the same year, "Blood & Thunder: The Life & Art of Robert E. Howard" would have swept the genre's non-fiction awards. It's that good. ( )
  jblaschke | May 17, 2016 |
I really enjoyed this look at the life of Robert E. Howard. It seemed far more balanced and scholarly than any other biography of Howard I have ever read. Top notch work. Now, this is how one should write a biography. Engaging to the last, it kept me going even though I have other pressing matters at hand to do. ( )
  VincentDarlage | Jan 30, 2015 |
I loved Finn’s biography. It was a major correction in terms of my view of REH, which derived from a hodge-podge of (1) introductions to Ace Editions of his stories (or, “versions” of his stories–considering, of course, how you view the Ace editions), (2) the “Swords and Scrolls” section of *The Savage Sword of Conan,* and (3)–slightly embarrassed by this–the film *The Whole Wide World.* Also, of course, I was enriched by the Del Rey editions and the journal and blog *The Cimmerian*

Reading Finn’s biography really helped me reframe Howard as a particularly “Texan” writer. To a large extent, interest in Howard’s psychology had been the source of interest for critics (I am thinking of Edmund Wilson’s horrible review of *Skull-face and Other Stories*). And so, focusing on his context is a good corrective; nevertheless, I think there’s payoff to consider both: context and psychology. Not that Finn disregards context but he does seem to be foregrounding it and downplaying Howard “as a character.”

Reading Finn’s book I get the sense that he is defending Howard’s–not sure how to say this better–”normalcy.” There is a thread of “he wasn’t as crazy as de Camp said he was!” running through that biography.

I’m sure that de Camp spetacularized Howard’s psychology (haven’t read his biography), and yet–and yet! Howard did commit suicide… he was a prize fighter when boxing was illegal… he dressed up in various costumes and walked around his town. He wasn’t crazy–but he wasn’t just another roughneck wandering around Cross Plains.

I mean no disrespect when I say this, but–this is just me reading between the lines of the “text” that his life has become–he was mentally “unique.”

His psychological uniqueness, in connection with his context, are the source of the fiction we love.

But still–Finn’s biography WAS GREAT! I, however, am invested with the personality of artistic genius, which I always think is slightly off-kilter, at odds with society and context. It’s that dissonance–between who the artist is and *where* and *when* they are–that is the source of good fiction. ( )
  jsnrcrny | Dec 23, 2011 |
A superb biography of a tormanted young talent - Robert E. Howard. This sad life story was written beautifully and humanely by Mark Finn, who is a really good biograph and writer ( I hope we will hear from and about Mr. Finn in the future). This biography could be read as a novel. No wonder that the end of the story (biography) extracted from me a few tears of sadness. ( )
  Tlatmil | Aug 15, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mark Finnprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lansdale, Joe R.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 193226521X, Paperback)

Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan, King Kull, and others that defined heroic fantasy, lived and died in the small town of Cross Plains, Texas. While his books remain in print, Howard himself has fallen into obscurity, his life mired in speculation and half-truth. This engaging biography traces the roots of his writings, correcting long-standing misconceptions, and offers a tour of Howard's world as he saw it: through his own incomparable imagination.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:27 -0400)

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