"Blessed is the creature that knows its purpose" - the anti-Beatitude linked to the malevolent creature in Wood
. What's the monster's purpose? To devour every being it encounters, a task seldom considered blessed. But why not blessedness? This dire purpose springs from a creature of human design. It's our hate and mindless destruction of the natural world that makes the monster in the wood possible. The creature represents our proverbial chickens coming home to roost. We're doomed it seems!
Then comes along another type of wood, the less-than-impressive Dick Wood (bless his unfortunately named heart). Dick's purpose is far from malevolent, unless you count suicide attempts and various interior forms of self-immolation as malevolence. Poor Dick:
"How awful to be just gifted enough to fully comprehend one's own mediocrity. Horrible horrible horrible. This comprehension often caused him to give little nods of sympathy to strangers on the street, though he did try not to, since it clearly upset them."
Could this miserable, self-aware, isolated, seemingly purposeless creature be the worst nightmare of creeping Lovecraftian emptiness and horror? Yep. The resilience of caring in the face of uncertainty and fear gives humanity a fighting chance against darkness. And with Rosaria on the job as well, I like our chances. For me, the ending left me feeling doubtful, but also hopeful about the fate of humanity. Even the most evil of creatures can change, after all.
I continue to be impressed with Robert Dunbar. His beautiful, descriptive language makes me happy. ("Snow had decomposed in swaths, exposing tree bones and the spines of leaves to the moonlight.") The honesty and vulnerability of his characters resonate with me. And the fact that he'd name a hero Dick Wood? Priceless! Wood
is chilling, funny, depressing, and life-affirming, all wrapped into a 60-page novella. I can't wait to read Willy next.