I picked this one up in a remainder bin during all the travel and disruption of routine a few weeks ago. I’ve not read much Wolfe, but every time I do, I come away with the desire to read more. He’s a unique voice in American letters, whose works are lyrical, funny, thought-provoking, and always strange and original.
The Sorcerer’s House is no exception. While it probably won’t be considered one of his major works, it’s a great read. Of course, when your major works include classics such as The Book of the New Sun, someone saying a particular novel isn’t a major work isn’t exactly damning with faint praise.
It’s the story of Baxter Dunn. He’s recently gotten out of the joint and has wandered into a Midwest town. He’s squatting in an old abandoned house when he discovers that he’s been named the heir to the house in the former owner’s will.
Of course the house is no ordinary house, and Bax will discover that he’s no ordinary man. The number of rooms changes, and sometimes there are people (or other things) in the house that Bax never invited in.
The story is told in a series of letters. Most are written by Bax, but not all of them, and many are to his estranged twin brother. I won’t try to summarize the plot, because it’s not simple. I doubt I could do it justice.
Wolfe tells his story with a dry wit that I found entirely refreshing. In addition to the humor, the story is full of warmth and heart, as well as weirdness and some puzzling mysteries. Bax is a character I would be more than willing to spend time with in real life. I was sorry when the book ended.
And as I closed the last page, I had a strong desire to read more Wolfe.