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Gumbywan

Randolph "Dilda" Carter

A rant about books, horror, and the weird.  I sometimes take on my love/hate relationship with goodreads and Amazon.

Currently reading

Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories
Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, William Shatner
Progress: 140/336 pages
Pavane
Keith Roberts

My Substitute Teacher is a Witch!

The Sub: A Study in Witchcraft - Thomas M. Disch

This is volume 4 and the final volume in Thomas Disch's Supernatural Minnesota quartet. It has more of a straight forward story and plot than the other three volumes. It still has Disch's clever surprises, twists and turns to resolve the various plot threads. It also is the most optimistic of the four volumes; the wicked get theirs' the innocent (or at least the least corrupt) get their lives back in a way that leaves them better off than before. Love wins out in the end and evil is vanquished.

Diana Turney is a single regular substitute elementary school teacher. During an economic downturn she is switched to a temporary job (she's not assured a job somewhere each day) and she subsequently quits. See Diana liked her job because it gave her power over others. It's also why she can't seem to keep a permanent partner. This will become very important later. Diana discovers through an unlikely accident that she is a Wiccan and can turn others into an animal form that reflects their human nature (or at least as Diana sees them) under certain circumstances. This starts the main plot going. The theme will be that power without love corrupts and corrupts absolutely. This will be seen in many characters but particularly Diana.

Shamanism figures greatly in the story but I cannot really figure out exactly what Disch is getting at except to perhaps contrast it as a "natural" type of spirituality versus, a man made religion Christianity, which he takes another swipe at in The Sub. Disch also uses some of his favorite themes, pedophilia, rape, murder, sadism, and incest to shadow the corrupt. Only the good hearted simp Alan Johnson seems to be immune to the evil influences. It seems the intelligent spend too much time thinking.

There is a good foreword by Elizabeth Hand that doesn't ruin much so you don't have to leave it for later as you do in the other volumes.

University of Minnesota Press does a nice job with this volume again and this one matches the other four in the quartet.