Comments for Blair's Attic
Blair's Attic: 10/11/14
Blair's Attic by Joseph C. Lincoln is all about memory and unreliable narrators. It's also a reminder to me that my memory is as fallible as anyone else's. When I think of my first time reading this book, I can distinctly picture myself in the weird triangle shaped bedroom I had as a newly wed. I picture book as one of the many SRLF volumes I had checked out to give the storage books a chance at freedom. And while UCLA does have a copy in SRLF there is no record of me reading the book at that time or that place in my handwritten book diary (now in its third volume).
All I can think, then, is that my initial annoyance with the book, shares an emotional tie with other memories of annoying reads whilst a newly wed. Or maybe instead, it's a nostalgic feeling of getting back to reading old books. I don't know, but this false memory lingers.
The book itself is unusual for a Joseph C. Lincoln in that it's told in first person and from multiple points of view. Together these four narratives span the decades from the 1880s to the 1920s and are inspired by popular horror of the time — Dracula (1897) and the like.
The first narrator, the long-time housekeeper at the Blair house, is an avid reader and a fan of horror books. Her obsession with horror and Gothic romances sets the tone of Blair's Attic. Of course now as a modern-day reader, I can't help but also compare it to The Blair Witch Project, though witchcraft isn't exactly mentioned within the context of the story.
The gist of the plot is one of a curse following a shipwreck. Cap'n Blair's friend was at helm and all souls were lost. The salvage consisting of treasures from Japan and China is put into storage after Blair's death and there they remain until Blair's daughter decides to renovate the house before her marriage (the modern day part of the story in the 1920s). It is during these renovations that the curse manifests itself and a man ends up dead.
When I first read Blair's Attic in 2004, I was still relatively new to Lincoln's oeuvre. I mistakenly thought of him as a quaint writer of dialect pieces and nothing more. Yes — his characters do use dialect but it's done in terms of character building and not as a way to seem old-timey or some such. Coming back to this book with a decade's worth of reading, I'll warrant that Lincoln was as world savvy as Samuel Clemens / Mark Twain, and chose to use dialect for similar reasons.
Within the four narratives: the housekeeper, the fiancé, the daughter, and again the housekeeper, there is a mystery involving an old shipwreck, a missing treasure, a possible curse, and all the other things of a really good episode of Scooby Doo. It's not a finely crafted mystery (as mysteries weren't Lincoln's genre of choice) but it is still a satisfying one.