BOOK: The Other by Thomas Tryon

theothertryonA few months ago, I read a blog post somewhere in which the author had remarked that his wife was currently reading this novel, written in the early 1970’s, and finding it utterly terrifying. “Utterly terrifying, eh?” I thought. “Sign me up!”

Since then, I’ve been trying to track down a reasonably-priced copy of it. It was out of print until very recently and the new print was $18, which is more than I like to gamble on a book I haven’t already read. I finally ordered a (very!) used copy from Amazon and then saved it for a whole month so I could read it on my flight from Seattle to San Diego this Christmas.

The good news: I read the whole thing on that 2.5 hour flight. It’s a short book.

The bad news: meh.

It’s about a set of twins, Holland and Niles, who live on a farm with a large extended family. The two boys alternate getting themselves into trouble with taking care of their ailing mother. Holland, we soon discover, has a real mean streak — he delights in killing things (cats, rats, etc.). Niles, on the other hand, is a quieter kid, doting on his mother and blindly following his much-admired brother Holland like a devoted puppy.

Only, as it turns out, things are not actually what they seem. And soon, Holland starts killing people instead of felines, throwing Niles into a bit of a tizzy and upsetting his family, farm, and world.

The actual “twist” in this story was one I had figured out about thirty pages in, but it’s not until about page 200 that it was finally confirmed, and with great “Bet you never expected THIS!” gusto. Pfft. What amazed me most about this book is that anyone today would find it “terrifying.” Unless you’ve never read or seen anything scary before in your entire life, this book is not going to give you even the most modest of willies. I can see how it might have in 1971. But by now, this novel’s “twist” — the very thing it’s spookiness absolutely hinges on — has been done so many times it just fails to impress here. Alas. Next!

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7 Responses to “BOOK: The Other by Thomas Tryon”

  1. Lizzie Says:

    I read this book a lo-o-o-ng time ago, and can’t remember it at all, except for the author! Did you know he was also an actor – mostly westerns. And another of his books became a TV mini-series in the late ’70’s – The Dark Secret of Harvest Home.” It seems to have had a good cast, and I THINK, favorable reviews. Also, he was born in HARTFORD, CT (where I went to college). Boy, I’m just a fountain of rather insignificant trivia, aren’t I?

  2. megwood Says:

    Seriously! How do you know all this stuff?! You’re awesome. (p.s. Thanks for the annual kitty letter — always a highlight of the season for me!)

  3. Lizzie Says:

    I CHEAT! I did remember Thomas Tryon, and that he was an actor. The rest I found on IMDb (how did I ever LIVE without that site??) I got some more “Discworld” books for Xmas. The author, Terry Pratchet, has just been made a knight! He’s also suffering from early-onset Alzheiimer’s – but I just read a statement he wrote about it, which is typically clever and funny! Even so, what a bummer!

  4. Lizzie Says:

    I feel the need to defend my cheating ways! I really do remember lots of silly trivia about actors/singers/writers (mostly actors), and I do recognize them all over the place. Also, if I quote anything, I try to do it from memory, rather than copy something. HOWEVER, I do use IMDb – rather a lot! But it’s usually when I’m on the right track already, and want to confirm my suspicions. Also, I get extra information that way! I love trivia. I especially love it when I remember it on my own. But I must admit that I appreciate the “helping hand” I get from IMDb. I hope I haven’t “sullied” this forum!

    And, Meg, not to be a total nudge (okay, who said “too late?”), but did you get my last e-mail? Again, I was concerned about your health. Also, I wanted to share some ideas with you about “Firefly” – which I now love! (BTW, “Serenity” is on the Sci-Fi Channel this Sat. night – at least in Connecticut!)

  5. megwood Says:

    What? Dude, I use IMDb like 675 times a day, yo! For all the same reasons. Don’t be a goofball — “sully” this forum? This forum is 100% sully-free. Except for Sulley from Monsters, Inc, of course. He’s always welcome.

    I did get your email, toots, but I’m way behind on email at the moment. No worries about my health, though — I’m doing awesome these days. But it’s cold & flu season and I commute to/from work by bus. It’s virtually impossible NOT to get sick when you’re surrounded for 60 minutes a day by hacking, coughing, sneezing sick people all packed tightly together in a tiny bus like sardines.

    Glad you liked Firefly! I knew you would! 🙂

  6. Lizzie Says:

    Of course, we could include Mulder and Sulley – oh, that’s SCULLY! Never mind!

  7. Lizzie Says:

    There I go again, thinking I’m so clever! It WAS a dumb joke. (N.B.: “Never mind” was a reference to the FIRST year of SNL – Gilda Radner doing “Emily Litella” – [angrily] “What’s all this I hear about too many VIOLINS on television? … [yada, yada, yada] … Oh! VIOLENCE!” [smiling sweetly] “Never mind.”)

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