Here’s a good essay on R. A. Lafferty by Don Webb on Revolution Science Fiction.
Webb says, “Blurbers (those who blurb) say two contradictory things about the work of R. A. Lafferty. Often both poles will appear in the same blurb . . . He is either compared compared to Twain (or some likewise wholesomely American figure) or to the folktale, ghost tale, or tall-tale. The opposite pole stresses the uniqueness of his work – unique, quirky, one-of-a-kind. It would seem that either the blurbers have indeed read the work, and are hard put to find words to explain the effect of Lafferty’s prose on their psyches, or they are merely quoting other blurbers.
“I wish to argue that Lafferty deliberately creates the mythic effect through a technique I call effective arcanum, and that rather than examining his work with the conventional tools of science fiction criticism, we need to examine his system, firstly for our pleasure, and secondly, so that we may re-create it.”
Webb examines six ways in which Lafferty’s fiction creates the Unknown rather than the Known, and then explores the strengths and weaknesses of these methods. Webb adds, “Each of these points can be expanded into a dissertation and no doubt will be in the fullness of time.”
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