Monsters and Miracles

“But where there’s a monster, there’s a miracle.”

-Ogden Nash

So there you have it. That’s where I nicked the title of the blog from. Actually, Neil Gaiman used the same quote as an epigram to open his short story collection Smoke and Mirrors. It’s from the poem, Dragons Are Too Seldom.

Nash had a big influence on my grandmother’s writing with all of his satirical rhyming word play. And I think I got the writing gene mainly from her and her father who left behind a pile of tortured love poems in Italian, written for his true love when he was forced into an arranged marriage that three generations later led to the existence of yours truly.

But I digress. Nash was simply saying that a monster is a miracle. To see a dragon or a mermaid in the flesh would be anything but ordinary.

For me though, there’s more to it than that.  For me, this phrase resonates as an equation of sorts, a theorem of the dark fantastic. It suggests that if we find ourselves in the realm of monsters, then we can take heart that we are also in the realm of the miraculous, where we may yet find angels, bodhisattvas, and the unexpected arrival of grace or transcendence.

And that’s why I’m not satisfied with labeling my writing as “horror” or “fantasy” because it’s both and it’s more. I hope.

A fan at a signing once asked Clive Barker, “What do you like better, the horror or the magic?” Clive was impressed by how well the question encapsulated the polarity in his work. I think he said he preferred the magic. So do I.

But miracles are always more vital in the presence of monsters.


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