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  1. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by jamieem View Post
    Not sure it fits some of the criteria Randy is thinking of, but when it comes to Bradbury, 'the Emmissary' is one that always sticks out in my mind - chilling ending.

    This collection comes highly recommended by me http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ray-Bradbury...6211564&sr=8-3
    Anything is fair game, Jamieem. And "The Emissary" was originally part of The October Country.

    Randy M.

  2. #17
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    I loved "The Jar" and "The Scythe" in The October Country.

  3. #18

    Not sure you enjoy horror short stories? 13x3 stories that might decide you

    • Early formative stories
      1. “The Sandman” by E. T. A. Hoffman
      2. “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe
      3. “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathanial Hawthorne
      4. “Mr. Justice Harbottle” by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
      5. “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs
      6. “The Damned Thing” by Ambrose Bierce
      7. “The Great God Pan” by Arthur Machen
      8. “The Wendigo” by Algernon Blackwood
      9. “The Yellow Sign” by Robert W. Chambers
      10. “The Judge’s House” by Bram Stoker
      11. “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad” by M. R. James
      12. “The Voice in the Night” by William Hope Hodgson
      13. “The Penal Colony” by Kafka
    • From the pulps and slicks and digests
      1. “The Rats in the Walls” by H. P. Lovecraft
      2. “Shambleau” by C. L. Moore
      3. “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” by Robert Bloch
      4. “Evening Primrose” by John Collier
      5. “The Foghorn” by Ray Bradbury
      6. “The Tenebrous Alley” by Jean Ray
      7. “They Bite” by Anthony Boucher
      8. “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes” by Fritz Leiber
      9. “The Mind-worm” by C. M. Kornbluth
      10. “Vintage Season” by C.L. Moore & Henry Kuttner
      11. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
      12. “Where the Woodbine Twineth” by Davis Grubb
      13. “The Howling Man” by Charles Beaumont
    • Contemporary
      1. “The Distributor” by Richard Matheson
      2. “Ringing the Changes” by Robert Aickman
      3. “Roaches” by Thomas Disch
      4. “The Mist” by Stephen King
      5. “The Tugging” by Ramsey Campbell
      6. "River of Night’s Dreaming” by Karl Edward Wagner
      7. “Bubba-Ho-Tep” by Joe Lansdale
      8. “The Panic Hand” by Jonathan Carroll
      9. “Calcutta, Lord of Nerves” by Poppy Z. Brite
      10. “This Year’s Class Picture” by Dan Simmons
      11. “Out of the Night, When the Full Moon is Bright...” by Kim Newman
      12. "The Wall of Clouds" by Sarah Monette
      13. “Northwest Passage” by Barbara Roden


    No real commentary for this list since many of these stories are considered classics, including a few in the "Contemporary" section. Included in the list are stories with ghosts (Le Fanu, Stoker, James, Grubb), a werewolf (Newman), a mummy (Lansdale), vampires (Moore, Leiber, Kornbluth – sort of), ghouls (Monette), a zombie (Simmons), a few Lovecraftian nasties (Lovecraft, Campbell, King), at least one unequivocally s.f. story (Moore & Kuttner) and one proto-s.f. story (Hoffman), two fantasies (Wagner, Phillips), several where man or men or society are threatening; some are less easily categorized.

    A few possible pairings:
    • “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes & “The Panic Hand” (if you can find it, you might throw in Karl Edward Wagner’s “The Kind Men Like”)
    • “Mr. Justice Harbottle” & “The Judge’s House”
    • “Evening Primrose” & “The Lottery”
    • “The Penal Colony” & “The Lottery”
    • “The Wendigo” & “Northwest Passage”
    • “Young Goodman Brown” & “Ringing the Changes”
    • “The Rats in the Walls” & “The Mist”
    • “The Tenebrous Alley” & “The Tugging”

    Anyone interested in sources for these titles, contact me. It will probably be the weekend before I can pull that list together, though.


    Next: Fritz Leiber

  4. #19

    Fritz Leiber

    [I fell behind yesterday, so I hope to send out two lists tomorrow.]


    When I started to read s.f. Fritz Leiber was one of the first writers I read. Gather, Darkness and The Book of Fritz Leiber (1974) and The Second Book of Fritz Leiber (1975) were early favorites and at that time, in the late 1970s or early 1980s, he was as well-known for his s.f. as for his fantasy. Even so, it wasn’t until later that I read some of his most famous s.f. stories from the 1950s and early 1960s, like “A Pail of Air” and “Coming Attraction,” and then I found Conjure Wife around the time Leiber first published Our Lady of Darkness and read them together.

    I also bought, at one of the first s.f. conventions I ever attended, the Gregg Press edition of Night’s Black Agents, having already read, somewhere, “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes” and thinking it some sort of classic. Still, I didn’t read the entire collection for some time because my interests moved away from s.f., fantasy and horror for a number of years.

    When I came back to sf/f/h among the earliest books I dipped into was Night’s Black Agents, rereading “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes” (which I still consider some sort of classic) and finally getting around to “Smoke Ghost,” “The Dreams of Albert Moreland,” “The Hill and the Hole,” “The Inheritance,” and the other fine stories in that collection (although I have yet to read the Fahfrd and Gray Mouser stories in there; I want to read them in the context of the other stories about that pair).

    Leiber was a prolific writer of fantasy, science fiction and horror, probably the only one of his generation known as a major writer in all three categories. While most contemporary readers are aware of his fantasies about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and some know of his s.f. works like The Big Time, Gather, Darkness and The Wanderer and his even more influential short stories, his impact on horror, and especially the kind of horror that led to contemporary urban fantasy, doesn’t seem as widely known.

    Novels
    i. Conjure Wife (first serialized in Unknown in 1943; as a book, 1953)
    ii. Our Lady of Darkness (1977)

    Conjure Wife is one of the precursors of urban fantasy. In it a young, untenured professor learns that his wife is a witch. As a modern male of the 1940s he doesn’t believe in such things and demands that she stops her spells and incantations and, reluctantly, she does. The consequences, of course, are far worse than anything the young professor could have imagined. (This has been filmed at least three times and somehow I’ve managed to miss all of the filmed versions.)

    In Our Lady of Darkness a writer sees something from his window that tickles his curiosity and spurs him on a search through San Francisco. He also comes across a book on megapolisomancy, essentially a grimoire centering on the power to be found in cities. What he learns from the book and his searches have a profound and even dangerous effect on his life. Our Lady of Darkness is both autobiographical and a culmination of one part of Leiber’s career as a writer and that began in the 1930s in the magazine Unknown.

    Leiber would probably be remembered for these novels, but what cements his importance for the modern horror genre are his collections, notably his first collection:

    Collections of interest
    i. Night’s Black Agents (1947; expanded, 1978)
    ii. Heroes and Horrors (1978)
    iii. The Ghost Light (1984)
    iv. The Black Gondolier and Other Stories (2000)
    v. Smoke Ghost and Other Apparitions (2002)
    vi. Horrible Imaginings (2004)

    I haven’t yet read every relevant story in these collections except Night’s Black Agents, but I’ve read a large percentage of them. The last three were published in small-ish print runs by Midnight House and probably constitute the most comprehensive collection of Leiber’s horror/urban fantasy stories so far published. The others, all in paperback editions, are somewhat easier to find and less expensive. (PS Publishing put out a trade paperback edition of The Black Gondolier and Other Stories but I’m not sure how widely they distributed the title.)

    Following are some of the stories from these collections that make Leiber important:

    Stories of importance
    i. “Smoke Ghost”
    ii. “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes”
    iii. “The Dreams of Albert Moreland”
    iv. “Four Ghosts in Hamlet”
    v. “Belson Express”
    Lesser known but very good stories
    i. “You’re All Alone”
    ii. “The Hill and the Hole”
    iii. “The Inheritance” (a.k.a. “The Phantom Slayer”)
    iv. “The Button Moulder”
    v. “Black Glass”
    vi. “Dark Wings”
    vii. “A Bit of the Dark World”
    viii. “Diary in the Snow”

    Leiber came to specialize in portraying cities and the odd, dark corners of cities where the weird, the eerie, the outré, the supernatural or the paranormal lurked and gathered and sprang at the unwary passerby. He began this specialization with “Smoke Ghost,” first published in Unknown magazine in 1939. Almost every anthology of ghost stories that purports to represent a history of the genre includes “Smoke Ghost” …

    But first a short tangent: In the late 1930s John W. Campbell Jr. decided to do for fantasy what he had done previously for s.f., shake it up, streamline it, bring it into the present century. No more Cabell-esque imaginary settings, no more exquisite formal writing, tell stories in the times, of the times, in the vernacular, and his stable of writers, including Heinlein, Sprague de Camp and Kuttner and Moore responded for several years with fine short fantasies written in everyday language. Campbell, in spite of this aim, published some of the early Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories because they were too good to let pass, even though they were not exactly what he wanted. Then, in 1939, he published “Smoke Ghost,” and Leiber in essence recreated the horror genre. “Smoke Ghost” was transformative.

    In “Smoke Ghost” a former psychic notices something moving along the rooftops when he’s on the train to work, feels watched at home and at the office, is being followed, pursued – haunted – but he doesn’t know by whom or what. The ending of the story, when he confronts his pursuer, is one of those moments in prose fiction when the reader feels the stakes being raised, the author pushing the story beyond what it had been, a well-constructed ghostly story notable mainly for its then contemporary city-scape, and intentionally or not creating a statement about his time and place. From “Smoke Ghost” and other Leiber stories spring the work of Richard Matheson and Stephen King. (In fairness, the stories of Robert Bloch appearing about this time were moving in a similar direction, but not until 1943 and “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” did he publish a story that, for readers of the time, felt as important as Leiber’s story.)

    Much the same said about “Smoke Ghost” could also be said about “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes,” in which a young woman, not at all prepossessing, somehow becomes a sex symbol, a media darling, seemingly gaining greater power to hold the public’s attention with every moment she is in the spotlight. The story felt prescient when I first read it in the 1970s and perhaps even more so in these reality-show, Internet-personality times.

    While I recommend all the stories listed above, besides “Smoke Ghost” and “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes,” I would especially draw your attention to “A Bit of the Dark World” and “You’re All Alone.” The former feels like an early run at Our Lady of Darkness: a couple meet with a friend who begins telling them of his discovery of a gap between the material and the unconscious world, but they aren’t prepared for what they find there. In “You’re All Alone” there’s a different sort of gap: The protagonist finds the hidden clockwork of the world, learns to enter it and negotiate it, and then meets the other people who inhabit it. (Leiber later expanded this novella into The Sinful Ones, which I have yet to read.)


    Next: A Novel Experience
    Last edited by Randy M.; August 18th, 2011 at 04:35 PM.

  5. #20

    A Novel Experience … 13x3 fine novel-length October readings

    Some of the Usual Suspects
    • Dracula by Bram Stoker
    • The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells
    • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
    • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
    • Psycho by Robert Bloch
    • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
    • The Other by Thomas Tryon
    • The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
    • Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice
    • Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
    • The Shining by Stephen King
    • Pet Semetary by Stephen King
    • Ghost Story by Peter Straub


    Of all of these fine novels, I would most strongly recommend Jackson’s, Straub’s, and King’s Pet Semetary.

    Jackson’s novel is the quietest, gradually revealing character, not just of the four explorers of Hill House, but of the house itself. Perhaps the scariest moment in the novel sneaks up on the reader, so that we’re not really aware how frightening it is except in retrospect. Eleanor, the main character, remains one of the most developed and sympathetic characters in horror fiction.

    Straub’s Chowder Society and their stories are compelling as he reveals the truth in bits, the reader having to piece together the full story as the novel continues. This might be even better reading for winter.

    King’s novel gives us one of his best family portraits, showing the care and love the family members have for each other, and then … What the father does is something most fathers, in that position, would do, and the consequences are heart-wrenching.


    Some Less Usual Suspects
    • The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore
    • Night Has a Thousand Eyes by Cornell Woolrich
    • The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll
    • Voice of Our Shadow by Jonathan Carroll
    • Perfume by Patrick Susskind
    • Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber
    • The Cormorant by Stephen Gregory
    • Finishing Touches by Thomas Tessier
    • Midnight Sun by Ramsey Campbell
    • Anno Dracula by Kim Newman
    • The Course of the Heart by M. John Harrison
    • Threshold by Caitlin Kiernan
    • The Red Tree by Caitlin Kiernan


    There’s a lot to enjoy in this group, from Victorian vamps (Newman) to a 17th century werewolf (Endore), from noir creepiness (Woolrich) to Southern Gothic (Kiernan’s Threshold), from the threat of an intense winter (Campbell) to the debilitating effects of summer heat (Kiernan’s The Red Tree), from monsters of the mind (Carroll) to monsters manifest (Leiber, Harrison) to human monsters (Tessier).

    I especially recommend Perfume, a historical novel that somehow manages to make one man’s sense of smell seem sinister, The Course of the Heart, which was influenced by Arthur Machen’s “The Great God Pan,” and tells of a small group of college students who experienced something supernatural, or paranormal, or certainly beyond their worldly experience, and how the experience shapes their later lives and still haunts them, and Finishing Touches, a truly disturbing novel of one man’s descent into perversity.


    Unusual Suspects: Maybe not horror, but dark … oh, yes, most certainly dark
    • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
    • Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
    • Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathaniel West
    • The Bride Wore Black by Cornell Woolrich
    • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
    • The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh
    • A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O’Nan
    • Beloved by Toni Morrison
    • In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien
    • Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin
    • No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
    • Twilight by William Gay
    • The Red of His Shadow by Mayra Montero

    These are novels that sit on the fringe of the horror story.

    Beloved is the only one of these novels with a true supernatural occurance when a mother feels the presence of her daughter who had died years before, and I would argue it is a horror novel, although Morrison’s literary reputation stops most readers from acknowledging that.

    Wuthering Heights, Twilight, The Red of His Shadow and No Country for Old Men all feel as though something supernatural could happen, even though, arguably, it does not. The first is an acknowledged classic of the Gothic mode, and the last features one of the most ruthless men in literature. The other two, relatively recent novels, are not well-known but would repay reading, the first with a story of a chase through a forest that seems alive with the imminence of fairy tale, the other with a story of the Dominican Republic and the Haitians who live there and their practice of voudun.

    Ethan Frome reads like an extend conte cruel, an exercise in a sort of poetic justice and unsettling because it seems so vastly unjust. Miss Lonlyhearts is an existential nightmare, a portrait of a man falling apart. The Bride Wore Black follows a detective trying to solve a series of murders, and the woman committing them. The ending is still potent, even after years of other mystery writers cribbing from the novel. The Loved One is a pitch-black satire of the American mortuary business (Twilight also features what may be the most twisted mortician in literature as one of its highlights) and is sometimes funny in an uncomfortable way. The story in A Prayer for the Dying proceeds with a relentless, ruthless logic that still allows for compassion and empathy in its characters.

    In the Lake of the Woods may be about a murder or may not, it may be mostly illusion but that’s not likely, though the main character was once a magician. Lastly, Mary Reilly and Wide Sargasso Sea spring from past classics, the former following the experiences of Dr. Jekyll’s maid, and the latter following the early life of a mostly off-stage character from a different Bronte’s classic, Jane Eyre.

    If your autumn interest lies not in the horror novel, but in works that deal with the darker side of human nature, I believe these would appeal to you.
    Last edited by Randy M.; October 9th, 2010 at 01:10 PM.

  6. #21
    It never entered my mind algernoninc's Avatar
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    Lots of goodies in these recommendations: thanks.
    I would add to the novel section Gargoyle by Avram Davidson - i read it recently and it has made a strong impression on me.
    for short stories, i don't know if ghosts are appropriate in this thread. If yes, then I would add Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn and A Fine and Private Place by Peter S Beagle.

    Will there be a movie section next? One without zombies and vampires preferably - I'm almost fed up with the recent proliferation in the genre.
    I'm thinking:
    The Shining
    Psycho
    Which one has a masked serial killer? I should probably try it out this month.

  7. #22
    Great lists, Randy. I'll have to look out for some of those unusual suspects. I've been thinking of trying Evelyn Waugh, and The Loved One sounds like fun. Thanks for doing this!

    A recommendation of my own would be the ghost stories of Susan Hill. She's a contemporary writer, but her stories have a classic, oldfashioned horror feel to them in my opinion.
    The novella "The Man in the Picture" might be the one best suited for Halloween, since it has carnivales.
    I haven't read her "The Woman in Black" yet, but I've seen the film and thought it was awesome, and one of the scariest supernatural horror films I've ever seen.

  8. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by algernoninc View Post
    Lots of goodies in these recommendations: thanks.
    I would add to the novel section Gargoyle by Avram Davidson - i read it recently and it has made a strong impression on me.
    for short stories, i don't know if ghosts are appropriate in this thread. If yes, then I would add Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn and A Fine and Private Place by Peter S Beagle.
    I keep looking at The Gargoyle, but haven't yet worked up to buying it much less reading it. I think I've seen you mention it before and that has made me curious about the book.

    Will there be a movie section next? One without zombies and vampires preferably - I'm almost fed up with the recent proliferation in the genre.
    I'm thinking:
    The Shining
    Psycho
    Which one has a masked serial killer? I should probably try it out this month.
    Neither of those has a masked killer, exactly. Are you thinking of Halloween? The first in that series is terrific.

    I was debating about a films based on novels/short stories, but that list hasn't developed much recently so I may hold it off until next week.

    Randy M.

  9. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Oubliette View Post
    Great lists, Randy. I'll have to look out for some of those unusual suspects. I've been thinking of trying Evelyn Waugh, and The Loved One sounds like fun. Thanks for doing this!
    Thanks, Oubliette.

    The Waugh is not a laugh riot, but it is a vicious satire of the business that grew up around death.

    A recommendation of my own would be the ghost stories of Susan Hill. She's a contemporary writer, but her stories have a classic, oldfashioned horror feel to them in my opinion.
    The novella "The Man in the Picture" might be the one best suited for Halloween, since it has carnivales.
    I haven't read her "The Woman in Black" yet, but I've seen the film and thought it was awesome, and one of the scariest supernatural horror films I've ever seen.
    I haven't read that one, but do intend to mention The Woman in Black and maybe The Mist in the Mirror. I haven't seen the filmed version of the former, though I hear it's very effective. I've also heard the stage-play is amazingly scary.


    Randy M.

  10. #25

    Great Ghost Stories

    10 by M. R. James
    1. “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad”
    2. “Casting the Runes”
    3. “Count Magnus”
    4. “An Episode of Cathedral History”
    5. “The Haunted Doll's House”
    6. “A Warning to the Curious”
    7. “The Mezzotint”
    8. “Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook”
    9. “The Treasure of Abbott Thomas”
    10. “A School Story”


    For about a century the best known writer of ghost stories in the English language has been M.R. James. James was a mediaeval scholar, and a provost at both King’s College at Cambridge and, later, Eton College; he was also a life-long bachelor, putting his time and attention to his work and his studies. At Christmas time, those left behind for the holidays would entertain themselves after Christmas dinner, and so James began writing ghost stories to read aloud.

    Just to note: Not all ghost stories contain ghosts. Over time, through usage, the term, “ghost story” came to embrace any story of horror, though that seems to be changing, with “ghost story” coming more to mean horror stories with quiet, evocative story-telling, and not a lot of blood and gore. Certainly James’ stories do not all contain ghosts.

    I split (re/)reading the Collected Ghost Stories (Wordsworth) over a couple of Decembers and the stories above were among my favorites. James’ work sprang from the Victorian ghost stories of his youth like those by Dickens and, especially, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. In turn his work inspired other writers to try their hand at the ghost story.

    20 not by M. R. James
    1. “The Signalman” by Charles Dickens
    2. “Mr. Justice Harbottle” by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
    3. “The Beckoning Fair One” by Oliver Onions
    4. “How Love Came to Professor Gildea” by Robert Hichens
    5. "The Middle Toe of the Right Foot” by Ambrose Bierce
    6. “Amor Dure” by Vernon Lee
    7. “Negotium Perambulans” by E. F. Benson
    8. “Pomegranate Seed” by Edith Wharton
    9. “The Jolly Corner” by Henry James
    10. “Smoke Ghost” by Fritz Leiber
    11. “The Lady on the Gray” by John Collier
    12. “A Visitor From Down Under” by L. P. Hartley
    13. “The Happy Autumn Fields” by Elizabeth Bowen
    14. “The Demon Lover” by Elizabeth Bowen
    15. “A Little Place Off the Edgeware Road” by Graham Greene
    16. “The Portobello Road” by Murial Spark
    17. “Three Miles Up” by Elizabeth Jane Howard
    18. “The Inner Room” by Robert Aickman
    19. “The Two Sams” by Glen Hirshberg
    20. “Among the Tombs” by Reggie Oliver


    Most of these are truly ghost stories, though some might argue with Bowen’s “The Demon Lover” and the Hirshberg; only the Hirshberg and Oliver were first published within the last decade. They are all favorite stories of mine, but if forced to point at a handful I especially recommended and especially for someone who hasn’t read many ghost stories, I’d say, after the James stories, “The Beckoning Fair One,” which is a seductive story of a haunted room, “Amor Dure,” which is a powerful story of possession, “Smoke Ghost,” which I’ve already raved about, “The Demon Lover,” which uses the atmosphere of WWII London to powerful effect, and “The Inner Room,” which is one of those stories that leaves the reader a bit disoriented, wondering what just happened.


    Ten novels
    1. Turn of the Screw by Henry James
    2. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
    3. Hell House by Richard Matheson
    4. Naomi’s Room by Jonathan Aycliffe
    5. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
    6. The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill
    7. Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber
    8. The Shining by Stephen King
    9. Ghost Story by Peter Straub
    10. Beloved by Toni Morrison


    Writing an extended ghost story must be hard. Add to the needs of a novel for a defined setting and believable characters, among other needs, the requirement for a ghostly mood and atmosphere, the sense of foreboding that the success of most ghost stories depends on. These novels are among the few I’ve read that really work as novels and as ghost stories. (I have some at home that I haven't read yet that look promising: Julian's House by Judith Hawkes; The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddon; House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski; House of Windows by John Langan; and Audrey's Door by Sarah Langan.)

    Readers, even some non-academic readers, still debate whether Turn of the Screw is really a ghost story or not. What I don’t think anyone would debate is that James – the other ghost story writing James, Henry – was using the atmospherics of the ghost story to further his tale of a children’s nanny who may or may not have seen a ghost. This is the model of a quiet, slow-building tale in which the ghostly and the psychological mingle and merge.

    “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.” (famous first paragraph of The Haunting of Hill House)

    Jackson’s novel is one of the finest, most affecting novels of the supernatural from the 20th century. A short novel by current standards, it tells its story concisely, yet often obliquely, illustrating the search for love and acceptance by Eleanor Vance. Every event in this story stems from the character of Eleanor Vance and her quest and there is a sense of inevitability as the novel progresses to its final, sad scene.

    Richard Matheson’s Hell House is, from what I’ve read, a response to Jackson’s novel. Apparently Matheson did not believe Jackson captured the way a scientific expedition into a known haunted house would proceed and so wrote his own version. Hell House takes much of its set-up from Jackson’s novel, including having four people with their own emotional and psychological baggage as the main characters, puts them through a similar but sufficiently different plot, but cannot at any point match the lyricism and flow of Jackson’s writing; Hell House is the pulp version of The Haunting of Hill House. That said, Matheson is an accomplished writer in his mode and this is one of the more entertaining stories I’ve read by him. Just don’t expect the psychological acuity or the ability to build the story from character that Jackson showed.

    Naomi’s Room is about a family in a new house, finding it’s haunted. The father digs into the house’s past, encounters the supernatural in other places in at least one set-piece worthy of M. R. James, and eventually solves the puzzle, sort of, in an ending that I found shocking, yet apt. I did think this first novel ran out of steam a bit past mid-way, but the ending, for all its distastefulness, redeemed the book.

    Susan Hill irks many ghost story afficionados. She has a habit of saying things about other ghost stories that are dismissive if not outright insulting to the stories, the writers and the readers. She really shouldn’t do that because her novels The Woman in Black and The Mist in the Mirror bring nothing new to the ghost story, following the time worn path of events that many stories before them created. That said, they walk the path well, creating believable settings and characters, providing a few chills along the way, and wall written in impecable prose. I enjoyed each, the latter maybe a bit more during the reading than the former, though the former has a central image, the woman in black, that makes it stay in memory perhaps a bit more powerfully.

    I’ve already cheered about Our Lady of Darkness, so just a couple of words about The Shining and Ghost Story: I’ve meant to reread both for the last couple of years but keep getting side-tracked. At the time I read them in the early 1980s, they seemed to me good enough to merit the praise they were getting from the press and readers. As for Peter Straub, my recent (re/)reading of some of his novels and short stories have certainly done nothing to make me think I would change my mind about Ghost Story.

    Beloved, based on true events that took place during the time when slavery was legal, is a powerful, Faulknerian novel, slowly peeling away its mysteries to reveal its core story, the motivation of a mother. Some readers don’t care for this novel, apparently finding it difficult and maybe even pretentious reading. I thought it was one of the finest novels I read in the 1980s, its cumulative power finally overwhelming, its revelations heart-breaking.
    Last edited by Randy M.; October 12th, 2010 at 10:39 AM.

  11. #26
    Here's a few good halloween reads. Charles l. Grant's The Orchard , try all his Oxrun Station novels. He's a master of quite horror.Daniel Rhodes Next , After Lucifer, it has an evil templar knight and is a nice tribute to M. R. James. Gordon Honeycombe's Dragon Under The Hill, this one has evil vikings. Also try these oldies , Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco , Dark Godsand The Ceremoniesby T. E. D. Klein , The Great White Spaceby Basil Copper , The Sentinelby Jeffery Konvitz and last The Mephisto Waltz by Fred Mustard Stewart.

  12. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by raggedyman View Post
    Here's a few good halloween reads. Charles l. Grant's The Orchard , try all his Oxrun Station novels. He's a master of quite horror.
    I haven't included any of Grant's short stories because it's been so long since I read them I can't recall details. I remember enjoying them at the time of reading, though. I have a similar problem with the Copper novel you mention; I picked up an old copy of it awhile back thinking I'd try rereading but haven't gotten to it yet.

    Daniel Rhodes Next , After Lucifer, it has an evil templar knight and is a nice tribute to M. R. James. Gordon Honeycombe's Dragon Under The Hill, this one has evil vikings. Also try these oldies , Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco , Dark Godsand The Ceremoniesby T. E. D. Klein , The Great White Spaceby Basil Copper , The Sentinelby Jeffery Konvitz and last The Mephisto Waltz by Fred Mustard Stewart.
    Honeycombe is a writer I keep my eye out for since I've heard good things. The Marasco, and the Klein novel are on my TBR; I've read a couple of stories in Dark Gods and enjoyed them greatly: "Black Man with a Horn" is one of my favorite horror/Lovecraftian stories, and "Nadelman's God" strikes me as a riff on Leiber's "Smoke Ghost" that works well. (Oddly enough, the list I'm working on now includes both of Klein's stories.)


    Randy M.

  13. #28
    I found a cheap copy of The Night Country by Stewart O'Nan on amazon marketplace. I've been meaning to read something of his for awhile now, so I'll make it his Halloween book.

  14. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Allardyce View Post
    I found a cheap copy of The Night Country by Stewart O'Nan on amazon marketplace. I've been meaning to read something of his for awhile now, so I'll make it his Halloween book.
    Enjoy.


    Randy M.

  15. #30

    The Long and Short of It: Long short stories, Short Novels, Novelettes, Novellas, Nov

    … Only people of a certain age will get that …

    I know the technical definitions of a novelette and a novella as opposed to short stories, but I’ve also seen longish short stories packaged in books purportedly containing only novellas, so I find the word count definitions less than satisfactory. Let’s just say that the following are either long short stories or quite short novels, and the additional length works in favor of the story being told.

    Often the best stories in genre are in that grey area between short story and novel. For the horror story the length provides enough room for the writer to set out the events of the story in a leisurely manner, build an atmosphere of approaching dread and doom, but not so much room that the texturing of the narrative, the attention to character and setting, slows the pace or drains away suspense.

    Not much commentary this time, but I thought I’d pair up some stories that I think might be interesting if read together.

    Nutritional Values
    “Carmilla” by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
    “Carrion Comfort” by Dan Simmons
    • Vampire stories (sorry Algernoninc), one traditional, even a cornerstone of the kind, the other a very different take on the subject


    Gimme that Ol’ Time Religion, Part 1
    “The Great God Pan” by Arthur Machen
    “The Great God Pan” by M. John Harrison
    • Harrison was inspired by Machen; later expanded the story into The Course of the Heart


    Gimme that Ol’ Time Religion, Part 2
    “Nadelman’s God” by T. E. D. Klein
    “Black Cocktail” by Jonathan Carroll
    “My Work is Not Yet Done” by Thomas Ligotti
    • Note: The Ligotti is intense and disturbingly, viscerally violent, unlike most other stories I’ve read by him. Emphasize, intense.


    Horror on Ice
    “At the Mountains of Madness” by H. P. Lovecraft
    “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, Jr.
    “White” by Tim Lebbon
    • Snow, ice, bitter cold, all we hold dear threatened … great stuff. If you want to really make a depressing winter of it, throw in Ramsey Campbell's Midnight sun


    A Change of Face
    “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” by H. P. Lovecraft
    “There Shall be No Darkness” by James Blish
    “Cleopatra Brimstone” by Elizabeth Hand

    Splitting Personalities
    The Case of Charles Dexter Ward by H. P. Lovecraft
    “The Throne of Bones” by Brian MacNaughton
    • This group and the one before all deal with issues of identity


    Looking for Lovecraft
    “The Events at Poroth Farm” by T. E. D. Klein
    “The Mist” by Stephen King
    “The Autopsy” by Michael Shea
    • More on Lovecraft in the near future


    Space! The Final… EEEIIIAAAAAARRRggg!
    “Black Destroyer” by A. E. Van Vogt
    “Nightfliers” by George R. R. Martin

    Other Stories Worth Your Attention
    “Pork Pie Hat” by Peter Straub
    “The Ghost Village” by Peter Straub
    “The Beckoning Fair One” by Oliver Onions
    “You’re All Alone” by Fritz Leiber
    “Oke of Okehurst” by Vernon Lee
    “The Willows” by Algernon Blackwood
    “The Dancing Men” by Glen Hirshberg
    Isis by Douglas Clegg


    My favorites among these are mostly the oldies: “The Beckoning Fair One”; “The Great God Pan” (Machen); “At the Mountains of Madness”; “Who Goes There?” Even so “Pork Pie Hat” is compelling, delving into character and the not too distant past for a strong story; “The Throne of Bones,” which might almost better be described as a suite of stories, is not only ghoulish, it’s often quite funny; and “The Great God Pan” (Harrison) is a phenomenal story about lost innocence and the later behavior of those who have lost it.

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