Unable to make a decision about what book I wanted to be reading when I leave for vacation on Thursday, I have found a temporary solution to delay deciding: the short story. I know which books I am going to be taking, just not which one I want to read first.
But in the meantime, at least I have something to read. A few weeks ago I was reading a post on sffworld.com about a collection of horror stories someone had found. While that particular collection didn’t interest me much, one of the commentors talked about several authors of whom I had never heard. Older horror authors, and when I looked them up, the giants of the genre upon whose shoulders folks like Stephen King now stand. Men with names like: M.R. James, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen, and others. I was fascinated by this discovery because I’ve always enjoyed a good ghost story and I’ve wondered forever how they got to be popular and did anyone of letters actually write any or were they all just campfire tales for kids. I had no idea that in the early 20th century (Lovecraft’s time) there were others out there writing about the supernatural and paranormal. So, I did some digging and found out some more about these authors and the kinds of stories they had written – stories that sounded exactly like what I have been wanting. Half.com is my friend and for the low, low price of like $23 I ordered a whole bunch of these old books. Several have arrived now, one by accident and as a bonus!
I ordered a collection by Le Fanu and when it arrived it turned out to be a collection by Blackwood that I had not ordered. I alerted the seller who apologized, refunded my money, and told me to keep the book! It was the first and only one that had arrived by the time I needed something to read, so last night I picked it up and read the first story in it, apparently a very famous one of which Lovecraft himself said that it might be the finest ghost story ever written in the English language. It was called, “The Willows,” and may I just say, wow! Very suspenseful, excellent command of English diction and syntax, great sense of awe and terror, and he doesn’t commit the sin of showing the “scary thing”! I have read that he is known for his writing about nature and the outdoors, of which “The Willows” definitely was an example, but I look forward to some of the James’ stories that take place in libraries and giant houses and such places. As well as I look forward to the others! Plus, I remembered King came out with a new short story collection not too long ago, Just After Sunset, so I ordered it too in hardback on half.com for $0.75 Love that site! So, these fellas outta hold me over til Thursday when I can begin my next novel on the plane.