Category Archives: dark fantasy

Within the Monastery of Mountains: Melville’s The Piazza

Tuesday’s Tale    July 30 and August 1, 2019

MELVILLE AT 200

 

August 1st is the 200th anniversary of Herman Melville’s birth date, born in 1819 (click to visit Arrowhead website). Hence, the celebration this week of Herman Melvillle’s fiction. I am featuring one of his short stories The Piazza because it reflects his homestead, Arrowhead, at the foot of Mt. Greylock in Pittsfield, MA.

My readers here know how precious Mt. Greylock is to my creative writing, and many who have read my supernatural mystery Greylock, will appreciate this post today. Melville began writing his most famous Moby Dick in 1850 during the snowy month of February at Arrowhead, the farmhouse built in 1780. The novel, as we all know, is a story of the unrelenting Captain Ahab who is driven to pursue the white whale who ends up destroying him. Melville would sit at his desk in the upstairs study, his window in full view of Mt. Greylock.

 

The piazza, after which the story and the book “The Piazza Tales” were named, is a porch Melville added to the north side of Arrowhead’s farmhouse shortly after he purchased the farm.

(Arrowhead, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the piazza on the back side of the farmhouse.)

When I visited Arrowhead Homestead Museum in Pittsfield and gave a reading of Greylock there in 2017, I toured Melville’s home, walked through his study and ran my finger along his desk as if I could touch the dead author. For a long moment I soaked in the view of Mt. Greylock, one of the most ghostly and mysterious mountains in Northeast America. As a writer of ghosts stories, I sometimes think we can connect to the dead through our own thoughts and by reading their words; this moment was a deep one for me.

 

 

 

 

Here you can see Melville’s exact view out his study window of Mt. Greylock. Look closely and you’ll see it resembles a great humped whale in the sea of sky. How inspiring is that! Visitors to Arrowhead can  stand on that piazza and soak in the same view Melville did when he spent hours there in his rocking chair.

The works Melville wrote at Arrowhead included Moby Dick, Pierre, The Confidence-Man, Israel Potter, a collection entitled The Piazza Tales, and such short stories as I and My Chimney, Benito Cereno, Bartleby the Scrivener, and The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids. Melville became known as one of the Dark Romantic writers, much like Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife Sophia Peabody, Mary Shelley, and Poe.

This short story, The Piazza, takes place at Arrowhead—a view from the piazza—and the narrator makes a magical journey to the mountain he calls “old Greylock, like a Sinai.” Sitting on this piazza, our narrator absorbs all of nature on the mountain—the far forest, hill and valley, flower and berry bush, and the woozy air. Light, shadows, dreamy thoughts from this mountain play hide-and-seek before his eyes and mind.  At one point yellow birds appear on a darkened path. Then, little footprints form among the ferns. He follows the footprints to a cottage, thinking he is entering a fairy land, a place where blond fairies dance.

Melville brings us beyond Mt. Greylock, into a place between two azure worlds. Can you smell the moss? Hear the yellow birds? Can you hear Marianna’s dusky voice? Listen with your highest awareness to truly enjoy this adventure with Melville. Celebrate one of our greatest American writers at 200 years.

 

Read the short story here:

https://americanliterature.com/author/herman-melville/short-story/the-piazza

 

Listen to the audio on You Tube by Librivox Recordings:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x266a5alws4

 

 

 

View my original blog post from my book signing at Arrowhead at the foot of  Mt. Greylock: https://paulacappa.wordpress.com/2017/06/

THE PIAZZA TALES BY HERMAN MELVILLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Piazza Tales include 6 short stories: The Piazza, Bartleby the Scrivener, Benito Cereno, The Lightning-Rod Man, The Encantadas or Enchanted Isles, The Bell-Tower.  You can read all these tales FREE at Gutenberg.org: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/15859

The Melville Society: https://melvillesociety.org/

Melville at 200: https://melvillesociety.org/calendar/eventdetail/9/-/melville-s-birthday

Please comment below if you are a Melville fan

or an admirer of Mt. Greylock!

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Don’t Go Into the Forest: The Third Bear

The Third Bear  by Jeff Vandermeer

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    April 16, 2019

2007 SHIRLEY JACKSON AWARD NOMINEE, 2007 WSFA SMALL PRESS AWARD NOMINEE

I dare you to stop reading this story. The Third Bear is a horror story, not the ‘quiet horror’  I prefer but it’s done well so I was good with it.  A ravenous bear on a killing spree, a banished witch-woman in the woods, a mysterious door hidden among the dark woods, and a town’s desperate passion to survive. But more than all this, we have a story of good old-fashioned fear with an ending sure to strike.

 

The door. In the middle of the forest. It was made of old oak and overgrown with moss and mushrooms, and yet it seemed to flicker like glass. A kind of light or brightness hurtled through the ground, through the dead leaves and worms and beetles, around the door  …

 

Read the short story here at ClarkesworldMagazine:

http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/vandermeer_04_07/

 

 

I want to add for all the fiction writers who follow my blog, this story is a supreme example of well-written suspense, characterization, plot, and theme.  And the descriptions! Here is the author Jeff Vandermeer’s Eight Writing Tips. I found these tips to go beyond the same ol’ advice you’ve likely read before. Vandermeer has new thoughts, absolutely refreshing and inspiring. He believes  “in letting the things about writing that should be organic remain organic, but also working in targeted ways on those things that can be improved mechanically. (It may be six months to a year before I begin to write a novel).”

I also like the fact that Vandermeer honors an author’s “time spent thinking about what you are going to write.”  He speaks to the ecstatic vision about a scene or character. Lots more here:

https://chireviewofbooks.com/2018/03/05/8-writing-tips-from-jeff-vandermeer/

Jeff VanderMeer is an American author. He is an editor and literary critic. He established his fame in the New Weird literary genre and became known as ‘the weird Thoreau’ by the New Yorker Magazine. His bestselling Southern Reach Trilogy brought him into mainstream fiction and the book hit some 30 Best Lists in 2014. He is winner of numerous World Fantasy Awards, Hugo Award, and Nebula Award. He won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel for Annihilation. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Hues of Death: The Crystal Cup

The Crystal Cup by Bram Stoker (1872)

Tuesday’s Tale   March 26, 2019

 

The Crystal Cup was Bram Stoker’s first published short story. This is a tale of love, death, power, moonlight, and of course a woman. Her name is Aurora. We are in a great palace with the king who commands an artist create a crystal goblet. But to do this, our artist must abandon his beloved wife and be imprisoned within the dungeon walls inside the palace. Freedom, artistic creativity, and the power of beauty are all themes here. And dark elements too in living hues of death. Quite an adventure in stunning prose that is vintage Stoker. These three short viewpoints will capture you until the very end. An extraordinary piece of fiction and not to be missed if you are a classic fiction aficionado.

The Crystal Cup Chapter I. The Dream-Birth

 

“I rise from my work and spring up the wall till I reach the embrasure. I grasp the corner of the stonework and draw myself up till I crouch in the wide window. Sea, sea, out away as far as my vision extends. There I gaze till my eyes grow dim; and in the dimness of my eyes my spirit finds its sight.

The Crystal Cup Chapter II. The Feast of Beauty

“Strange story has that cup. Born to life in the cell of a captive torn from his artist home beyond the sea, to enhance the splendour of a feast by his labour—seen at work by spies, and traced and followed till a chance—cruel chance for him—gave him into the hands of the emissaries of my master. He too, poor moth, fluttered about the flame: the name of freedom spurred him on to exertion till he wore away his life.”

The Crystal Cup Chapter III. The Story of the Moonbeam

 

“Slowly I creep along the bosom of the waters … The time has come when I can behold the palace without waiting to mount upon the waves. It is built of white marble, and rises steep from the brine. Its sea-front is glorious with columns and statues; and from the portals the marble steps sweep down, broad and wide to the waters, and below them, down as deep as I can see.

No sound is heard, no light is seen. A solemn silence abounds, a perfect calm.

Slowly I climb the palace walls …”

 

Read it slowly to savor every word.  At Classic Literature Co. UK:

https://classic-literature.co.uk/bram-stoker-the-crystal-cup/

Listen to the Librivox audio at US Archive.org:

 

 

 

Bram Stoker is recognized as one of the most prominent Gothic authors of the Victorian era. Like his immortal creation Count Dracula, Stoker’s life is shrouded in mystery, from his rumored participation in occult circles, to his purported death from syphilis.  His interests included Egyptology, Babylonian lore, astral projections, and alchemy. He was rumored to be a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, an esoteric circle of magicians attended by W.B. Yeats and Aleister Crowley.

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost story blogs, Gothic fiction, Gothic Horror, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural, supernatural tales

When I Was a Witch

When I Was A Witch  by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1910)

Tuesday’s Tale of Witches    February 19, 2019

Women and their identities have long been a theme in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s fiction. This short-short is a cunning little story about when wishes come true. If you are an animal lover of cats, dogs, horses, and fascinated by the power of witches, you’ve got to read this one!

 

“The thing began all of a sudden, one October midnight–the 30th, to be exact. It had been hot, really hot, all day, and was sultry and thunderous in the evening; no air stirring, and the whole house stewing with that ill-advised activity which always seems to move the steam radiator when it isn’t wanted. I was in a state of simmering rage–hot enough, even without the weather and the furnace–and I went up on the roof to cool off.”

 

 

Read the short story (30-minute read) here at Fantasy-Magazine:

http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/fiction/when-i-was-a-witch/

Listen to the audio (21 minutes) on YouTube:

Librivox  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3XDqr7H3rc

 

Many of you here at this blog know Gilman for her ground-breaking, bestselling The Yellow Wallpaper (read it here). She was a member of the prominent Beecher family of Connecticut, author of novels and nonfiction, 200 short stories, plays and thousands of essays, a poet, philosopher, and Utopian feminist for social reform.  Suffragette Carrie Chapman Catt called Gilman “the most original and challenging mind which the (women’s) movement produced.”  Gilman was inducted into the National Woman’s Hall of Fame in 1994.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman took her own life in 1935 after learning she had inoperable breast cancer.

 

“It is not that women are really smaller-minded, weaker-minded, more timid and vacillating, but that whosoever, man or woman, lives always in a small, dark place, is always guarded, protected, directed and restrained, will become inevitably narrowed and weakened by it.”  – CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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A Ghost for Christmas

Thurlow’s Christmas Story   by John Kendrick Bangs (1894 Harper’s Weekly)

Wednesday’s Christmas Story  December 5, 2018

 

It’s nearly Christmas and a lovely time for ghost stories. Let’s imagine you are a writer. Or maybe, like me, you are a writer of fiction and a lover of ghost stories. Here is a story about a writer haunted by a ghostly vision. At the same time this ghost arrives, our writer is struggling to invent an adventure “the usual ghostly tale with a dash of the Christmas flavor” for his editor to publish for the Christmas  edition, The Idler. What John Kendrick Bangs does here in Thurlow’s Christmas Story is write a letter  based on a supernatural experience. He sends this letter to his editor Mr. George Currier at The Idler.

One night, after producing only blank pages at his desk … ‘On my way up to bed shortly after midnight, having been neither smoking nor drinking, I saw confronting me upon the stairs, with the moonlight streaming through the windows back of me, lighting up its face, a figure in which I recognized my very self in every form and feature.’

So, what happens when we meet a ghost in our own image? Some consider this a comic ghost story. You be the judge.

 

 

I can say that when writing—when inside that mysterious creative process of storytelling—some writers do experience supernatural activity, and I think author John Kendrick Bangs was one of them. Bangs is known as an American satirist, author of short stories, novels, poems, and serial fiction (Harper’s Weekly). He is a clever writer in supernatural fiction, and creator of modern Bangsian fantasy (fantasy set in the afterlife).

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Read the Christmas short story PDF https://loa-shared.s3.amazonaws.com/static/pdf/Bangs_Thurlow.pdf

Listen to the 30-minute audio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=805riJbo7UY

 

 

“May the Christmastide bear you to the highest level of your desires, and the ebbing year leave you stranded upon the Golden Shores of Peace, Prosperity and Happiness.”   J.K. Banks

 

Click to read other Christmas stories posted here at Reading Fiction Blog:

 

 Christmas River Ghost by Paula Cappa  2017

A Strange Christmas Game  by J.H. Riddell   2016 

A Boy Named Claus: The Adventure. Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum  2015

 

 

Please leave your comments! 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

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A Dark Power on Thanksgiving

John Inglefield’s Thanksgiving   by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1840)

Tuesday’s Tale      November 20, 2018

 

 

What is your most memorable Thanksgiving  Day? A happy time with family and delicious treats? Or a fight over the meal with an opponent? Or was it darker? Were you visited by a guilty soul at your Thanksgiving meal? In this 15-minute short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, on Thanksgiving evening, the blacksmith John Inglefield hosts a Thanksgiving dinner. His daughter Mary “a rose-bud almost blossomed” is present, an apprentice Robert Moore, and a vacant chair is reserved at the table for John’s wife who had passed away since the previous Thanksgiving.

To say this is a ghostly tale is up to interpretation, that is how deep you desire to understand metaphors of the mysterious. The author Nathaniel Hawthorne takes the family Thanksgiving tradition to another level. That level is clearly in the supernatural and as dark as it gets. I doubt that most readers can fix this story into a single interpretation. No black-and-white thinking here: prepare to awaken your imagination.

 

 

They are all seated round the dinner table with the warmth of the firelight “throwing it strongest light,” when John’s long lost daughter Prudence returns home for the festivities. She has a “bewitching pathos.” The theme here is beyond the grave. Fire is mentioned 14 times in this very short story—which is our dominant clue to this strange and thought-provoking tale about not only the soul but going home. The happy moments fly away as a creeping evil comes to Thanksgiving dinner. Our humanness is strange, indeed. I love how Hawthorne leaves all the doors open on this one to absolutely haunt the reader.

 

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If you are a Hawthorne fan, or even if you are not keen on his gloomy style and psychological twists, this story requires a slow read to really enjoy the complexities of the images and symbols Hawthorne uses to touch his reader. As with all his fiction, human nature is portrayed with unforgettable drama.

 

Read it here at Online Literature

http://www.online-literature.com/hawthorne/2830/ 

If you have a comment on this story, please speak up. What great mystery went on here?

 

THE OLD MANSE

This is the Nathaniel Hawthorne’s dining room and hearth at the Old Manse, where he lived in Concord, Massachusetts.

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

  

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Filed under dark fantasy, fiction, fiction bloggers, flash fiction, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic fiction, haunted mind, Hawthorne, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, occult, phantoms, psychological horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa

Horror Story

Horror Story by Carmen Maria Machado  (2018)

Tuesday’s Tale of Horror  July 17, 2018

 

Carmen Maria Machado is an author of stories published in New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Guernica, Electric Literature, AGNI,  Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, Best Horror of the Year, Year’s Best Weird Fiction. She has just published her first collection of short stories Her Body and Other Parties: Stories (finalist for the 2017 National Book Award and finalist for the Kirkus Prize). If you are ready to discover a modern writer of ghost stories and horror, vivid and surreal, this is your gal. She likes to write about the spaces between the fantastic and reality. This writer goes deep.

In this week’s story, Machado writes about a haunted house. Not at all what you might expect.

‘It started so small: a mysteriously clogged drain; a crack in the bedroom window. We’d just moved into the place, but the drain had been working and the glass had been intact, and then one morning they weren’t. My wife tapped her fingernail lightly on the crack in the pane and it sounded like something was knocking, asking to be let in.’

 

At 1300 words, this is a quick 15-minute read. This story was originally published in Granta.

Read the short story at Nightmare Magazine:

http://www.nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/horror-story/

 

 

“When you enter into horror, you’re entering into your own mind, your own anxiety,

your own fear, your own darkest spaces.”

Carmen Maria Machado.

 

Visit Carmen Maria Machado at her website: https://carmenmariamachado.com/fiction/

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, haunted houses, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, occult, paranormal, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural, supernatural fiction, supernatural thrillers, tales of terror, Women In Horror