Category Archives: fiction

Dropped Dead

Creeping Siamese by Dashiell Hammett (1926)

Tuesday’s Detective Tale   May 24, 2022

A man stumbles into the Continental Detective Agency. He drops dead on the floor.  Stabbed in the left breast, the man’s wound is staunched with red silk—which seems to be a sarong.

If you love crime stories with ace detectives, then you must be a fan of Dashiell Hammett. This story is a cool little plot puzzle with imaginative clues. Good one!

“Hammett did over and over again what only the best writers can ever do at all. He wrote scenes that seemed never to have been written before.”  Raymond Chandler.

 

Read the short story here:

Click to access Hammett_Creeping_Siamese.pdf

Listen to other short stories by Dashiell Hammett (Creeping Siamese is not available in audio).

We like to remember Dashiell Hammett as the inventor of hardboiled detective fiction with brutal realism and wry humor. Hammett worked for the Pinkerton Detective Agency for eight years before he began writing his stories.  His first short story was published by The Black Mask in 1923.

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES above for more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 250 short stories by more than 150 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, romance, ‘quiet horror,’ and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading one short story every month. 

Comments are welcome!

Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

      Monster Librarian     

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

Discover Author of the Week posted on Mondays!

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Author of the Week, Mark Z. Danielewski, May 9

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   May 9

 

Mark Z. Danielewski

(Supernatural, Ghosts, Horror, Thriller, Contemporary Fiction)

 

“My interest is in how meaning is communicated via language, and I believe the shape, positioning, even the colour of the language has an effect on meaning.”

“Write what you love. Love will hold you through the hard times and hold the world during the good times.”

“We all create stories to protect ourselves.”

 

Mark Z. Danielewski  (born  1966) is an American fiction author.  He studied English Literature at Yale. He is known for his debut novel House of Leaves, which won the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award. His second novel, Only Revolutions, was nominated for the National Book Award. He wrote the novella The Fifty Year Sword.  Danielewski’s work is characterized by experimental choices in form, such as intricate and multi-layered narratives and typographical variation.

Read The Guardian’s interview with Mark “House of Leaves changed My Life.”

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/apr/02/house-of-leaves-changed-my-life-the-cult-novel-at-20

 

Watch a chat with Mark, Los Angeles Times:

 

 

 

Visit Mark’s website: https://www.markzdanielewski.com/

Browse the “Index of Authors’ Tales” tab above to find over 250 free short stories by over 150 famous authors.

Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary or classic authors. Audios too. Please follow me or stop in.

Comment or click LIKE!

 

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Book Moments Four, May Sarton

Book Moments Four, May Sarton, May 3, 2022

Anniversary of May’s birth date, May 3, 1912

My morning tea with May Sarton, filled with sunlight. This moment reflecting May’s thought “to live in eternity’s light, not in time.”

 

 

I am at the end of At Seventy, A Journal.  I have over 35 volumes of May Sarton’s books on my bookshelf, with several still to read.

May writes that she listens to Mozart Piano Concerto E-Flat Major, No. 9 (as I am listening to this music too). She conveys her feelings about nature, her garden, flowers,  birds, rhythms of the seasons, and light. These themes, her companions really, are in all her journals and poetry.

“I look out at the rain, the narrow winding path through the golden grasses to the gray ocean, and rest in it. I am as close to heaven as I am to hell all these days as summer turns to autumn.”

I especially love her description of flowers:

“My eyes rested on a blue jar containing crimson cosmos and lavender Michaelmas daisies, color as brilliant and starling as a clash of cymbals against the white walls.”

 

On page 305, May tells us about her muse. “Poetry does not happen for me without a muse.”

During the November entries in this journal, she mentions that a muse means intense preoccupation …

“I am fully aware that the presence of a muse literally opens  the inner space, just as November light opens the outer space …

“With this muse, to make every effort to live in eternity’s light, not in time.”

She has often claimed that her muse is a woman who “focuses the world for me.” For some artists, the muse is metaphorical or can even be an actual person. For May, her muse seems to be both.

It has been well documented in May’s writings that she considered Juliette Huxley to be her living muse.

 

I think May had many muses and at different levels. She mentions the influence of  Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Julian Huxley, S.S. Kolteliansky, Florida Scott-Maxwell, Anne Thorp, Susan Sherman, and especially Jean Dominique and Louise Bogan. I think perhaps even her dog Tamas and cat Bramble have had their play as muses in her life.

In one of her poems, she discovers her misunderstanding Of The Muse.

Of The Muse (excerpt)

When I was young, I misunderstood The Muse.

Now I am older and wiser, I can be glad of her

As one is glad of the light.

We do not thank the light,

But rejoice in what we see

Because of it.

What I see today

Is the snow falling:

All things are made new.

 

Let us leave it here, finishing off these Book Moments as if savoring one of May’s delicate dinners: Belgian endive salad, a loaf of French bread, and a glass of Beaujolais. She has fed us all so well!

 

 

 

You might like to read her interview at the Paris Review:

“The thing about poetry—one of the things about poetry—is that in general one does not follow growth and change through a poem. The poem is an essence. It captures perhaps a moment of violent change but it captures a moment, whereas the novel concerns itself with growth and change. As for the journals, you actually see the writer living out a life, which you don’t in any of the other forms, not even the memoirs.”

https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/3040/the-art-of-poetry-no-32-may-sarton

May died at the age of 83 in 1995. She is buried in Nelson Cemetery,

Nelson, New Hampshire.

 

Book Moments, May Sarton, April 4, 2022

Book Moments Two, May Sarton, April 7, 2022

Book Moments Three, May Sarton, April 19, 2022

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Ghosts, Shadows, Empties

Ghosts and Empties by Lauran Groff (2015)

Tuesday’s short story, April 26, 2022

READING FICTION BLOG

 

Have you ever walked, or driven, around your neighborhood and found yourself staring into the windows of houses or apartments? Or on a train when it slows down to travel through a town, do you try to see inside the windows? I’ve been doing this for years and imagine the people who live there. I guess I was looking for evidence of normal life, or maybe seeking to observe something secret. Or maybe just the writer in me, looking for material. It is fun to snoop!

 

 

Lauren Groff writes a little adventure of the mind in Ghosts and Empties. Our character, a woman who is tired and worn out—“a woman who yells”—takes an evening walk and makes some intriguing observations. She brings her shadow with her that “lags behind me, gallops to my feet, gambols on ahead.”

 

What is she looking for here? In some ways, she becomes her own ghost reflected in her world.

Read it here at the New Yorker Magazine:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/07/20/ghosts-and-empties

Listen to Author Lauren Groff read Ghosts and Empties, 22-Min:

 

 

Lauren Groff is the author of six books of fiction, the most recent the novel Matrix.  Her work has won The Story Prize, the ABA Indies’ Choice Award, and France’s Grand Prix de l’Héroïne, was a three time finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction and twice for the Kirkus Prize, and other literary prizes. She was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists. She lives in Gainesville, Florida.

(Nine Stories)

 

Visit Grof’s Amazon Book Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Lauren-Groff/e/B001JS4QVG

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES above for more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 250 short stories by more than 150 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, romance, ‘quiet horror,’ and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading

one short story every month. 

 

Comments are welcome!

Feel free to click “LIKE.”

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

      Monster Librarian     

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

Discover Author of the Week posted on Mondays!

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Greylock Wins the Gold Medal

Hello to All My Readers of My Published Fiction and my Followers Here at Reading Fiction Blog!

I am happy to share this news with you that my supernatural mystery Greylock has won the Gold Medal at Global Book Awards, 2022.

The category, of course, is Supernatural and Occult (“quiet horror”). Global Book Awards  is named one of the “Top 29 Book Awards” in 2022, along with the Hugo Awards, Nautilus, USA Best Books, Feathered Quill, Eric Hoffer Awards, IBA, Readers’ Favorite International, Chanticleer Book Awards, Book Excellence Awards, Page Turner Awards, and others by Scott Lorenz of Westwind Communications.

U.S. Review of Books: “Cappa’s latest is nothing less than a mind-boggling mystery … always keeping an elusive edge to her characters’ personas—a plot replete with all the wonderful trappings of a romance-laced mystery with unexpected twists and turns. Greylock has the potential of being earmarked as another award winner.” RECOMMENDED by the U.S Review of Books.

I’ve been writing mysterious novels for over 10 years and Greylock has exceeded my expectations. Besides the Gold Medal, Greylock achieved  the prestigious Best Book Award Finalist in 2017 by American Book Fest, and, garnered the Chanticleer Book Award in 2015.

 

 

 

Book awards play an important role in an author’s life and in readers’ lives. The recognition of a book’s quality and its merits encourages reading, which grows the imagination and the thinking process. And, of course, reading feeds the success of the literary industry. Ralph Waldo Emerson said “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.”

I thank all my readers and The Global Book Awards for honoring Greylock. As my writing career progresses (I am working on a fourth novel and more short stories) in fiction, I feel so blessed with the loyalty of my readers.

My other two novels have enjoyed book awards as well. The Bronze Medal from Readers’ Favorite International Awards for The Dazzling Darkness. The coveted Eric Hoffer Book Award, and, the Silver Medal from Global Book Awards for Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural.

Bronze, Silver, Gold. My muse has been hard at work. She is my clever friend and my passion. And sometimes she is my ghost. I think I see her dancing right at this moment.

 

 

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Book Moments Three, May Sarton

Book Moments Three, May Sarton, April 19

My morning tea with May Sarton

 

The topic today is silence. On page 75 of  At Seventy,  May says that she is …

“beginning to feel like a camel in sore need of an oasis. The oasis is silence. I woke up in the night starving for silence, for time alone here.”

May often addresses the inner chaos vs. the inner order and the struggle it presents from day to day. She is well known by her readers to work in her garden of flowers with plants to clear the senses and compose the mind.

“There is a special August silence in the heavy air. The birds do not sing. The ocean sighs in the distance. The whole tempo slows down.”

The kind of silence she seeks requires solitude. A good deal of May’s poems are about variations of silence that she treats as sacred to her well being and to her creative work. If you know some of her poems, you might be familiar with After Silence, The Silence Now, After a Winter’s Silence, The Land of Silence, and her most popular …

Halfway to Silence

I was halfway to Silence

Halfway to land’s end

When I heard your voice.

Shall I take you with me?

Shall we go together

All the way to silence,

All the way to land’s end?

Is there a choice?

May Sarton’s house by the sea in Maine.

Flowers are “silent presences” in her house in every room—as she writes in so many of her journals.

 

 

Visit May’s Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/May-Sarton/e/B000AQ48TS

 

What thoughts do you have about the sound of silence? If you found a portal to a deep silence, would  you enter or shy away?

 

Book Moments Four, May Sarton, May 3, 2022

 

Please leave a comment, LIKE, or share if you are enjoying.

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Author of the Week, Charles L. Grant, April 11

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK  April 11

Charles L. Grant

American Author and Editor

(Short Stories and Novels: Quiet Horror and Dark Fantasy)

 

 

Grant was esteemed for building foreboding atmosphere, a slow burn of dramatic tension in his plots, settings, and characterization. His trademark is a story steeped in palpable dread with high suspense, yet without descriptive bloodshed or graphic violence. Thus, the beauty of  quiet horror. Grant wrote 70 novels, 150 short stories, and edited two dozen anthologies. A master in this subgenre that is still popular.

Grant is revered by Stephen King as an “autumnal writer” because the reader closes his book with far more than a scare. We read his stories and receive a deep sense of  awe, intelligence, and the imaginary that rises far above most other writers in the genre.

Charlie Grant will give you a story so memorable, you’ll want more.

 

“I like to set up as real a situation as possible, then twist it just enough and bring in whatever I want to bring in. It is more startling and entertaining to use real people with real-world problems.”

“The goal is not to scare people, just make them uncomfortable. I work to make you really, really nervous, so that it will take you a long time to get over it. I want to make you see shadows where there is no light to cast them.”

“If all the world’s a stage and all the people players, who in bloody hell hired the director?”

When asked why horror is so popular, he replied “It is a safe way of looking at death.”

Charles L. Grant (1942 – 2006)  received the British Fantasy Society’s Special Award in 1987 for life achievement; and he was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association, Nebula Awards and three World Fantasy Awards.

The Shadow Series is ten anthologies, including short stories by Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Robert Bloch, and many others. The first five novels he wrote didn’t sell but he went on to achieve great success and admiration. In cinematic terms, Grant is thought to have more likeness with the horror film classics of Val Lewton and Roman Polanski—Grant’s work strong on hinting at madness and violence, a writer certainly gifted at suggestion and subtleties. He and his wife, editor and novelist Kathryn Ptacek, had lived in a 100-year-old haunted Victorian house in Sussex County, New Jersey.

SlipofthePen.com

 

Podcast about Charles L. Grant at LovecraftEzine.com

https://lovecraftezine.libsyn.com/charles-grants-quiet-horror-chet-williamsons-sequel-to-psycho-and-more

[Personal Note: Because almost all my published fiction is quiet horror, and I read so much of it, I have a special place for Charlie. I did a blog on him in September 2013, link below. Another favorite quiet horror author is Shirley Jackson The Haunting of Hill House. And I can add Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black.]

Quiet Horror, Still the Darling of the Horror Genre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit Charlie’s Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Charles-Grant/e/B000AQ1O8G

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on Mondays once a month at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 250 free short stories by over 150 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary or classic authors. Audios too.

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Book Moments Two, May Sarton

Book Moments Two! Thursday, April 7

My morning tea with May Sarton

My morning reads with May continue to enlighten my days. On pages 49-51 of At Seventy, A Journal, May considers her age in the act of writing a journal, her search to express honesty, and the recurring springtime. She mentions sculptor Anne Truitt’s Daybook: The Journal of an Artist and French Romantic painter  Eugene Delacroix’s Journals as examples of artists who illuminate through writing a daily journal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mays says …

“I envy the painter who does not have to use elusive, sometimes damaged, often ambivalent words. I find that keeping a journal again validates and clarifies. For the hour I manage in the morning at this task, I am happy, at ease with myself and the world, even when I am complaining of pressure.”

“I sometimes feel old these days when I am suddenly made aware of the little time ahead. It came to me with a sharp pang when I found myself saying, as I have done every spring for years, Housman’s poem …

And since to look at things in bloom

fifty springs are little room

About the woodland I will go

To see the cherry hung with snow.

 

“I have at most ten or fifteen springs! Is that possible? Almost a lifetime gone. On the other side though, what I do have is seventy springs in my head, and they flow back with all their riches now.”

 

 

May’s words open a new perspective here for me. To look at age in terms of how many springs we have left to enjoy the blooming of flowers and bursting of green trees. For those of us who are nearing the age of seventy or living within the decade of seventy years, this is especially poignant.

How many springs are inside your head? How many autumns or summers? How many seasons do you expect to enjoy in the coming years?

 

 

Here is May’s poem about spring.

Metamorphosis
Always it happens when we are not there–
The tree leaps up alive into the air,
Small open parasols of Chinese green
Wave on each twig. But who has ever seen
The latch sprung, the bud as it burst?
Spring always manages to get there first.
Lovers of wind, who will have been aware
Of a faint stirring in the empty air,
Look up one day through a dissolving screen
To find no star, but this multiplied green,
Shadow on shadow, singing sweet and clear.
Listen, lovers of wind, the leaves are here!

 

Visit May Sarton’s Amazon.com Page: https://www.amazon.com/May-Sarton/e/B000AQ48TS

 

Visit Book Moments Three, April 19

Please leave a comment, LIKE, or share if you are enjoying

Book Moments with May Sarton.

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Book Moments, May Sarton

BOOK MOMENTS!  Monday, April 4, 2022

My morning tea with May Sarton.

For all my literary followers, readers, and writers, my reading theme for April is author May Sarton. I will be posting Book Moments from her writings.

I have read most of her journals, poems, and novels. Today I begin again, rereading her journal “At Seventy” (published 1984).

 

 

She opens this journal at her 70 birthday, May 3. The scene is her awakening by the song of a cardinal, her breakfast table set with blue and white china and a vase of  yellow daffodils. There is a pheasant on the lawn adding to the peace of the day.

 

May’s Quote

“This is the best time of my life. I love being old …There is less conflict. I am happier, more balanced, and I am better able to use my powers … less doubt to conquer.”

May Sarton,  May 3, 1912 – July 16, 1995

May Sarton, originally named Eleanor Marie Sarton, was born Wondelgem, Belgium. During the early part of her career, Sarton enjoyed a good deal of critical acclaim for her journals and poetry. Her audience continued to grow steadily, often by word of mouth, and Sarton continued to produce prolifically, writing journals, poetry, and novels. Sarton lived in Nelson, New Hampshire and later relocated to York, Maine, where she spent the last twenty years of her life. May Sarton taught at several colleges and universities, including Harvard University and Wellesley College.

Visit her Amazon.com page:

https://www.amazon.com/May-Sarton/e/B000AQ48TS

Please feel free to comment or LIKE. Are you a May Sarton fan? Do you know her poetry? Do you read her journals?

More here on my blog about May Sarton:

Author of the Week, May Sarton, May 17

Image of May Sarton’s Garden

 

Visit Book Moments Two, April 7!

 

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Crime of Passion and a Curse

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde (1887)

Tuesday’s Ghost Story   March 29, 2022  READING FICTION BLOG 

 

 

Oscar Wilde is most famous for his The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), his comic masterpieces Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). Like much of his work known for its satirical brilliance, and even if you are not drawn to ghost stories, this one will brighten your day.

The Otis family members are spending the summer at the castle in Canterville, previously owned by British aristocrats Lord and Lady Canterville. A good part of the narrative is from the ghost himself Sir Simon de Canterville. And what a guy! Prepare yourself for a parody of Gothic fiction. Lightning storms, strange laughter, blood stains, hidden passages, crows that cry havoc, tea in the library with a secret hatch, and dashes of romance—and, of course, a murder. All this will beg the question: Is love stronger than death?

Very entertaining classic literature at its best. Oscar Wilde’s wit and realism, and his engaging characters are memorable both on the page and on the screen.

Read the short story here at Gutenberg.org

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/14522/14522-h/14522-h.htm

Listen to the audio on You Tube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0iIV9zSuDI

 

Watch the FREE film on You Tube (1:20 minutes). This 1997 movie was directed by Crispin Reece, starring Ian Richardson, Celia Imrie,  Sarah-Jane Potts, and James D’Arcy. There is another version, 1996, with Neve Campbell and Patrick Stewart, but this version I feature here is far better.

 

 

Oscar Wilde was born of professional and literary parents. His father, Sir William Wilde, published books on archaeology and folklore. His mother, who wrote under the name Speranza, was a revolutionary poet and an authority on Celtic myth and folklore.

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES above for more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 250 short stories by more than 150 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, romance, ‘quiet horror,’ and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading

one short story every month. 

Comments are welcome!

Feel free to click “LIKE.”

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

      Monster Librarian     

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

Discover Author of the Week posted on Mondays!

2 Comments

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