Category Archives: ghost stories

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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Between the Darkness and the Dawn, a short story

Tuesday’s Summer Ghost Story,  July 16, 2019

 

While October remains the most popular month for reading ghost stories conjuring images  of rusty pumpkin fields and soaring black crows under dark skies, I am here today to give you a ghost story for July. A summer ghost, if you will.

What lies between the darkness and the dawn? Maybe a gap in time or space where a ghost might slip into our earthly world? How about a summer read of a ghost, a famous literary figure, a ghost hunter, and a dash of historical elements? Between the Darkness and the Dawn is my own short story, originally published at Whistling Shade Literary Journal.

Come to the Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts, to the home of author Nathaniel Hawthorne. It seems appropriate to read about Hawthorne this month: his birthday is July 4, 1804. And to read a ghost story set in Concord, one of the most haunted locations in America with the ghosts of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau and others reported to still be present in this historic town.

 

You can download this short story (40-minute read) FREE on Amazon.com:

 

REVIEWS

“Concord, Massachusetts–a town that appears very much today as it did hundreds of years ago–is the perfect setting for a tale of the mingling of time periods. Cappa’s “Between Darkness and Dawn” is as nuanced and atmospheric as the stories of Hawthorne himself. Mesmerizing.” —Erika Robuck, author of House of Hawthorne: A Novel.

“This is a mind-bending tale from a very accomplished author. It takes a healthy dose of historical fiction to go with the supernatural. What appealed to me most was the sense of atmosphere. The author captured the Gothic, Poe~like feeling.” —V.M. Sawh, author of Cinders, Hontas, and Anatasia.

Visit the Old Manse Website:

http://www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/metro-west/old-manse.html

News about the Old Manse:  https://concord.wickedlocal.com/article/20150130/news/150139951

More on Hawthorne here at Reading Fiction Blog: https://paulacappa.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/ghost-by-moonlight-anniversary-of-nathaniel-hawthornes-death/

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 Kingdom of Spirits

Napoleon and the Spectre by Charlotte Brontë (written in 1833, published in 1925)

[From the manuscript the “Green Dwarf”]

 

Tuesday’s Tale   April 30 2019

“Besides this earth, and besides the race of men, there is an invisible world and a kingdom of spirits; that world is round us, for it is everywhere.”  From Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Did you know that a fragment of Napoleon’s coffin was given to  author Charlotte Brontë?

[Napoleon’s coffin aboard La Belle Poule. The coffin was covered by a black velvet drape decorated with golden bees, eagles, and silver cross. At 8am on Sunday 18 October la Belle Poule set sail.]

Lots of legends are out there about Napoleon’s ghost haunting people. The Museum of The Black Watch has a letter describing a British soldier’s encounter with Napoleon’s ghost during the removal of Napoleon’s remains from St. Helena to France in 1840. Napoleon was said to be highly superstitious: lucky starts, omens, lucky dates, and he frequently saw a phantom he called the Red Man who appeared at the Battle of the Pyraminds, at Wagram, at his coronation, and on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo.

Perhaps because Charlotte possessed a part of Napoleon’s coffin, she was inspired to write a short story about Napoleon, not as a gallant emperor, but as a haunted emperor.

The story opens with Napoleon ready for sleep when …

A deep groan burst from a kind of closet in one corner of the apartment.

“Who’s there?” cried the Emperor, seizing his pistols. “Speak, or I’ll blow your brains out.”

This threat produced no other effect than a short, sharp laugh, and a dead silence followed.’

 

This ghost story has a bit of verbal irony, ghostly setting and mood, and the atmospherics are amusing. Not Charlotte’s best work but an enjoyable 10-minute read by one of our most beloved authors. If you are a Charlotte Brontë fan, you really must read this one.

Read the short story (10 minutes) at Gutenberg Australia

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602171h.html

Listen to the audio on YouTube.com (8 minutes)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuJ6QCdTwtQ

 

Charlotte Brontë was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters Emily and Anne. Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre under the pen name Currer Bell. She began writing poems and ghost stories at the age of twelve. Raised in the village of Haworth in Yorkshire, the sisters were dreamy if not lonely children. Their brother Branwell made up stories of an unreal world, writing them in tiny handwriting on small sheets of paper, which they stitched together to look like real books. The image below is by Branwell, with himself painted out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bronte Parsonage Museum

 

 

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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Click-Clack the Rattlebag, Neil Gaiman

Perfect Darkness

Click-Clack the Rattlebag  by Neil Gaiman (2014)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    March 12, 2019

Are you afraid of the dark? Are you afraid of where creaking attic steps might lead you? Or what you’ll find up there? Do you like bedtime stories? An old house, a little boy, and the sister’s boyfriend. Do you believe in monsters?

 

Come along with Neil Gaiman and discover Click-Clack the Rattlebag.  Deep, dark, and delicious! A quick read at 15 minutes, flash fiction, you won’t forget.

Turn out the lights and read it here:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/hay-festival/11603446/Neil-Gaiman-Click-clack-the-Rattlebag.html

Listen to the audio (12 minutes) by Neil Gaiman at NPR: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imLja6Emezo  

 

NEIL GAIMAN is the bestselling author of books for adults and children, winner of Newbery and Carnegie medals and Book of the Year by British National Book Awards. You may know his novels Coraline, American Gods, or The Graveyard Book.  Born in the UK, he now lives in the US and is Professor in the Arts at Bard College. Visit his website: http://www.neilgaiman.com/

 

If you are interested in Neil Gaiman’s creative process as a writer, here is an interview that is well worth the time: http://www.theliteraryreview.org/interview/neil-gaiman-the-creative-press/

Here’s a snippet:

“Do you start with a theme that you then want to find characters for? Or do you start with the character?”

NG: “Both of those things, and sometimes more. What I start with is enough, enough to get going. With American Gods, I had an idea about characters. Somewhere in my head, I had the idea about a couple of people meeting on a plane. One of them seemed to be an old drifter, and the other one had just gotten out of prison, and that was all I knew about them.”

 

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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Catherine Wells’ Ghost Story

The Ghost by Catherine Wells (wife of H.G. Wells), 1928

Tuesday’s Ghost Tale, February 5, 2019

 

 

A big old house. A lonely young woman bedridden in the sick room with grapes and lemonade. Uncle Timothy and cousins are at a party downstairs. The mysterious and romantic Mr. Percival East enters. And then a leaping lamp flame, creaking paneling, and a fallen fire.

 

The joy and romance of ghost stories are everlasting fiction. Catherine Wells, wife of H.G. Wells (his second wife, Amy Catherine Robbins, also known as Jane), wrote this fiction sometime in the early 1900s. This is an obscure little story that has been long buried and forgotten over the past decades, nearly 100 years. No print version is to be found online—only an audio version available. I love discovering forgotten stories by an author I didn’t know existed. If you are an H.G. Wells fan, you might enjoy Catherine’s story. I have to say this audio is lovely fun—a 15-minute ghostly adventure sure to please.  I like to imagine Catherine writing this story at her desk in her home at Spade House.  Today we resurrect her fiction. Perhaps her ghost will stir as we listen.

 

Listen to the Audio of The Ghost here at YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_XsiSZk8D0

 

 

The Book of Catherine Wells is a collection of short stories and poems. Contents: The Last Fairy; The Beautiful House; The Dragon-Fly; May Afternoon; The Ghost; Winter Sunset; The Oculist; The Emerald; Fear; Cyanide; The War: Spring 1915; June 1916; and Red Cross Workroom; The Draught of Oblivion; In a Walled Garden; The Kneeling Image; Robe De Boudoir; Everymother; April in the Wood; The Fugitives; Two Love Songs; Music Set to Words; and Night in the Garden.

 

 

 

 

H.G. Wells at Spade House in 1907

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 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

1 Comment

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

The Willows, a Chilling Tale for Halloween

The Willows   by Algernon Blackwood (1907)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  October 16, 2018

 

What better story for the Halloween season than a haunted forest?  A haunted river, perhaps? In Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows there is a prevailing secret in nature. Even the landscape here is haunted. In this story, our narrator takes on a canoe trip down the Danube River. Two men come upon a location of fierce desolation and loneliness and yet everything is alive here. Even the Danube is personified—and full of tricks.  Once set up with tent and fire, the two friends settle in, until the first thing they see is something odd floating on the Danube.

“Good heavens, it’s a man’s body!” he cried excitedly. “Look!”

A black thing, turning over and over in the foaming waves, swept rapidly past. It kept disappearing and coming up to the surface again. It was about twenty feet from the shore, and just as it was opposite to where we stood it lurched round and looked straight at us. We saw its eyes reflecting the sunset, and gleaming an odd yellow as the body turned over.  Then it gave a swift, gulping plunge, and dived out of sight in a flash.

 

This mystery lends its own power about nature, humanity, and good old-fashion fear. I challenge the readers here not to feel a high amount of dread in the reading. This is so evocative, so sinister—an excellent mix of terror. Classic ‘quiet horror’ for Halloween reading time!

 

 

Algernon Blackwood had a persistent interest in the supernatural and spiritualism. He is famous for his occult tales and a master at chilling you to the bone. He firmly believed that humans possess latent psychic powers. His writing soars with an acute sense of place. All his fiction is charged with hidden powers. He published over 200 short stories and dozens of novels.

“All my life,” he said, “I have been strangely, vividly conscious of another region–not far removed from our own world in one sense, yet wholly different in kind–where great things go on unceasingly, where immense and terrible personalities hurry by, intent on vast purposes compared to which earthly affairs, the rise and fall of nations, the destinies of empires, the fate of armies and continents, are all as dust in the balance”  Blackwood. The Willows

 

 

Read the short story at Algernonblackwood.org

http://algernonblackwood.org/Z-files/Willows.pdf

 

 

Listen to the audio on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QN_bbDrW7_M

 

 

 

More Blackwood short stories here at Reading Fiction Blog in the above INDEX.

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

4 Comments

Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Halloween, Halloween stories, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, occult, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural fiction, supernatural mysteries, supernatural tales, supernatural thrillers, tales of terror