Category Archives: literary horror

2081, Vonnegut’s Timely Satirical, Dystopian Science Fiction

Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut  (1961)

Tuesday’s Tale of Science Fiction    September 11, 2018

 

How does a democracy die? Do democracies die with a military force of boots on the streets? Or revolutions? Or do people end up being hoodwinked and surrendering with a whimper? This blog doesn’t do politics but this week’s short story by Kurt Vonnegut has opened the door to thoughts and questions about authoritarianism, fascism, human rights and equality, and connects us to today’s erosion of democratic norms in the political system. Vonnegut knew about mass gullibility and maybe we are seeing some of that today. Journalist Bill Moyers called our current era Trump and the Dark Age of Unreason. 

Vonnegut’s opening paragraph of Harrison Bergeron is a stunning one.

‘THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.’

 

For this kind of ‘equality’ to be reality, people cannot be their natural selves and must wear heavy devices on their bodies that handicap them. For example, ballet dancers cannot use their natural grace and beauty, so they are required to wear weights and masks to make all the ballerinas equally clumsy and hide their individual faces.

The story focuses on a U.S. government controlling the lives of individuals, even the potential of individuals. Free thought, free expression, truth, and the hunger for power and defiance are elements. It’s a timely story for 2018 in our hot political climate where free speech and a free press are being attacked (the demise of a free press is one of the first warning signs that democracy is dying). The New Yorker Magazine in March of this year featured Exposed, Trump with no clothes, as the American Emperor. Many saw this as a reference to Hans Christian Anderson’s tale The Emperor’s New Clothes, where fear of the emperor keeps people from speaking the truth.

Research today suggests that democracies around the world may be at serious risk of decline. Reading Harrison Bergeron is an irresistible dive into a world that will make you shudder.

 

‘Clanking, clownish, and huge, Harrison stood in the center of the studio. The knob of the uprooted studio door was still in his hand. Ballerinas, technicians, musicians, and announcers cowered on their knees before him, expecting to die. “I am the Emperor!” cried Harrison. “Do you hear? I am the Emperor!’

How would a  government enforce such an absurd and extreme equality? Would the government look like Russia or other totalitarian nations that suppress human creativity, free speech, and personal expression? Why would a government even want to do this? Who has the courage to rebel? Vonnegut answers all these questions in his 1961 story of Harrison Bergeron.

What do you think? Do leave a comment!

 

Read the short story Harrison Bergeron in the year 2081 (20-minute read) here at Archive.org

https://archive.org/stream/HarrisonBergeron/Harrison%20Bergeron_djvu.txt

 

Listen to the audio on You Tube (13 minutes):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aAH_G5hcAg

 

Kurt Vonnegut is most famous for his Slaughterhouse-Five, published in 1969—the Vietnam war, racial unrest, and cultural and social upheaval.

 

 

 

“That Time in 1969 When Kurt Vonnegut Accurately Profiled Donald Trump”

by Seth Shellhouse.   At Medium.com:

https://medium.com/@ALRIGHTbrother/that-time-in-1969-when-kurt-vonnegut-accurately-profiled-donald-trump-c9f544aba736

 

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 fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, science fiction, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, suspense, tales of terror

Death on a Bridge

 An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce  (1890)

Tuesday’s Tale of Mystery  August 7, 2018

 

 

‘A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man’s hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck.’

 

 

What greater opening of a story is more compelling than an execution? Not much, and this mystery will hold you all the way through to the last lines. The time is Civil War era. Our character, a young man named Peyton Farquhar is about to be hanged. What goes through a condemned man’s mind in the moments before he knows his life will end? Is it possible Peyton could escape and return to his wife and child?

Author Ambrose Bierce is at his finest writing as this story is rich with symbolism and foreshadowing and not without its twists. The imagery is high quality in a tale well told.

 

What is your take on the ending? Were you shocked? Please feel free to comment!

Read the short story at AmericanLiterature.com:

https://americanliterature.com/author/ambrose-bierce/short-story/an-occurrence-at-owl-creek-bridge

Listen to the audio by Librivox: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lgCO_l-pgQ

Watch the YOUTUBE film (23 minutes):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHqnSX4SJ_A

 

 

Ambrose Bierce was an American journalist, satirist, and short story writer, many stories about death. He is famous for his The Devil’s Dictionary.  He disappeared in Mexico in 1914 and his final fate is recorded as “unknown.”

 

You can find more of his short stories here at Reading Ficiton Blog  in the INDEX under Ambrose Bierce.

 

 

 

 

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

2 Comments

Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost story blogs, haunted mind, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, mysteries, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, soft horror, suspense, tales of terror

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

Leave a comment

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

Passionate Throbs in The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Ghosts   June 12, 2018

The quintessential ghost story of all time is … Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. As far as literature goes, academic or otherwise, this blog would be faulty if it didn’t feature James’ most famous ghost story. The story is a dark and rich suspense, full of passionate throbs both horrific and psychological. James has had his criticism about his overburdened sentences and his fussy and prudish style. Too Freudian was another swipe at him because his ghosts had their foundation in ourselves. But this story, after more than a century,  hasn’t lost its power.

The Turn of the Screw first appeared in serial format in Collier’s Weekly magazine (1898). James is famous for writing about the nature of evil in a quiet way. This short story fulfills the three –S’s in ghostly fiction: suspenseful, sinister, and strange. Gothic, of course, since the story takes place at the House of Bly. The story is both supernatural and psychological. James adapted this story from a tale told him by the archbishop of Canterbury. James was said to claim that his intention was to entertain. You will certainly find this story entertaining, disturbing, but also an exploration of good and evil.

The story opens with a prologue of backstory and then Chapter One is told by the governess (unnamed) who goes to Bly House in the English countryside to care for two children: Miles and Flora. Ghosts of unspeakable evil appear to the governess: Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. But are these apparitions only seen by the governess?

Do Miles and Flora observe as well? And what about the knowledgeable and reliable housekeeper Mrs. Grose? Truths, tricks, and the state of mind of our governess all play roles and so does supernatural powers.

A clever story, this is, and beautifully written. Writers of ghost stories can learn a lot by reading it carefully. The puzzle of the storytelling is cut expertly! The structure perfection. The tone mystifying. Still, literary critics debate if true evil ghosts haunt Bly House or is it the haunting from the madness of the governess.

For me, to take away the ghosts’ reality weakens the story and dilutes the fear. James insists we see the ghosts  just as the governess sees them, thereby maintaining the horror. And yet he sprinkles doubt at every turn, which enhances the suspense.

Read The Turn of the Screw at Gutenberg.org

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/209/209-h/209-h.htm

Listen to the audio at Librivox.org.

https://librivox.org/the-turn-of-the-screw-by-henry-james/

 

I’d love to read your comments and reactions to this story. What kind of psychological realism or supernatural realism did you find in the story? 

Watch the film with Deborah Kerr, directed by Jack Clayton (vintage black and white)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=gwmp2I0A0Eg

 

 

There are other adaptations for film:
—1991 film with Lynn Redgrave, directed by Dan Curtis
—1999 film with Colin Firth, directed by Ben Bolt
—2009 film with Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery of Downtown Abbey, directed by Tim Fywell (available Amazon Prime Streaming)

 

Henry James was an American author, born in New York in 1853. He is considered to be one of the greatest novelists in our literature. The Portrait of a Lady and Daisy Miller are his most widely read and best known works.  He accomplished 22 novels, more than a hundred short stories, autobiographical works, several plays and critical essays. The Wings of Dove (1902) is a beautifully written love story and a film.  In Edith Wharton’s autobiography, she recalls how she and James sat by a ditch at Bodiam Castle, in East Sussex. ‘For a long time no one spoke,’ writes Wharton, ‘then James turned to me and said solemnly: ‘Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.’

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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Abasteron House Mystery

Abasteron House by Paula Cappa 

Tuesday’s Tale of Supernatural   May 29, 2018

NATIONAL SHORT STORY MONTH,  May 2018.  Week Five.

READING FICTION BLOG

At this conclusion of National Short Story Month, and being an avid short story reader and writer, I would like to offer my own short story Abasteron House.

This flash fiction (five-minute read) was originally published at Every Day Fiction and is the prequel to my novel Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural, an Eric Hoffer book award winner. Of course, it’s the writing, the story, and the storytelling that matters here. Not me. Creative writing for a short story is just as challenging as writing a novel—perhaps more demanding creatively because of the brevity of the short story form. In the act of  creating, according to Joseph Campbell (American mythologist, writer, and lecturer), “there is an implicit form that is going to ask to be brought forth, and you have to know how to recognize it.” Campbell is well known for his intelligence and insights on the “archetype of the unconscious.”

“If you know exactly what it is you are creating, it is not going to work.”

Campbell, of course, is speaking here about the ‘mystery of your own being.’ His essay on Creativity is a marvelous read and available at NewWorldLibrary.com.

Abasteron House is a story that surfaced from my unconscious, sparking its own storytelling and then expanded into a novel exploring the land of ghosts in a woman’s unconscious mind.

Today I ask you to settle back for 5 minutes and come spend a summer at Abasteron House by the sea with Davida Kip Livingston. Come meet Duma, the angel prince of dreams. Experience the mystery.

“The fall of noon.” That’s what Grandfather called it. I never really understood how noontime could actually fall, but he liked to say it that way.”

 

Read the published short story here at EveryDayFiction.com:

https://everydayfiction.com/abasteron-house-by-paula-cappa/ 

Do leave a comment if you liked Abasteron House!

 

Read the Supernatural Mystery

NIGHT SEA JOURNEY, A TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL

This novel is in the genre of supernatural, quiet horror, but mostly in occult. The word for occult is hidden. Behind the veil of our experiences lies a deeper, perhaps a truer, field. Davida Kip Livingston is an artist living on Horn Island in her family home Abasteron House. There is a secret power in her unconscious that is immanent, a resident field of another phenomenal experience that haunts her nights. Is her dream consciousness from her own substance or energies? Or from something else, something more sinister? Dr. Laz Merlyn, a Jungian therapist, attempts to help Kip understand and resolve her ghostly night journeys.

ERIC HOFFER BOOK AWARD FINALIST, 2015. REVIEW: “This romantic fantasy is propelled by gorgeous language and imagery…angels and demons…The grime of inner city Chicago, the tranquility of the Rhode Island coastline, and the depths of a phantasmagoric ocean are the stages for this conflict.”

 

 

On Amazon.com for Kindle and in trade paperback, published by Crispin Books.

Amazon UK 

Barnes & Noble.com

Smashwords 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Dreaming Darkly with Charles L. Grant for Short Story Month

May Is Short Story Month.  Week Two.  Let’s Dream Darkly with Charles L. Grant

Tuesday’s Tale of Quiet Horror    May 8, 2018    READING FICTION BLOG

When All the Children Call My Name by Charles L. Grant  (1981)

 

 

Because May is Short Story Month, I am featuring more short fiction for these weeks ahead. Here is one of my favorite authors for “quiet horror” stories. What is quiet horror? In this subgenre are stories that have a strong sense of the mysterious that stimulate the intellect and catches the emotion. No violence. Nothing offensive.  But lots of tension in the plot action and characterization. Most quiet horror is atmospheric with descriptive prose and setting, sometimes just a little bit poetic.  It brings on feelings of suspension and cold dread. It expands the imagination. It opens up the philosophic.  In literature and art there is the ‘negative space’ and quiet horror is fully there. Many readers prefer to call this subgenre literary horror. Center stage in these stories are the characters and their rising fear of the supernatural, discarnate spirits, evil powers, and sinister murderers.

Charles L. Grant is well-known as the king of quiet horror. Grant is highly skilled at deep suspense and making a reader turn the page with expectation.  In a Dark Dream is Grant’s award-winning novel (Bram Stoker Award for Fiction) that inspired me to write my own quiet horror novel about dreams of darkness in Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural (winner of an Eric Hoffer Book Award). The metaphysical action of dreaming is fertile ground for creative writing and scary novels.

 

Here is one of Grant’s short stories

When All the Children Call My Name. Read it at Nightmare Magazine and

    …  scream quietly:

http://www.nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/when-all-the-children-call-my-name/  

 

 

 

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, supernatural, ghost stories,  suspense, crime, sci-fi, and ‘quiet horror.’ 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

Leave a comment

Filed under dark fantasy, Dreams, fiction, fiction bloggers, free short stories, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, Mt. Greylock, Night Sea Journey, psychological horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, tales of terror

Ghosts of Goresthorpe Grange

Selecting a Ghost: The Ghosts of Goresthorpe Grange (aka The Secret of Goresthorpe Grange)

by Arthur Conan Doyle  (1883)

READING FICTION BLOG

Tuesday’s Tale of Ghosts     May 1, 2018     May is National Short Story Month!  Week One.

 

 

Readers here are fond of ghost stories and this one by Arthur Conan Doyle is a must read for ghost lovers. Mr. Silas D’Odd buys a feudal mansion named Goresthorpe Grange.  The man loves the historical trimmings inside the castle filled with armors and ancestral portraits.  But, he desires a ghost, for what is a castle without a daily haunting for entertainment? He soon discovers that by the use of potion, he can conjure a ghost for Goresthorpe Grange.  D’Odd drinks the potion and the apparitions begin.

 

 

A 15-minute read and great fun! Read the short story at Adelaide.edu:

https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/doyle/arthur_conan/selecting-a-ghost/

Audio of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes at Librivox:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K37NxXtaStk  

 

 

 

 

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

A. C. Doyle and Houdini

 

Arthur Conan Doyle was a friend of Houdini, Bram Stoker, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Doyle was a born storyteller and revered for his high-quality fiction, especially his Sherlock Holmes detective fiction. His style of writing is clear, clever, and direct. On July 7, 1930, Doyle died in his garden,  clutching his heart with one hand and holding a flower in the other. His last words were to his wife. He whispered “You are wonderful.”

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories,  suspense, crime, sci-fi, and ‘quiet horror.’ Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome!

Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 MAY IS NATIONAL SHORT STORY MONTH!

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

Leave a comment

Filed under fiction, fiction bloggers, free short stories, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic fiction, haunted houses, Hauntings, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural fiction, tales of terror