Category Archives: literary short stories

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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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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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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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!

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Author of the Week, Algernon Blackwood, March 14

Author of the Week,  March 14,  Monday

Algernon Blackwood

(Short Story Writer and English Novelist of Mysteries and Supernatural)

 

“Certain houses, like certain persons, manage somehow to proclaim at once their character for evil.”

“But the wicked passions of men’s hearts alone seem strong enough to leave pictures that persist; the good are ever too lukewarm.”

“Ritual is the passage way of the soul into the Infinite.”

 

 

Algernon Blackwood (1869 to 1951) was one of the most prolific writers of ghost stories in the history of the genre. His two best known stories are The Willows and The Wendigo. His first book of short stories, The Empty House (1906) was when he became a full-time fiction writer. Later collections include John Silence (1908), stories about a detective sensitive to extrasensory phenomena, and Tales of the Uncanny and Supernatural (1949), 22 stories selected from his nine other books of short stories.

Today is Blackwood’s anniversary of his birth, March 14, 1869.  As fiction readers we love to pay tribute to authors on the birth or death dates as a memoriam by reading their work.  Blackwood’s mysterious tales and atmospheric ghostly stories  bring our imaginations into other worlds. He is a master at going deep into the psychological elements of ghosts and the element of human fear and desire. His stories are a treat into vintage fiction!

On this blog, I have featured seven of Blackwood’s stories (In the Index of Authors’ Tales above). He is a worthy favorite of mine. You won’t be disappointed.

Interview with Andrew McQuade about Blackwood’s Fiction: http://satanicpandemonium.blogspot.com/2012/12/algernon-blackwood-interview-with.html

 

Audio of Algernon Blackwood Reading Pistol Against a Ghost. A quick story that will make you smile! (7 minutes):

 

 

And here is audio of The Wood of the Dead (35 minutes):

 

 

 

 

 

Visit Algernon Blackwood’s Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Algernon-Blackwood/e/B001IO9NQO 

There are a number of Blackwood’s stories free on Kindle.

 

 

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. 

Comments and Likes are welcome!

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Sunlight on the Grass

Tuesday’s Short Story, February 22, 2022

On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning

by Haruki Murakami,  Sunlight on the Grass Anthology

Why do we need stories? Author Robert McKee says that “stories transform life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience” and that this “work of art unites meaning and emotion … heightening your awareness and delivering a sureness of your place in reality.” 

In this short tale by Haruki Murakami, love becomes a miracle. Lovely, right? But will this dreamy moment ruin reality? Here, we go into that odd space that only Murakami can bring a reader, into the occasion of love plus imagination plus reality. Plus modern society’s romantic standards and our conscious prejudices.

We have the longing of a young man in search for his 100% perfect woman. He’s quite chatty in his thinking when he suddenly discovers this woman on the street in April. A cosmic miracle? Does he grab the event with both hands? Would you trust such perfection? Or is it only the idea of perfection? The risks in the modern fairy-tale-ish adventure won’t let your remove your eyes from the page until you’ve read the last line.

Read the short story (20 minutes) here at Genius.com:

https://genius.com/Haruki-murakami-on-seeing-the-100-perfect-girl-one-beautiful-april-morning-annotated#note-3756495

Listen to the audio (15 minutes). Just wonderful!

Haruki Murakami is a Japanese novelist. Haruki has received several noted awards for his fiction and non-fiction works. He was also referred to as one of the world’s greatest living novelists by The Guardian. Norwegian Wood (1987) is an extremely popular novel among the Japanese youth and abroad.  Murakami, an iconic figure of postmodern literature is known for his unreal and humorous work on the loneliness and empty mindedness of Japan’s work dominated generation. He now resides in The United States. Some of his favorite novels are F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, and Franz Kafka’s, The Castle.

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES 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, 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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Author of the Week, Susan Hill, February 7

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   February 7   Monday

Susan Hill

(Novels/Short Stories, Mystery and Ghost Fiction)

 

“Ghost stories … tell us about things that lie hidden within all of us, and which lurk outside all around us.”

“I wrote ghost stories because I’d always enjoyed reading them, and they seemed to be fizzling out… I don’t take them terribly seriously. It’s like a cake, with ingredients.”

“Though they don’t always have to be set in fog, weather is incredibly important in ghost stories. As is suspense: you’ve got to turn the screw very, very slowly.”

“I have only read very classic traditional English ghost stories, other than Henry James, who wrote some magnificent short ones as well as the longer ‘Turn of the Screw.’ He, Dickens, and M.R. James are my influences.”

 

 

Dame Susan Hill, Lady Wells, DBE is an English author of fiction and non-fiction works. Her novels include The Woman in Black, The Mist in the Mirror, and I’m the King of the Castle, for which she received the Somerset Maugham Award in 1971. Other awards include Whitbread Novel Award for The Bird of Night (1972); and the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for The Albatross (1971), a collection of short stories.

Her Simon Serrailler Crime Mysteries are popular novels, beginning with the first in the series The Various Haunts of Men.

Reviews:

“A gripping whodunnit and a subtle study of the mind of a psychopath”  Daily Mail 

“I loved this book. Masterly and satisfying” Ruth Rendell 

“This book must be judged as a potential successor to the great sequences of detective writing by PD James and Ruth Rendell…excellent” Daily Telegraph 

“She has the priceless ability to construct a solidly-researched narrative that keeps the reader turning the pages”  Independent  

Interview with Susan Hill speaking about wickedness, her dark new novella – and why she would never read the latest Man Booker winner.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/25/susan-hill-books-interview

Interview about ghost stories:

 

Here is the trailer for The Small Hand, a short story by Susan Hill

Visit Susan Hill’s Amazon Book Page: https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Hill/e/B096X8W23Z

 

 

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author

on Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over

200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors.

Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors, audios too.

 

4 Comments

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Dabbled in Blood, the Masked Figure

Tuesday’s Short Story, January 25, 2022

The Masque of the Red Death  by Edgar Allan Poe (1842)

 

 

This month of January is the anniversary of  Edgar Allan Poe (birth January 19, 1809). What better time to mark our appreciation of this great writer than to read one of his stories?

The Masque of the Red Death is fast 20-minute read for readers who love supernatural and mystery. I think this story has a timeliness during this Covid pandemic when we are all wearing masks and where many of us wish we could run away to our private abbeys to stay safe.

“The “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous.”

Prince Prospero summons his dominions to his castle, an abbey in the far hills. Here the ‘gay society’ is safe to enjoy themselves in the seven rooms of different colors—which have its own mystery. We are at a masked ball with music and dancing, but who arrives? An uninvited mysterious figure. In the seventh room that is draped in black velvet with blood red window panes, our tale goes deep with supernatural, psychological, and horrific elements in grand Poe style. This is soooooo Gothic!

Read the short story at Gutenberg.org

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1064/1064-h/1064-h.htm

 

Listen to the audio read by Sir Christopher Lee:

 

Watch the film created at the University of Technology, Sydney for Media Arts and Production (15 minutes). Sweeping, baroque, and spooky.

 

 

Poe wrote in many genres. He was the first to include deep psychological and intuitive horror in his stories. His tales often reflect that the true monster of evil is within each person and what happens when that evil is acted upon. His most famous work is The Raven.

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories (some with audio), by more than 100 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!

7 Comments

Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, dark literature, fiction, fiction bloggers, flash fiction, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic fiction, Gothic Horror, historical fiction, historical ghost stories, horror, horror blogs, horror films, literary horror, literary short stories, literature, mysteries, occult, paranormal, Penny Dreadful, psychological horror, pulp fiction, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural, supernatural fiction, supernatural mysteries, supernatural tales, supernatural thrillers, suspense, tales of terror

Author of the Week, Michael Cunningham, November 29

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK    November 29

Michael Cunningham

(Literary, Novelist and Screenwriter)

“I revise constantly, as I go along and then again after I’ve finished a first draft. Few of my novels contain a single sentence that closely resembles the sentence I first set down. I just find that I have to keep zapping and zapping the English language until it starts to behave in some way that vaguely matches my intentions.”

“Here’s a secret. Many novelists, if they are pressed and if they are being honest, will admit that the finished book is a rather rough translation of the book they’d intended to write.”

“Literature is, inescapably, an act of seduction, whether the writer hopes to seduce millions with a story of an adolescent vampire in love, or a handful of readers, who are willing to take a darker, strange, more enigmatic ride. Which involves a certain element of what I’ll call: You Won’t Believe What Happened Next.”

 

Michael Cunningham (born November 1952) is an American novelist and screenwriter, best known for his 1998 novel The Hours, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1999. He is a senior lecturer of creative writing at Yale University. His fiction includes A Home at the End of the WorldFlesh and BloodSpecimen DaysBy Nightfall, and The Snow Queen, as well as the collection A Wild Swan and Other Tales.

Interview with Michael Cunningham at University of Iowa (20 minutes):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trailer for film The Hours:

 

Visit Michael Cunningham’s Amazon Book Page: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Cunningham/e/B00456O74U 

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on

Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

 

1 Comment

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