Category Archives: literature

Barely Breathing Into the Afterworld

Last Night  by James Salter (2002) and author’s anniversary month.

Tuesday’s Tale,  June 11, 2019

Poet Walt Whitman said that “nothing can happen more beautiful than death.” Several poets—Rainer Maria Rilke included—believe death to be “our friend.” So a short story about choosing to die, when and how, already has a mysterious power going for it.

Meet Walter, a translator of Russian and German poetry, and his wife Marit who is seriously ill. This is the Last Night of her life, as she and Walter have planned it.

This story is masterful and highly polished. A beguiling tale full of emotional shadows. It takes a great deal of talent and skill to construct a short story that is fulfilling and reaches deep into the heart, and author James Salter (born June 10, 1925, yesterday the anniversary of his birth) wrote this with insight and empathy. Salter is not as famous as authors Roth or Updike, and you might not have heard of him. He’s often referred to as the forgotten hero of American Literature. He’s a stylist and a purist.

Honestly,  if you love great writing and great stories, you have got to experience Salter’s Last Night.

Read Last Night here at the New Yorker Magazine:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2002/11/18/last-night-2

Salter died June 15, 2015 in Sag Harbor, NY.

James Salter, born in New Jersey, grew up in New York City, was an American fiction writer and screenwriter whose work is characterized by a careful, economical use of language and by themes that often involve the passage of time and the losses experienced along the way.

Meet James Salter on YouTube.com (3 minutes)

 

 

 

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 short stories, free short stories online, literature, mysteries, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs

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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In Memory of My Publisher Phil Martin

A Memorial …

Philip Martin

For those of you who know my novels, it is with deep regret that I write this memorial for my publisher Philip Martin of  Crickhollow Books, Great Lakes Literary, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He died on March 3, 2019. All three of my mysteries were published under Phil’s imprint  Crispin Books. He was a dear man with a love of literature, appreciation of good writing, and dedicated to discovering and promoting emerging authors. Just recently he celebrated ten successful years of his publishing company. His book How to Write Your Best Story is one of the most valuable books on my shelf. One of his best pieces of writing advice was not so much about writing as it was to letting the story stretch and to listen, “Listen to what the story needs.  Listen to what the characters need. Listen to what the readers need.”

Phil believed that stories connect us. He believed there was magic in storytelling and that storytelling helps to make us whole.  “Good storytelling is like a beautiful melody or an appealing fragrance.”

Phil discovered me on Linked In and contacted me in 2013 after reading my ghost story The Dazzling Darkness. He went on to publish Night Sea Journey and Greylock. He knew about my fourth novel and was anxious to hear about it, ever encouraging and supportive. Over the past six years,  I was among many writers he brought into his circle.  His legacy, his wisdom, will endure in all of  us.  Thank you, Phil for all you’ve done for me and for my stories. You made a tremendous difference in my life, my creativity, and my stories.

Philip Martin Obituary

 

Rest in peace.

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When I Was a Witch

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

Tuesday’s Tale of Witches    February 19, 2019

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

Listen to the audio (21 minutes) on YouTube:

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

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

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Leave a comment

Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, fantasy, fiction, fiction bloggers, flash fiction, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost story blogs, Gothic fiction, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, paranormal, pulp fiction, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural fiction, tales of terror, witches, Women In Horror

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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Filed under fiction, fiction bloggers, flash fiction, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic Horror, haunted houses, horror blogs, literature, paranormal, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, supernatural fiction, supernatural tales

The Sussex Vampire, A.C. Doyle

The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire  by Arthur Conan Doyle (1921)

Tuesday’s Tale   January 15, 2019

 

Arthur Conan Doyle—a contemporary of Bram Stoker—was a spiritualist, known to attend séances. Doyle believed in tiny females with transparent wings—fairies. Doyle fans might recall that he wrote a nonfiction book The Coming of the Fairies.  In 1893 he  joined the British Society for Psychical Research. He also investigated a haunting and was convinced the psychic phenomena was caused by the spirit of the dead child. So when he wrote this story The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire, a reader might wonder what he really did believe about the supernatural.

In this story, a husband suspects his wife to be a vampire. Vampires? In Sussex? Holmes laughs at such an idea. We begin our tale on Baker Street, of course, with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

But then, Holmes and Watson depart for Sussex …

“It was evening of a dull, foggy November day when, having left our bags at the Chequers, Lamberley, we drove through the Sussex clay of a long winding lane and finally reached the isolated and ancient farmhouse …”

 

 

 

 

You can read the short story at Ebooks.adelaide.edu:

https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/doyle/arthur_conan/d75ca/chapter5.html

 

Listen to the audio (43 minutes)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08A9da6TYOc

If you enjoyed this short story you might like to read Vampire Stories, available on Amazon.com.

 

 

Days before his death Conan Doyle wrote,

“The reader will judge that I have had many adventures. The greatest and most glorious of all awaits me now.”

 

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 classic horror stories, detective fiction, fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost story blogs, Gothic Horror, horror, horror blogs, literature, pulp fiction, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa

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