Category Archives: mysteries

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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Wandering the Sky Naked

The Daughters of the Moon  by Italo Calvino

 Tuesday’s Tale of Magical Realism,  June 25, 2019

Nude women, New York City, and the moon. If you love magical realism that holds deep edges of fantasy folk tales, this is your story. Author Italo Calvino asks the question, can the moon die? What if the moon orbited  close to Earth? What if the moon was full of eyes and shimmering colors? This 1968 short story is unusual and unforgettable. Calvino was a passionate believer that art could unite the self and heal. His writing just explodes in this rather vigorous and imaginative ride.

“The moon is old, Qfwfq agreed, pitted with holes, worn out. Rolling naked through the skies, it erodes and loses its flesh like a bone that’s been gnawed. This is not the first time that such a thing has happened. I remember moons that were even older and more battered than this one; I’ve seen loads of these moons, seen them being born and running across the sky and dying out, one punctured by hail from shooting stars, another exploding from all its craters, and yet another oozing drops of topaz-colored sweat that evaporated immediately, then being covered by greenish clouds and reduced to a dried-up, spongy shell.”

 

 

The ending, what happens in time, will grab and hold a long time. A beauty!

 

Read the story at the New Yorker Magazine:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/02/23/the-daughters-of-the-moon

Listen to the audio here: https://www.wnyc.org/story/adee7d1df5ac724bab592aa2/

 

 

Italo Calvino was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy, the Cosmicomics collection of short stories, and the novels Invisible Cities and If on a winter’s night a traveler.

“It is not the voice that commands the story; it is the ear.”

 

 

 

 

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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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

Leave a comment

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

Dashiell Hammett’s Brave Earl Parish

An Inch And a Half of Glory  by Dashiell Hammett

 Tuesday’s Mystery Tale    May 28, 2019

Mystery writer Dashiell Hammett said “What I try to do is to write a story about a detective rather than a detective story.”

Oh that Dashiell, he’s a a good one. This week, May 27 is the anniversary date of Hammett’s birth. He is most famous for The Thin Man and Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon, so let’s remember this talented writer by reading his An Inch and a Half of Glory.

Hammett wrote a good number of short stories; this is the only one I could find free to read online. Not a detective story, but certainly a suspenseful psychological yarn about a man named Earl Parish who saves a little boy from an apparent house fire. What is really intriguing is the personality portrait of Earl and the sense of irony in the story. Good suspense and a fascinating quick read.

Read the short story here at the New Yorker magazine:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/06/10/an-inch-and-a-half-of-glory

 

 

Did you know that Hammett spent his early twenties as a detective in San Francisco? His first story was published in a society magazine The Smart Set. But everyone knows he got his real literary start in the magazine Black Mask when they published his crime story Arson Plus. He wrote five novels, but many remember him as a devoted left-wing activist. In his later years he settled in Katonah, NY, in a small rural cottage, before passing away in New York City. He remains one of the most influential writers of our time. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

 

 

And didn’t we all romanticize his 30-year love affair with Lillian Hellman (in the 1977  film Julia with Jason Robards and Jane Fonda).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 crime stories, crime thrillers, fiction, fiction bloggers, flash fiction, free short stories, free short stories online, horror blogs, mysteries, noir mysteries, pulp fiction, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs

Mad Dream of Happiness

The Dream   by Mary Shelley  (1832)

For the anniversary of Mary Shelley’s birth August 30, 1797

Tuesday’s Gothic Tale    August  28, 2018

 

I loved this story. Stories that involve dreams always intrigue me because the subconscious world is so mysterious and so boundless. The kingdom of the night! So fascinating is dream life and one of the reasons I wrote Night Sea Journey.  In literature, dreams have a strong presence with many famous titles and authors: Homer’s The Iliad,  Alice in Wonderland,  Shakespeare of course,  Pierre’s dream in War and Peace,  Samsa in Metamorphosis,  Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and the dreams in Anna Karenina. In art too. Who doesn’t know this painting The Nightmare, by Henry Fuseli.

 

One of my favorites is The Artist’s Dream, George H. Comegys (1840). The artist is exhausted, having visions of  Rubens, Rembrandt, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael Michelangelo, and others. So compelling!

 

In Shelley’s  short story The Dream, we sink into the era of King Henry IV. We are in France and inside the life of Countess Constance de Villeneuve in her château overlooking the Loire River. She mourns the death of her father and brothers killed in the war. Solitude, weeping, and loneliness are her daily companions. But she also mourns her love for the dashing knight Gaspar, son of her father’s enemy (two feuding families). Torn between her loyalty to her family and her desire for Gaspar, she decides to sleep on the rock of St. Catherine, who is said to visit dreams. Alone on the narrow ledge hanging over the tumbling Loire River. Constance must follow her destiny …

“I will rest to-morrow night on St. Catherine’s bed: and if, as I have heard, the saint deigns to direct her votaries in dreams, I will be guided by her; and, believing that I act according to the dictates of Heaven, I shall feel resigned even to the worst.”

 

What is the worst? Death by drowning in the Loire River? This story is about uncertain human love, dream messages, and visions of ghosts.

 

We recognize the birth date of Mary Shelley on August 30. This author is famous for her ‘midnight pillow’ explorations, from which she became inspired to write Frankenstein. In that novel, nightmares and dreams are significant.

“My dreams were all my own; I accounted for them to nobody; they were my refuge when annoyed—

my dearest pleasure when free.”  Mary Shelley

Celebrate Mary Shelley today and read the short story here at American Literature. Please comment if you liked this post!

https://americanliterature.com/author/mary-shelley/short-story/the-dream 

 

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 fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic Horror, horror blogs, mysteries, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural fiction, supernatural tales, suspense, Women In Horror

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