Category Archives: Reading Fiction

Diagnosis of Death: Ambrose Bierce’s Cryptic Adventure

The Diagnosis of Death  by Ambrose Bierce  (1909)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   October 10, 2017  READING FICTION BLOG

From a scientific perspective, ghosts are considered to be possible manifestations of electromagnetic energies of human consciousness. We all have consciousness; nobody doubts that. So any kind of ghost story attracts me because I’m always looking to verify that our consciousness exists after death and therefore ghosts are a reality. The supernatural is both real and fictional to me and probably why most of my own writings deal with the reality of ghosts and the mysterious world beyond. Life after death has endless possibilities to explore. When writing my novels or short stories,  I find the research to be the most thrilling part: for example I discovered there are ghosts in music when writing my novel Greylock.

Some physicists believe that consciousness exists in a quantum state after the body dies. The 6-minute video below, Consciousness Lives in Quantum State After Death: Physicists Claim is a fascinating presentation from prominent physics researchers at such institutions such as Cambridge University and Princeton University.

https://youtu.be/7AAcYDXYwdc ]

 

While proof of ghosts is debatable (most agree that science and physics cannot account for everything in our universe), in fiction we can cross the scientific line, dismiss all the debates, and slip into our human imagination and just believe.

 

 

 

The Diagnosis of Death

Our narrator, Hawver, tells us a story of his visit while renting Dr. Mannering’s  vacant summer house in Meridian.  Dr. Mannering was known to be skilled in precisely forecasting a person’s death. An odd skill and maybe a gifted one. Come with Hawver and spend the night in Dr. Mannering’s study, where a life-size portrait of Dr. Mannering does the haunting. You might not believe in ghosts like Hawver, then again, you might consider this story to be a treasure that adventures into the realm of the unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

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Read the short story online at TheLiteratureNetwork.

Listen to the 10-minute audio The Diagnosis of Death, narrated by Otis Jiry on  YOUTube.com .

 

 

 

 

 

Nicknamed Bitter Bierce, Ambrose Bierce authored over 90 short stories, fifty in supernatural.  He is remembered for making the human psyche the ultimate source of horror. One of his most famous works is The Devil’s Dictionary. Interestingly, most of his fiction gained popularity after his death. He disappeared in the Mexican wilderness in 1913. The fate of his body is unknown to historians. Visit the Ambrose Bierce Project for resources and more. Visit the Ambrose Bierce official website.

 

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.

 

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

EZindiepublishing

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Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic fiction, Gothic Horror, haunted houses, Hauntings, horror, horror blogs, mysteries, paranormal, pulp fiction, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural fiction

Peculiar Spirit of the Skies

The Shadow: A Parable   by Edgar Allan Poe (1835)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    September 12, 2017

 

In the city of Ptolemais, seven men meet at night in a closed chamber.  They are drinking purple wine. An unquiet glare of the seven lamps penetrates. Inside the chamber is a shrouded body.

Olinos is our narrator:  “YE who read are still among the living; but I who write shall have long since gone my way into the region of shadows.”

 

This is a 12-minute read with a thrilling edge. It has been called a “rhapsody of gloom” and is one of Poe’s early stories. Great prose!

 

 

Read the short story here at Xroads Virginia Eduction web site.

Listen to the audio (8 minutes) on You Tube.com.

More stories at  eapoe.org  

 

 

 

Poe is credited for defining the short story form.  He created the first recorded literary detective, Dupin,  in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Poe was known to be obsessed with cats,  and often wrote with a cat on his shoulder.  His cat Catterina died the same day as Poe. In 1848 the author attempted  suicide. Some time later he posed for this daguerreotype.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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

EZindiepublishing

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Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic fiction, Gothic Horror, Hauntings, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural fiction, supernatural mysteries

Frequenter of Graveyards: Skulls

Barbed Wire and Brown Skulls by Loren Eiseley  (Original title People Leave Skulls With Me, 1951)

Tuesday’s Tale of Mystery  August 29, 2017

Are you fascinated by skulls? Some people believe skulls are Nature’s sculptures. Or maybe, speaking philosophically,  life’s true face is a bony skull. I am drawn to crystal skulls and have  a lovely pink one on my writing desk (an inspiration for writing my novel The Dazzling Darkness, which features a crystal skull).

These days we can read a lot about crystal skulls being a doorway to deeper understanding about ourselves and our planet. The  famous crystal skull named Sha Na Ra  (or known as Max) is one of the few crystal skulls in the world that has been scientifically examined and proven to be truly ancient. Skeptics abound, of course. But just taking the idea of skulls—human or crystal—we have an abundance of facts and fiction that continue to attract readers and stir our imagination as more than just art.

 Max

Today we have a story about a human skull, a subtle haunting, and a collector in Loren Eiseley’s Barbed Wire and Brown Skulls. Come meet Uncle Tobias and the brown skull.  Eiseley takes us on a personal visit.

“I could see Uncle Tobias’s long-hidden relic staring back vacantly at me through the glass door of the cabinet. It would never tell its secret, but it had one. It had a secret and so had Uncle Tobias.  And I? Perhaps I was a keeper of secrets.”

 

 

 

 

Author Loren Eiseley was an American anthropologist, educator, philosopher, and natural science writer, who taught and published books during the 1950s to 1970s. His scientific and nature writings are contemplative with a poetic style.

 

 

 

 

 

Read Barbed Wire and Brown Skulls at Story of the Week, scroll down to PDF or GoogleDoc for full read:  http://storyoftheweek.loa.org/2017/08/barbed-wire-and-brown-skulls.html 

Here’s a quick peek into the mind and philosophy of  Loren Eiseley: The Star Thrower.

The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean. He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”

 

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.

 

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

EZindiepublishing

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Filed under crystal skull, fiction, ghost story blogs, Hauntings, horror blogs, mysteries, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, skulls, The Dazzling Darkness

Margaret Atwood, Prophet of Dystopian Fiction: The Stone Mattress

The Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood

Tuesday’s Tale of Suspense   August 22, 2017

 

“At the outset, Verna had not intended to kill anyone.”

Do you like small horrors? What about quiet horror?  If you’ve never experienced Margaret Atwood’s fiction (she’s written 40 novels and currently quite popular right now with her The Handmaid’s Tale—a misogyist society where women have no rights and are forced to serve as breeders), here’s a fascinating and suspenseful  story to give you an introduction, The Stone Mattress.

Imagine you are on an Arctic cruise and you come into contact with a man who raped you in high school.  What would you say to this person? Would you seek revenge or forgiveness? Come and meet Verna. She is biting and clever as she is beautiful and courageous.

This is a compelling story and my first experience with Atwood’s fiction. I was blown away by this highly intelligent story of drama and intrigue.

 

 

You’ve likely seen lots of promos for the bestselling and critically acclaimed The Handmaid’s Tale,  a film (1990) and the new series now available on Hulu. Atwood is enormously well read, especially by young writers. She began her career as a poet. Her writing is often in women’s-studies curricula; her stories explore issues of morality. The Handmaid’s Tale was on the American Library Association’s list of the top 100 banned books of the decade. Margaret Atwood is considered  to be the prophet of dystopian fiction.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale Trailer, film 1990, staring Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, Natasha Richardson, Elizabeth McGovern; Screenplay by Harold Pinter.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale Series Trailer on Hulu:

 

 

The Stone Mattress short story is part of  a collection named The Stone Mattress.

Read Margaret Atwood’s short story The Stone Mattress here at NewYorker.com/Magazine.

 

Do leave a comment!

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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

EZindiepublishing

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, ghost story blogs, horror blogs, literary horror, murder mystery, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, suspense

A Horrible Grey Loneliness: The Little Ghost

The Little Ghost by Hugh Walpole (1933)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    July 25, 2017

 

 

Death is an amazing adventure, yes? If you’ve ever lost a loved one, dear friend or relative, you know that “horrible grey loneliness” that can haunt you in the most subtle of ways. Our narrator has a ghost story to tell you. He is a journalist, happily married with two children and living in Wimbledon. When his greatest friend Charlie Bond, a  man with a charming personality, dies suddenly, the reality hits hard. Missing Charlie in his life becomes a pervasive ache for our narrator, and he escapes for a short holiday to the seaside. Sometimes when you fight a memory, the strangest things can happen. Like when you think you are alone in a room—but are not alone at all.

 

Read The Little Ghost at Gutenberg.net . Scroll down to click the title.

 

This short story was published in the collection  All Souls’ Night.  Sir Hugh Walpole was a best-selling British novelist. He published  36 novels and 6 volumes of short stories.  Virginia Woolf praised his writing: “It is no disparagement to a writer to say that his gift is for the small things rather than for the larger. If you are faithful with the details the large effects will grow inevitably out of those very details.”

Joseph Conrad said of him, “We see Mr. Walpole grappling with the truth of things spiritual and material with his characteristic earnestness, and we can discern the characteristics of this acute and sympathetic explorer of human nature.”

You might also like The Silver Mask or the vampire narrative Tarnhelm, included in All Souls’ Night. 

 

 

Hugh Walpole Portrait, by Stephen Bone, oil on canvas.

 

 

 

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

Comments are welcome.

  

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

EZindiepublishing

3 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, classic horror stories, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic fiction, Hauntings, horror blogs, literary horror, mysteries, paranormal, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural fiction, tales of terror

The Ghost of Jane Austen Walks Here on the Bicentennial of Her Death

Reading Jane Austen on the Bicentennial of Her Death

Tuesday’s Tale    July 18, 2017

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death on July 18, 1817. She died at the age of 41, and the cause is still a mystery. An ongoing debate ranges from arsenic poisoning to Addison’s disease to tuberculosis to lymphoma to the far-flung idea of murder.

Because I feature fiction by so many dead authors here at Reading Fiction Blog on Tuesday’s Tale, it seems appropriate for readers here who follow this blog, or drop in regularly, that we take a moment to honor the ghostly presence of this most beloved author. If this blog is about anything at all, it’s about  famous past authors we still love to read. I am often haunted by dead authors; my goal has always been to resurrect dead authors’ works, call these ghosts back into our lives, and once again dive into their imaginary worlds by reading and rereading their works. But Jane Austen needs no resurrection. She is still widely read and admired as one of our greatest novelists.

Jane Austen (born 1775) remains an enduring author, and so many generations appreciate the compelling style and substance of her six novels. Her characters are fully human, living in the everyday world and struggling on to survive.  Did you know Austen wrote short stories? These titles, Lady Susan; Love & Friendship; Jack and Alice; The Three Sisters; Lesley Castle; The Watsons; Sandition; The Beautiful Cassandra; Amelia Webster; The Visit; Evelyn, are her earlier works. None is available in the public domain but for 99 cents you can download them to your Kindle via Amazon.

 

In Pride and Prejudice, here’s a peak at Georgian life from Austen’s perspective (6-minute video).

 

 

More At Home With Jane Austen at Chawton Cottage: This short video below (8 minutes) shows the Jane Austen House Museum in the village of Chawton, in Hampshire, where Jane lived for the final eight years of her short life.

 

 

Our lives go on here after we are dead through a variety of ways. Ghosts remain here like blurry photographs, shadows releasing breathy moments. Jane Austen is a lovely ghost among us. Can you hear her footsteps? What an apparition she  is in her little bonnet. Her words live on; the sound of her voice rings clearly.

“To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.” 

I encourage you to reread one of her novels, watch the films, or spend some time with her short stories. I recommend Northanger Abbey, published after her death,  a satire on the Gothic novel.  What if  you were to live your life as if inside a Gothic novel? Of course, there is a castle, a locked room, and mysteries at every turn. Catherine Morland is a charming protagonist, spending time in the English society of Bath where illusion and reality, haunted ruins, friendship—and romance—become compelling storytelling with the flavors of dark humor. At about 200 pages, this short novel is an ideal read for a summer’s afternoon, swinging in a hammock beneath sun-dappled trees, or lounging beach-side with the splash and hiss of waves for background music.

You can read Northanger Abbey  on Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/121

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Listen to the full audio of Northanger Abbey here at YouTube.com.

 

Watch the FILM here at YouTube.com:

 

Jane Austen Banknote Unveiled, The Guardian.

Read The New York Times’ “Jane Austen Wasn’t Shy” here.    Visit Jane Austen’s Blog here. 


 

Jane Austen’s Grave at Winchester Cathedral

 

 

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

Comments are welcome.

 

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

6 Comments

Filed under fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic fiction, Gothic Horror, mysteries, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs

Greylock in the Berkshires

On  Saturday, June 24, 2017 at Herman Melville’s Arrowhead, Berkshire Historical Society, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, I had the privilege to present my supernatural mystery Greylock to local residents and readers.

Arrowhead lies at the foot of Mt. Greylock. Because my novel takes place on Mt. Greylock and is about the supernatural powers of music … of whales … and much more … Arrowhead was an ideal location for this book reading event and signing.

[Courtesy Berkshire County Historical Society.]

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The Russian beluga whales in the novel Greylock are nothing near the size of Melville’s Moby Dick, and Melville didn’t write much about his singing whale, but in Greylock, the songs of the beluga whales are a driving entity for the character Alexei Georg, a classical pianist. Murder, music, mystery on Mt. Greylock is haunted suspense where music itself is a character.

Arrowhead is a place of inspiration. There is such a thing as ‘power of place’ in that Melville sought solitude for his imagination. Arrowhead provided that reach for Melville’s true creative powers to soar. Many thanks to Peter Bergman of the Berkshire Historical Society for his invitation to bring my novel Greylock to  Arrowhead. Arrowhead opens a new exhibit this June. This month marks the 61st anniversary of the 1956 film Moby Dick. The exhibit is movie memorabilia and props used in the film.

Greylock in the Berkshires!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Supernatural Power of Music

As part of my presentation of  the story and characters in Greylock, I discussed the supernatural power of music. The account of violinist Giuseppe Tartini’s sonata “The Devil’s Trill” is a perfect example. Alexei’s cousin, Josef, knows all about this sonata and explains what powers lie in music.

So, I asked my audience …

“Do You Believe in Music Phantoms?”

 [2-minute video]

If you don’t believe in music phantoms, this is the story that will test your resolve.

 

 

Greylock in the Berkshires!

Here are some quick images of my spectacular weekend in the Berkshires at Arrowhead. We stayed at Hotel On North in Pittsfield. Five-star accommodations. Their restaurant, raw bar, and quality service made the weekend spectacular. Highly recommended if you are visiting the Berkshires.

Cozy lounge for a champagne toast.

 

Naturally, the gift shop at Arrowhead carries Greylock, as well as the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, and, on the summit of Mt. Greylock at the Bascom Lodge. Local area libraries and bookshops too.

The Most Inspiring Mountain in Massachusetts

Mt. Greylock is inspiring for many writers, Thoreau and Hawthorne to name a few. J.K. Rowlings, author of the Harry Potter series, has claimed Mt. Greylock for her fiction too. Her new story (Fantastic Beasts) has Ilvermorny founded by an Irish witch who started a school for wizards at the top of Mount Greylock.

 

 

Here’s something Herman Melville wrote about reading: 

“…the books that prove most agreeable, grateful, and companionable,

are those books we pick up by chance here and there …”

 

 

Greylock has over 60 reviews at AMAZON.COM

“Greylock is a smart, entertaining supernatural thriller. Think Stephen King meets Raymond Chandler with a score by Tchaikovsky. The author’s passion for both the arts and the natural world shines through on every page. Briskly paced and yet lovingly detailed, this novel was a genuine pleasure to read.” —David Corbett, best-selling and award-winning author of The Mercy of the Night.

U.S. Review of Books: “Cappa’s latest is nothing less than a mind-boggling mystery … always keeping an elusive edge to her characters’ personas—a plot replete with all the wonderful trappings of a romance-laced mystery with unexpected twists and turns.”

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