Tag Archives: literature

Do You Believe in the Mysterious?

‘It’s night.

It has been night for a long time. Hours pass— yet it’s the same hour. I can’t sleep.

My mind is fractured like broken glass. Or a broken mirror, shards reflecting shards. I am incapable of thinking but only of receiving, like a fine-meshed net strung tight, mere glimmerings of thought. Teasing fragments of “memory”—or is it “invented memory”?—rise and turn and fall and sift and scatter and rearrange themselves into arabesques of patterns on the verge of becoming coherent, yet do not become coherent.’

Want to read more? This is from Joyce Carol Oates’ blog Celestial Timepiece.

https://celestialtimepiece.com/2017/04/09/the-collector-of-hearts-new-tales-of-the-grotesque/

 

This is her latest collection of short stories. Twenty-five Gothic horror tales.

 

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“We work in the dark—we do what we can—we give what we have.

Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”  

Henry James.  This quote hangs above Oates’ writing desk.

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Filed under dark fantasy, Dreams, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, occult, psychological horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, tales of terror

Tenant of the Grave

The Premature Burial  by Edgar Allen Poe  (1844)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    September  24, 2013

How do you feel about being buried alive? Who best could write about this horror than the Mr. Edgar Allan Poe with his magnetic prose and his unparalleled aptness of the pen.

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Since next week begins October, the official Halloween month, and since I am planning on featuring a “Women in Horror Month” for Tales of Terror, I wanted to be sure to get a Poe short story to you to kick off the scariest month of the year. Halloween month wouldn’t be fulfilling without a Poe story. So, prepare yourself for a dark tale today.

Merciful God, being buried alive! Of all the human horrors to endure, is there a greater fear? Living in the 1800s, this fear was far more common than today with all our medical devices to declare the dead as truly dead.

From the opening lines …There are certain themes of which the interest is all-absorbing, but which are too entirely horrible for the purposes of legitimate fiction … So we are plunged into the nonfiction, or so we think. We are introduced to several case histories (there are over one hundred well-authenticated cases) of people who were buried alive.  We learn of a Baltimore woman who although buried in the family vault, broke out of her coffin.  And then there is the young and beautiful Mademoiselle Victorine Lafourcade, buried in the village graveyard. Unbelievably, she is dug up and saved by her lover.

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Our narrator, a nervous sort, is obsessed with tombs, cemeteries, and worms. Nightmares plague him of being buried alive in a locked coffin. Why? He has a peculiar disorder called catalepsy, an affliction that causes a human to enter a deathlike trance—possibly for days or weeks. Hence, being declared dead in error and buried alive in a locked coffin remains a living terror for him. What can he do to prevent this destiny?

Come into the realm of the nethermost Hell with our narrator. He will tell you that the boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague.

Read the text at Classic Lit

http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/eapoe/bl-eapoe-premature.htm

Watch the internet film of The Premature Burial directed by Ric White, Willing Heart Productions (40 minutes). The performances are not exactly stellar (I’m being kind here) and the script is literally a screaming melodrama, but still this is a decent adaptation of Poe’s masterpiece.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBMSZozsY54

If you are a Netflix member, you can get the film starring Ray Milland, directed by Roger Corman (1962). Here’s the 4-minute preview trailer. This film is perfect for Halloween night.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9E7PZllXjI

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Images are from The Black Box Club:

http://theblackboxclub.blogspot.com

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

GoodReads     WattPad   The Story Reading Ape Blog

Interesting Literature      Bibliophilopolis.wordpress.com

  Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror

Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify     Rob Around Books  

 Books on the Nightstand

TheInsatiableBookSlut   For Authors/Writers: The Writer Unboxed

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Filed under dark fantasy, Edgar Allan Poe, fiction, graveyards, horror, quiet horror, short stories, tales of terror

Horror-Struck in Benchurch

The Judge’s House  by Bram Stoker (1891)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    August 27, 2013

You’ve heard the old saying, At the darkest hour comes the light. In Bram Stoker’s The Judge’s House, that blackest hour has all the power. I want you to meet Malcolm Malcolmson. Say it aloud, low and throaty. Malcolm Malcolmson. Even the name has a haunting tone. He is a scholar, young, strong, a bit unsociable but determined to find a “quiet” place to dive into his beloved studies. Quiet is probably putting it mildly; he really wants isolation, a desolate location to learn the mysteries of Mathematical Tripos, Harmonical Progression, Permutations and Combinations, and Elliptic Functions.

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Most of us can’t identify what these studies are exactly, but it sounds very ambitious. While we can admire Malcolm, we are also immediately intrigued when he comes upon an unoccupied old rambling, heavy-built house of the Jacobean style, with heavy gables and windows in the small town of Benchurch.

Thinking haunted house, are you? Not quite. This is a story about the power of darkness, a darkness so diabolical that I doubt you’ll be able to stop reading until you reach the conclusion.

Our young Malcolm settles into the house with all his textbooks. Mrs. Dempster, the charwoman, provides meals and housekeeping. But Mrs. Dempster has her own reluctance about the house and especially the screens in the dining room … ‘things,’ that put their heads round the sides, or over the top, and look on me!

Do rats, mice, and beetles offend you? Would a grisly rope attached to the roof’s alarm bell hanging down in the corner of the dining room make you feel uneasy—especially if it creaks? What about portraits on the wall covered so thickly with dust you can’t see the faces … yet.

Close to the hearth is a great high-backed carved oak chair, with a mysterious something seated upon it … with baleful eyes.  In the evenings, while Malcolm is buried within the pages of his mathematical rationalizations (and this is important because we all know that mathematical thinking does not have any power to battle the supernatural), the scampering and little screeches begin.

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Stoker keeps his narrative moving by bringing the lens in closer and closer to build a foreboding tension. However, I found The Judge’s House to be extra mysterious when I stretched out on my sofa, turned the lights low, and listened this short story by LibriVox Recordings. There’s a magnetic quality in Stoker’s prose—the pacing and descriptions are truly evocative for a suspenseful read-aloud.

Read the short story at Gaslight (45-minute read) http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/judghous.htm

Listen to the LibriVox Recording at YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUHbPrpsO48

More of Bram Stoker short stories are at Bram Stoker.org

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 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

GoodReads         WattPad

The Story Reading Ape Blog     

Books on the Nightstand 

Interesting Literature

Horror Novel Reviews

Hell Horror

Monster Librarian

TheInsatiableBookSlut

For Authors/Writers:

The Writer Unboxed

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Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, ghost stories, horror, horror blogs, literature, mysteries, phantoms, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, soft horror, supernatural, suspense, tales of terror

There Be Giants Here!

A Ghost Story by Mark Twain (1870)

Tuesday’s Tale of  Terror    August 6, 2013

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I prefer to say as little as possible about this ghostly story. It is fiction but more than fiction. Let me just say that you can expect suspense, some creepy effects (clichéd to the point of being cute) and of course Mark Twain’s signature humor.

What you really need is a tidbit of background (history actually) so you can fully appreciate Mark Twain’s witty little fiction.

Do you believe in giants? A Biblical giant? Genesis 6:4 says, There be giants in the earth in those days. In Cardiff, New York, in 1869, workers were digging a well behind the barn of William Newell and they unearthed a gigantic ten-foot tall stone man. Religious fervor being what it was at the time—and the story of David and Goliath a favorite—people believed that the discovered “Petrified Man” was indeed an ancient giant in the earth. Curious residents arrived at Newell’s farm in droves to see the famous “Cardiff Giant.” Farmer Newell charged fifty cents to viewers of the 10-foot fossil.

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Even P.T. Barnum wanted in on the action so bad, he created his own imitation giant for his circus, which drew far more people than Farmer Newell’s specimen.

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No matter what scientists said at the time—pronouncing the giant stone man as a fraud, an elaborate hoax, an impossibility—the power of belief in Goliath and Biblical accuracy ran deep among the masses, inspiring belief that the giant was real. Today, the Cardiff Giant is on display at the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, NY as America’s Greatest Hoax.

So, I will leave you with these questions before you begin Twain’s A Ghost Story … Do you believe in giants? Would a giant believe in giants? Would a giant believe in fiction?

Read  A Ghost Story at Haunted Bay (15-minute read)

http://www.hauntedbay.com/tomes/stories/ghoststory.shtml

And do leave a comment as to what you think of this ghostly tale. Here’s what Twain said about fiction: “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

One more thing, take a moment and view the only footage (very short silent film) of Mark Twain taken by Thomas Edison at Twain’s estate in 1909. Enjoy from the Smithsonian Magazine.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/video/The-Only-Footage-of-Mark-Twain-in-Existence.html

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

GoodReads

WattPad

The Story Reading Ape Blog

Horror Novel Reviews

Hell Horror

Laura’s Ramblings and Reviews

Kindle Nation Daily

For Authors/Writers: The Writer Unboxed

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Filed under fiction, ghost stories, Ghosts, Hauntings, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, weird tales

In the Shadows of the Guillotine, a Love Story

Solange: Dr. Ledru’s Story of  The  Reign of  Terror by Alexandre Dumas (1850s)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror,  July 23, 2013

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During the Reign of Terror, did you know that a skilled guillotine executioner could behead two victims per minute? The death toll ran in the tens of thousands. It was thought at the time that the victim would likely only feel a quick cold chill tingling rapidly at the base of the head, as the blade struck the flesh. And what if the executioner was not so skilled? I’ve got a wicked stabbing at my neck just thinking of it!

Some of Alexandre Dumas’ fans might know that this author was more than just a little interested in beheadings of the era. Dumas often speculated if a guillotined person suffered pain during the beheading, so of course these beheading themes runs through some of his stories.

Solange reflects this theme but is actually a little love story. However, don’t underestimate the horrific executions  in this particular fiction  because it carries a riveting reality.

We are in the streets of terrified France, at Rue Tournon, when a beautiful young woman called Solange is about to be hauled off to the guard house for not having a pass (which surely meant death on the scaffold).

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Pale and trembling, “with feet like a child’s,” Solange is saved by M. Albert, our gallant and generous narrator. Albert is a physician/scientist investigating beheadings by examining and testing the severed heads and trunks of the victims. A gruesome task beyond the imagination. Albert is of high devotion to his work. He soldiers on to his goal of convincing the lawmakers that capital punishment must be abolished “for the good of humanity.”

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To this effort, Albert acts not only to save Solange from the guardhouse and guillotine, but he falls wildly in love with this very pretty young thing.  With the revolutionary police ever present and aggressive, escape or hiding was Solange’s only hope.

While their tears mix with their kisses for Solange and Albert, the plot takes a wicked turn that you may or may not find predictable. I was nearly breathless at the end expecting the worst for these two lovers. And the worse was certainly fulfilled for Dumas doesn’t spare you a moment’s relief. This haunting ending will not fade away easily and is truly a tale of terror and woe.

Read it at OnLine Literature.

http://www.online-literature.com/dumas/3175/

Are you a Dumas fan? What other stories/novels would you like to suggest here for the readers?

Maybe, if you are up for more about beheadings, you might like Horror at Fontenay. I couldn’t find the text as an online read but the novel is on Amazon or likely at your local library.

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http://www.hellhorror.com/links/

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The Chilly and Darksome Vale of Years

Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment by Nathaniel Hawthorne  (1837)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   July 2, 2013

Since it’s Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birth date anniversary on July 4, I chose this week to feature one of his short stories.  Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment deals with aging, a dash of morality, and the tampering with nature.

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Do we shun the old? Do we fear our own old age and decline, or do we value the wisdom of experience? What horrors to find ourselves wrinkled, sagging, grey, stumbling through our end years with knotted joints and weakened muscles. What if you found the legendary fountain of youth? Would you drink the elixir? Then what?

Dr. Heidegger is an eccentric old man who lost his bride-to-be, Sylvia, the night before their wedding. It is some fifty years later since Sylvia gave him a rose to wear on their wedding day—a rose he kept inside a book all this time. We are in his study, a chamber with cobwebs and books, a skeleton in the closet, a bust of Hippocrates who is said to converse with the good doctor from time to time.

Such a chamber would not be complete without a magic mirror whose glass might reveal faces of the good doctor’s deceased patients. And of course, a black book of magic.

Dr. Heidegger has invited four of his oldest friends to his study: a politician, a merchant, a womanizer, and a once beautiful woman. Heidegger is conducting an experiment. On the table is Sylvia’s withered rose, a tall vase of water, four goblets. He pours from the vase, filling the goblets. Out comes a clear bubbling liquid that sparkles like diamonds. He places the withered dry rose into the water and the four friends watch the rose curl back into a moist bloom, fresh, green, with delicate bright red leaves.

A pretty deception? Or does that water have true healing powers?

“Drink!” says the good doctor.

With palsied and veined hands, the four friends raise the glasses to their lips.

If you know Hawthorne’s work, you know he wrote rather dark views of human nature; his uses of symbolism and allegory to communicate his messages are classic. So, what happens to these four friends? Watch for the dark chill of the butterfly as it flutters in the chamber. Do you think the good doctor knew the results of his experiment ahead of time?

For a full text read, go to  Online Literature:

http://www.online-literature.com/hawthorne/130/

Also, I have two film adaptations of the short story that are quite good if you happen to enjoy vintage productions.

Heidegger369207.1010.AYouTube presents Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment (30 minutes) as part of Twice-Told Tales  (three tales including House of Seven Gables and  Rappaccini’s Daughter) starring Vincent Price, Richard Denning, and Sebastian Cabot. This adaptation is much altered, the story line different, and the ending has an interesting twist. I actually liked this film better than the original short story:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RULBBg6kP38

Short Story Showcase presents Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment on film at Encyclopedia Britannica.com, a precise classic adaptation of the story as Hawthorne wrote it:

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/138928/Dr

I’d love to hear your comments about the Vincent Price film.

http://www.hellhorror.com/links/

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Filed under fiction, Hawthorne, horror, literature, psychological horror, short stories, supernatural, suspense, tales of terror

Watching A Dead Body in White Linen

A Dead Body  by Anton Chekhov (1886)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  June 4, 2013

How many stories have you read where the dead body is the main character? This short-short (really a snapshot of a moment in fiction, a 15-minute read) by Chekhov is probably not one his most praised pieces of work. We know Chekhov for his brilliant plays, for his literary and spiritual intelligence, but he’s not well known for his tales of terror. Most would be surprised to hear that his first short story sold to Dragonfly in 1880; thus began his career as a crime and mystery writer.

I liked A Dead Body because the story does not really “develop” for the reader, but more “envelopes” the reader. It’s highly mysterious and a puzzle that still haunts me with its drama and symbolism. In fact, everything here is emblematic and makes for a fascinating attempt to draw connections. Dan Brown could learn something from Chekhov’s subtle and elusive prose.

The scene opens on an August night in the misty forest. A dead man is shrouded  in white linen on the ground. A wooden cross is upon his chest. Two peasant men are sitting by “watching.”  One man is smart. The other man, Syoma, is not so smart and doesn’t really understand; he is told to “Think!”

There is perfect stillness.

There is sleepiness.  A small camp fire is burning down. There is mention of an owl … a crane … three minutes … three days. A soul.

The “watch” is silent.

And then a stranger in a monk’s cassock, a pilgrim, comes by. There is talk of outer darkness, murder, and suicide. There is an offer of money, five kopecks. The monk makes a movement of five steps.

There is the fear of the dead.

Chekhov weaves us into a moment of pure suspension. Don’t miss it because the ending will cause you to say, What? What happened here? Typical of Chekhovian endings, which often just suddenly stop or hit you with the unexpected. In fact, the absolute last image still has me captured … as it will you.

Take fifteen minutes to read this story that is likely a forgotten and puzzling tale. And if you have any insight as to the meaning of the last line, do post your thoughts in the Comments. I’m starving for opinions on this one!

Read the full text at The Literature Network

http://www.online-literature.com/anton_chekhov/1134/

 http://www.hellhorror.com/links/

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Filed under Anton Chekhov, fiction, literature, mysteries, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, weird tales