Friday, 21 October 2016

Incompetent? Or blatant attempt to bring about Apocalypse?

Probably incompetent, to be honest. I mean, what respectable Satanist would try and get away with this?

jesus head

Yes, it's Evil Baby Jesus. In Ontario. Steve Duffy, author of many a fine story, has drawn my attention to this, which looks... bonkers. Or evil. Or both.

Apparently the real head was broken off and stolen and they couldn't afford a proper replacement. So a local artist volunteered to have a go.
The clay head has begun to erode from the rain after less than a week.
"I don't expect it to last long. She plans on sculpting in stone sometime next year," he said. 
Lajeunesse said many parishioners have expressed hurt, surprise, and disappointment with the new head.

"It's a first try. It's a first go. And hopefully what is done at the end will please everyone," he said.

The Hex

I love radio drama, and this adaptation of M.R. James' 'Casting the Runes' is good fun. A nice pre-Hallowe'en listen.

Michael Dirda on Spooky Reading Matter

Washington Post critic Michael Dirda clearly has a thing for classic, classy supernatural fiction. In this column he recommends a lot of good stuff, and a reassuringly large number of writers concerned happen to have appeared in ST. Hooray!

I think Dirda's piece proves that the small press world is doing remarkably well when it comes to bringing quality short stories to the eager masses. We'd be snookered if it weren't for the likes of Tartarus, Swan River, etc. They are doing what big commercial publishers don't really want to - addressing a healthy niche market that will never be hugely profitable.

I was also pleased to see Dover Books mentioned, as decent paperbacks of classic weird tales are essential in my humble opinion. How else is someone who's not especially wealthy supposed to get a feel for the history and range of the genre if not by picking up a (relatively) cheap copy of Blackwood's or Bierce's stories?

Anyway, I'll leave you to read the WaPo article, as it's very good.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Praise for E.F. Benson

In the Guardian Nicholas Lazard offers a new edition of Benson's ghost stories as his fictional choice for the season.

As vehicles for giving readers the willies, they are most effective. When I reread “Caterpillars”, for the first time in four decades, I very quickly regretted that I had chosen to do so at night. Gatiss, in his introduction, says that it is “perhaps a ghost story like no other”, and he’s not wrong: it’s the kind of story that leaves one feeling almost unclean, checking clothes and body for vermin.

Lazard rightly observes that the late Victorian era produced some superb authors of weird fiction, and that this might reflect a growing fascination with the workings of the unconscious. But, as he also observes, Benson's stories survive because they are well-constructed. He may always be overshadowed by M.R. James in the ghost story genre, but at his best he produced some classic tales such as 'The Face', 'Caterpillars', and 'The Room in the Tower'. And it's no mean feat to excel in two distinct areas - Benson also created the small, amusing world of Mapp and Lucia.