Monday, December 10, 2012
Monday, November 12, 2012
Lovecraft studied Poe. He worshiped him and rightly so. He wrote "The Outsider" in apparent homage to Poe. But the similarities stop there. Let's not forget that Poe wrote 80-100 years before Lovecraft, too. Lovecraft also used the word "foetid" more than any other writer that has ever lived by a factor of ten, but that's another article. Plus, he looked downright creepy, too. Although Lovecraft was no Poe he gave us some great stories and these are my favorites:
"The Call of Cthulhu"
"The Colour Out of Space"
"The Dunwich Horror"
Friday, October 19, 2012
Friday, October 12, 2012
On June 5, 2012, Ray Bradbury passed away. Long live Ray Bradbury.
To readers he will live on through his myriad short stories and a few novels that are destined to be classics. The first is “Fahrenheit 451,” a nineteenth century classic that warns of the dangers in banning books and censorship. The second Bradbury classic is “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” with a title no less intriguing than the first.
In SWTWC Bradbury has given the world a fiendish tale reflected through the eyes of two young boys and their wonderment of a traveling circus. At times the metaphors, the similes, the personifications are overwritten; but mostly they sing across this dark field of a novel, soaring over flapping circus tents and the bizzarrie inside them. Though lesser known than the decade older “Fahrenheit 451,” SWTWC is a classic that will be read for decades to come.
Ray Bradbury isn’t dead. He lives on. Long live Ray Bradbury.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Q1. Why did you focus on the first half of the 19th century for your first vampire anthology?
A1. I knew the first vampire short story written in the English language was "The Vampyre" by John Polidori. He published it in 1819. There was obviously fresh dirt, so to speak, for this period and I started digging. I wanted to start from the beginning just as I did with The Best Horror Short Stories 1800-1849,The Best Werewolf Short Stories 1800-1849 and The Best Ghost Stories 1800-1849.
Q2. Did you unearth anything of note in vampire lore?
A2. Yes. I was surprised to find the first vampire short story penned by an American that has remained buried for nearly two centuries. It was published only months after Polidori's. It was titled "The Black Vampyre" and was published under a pseudonym by a Columbia University Law School graduate. In the book I demonstrate who the actual author was as background to the story. From my research it is also the first short story to advocate freedom for black slaves.
Q3. That is substantial. So you include background information on each story in the collection?
A3. Also author photos, publication dates and a list of stories read at the end of the book. In the print version I include annotations like I did with the other books.
Q4. You stated that in your estimation Edgar Allan Poe wrote one third of the best horror stories for the fifty years in question, as well as one of the best ghost stories in "The Mask of the Red Death." Did he write any vampire stories?
A4. There is much speculation about this. Some assert "Ligeia" and "Berenice" are vampire stories but I dispel this in the Introduction: "With Teeth." In my view Poe did not pen a vampire tale. I didn't believe this when editing Edgar Allan Poe Annotated and Illustrated Entire Stories and Poems and I don't now. It is also of note that neither Nathaniel Hawthorne nor Washington Irving wrote a vampire story, either.
Q5. Who are some of the more famous authors in the anthology?
A5. I mentioned John Polidori, Lord Byron's traveling doctor. Alexander Dumas, Joseph le Fanu and Théophile Gautier all have stories in the collection.
Q6. Do you have a favorite?
A6. "Clarimonde" by Gautier is the foremost thing of its kind. Of course Gautier had the advantage of all the great stories that came before his.
Q7. The strangest name has to be "Pepopukin in Corsica." How did you come across it?
A7. It was published in an old magazine in 1826. It is just the third vampire story originally published in the English language. It has not been republished since. The author was not given, only the initials A.Y. I was able to learn that it was Arthur Young who wrote a number of travel books based in France. "Pepopukin in Corsica" is the first vampire story to include poetry.
Q8. Didn't Polidori write "The Vampyre" in response to a bet by Mary Shelley?
A8. There's a story within a story on that one. Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and John Polidori challenged one another to write a ghost story. Mary ultimately wrote Prometheus Unbound (that we know now as Frankenstein) and Lord Byron penned a fragment of a vampire story that he never finished. Polidori used the outline and wrote "The Vampyre." It is little known that Polidori put Lord Byron in "The Vampyre" after they had had a falling out. Lord Byron is the vampire himself. He called him Lord Ruthven in the story. I lay out the many similarities between Lord Byron and Lord Ruthven in the background. It's fascinating stuff.
Q9. Another popular vampire story is "Wake Not the Dead."
A9. It was first published in English in 1823 and miss-attributed to Ludwig Tieck. Ernst Raupach is the true author.
Q10. Did you unearth any misconceptions in doing your research?
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Friday, July 20, 2012
Back before there were sparkly vampires with waxed chests and gelled hair, there were the founding fathers of vampirism. These were the early vampires; the horrid bloodsuckers of John Polidori and Robert Sands and Joseph Sheridan le Fanu. The first half of the nineteenth century is a crucial point in the development of the vampire story and I tried to find the best of these stories printed in the English language for that time period. My anthology is The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Vampire Anthology and these are the stories:
1822 Wake Not the Dead - Ernst Raupach (1784-1852)
1848 The Vampire of the Carpathian Mountains - Alexander Dumas (1802-1870)
1839 Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter - Joseph le Fanu (1814-1873)
1826 Pepopukin in Corsica - Arthur Young (1741-1820)
1819 The Black Vampyre: A Legend of Saint Domingo - Robert C. Sands (1799-1832)
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Monday, June 4, 2012
Sunday, May 20, 2012
The Midwest Book Review has just published a glowing review of The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Vampire Anthology - "an absolute 'must-have' for any aficionado of vampire literature, highly recommended."
Saturday, May 19, 2012
I am a huge fan of The Cure. So when I learned of Ten Imaginary Years that was published over twenty years ago, I had to read it. Initially this was no easy task because it was difficult to find. A used copy showed up on Amazon and I snatched it.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Sunday, May 6, 2012
It's not often that I post a review of one of my books in its entirety. In fact, I never do. Nicola Manning, however, has recently published one of the most well thought out reviews of the best ghost stories anthology that I edited. I agree with her on most points (Washington Irving excepted). You can follow all her reviews on GoodReads. They are worth your time. "Reason for Reading: I have a particular interest in the Gothic story and my favoured literature time period is the Victorian era, which admittedly doesn't start until 1837. But both the time frame of this book and the life works of the included authors does fall within my preferred historical reading period.This is a fine collection of ghost stories. Andrew Barger has done an excellent job of combining the familiar with the obscure both in title and author selection. He has written an interesting, engaging introduction to the topic and his choices of stories. From this introduction the reader knows they have an editor who knows the literary time period and genre being presented. Preceding each story is an introduction by the editor with background information on the story and the author in relation to the particular story. This is invaluable reading and is a joy for the reader to have this contemporary insight before proceeding with the story. I always appreciate an anthology that introduces each story. Following the collection of nine stories, is a long list of stories from which Andrew Barger read to select those he called "best" for this collection. This would make a great reading list for the enthusiast! I found most of the stories very good, with several excellent, only a couple merely good and just one less than satisfying. Mr. Barger has several other books which look like they would make excellent reading. The stories included and my impressions:1. Adventure of the German Student by Washington Irving - A depressed German student goes to "gay Paree" for his health, unfortunately it's just as the French Revolution gets underway. Sickened by the blood of the guillotine he becomes a recluse and dreams of a woman. One night as he takes a walk, the only time he'll ever leave his flat, he meets the woman of his dreams, and has an encounter that literally drives him insane. Good, even though I'm not a huge Irving fan. 3/52. The Old Maid in the Winding Sheet by Nathaniel Hawthorne - Two women who loved the same man who dies young make a pact to meet up again in the room of his deathbed, in the distant future. One to go on and make something of her life, the other to stay in the village, a recluse, following death. This was pretty creepy and I enjoyed it a lot. Hawthorne is hit and miss with me. I don't like his novels but his stories usually win me over, as did this. 4/53. A Night in a Haunted House by Anonymous - This was an ideal ghost story. A naysayer after hearing the story of a haunted house, from a parson no doubt, asks to spend the night in the abandoned house to prove there are no such things as ghosts, only overactive imaginations. Needless to say he has an eerie evening and becomes a believer. This is a long short story, clocking in at 30 pages and a very good read. Really two stories in one, first the parson's story and then the other man's story; I can imagine how it would have hit the sensibilities of the public at the time it was written (1848) being quite creepy and containing the classic qualities of both the ghost and Gothic story. For the modern reader it's not hard to guess the twist at the end fairly early into the second part of the story, but still it is an eerie, fun story and one I enjoyed a lot. A classic ghost story of this era (5/5)4. The Story of the Spectral Ship by Wilhelm Hauff - A new-to-me author, here with a Flying Dutchman type of ghost ship story. The main characters are Muslim, making it rather unique for its time. A well-told eerie ghost tale. I'd love to read more of the author. (5/5)5. The Tapestried Chamber by Sir Walter Scott - I wasn't looking forward to this story as Scott always brings to my mind his horrible historicals such as "Ivanhoe" and his wretched poetry. I didn't know he was a fan of this genre as well, so was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this classic tale of an upstanding military General spending the night in an haunted room. Tame by today's standard's but a disturbing story nevertheless. (5/5)6. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving - Everyone knows this tale from one source or another. I've read it before and didn't like. It is long, Irving's writing is too old-fashioned for me and I just don't find the story scary or creepy. It's been about 8 years, so I gave it another go, but found it just as boring as I previously always do. (2/5)7. The Mask of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe - I've read Poe many times. This is classic! Extremely creepy, the images the words create in your mind are just impossible to render in visual media. It is very debatable whether this is a ghost story, though. I've never thought of it as such. The character, to me, here is Death, or Disease manifested, not a ghost. Nevertheless a fine story! 5/58. A Chapter in the History of a Tyrone Family by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu - With one short story left to go I don't think it's too early to call this long short story the "piece de resistance" of this collection. A masterpiece of a story whose plot has been retold numerous times by now but as the original still manages to thrill and shock. The plot follows a theme used in Jane Eyre and yet pre-dates that classic by 8 years prompting the editor to include an afterword to this story alone that convincingly suggests Bronte "borrowed" from it. I'm not very familiar with Fanu's work but I would certainly like to explore him further! 5/59. The Deaf and Dumb Girl by Anonymous - This is another fine example of an eerie ghost story that tells the tale of a tragic used, spurned woman whose spirit waits for the return of her ruthless lover to exact revenge upon him. This is an obscure story the editor says has not been published since its original appearance in 1839. A chilling tale to end the volume with! 4/5"
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Coffee with Poe brings Edgar Allan Poe to life within its pages as never before. The book is filled with actual letters from his many romances and literary contemporaries. Orphaned at the age of two, Poe is raised by John Allan—his abusive foster father—who refuses to adopt him until he becomes straight-laced and businesslike. Poe, however, fancies poetry and young women. The contentious relationship culminates in a violent altercation, which causes Poe to leave his wealthy foster father’s home to make it as a writer. Poe tries desperately to get established as a writer but is ridiculed by the “Literati of New York.”
The Raven subsequently gains Poe renown in America yet he slips deeper into poverty, only making $15 off the poem’s entire publication history. Desperate for a motherly figure in his life, Poe marries his first cousin who is only thirteen. Poe lives his last years in abject poverty while suffering through the deaths of his foster mother, grandmother, and young wife. In a cemetery he becomes engaged to Helen Whitman, a dark poet who is addicted to ether, wears a small coffin about her neck, and conducts séances in her home. The engagement is soon broken off because of Poe’s drinking. In his final months his health is in a downward spiral. Poe disappears on a trip and is later found delirious and wearing another person’s clothes. He dies a few days later, whispering his final words: “God help my poor soul.”
To give us a historical fiction look at Edgar Allan Poe is great. The start where we are at his mom’s funeral gives a little insight into why he may write the way he does. It is very interesting the ideas the author has put into the story about Poe. I like the idea of detailing the life of Edgar Allan Poe into a historical fiction novel.” . . . “A great idea to give us some insight into why Poe may be the way he is.
Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Expert Reviewer
Friday, April 20, 2012
For those of you who read this blog I wanted to let you know that an autographed edition of The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Vampire Anthology is being offered on GoodReads for the next month. Good luck and have a great (scary)weekend!
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Edgar Allan Poe was the undisputed king of the early horror story. He was ten when John Polidori published the first vampire story in the English language that was followed a few months later by "The Black Vampyre," which was published anonymously by Robert Sands in 1819. Both caused quite a stir in the literary community. Many people thought Lord Byron wrote Polidori's tale and "The Black Vampyre" was pinned on the valedictorian of Columbia. Both were published with background information in The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849 and are a must read for vampire aficionados.
Teeth play a telling role (as does the presence of blood) in many vampire tales. Because of this a number of anthologist have placed Poe’s “Ligeia” in their collections with hopes that if the tale is included in a substantial number of vampire anthologies it will be transmogrified into a vampire story. **Spoiler Alert** When Ligeia dies and is subsequently brought back to life through Rowena’s body, the unnamed protagonist touches her and she moves away, again displaying no lust for blood. Before her death, Rowena is given a cup of reddish liquid that could easily be wine or a potion concocted by the protagonist. There is no evidence that anyone’s blood was spilt. The only other hint of vampirism comes when Rowena’s lips part on her deathbed to display a line of “pearly teeth.” If she was a vampire we would learn of long teeth or sharp teeth, but that is not the case.
Poe’s only slight references to vampires were in his poems. “Tamerlane” references a vampire-bat and “To Helen” calls out vampire-winged panels. Articles about the vampire motif in “The Fall of the House of Usher” have been disorganized and unconvincing. There is no hint that Roderick Usher was a vampire. Essays about a volitional vampire in “Morella” have . . . well . . . sucked. The ponderous dissertations that seek to attribute the protagonist’s lust for teeth to a vampire fixation in “Berenice” have felt chompy. A tooth fixation is not a blood fixation.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
I wanted to let everyone know that I am giving away an autographed edition of The Best Ghost Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Ghost Anthology on GoodReads this month. You can enter here. Good luck and get ready to be scared!
Friday, March 30, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
"Charlotte Sometimes", the YA book by Penelope Farmer, is well known in England more than the US. It has time travel and ghosts and seances. What's not to like? I’ve recently read “Charlotte Sometimes” if for no other reason than to compare The Cure lyrics of their classic song Charlotte Sometimes to parts of the children’s fantasy. This is what I learned and it’s very interesting. ***Spoiler Alter***
All the faces, All the voices blur
Change to one face, Change to one voice
Book first sentence: By bedtime all the faces, the voices, had blurred for Charlotte to one face, one voice.
Prepare yourself for bed
Second sentence: She prepared herself for bed . . . .
The light seems bright, And glares on white walls
Book 2nd paragraph, 6th sentence: The light seemed to bright for them, glaring on white walls . . . .
All the sounds of
Book 4th paragraph, 4th sentence: All the sounds about her . . . .
Into the night with
Book 5th paragraph, 1st sentence: She must have slept at last . . . .
Night after night she lay alone in bed
Her eyes so open to the dark
Part II, chapter 4, 1st sentence: Night after night, Charlotte lay in bed with her eyes open to the dark . . . .
The streets all looked so strange
They seemed so far away
But Charlotte did not cry
Part II, chapter 4, paragraph 15, 1st sentence: The streets looked strange . . . .
The people seemed so close
Playing expressionless games
Part II, chapter 2, paragraph 24, 3rd sentence: Charlotte, on the other hand, became absorbed, concentrating wholly on her fingers’ easing . . . .
The people seemed so close
So many other names
Part II, chapter 2, paragraph 37: “Good night, Mr. Chisel Brown,” she said with almost a curtsy. “Good night, Mrs. Chisel Brown. Good night, Miss Agnes Chisel Brown. Good night, cat. Good night, dog . . ..”
When all the other people dance - Reference to school dance
Expressionless the trance - Reference to séance
So many different names - Reference to names of Brown family
The sounds all stay the same - Reference to airplane sounds overhead
On a different world - Past where Charlotte travels
On that bleak track
(See the sun is gone again)
The tears were pouring down her face
She was crying and crying for a girl
Who died so many years before
Part III, chapter 2, paragraph 53, 1st sentence: On that bleak track, the sun almost gone again, tears were pouring down her face. She was crying and crying for a girl for a girl who had died more than 40 years before.
Charlotte sometimes crying for herself
Part III, chapter 7, paragraph 13, last sentence: She began crying bitterly, could not stop . . . .
Charlotte sometimes dreams a wall around herself
Part III, chapter 7, paragraph 10, 1st sentence: She dreamed she stood below the picture, The Mark of the Beast, and there were soldiers all around her in red uniforms, stiff as toys but tall as men. There were dolls, too, like Miss Agnes’s doll, as tall as the soldiers . . .
Glass sealed and pretty
Part III, chapter 7, paragraph 15, 4th sentence: And when she looked at the wall at the picture glass, it looked quite empty, as if a mirror hung there, not a picture at all.