Monday, December 10, 2012

Review of The Raven Movie Starring John Cusack

The Raven movie starring John Cusack is out on DVD this month and I have finally gotten a chance to see it. Overall, I loved the Goth cinematography and the storyline (serial killer acting out Poe's horror stories) works, for the most part. I recommend it.

The trouble with the film is the portrayal of Edgar Allan Poe. After writing Coffee with Poe: A Novel of Edgar Allan Poe's Life, I have a preconceived notion of what Poe was and how he acted in public. It is far removed from the raging alcoholic he is portrayed in the film who is always quaffing other people's drinks when they are not looking. I would've liked to see some background as to how Poe met Emily, his fiancee in the movie. The Raven did not have to have so much gore. There is hardly any gore in Poe's short stories.

Still, the movie is worth seeing if for nothing more than seeing Cusack as Poe on the Big Screen. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Brief Review of HP Lovecraft Short Stories Book Posted

H.P. Lovecraft

Lovecraft is often portrayed as the successor to Poe in the genre of short horror stories, but after reading Lovecraft's stories (and editing Edgar Allan Poe Annotated Short Stories), I can tell you that he is no Poe. Lovecraft is much less a pioneer than Poe in both character and Gothic atmosphere. Lovecraft gave us the Cthulhu Mythos of cosmic horrors, of ancient horrors lying dormant, of horrors that transcend space and time and dimensions. He holds his rightful place of high esteem in horror literature for this and must be remembered as a result. 

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

Vampire Anthology Book Trailer


Vampire season is upon us and with it brings thoughts of classic bloodthirsty creatures. So here is the book trailer for The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849 for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Best_Vampire_Stories_Trailer_2.wmv Watch on Posterous

Friday, October 12, 2012

Review of "Something Wicked This Way Comes" by Ray Bradbury

Something Wicked This Way Comes

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

Andrew Barger Interview on The Best Vampires Stories 1800-1849 Anthology

The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Vampire Anthology

Below are answers to questions about The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Vampire Anthology. Enjoy!

Interview with Andrew Barger

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?
A10.  Varney the Vampire, or the Feast of Blood, published in 1847 as a serialized Penny Dreadful was the first vampire novel. Bram Stoker's Dracula was not the first as many people believe.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Review of "Hound of the Baskervilles" by Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle

The Hound of the Baskervilles (with illustrations by Sidney Paget)

The Hound of the Baskervilles brings Sherlock Holmes to his closest encounter with the supernatural. There are no vampires or ghosts, but a purported hound from hell measures out a good dose of horror. The novella is also one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most Gothic tales, set along the mores of England and in an ancient mansion that borders them. What we have is Doyle at his best and his excellent character Sherlock Holmes--who is derived from Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin as I pointed out in Edgar Allan Poe Annotated and Illustrated Entire Stories and Poems--does not disappoint with his sleuthing prowess, either. If Poe had written one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories, this would have been it. A must read!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Review of Gothic Novel: "Uncle Silas" by Vampire Author Joseph le Fanu

Uncle Silas (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural) 

Joseph Sheridan le Fanu is perhaps the best ghost story writer to emerge from the Victorian Age. His ghost classics include The Familiar, Devereux's Dream, Madam Crowl's Ghost, An Authentic Narrative of a Haunted House and A History of a Tyrone Family, which was included in The Best Ghost Stories 1800-1849 that I recently edited.

And let's not forget his devil tales: The Drunkard's Dream and The Fortunes of Sir Robert Ardagh that are the foremost of their kind. Green Tea is one of Fanu's most anthologized tales along with A Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter, included in The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849. While Fanu's 1872 Carmilla is one of the greatest vampire short stories of the nineteenth century.

So when Fanu penned his most ambitious work, set in an ancient mansion, the literary community took notice. In "Uncle Silas" Fanu has given us one of the best Gothic novels of the late nineteenth century. This was a time when corpses remained in the house for three days after death and laudanum, a cocaine derivative, was taken for the nerves. "Uncle Silas" has some of the best characters Fanu invented and is time well spent over a few wonderful stormy nights.

Friday, July 20, 2012

List of Vampire Tales in The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849


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:
1819 The Vampyre - John Polidori (1795-1821)
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)

1836 Clarimonde - Théophile Gautier (1811-1872)  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My First Short Story Collection Wins Finalist Award in the International Book Awards


My first collection of short stories, Mailboxes - Mansions - Memphistopheles, has won a finalist award in the International Best Book Awards. It has also been entered in the Shirley Jackson Awards for this year. I am keeping my fingers crossed! Here's a blurb on it:

In the collection Andrew unleashes a blend of character-driven dark tales, which are sure to be remembered. In "Azra'eil & Fudgie" a little girl visits a team of marines in Afghanistan and they quickly learn she is more than she seems. "The Mailbox War" is a deadly tale of a weekend hobby taken to extremes while "The Brownie of the Alabaster Mansion" sees a Scottish monster of antiquity brought back to life. "Memphistopheles" contains a tale of the devil, Memphis, barbeque and a wannabe poet. "The Serpent and the Sepulcher" is a prose poem that will be cherished by all who experience it. "The Gëbult Mansion" recounts a literary hoax played by Andrew on his unsuspecting social networking friends that involves a female vampire. Last, "Stain" is an unforgettable horror story that is uniquely presented backwards or forwards. Experience these memorable stories tonight!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Truths Contained in Popular Vampire Superstitions

In 1847 Blackwood's Magazine published an article titled: "Letters on the Truths Contained in Popular Superstitions - Vampyrism." It contained many different examples of supposed real vampires that had been uncovered over the last hundred years. The story of the vampire Arnod was one of them. This is how it described how skeptics would be treated: "Your scepticism will abate pretty considerably, when you see him stealthily entering your room, yet are powerless under the fascination of his fixed and leaden eye—when you are conscious, as you lie motionless with terror, of his nearer and nearer approach—when you feel his face, fresh with the smell of the grave, bent over your throat, while his keen teeth make a fine incision in your jugular, preparatively to his commencing his plain, but nutritive repast."

The article further describes a "real" incident when a body was unearthed that was suspected of vampyrism: "The body," says the report, "was found in a perfectly fresh state, with no sign of decomposition. Fresh blood had recently escaped from its mouth, with which its shirt was wet. The skin (the epidermis, no doubt) had separated together with the nails, and there were new skin and nails underneath. As it was perfectly clear from these signs that he was a vampyr, conformably to the use established in such cases, they drove a stake through his heart. Whereupon he gave an audible groan, and a quantity of blood flowed from him. The same day his body was burned to ashes, which were returned to the grave."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Review of the Book: Ten Imaginary Years

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.

The book is physically large and filled with great photos of The Cure's early years. Contrary to other reviews I have seen, the book does contain color photos though they are outnumbered by the black-and-whites. For some reason the text is intent on establishing The Cure as a classic heavy drinking/drugging band. I am unsure why because most fans (myself included) love The Cure for their music and phenomenal lyrics. In this regard I would have liked to learn more about the songs, what inspired them and how they were written. Alas, it is not until we get to The Top album that much attention is paid to song meanings.A few snippets address Camus and Killing an Arab, but that is about it. There is nothing about the whole drama that unfolded between The Cure and Penelope Farmer, author of Charlotte Sometimes, when the song of the same name was released. There is not a word about The Gormanghast Trilogy and its impression on Robert Smith and a number of the band's songs. An entire section could have described the video shot in the insane asylum and what Robert found there. Sigh.

Many bad reviews of The Cure are included in the book and a quarter of a century later appear comical given the wild success of the band. A number of these clippings are so small that one needs a magnifying glass to read them. The exclamation point is used like it is going out of style and there are few references to what year of The Cure's life the book is detailing so it is sometimes difficult to follow. But these are small annoyances.
"Ten Imaginary Years" is a must for any fan of The Cure. Just the photos alone make it worthwhile, especially those of a beanpole Robert Smith. If you only know Just Like Heaven and Boys Don't Cry, however, you will likely be disappointed by this book. Now, if only The Cure would publish "Twenty Imaginary Years," or better yet "Thirty Imaginary Years!"

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Unholy Compact Abjured Vampire Story by Charles Pigault-Lebrun )

The Unholy Compact Abjured was published by French novelist Charles Pigault-Lebrun (1753-1835) in 1825. This is a very early vampire story and was only the fourth published in the English language. "The Vampyre" by John Polidori in 1819, "The Black Vampyre" by Robert Sands also in 1819 and "Wake Not the Dead" by Ludwig Tieck in 1823 are the prior three and are included in The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Vampire Anthology. "The Unholy Compact Adjured" is not, however, since it is rather flamboyant and does fails to reach the level of character and story-line of the others. It is still worth a read on a dark night. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Book Review of The Best Ghost Stories 1800-1849 Anthology


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. 3/5

2. 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. 4/5

3. 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! 5/5

8. 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! 5/5

9. 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

The Vampire Arnod Short Story of 1849 Link and Descrpition

Not many vampire stories were published in the English language from 1800-1849. Those that were, however, are very interesting. One of them found during research for my vampire anthology is The Vampire Arnod published in 1849. The story did not make as the very best for this period, but it is still good. It appeared in The New Monthly Magazine on page 190 and tells of a scary man who lives in a village near Belgrade. I won't give away the plot of this very short horror story, but it's worth a read if you are into classic vampire stories. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Novel About Edgar Allan Poe's Life - Coffee with Poe by Andrew Barger is Out

I am excited about The Raven, the new John Cusack movie about Edgar Allan Poe. It starts showing this Friday. In my view Poe does not get his props by the media. If you are interested in reading about his life from his own perspective, Coffee with Poe: A Novel of Edgar Allan Poe's Life, will take you there.


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

Autographed Edition of The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849 Being Offered on GoodReads


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

Did Edgar Allan Poe Write a Vampire Story?

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. 

Surely Edgar Allan Poe heard of these stories and likely read one or both when he got older. Did he respond in kind with his own vampire tale? Sorry to disappoint, but from my research Poe did not pen a vampire story. If a reader has to stretch their imagination to determine if a character is a vampire, then it is likely not a vampire. After all, a vampire is what a vampire does.

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.

Yes, it would be nice for this fifty year period, this cradle of all vampire short stories in the English language, to include a vampire tale by Edgar Allan Poe. But the sad answer is that Poe never penned a vampire story. A Poe story listed in the Table of Contents for an anthology boosts sales. Nevertheless, in the case of vampire anthologies, Poe’s inclusion is misdirected. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Giveaway for The Best Ghost Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Ghost Anthology


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

New Vampire Anthology Published - The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Vampire Anthology


Scary stories-vampire style. That is what's in store when you read my newly published book - The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Vampire Anthology. In the first half of the nineteenth century vampires were referred to as ghosts since they were once living. They were also called "vampyres," which I personally like better than "vampires." The old school version has a more goth look to it on the page. Anyway, here is some background into my new anthology. It's one that is uniquely presented in the vampire genre.
Unearthed from long forgotten journals and magazines, Andrew Barger has found the very best vampire short stories from the first half of the 19th century. They are collected for the first time in this groundbreaking book on the origins of vampire lore.
The cradle of all vampire short stories in the English language is the first half of the 19th century. Andrew Barger combed forgotten journals and mysterious texts to collect the very best vintage vampire stories from this crucial period in vampire literature. In doing so, Andrew unearthed the second and third vampire stories originally published in the English language, neither printed since their first publication nearly 200 years ago. Also included is the first vampire story originally written in English by John Polidori after a dare with Lord Byron and Mary Shelley. The book contains the first vampire story by an American who was a graduate of Columbia Law School. The book further includes the first vampire stories by an Englishman and German, including the only vampire stories by such renowned authors as Alexander Dumas, Théophile Gautier and Joseph le Fanu.
As readers have come to expect from Andrew, he has added his scholarly touch to this collection by including story backgrounds, annotations, author photos and a foreword titled "With Teeth." The ground-breaking stories are:
1819 The Vampyre - John Polidori (1795-1821)
1823 Wake Not the Dead - Ludwig Tieck (1773-1853)
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)
1836 Clarimonde - Théophile Gautier (1811-1872)
Buy this best vampire book tonight!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tired Vampires vs. Wired Vampires

Old-school vampires, those of the Victorian era of literature, are back in fashion after a couple years of the sparkly vampire phenomena. Wire Magazine, in its April 2012 issue, printed a chart on how tired the editors were of certain types of vampires. To no one's surprise they were most tired of hunky vampires and Gothy Eurotrash vampires. Next on the chart were friendly vampires. Those they were lest tired of: "old-school evil" vampires like you'll find in The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Vampire Anthology.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cover for The Best Vampire Stories 1880-1849


I am excited to show everyone the Gothic cover for the new anthology I edited: The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Vampire Anthology. I'll publish a description and an interview soon. Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, you can enter to win an autographed edition at GoodReads. Good luck!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Charlotte Sometimes by The Cure vs Charlotte Sometimes the Book by Penelope Farmer


"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 . . . .

Charlotte sometimes
Into the night with
Charlotte sometimes

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.
I'll compare two other songs by The Cure at my cure blog if anyone wants to go a little deeper!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Midwest Book Review of The Best Ghost Stories 1800-1849


The Midwest Book Review had this to say about my classic ghost anthology:

[A] unique perspective on this dawn of horror's early roots and their connections to our modern day. "The Best Ghost Stories 1800-1849" is a choice pick with  stories from many legendary authors such as Edgar Allan Poe and Washington Irving, very much recommended reading. You can check out the ghost book trailer on my site. Have a haunting weekend!

Friday, January 27, 2012

What's in Salinger's Closet?

J.D. Salinger—The Great Uncommunicator. The only thing more frustrating than the self-imposed seclusion of one of America’s greatest writers has been the intolerable silence of Salinger’s estate in the two years following his death. During this time there has been no word—and certainly no sentences, paragraphs, short stories, novellas, or novels—about the works (if any) left by Salinger after his death. Oddly, we have learned that a few of his words scrawled on a note were offered for $50,000, but nothing from his relatives as to what literary works he gifted the world at his death. We read article upon article of his toilet being offered for $1 million, yet not a whisper about his unpublished manuscripts.
Is the world being made a literary laughing stock? Is this a prose prank of the worst order? Why has there been no press release telling what literary remains were unearthed after Salinger’s death? What was found beneath his bed and in the dark recesses of his closet? Were there tattered spiral binders filled with handwritten stories on his nightstand? Did they find boxes of unpublished manuscripts under his basement stairs or in a worn attic chest or in a back corner of his writing studio?
If nothing was found, no yellowing manuscripts or half-written chapters of the unassailable thoughts of Holden Caulfield or Seymour Glass, then tell the world and be done with it. On the other hand, if a score of unpublished manuscripts were found, let the world know and rejoice until the glorious day of their publication.
The world is waiting. The world wants to know. To the day, it has been two long silent years since his death on January 27, 2010. That’s 720 days of stillness and longing from a literary world adrift in mediocrity; 1,036,800 minutes of hope and emptiness.
Salinger had a wealth of literary gifts at his disposal, perhaps more than some of the greatest writers that ever lived. He decided to only let us open a few of those gifts, the largest of which he called The Catcher in the Rye. The others he kept us from opening. That was his choice as artist and gift giver. In reference to his privacy Salinger wrote: “It is my rather subversive opinion that a writer’s feelings of anonymity-obscurity are the second most valuable property on loan to him during his working years.” (“People,” Time, 1961-08-04) In a 1974 interview he confessed: “There is a marvelous peace in not publishing .... I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure.” (“JD Salinger Speaks About His Silence,” Lacey Fosburgh, The New York Times, 11-03-1974)
Did Salinger actually write after his final publication of “Hapworth 16, 1924” in The New Yorker on June 19, 1965? Fortunately, thankfully, what scant historical record we have to date tells us he did. The manuscripts should be there, somewhere. If nothing has been found, has his estate looked everywhere? Have they dug up soft patches of dirt in Salinger’s backyard? Have they checked the trunk of his old Jeep and the glove box and the center console? Did they visit every bank in a twenty mile radius of Cornish, New Hampshire in search of his rumored safe deposit box? Have area rugs been rolled up to reveal possible trap doors in the floorboards? What about behind air vents and beneath sofa cushions? Has every jot and tittle been collected from the backs of envelopes and margins of newspaper articles? If they have found nothing, they need to look harder and keep looking. They need to never stop.
  Ray Bradbury stated in Zen in the Art of Writing that “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Salinger knew this better than anyone. He continued to write so the world would not destroy him. What evidence we have regarding his continued writing habits is telling. The most direct comes from Salinger himself. In a 1994 letter addressed to Michael Mitchell, the dust jacket artist for the first edition of The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger revealed that he continued to “work on” in a methodical fashion where he kept the “[s]ame old hours, pretty much.” His confession that he kept writing some thirty years after the publication of “Hapworth 16, 1924” gives us bright hope that a treasure trove of manuscripts was found upon his death.
Salinger’s only daughter, Margaret, presented further evidence in her memoir of not only manuscripts, but a color-coded system for future publication: “A red mark meant, if I die before I finish my work, publish this ‘as is,’ blue meant publish but edit first, and so on.” (Dream Catcher: A Memoir, Margaret Salinger, 2000) Then there is Joyce Maynard who lived with Salinger for 10 months while she was 18 and he was 53. She recounted that he continued to write each morning and that by 1972 he had completed two new novels. (At Home in the World, Joyce Maynard, 1998)
And let’s not overlook Salinger’s protective neighbors in Cornish. One stated that Salinger told him he had written 15 unpublished novels. (“JD Salinger’s Death Sparks Speculation Over Unpublished Manuscripts,” The Telegraph, 01-29-2010) If thoughts of having a new Salinger novel published each of the next 15 years doesn’t send literary chills down your spine, your back is broke.
On September 15, 1961, Time magazine featured Salinger on its cover and reported that he intended to write a Glass trilogy. (“Sonny: An Introduction,” Time, John Skow, 09-15-1961)  “Hapworth 16, 1924”, a long letter from his character Seymour Glass while at summer camp, was the only novella from the trilogy published.
It is clear Salinger continued to write all these years in his remote cinderblock bunker with its fireplace and writing desk and filing cabinet and packed lunch.  (“Sonny: An Introduction,” Time, John Skow, 09-15-1961,) This leaves five possible scenarios for his unpublished manuscripts.
Suppose they were destroyed. This may have happened before his death by his own hand in a fit of public defiance. Salinger did state that he wrote for his own pleasure. Yet he had tagged various manuscripts for publishing, making destruction by his own devices unlikely. Perhaps the 1992 fire where “damage to the house was extensive” torched them. (“Fire Fails to Shake Salinger’s Seclusion,” New York Times, 10-24-1992) There is no evidence this occurred and it would have been contrary to observances by Margaret Salinger and statements to his neighbor that the manuscripts were piling up. In Salinger’s 1994 letter to Michael Mitchell, dated nearly two years post-fire, he stated he continued to write each morning in his normal fashion. It is also reported that Salinger’s writing studio was removed from the hilltop house perched on the 90 acre compound, which likely preserved his manuscripts when the 1992 fire occurred.
What if Salinger lied all these years? What if he never put pen to paper after “Hapworth 16, 1924” was published in 1965? What if the mostly negative reviews caused his fragile persona to give up writing forever? Suppose he spent all day in his writing studio playing video games and surfing the Internet while telling his family he was hard at work. This is unlikely given his statements and the manuscripts his Margaret witnessed at his Cornish, New Hampshire home.
There is the possibility that his manuscripts were stolen, yet there is no evidence of a break-in while Salinger was alive or after his death. This is one of the most unlikely scenarios.
A more plausible explanation for the silence (Excuse me. I once again meant to say “intolerable silence.”) and muted responses of his agent and family is that his will gave pointed instructions not to publish his manuscripts for a certain period of time. Perhaps Salinger went so far as to demand that no word be spoken to the public about what writings he left for three or five or ten years. If breached, all heirs would be cut off from the will and the certain high royalty stream the new novels would bring. Or suppose his manuscripts are in no shape for public consumption and not to be published. That would be quite extraordinary, Nabokov-esq even.   
This leaves us with the most hopeful postulation for lovers of all things Salinger—The Great Uncommunicator has left too many manuscripts for his estate to shift through in two years. What if there are squabbling over which book should be published first and in what order? The literary world is holding its collective breath that is the case. If so, the Salinger estate should at least hold a press conference and inform everyone. It is in the realm of possibility that inner-circle squabbles could have erupted between his children and wife over which novel to publish first. Matt Salinger publically disagreed with some of the childhood accounts Margaret wrote about in Dream Catcher: A Memoir. Salinger left a tabbed system of publication, right? Can’t everyone just get along for literature’s sake?
To date the Press has made Salinger out to be a one-hit wonder who, unable to pen another work of prominence, slunk into a life of seclusion as a bitter and frustrated artist. Nothing is further from the truth. Salinger published two novellas, over thirty short stories (some residing in the Princeton and University of Texas libraries). He accomplished all this some fifty years ago and has been writing ever since. Imagine what he has accomplished over the last half century with modern word processors. Imagine what they found Salinger’s closet.
Salinger was anything but a literary hack. He may be the finest example of the opposite. Salinger wrote for the pure love it; not for the supposed glory of publication. He practiced at the very highest level that any true artist can obtain, one without interference from outside influence; and as Holden would put it—far removed from a bunch of morons who sought to destroy him.
In truth, J.D. Salinger never needed the world. It’s always been the world that has needed J.D. Salinger.
And perhaps now is when the world needs him most.

Andrew Barger

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Scary Ghost References in Lyrics by The Cure


The Cure is the most successful Goth band in history. In prior posts I've let everyone know about my Cure blog that I've started and about the publication of The Best Ghost Stories book. This post is about a marriage of the two. What I mean by that is I did a little research into scary ghost reference by The Cure in their lyrics. I found 5 songs that contain them. I dare you to listen to these songs while reading The Best Ghost Stories 1800:1849: A Classic Ghost Anthology.

The Hungry Ghost - 4:13 Dream

Siren Song - 4:13 Dream

The Upstairs Room - B Side to "The Walk" and Join the Dots

Fear of Ghosts - "Lovesong" EP

Untitled - Disintegration