Reblog: Naked As Nature Intended? Victorian Author & Spiritualist, Catherine Crowe in Edinburgh, 1854

You might call it parapsychology’s greatest mystery…

Did Catherine Crowe–the at-the-time sixty-something literary stalwart of the mid-nineteenth century, passionate advocate of the German ghost story, and author of that runaway best-seller The Night Side of Nature (London, 2 vols.: Newby, 1848)–really tear through the streets of Edinburgh toward the end of February 1854, naked but for a handkerchief clutched in one plump hand, and a visiting card in the other? And, if she did, was it because she had experienced a nervous breakdown, or because the spirits had convinced her that, once her clothes were shed, she would become invisible?

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Author & Spiritualist, Catherine Crowe in her only extant image (Public Domain).

Crowe’s name may not ring too many bells today, but a century and a half ago she was famous. Born in 1790, she was noted as a novelist (she wrote Susan Hopley, an intricately plotted crime procedural that was some way ahead of its time) and as a friend of the great and good (she knew Thackeray, Dickens and Charlotte Brontë, among many others). Nowadays, however, she is best remembered as a pioneer parapsychologist–“a hugely important figure in the emergence of modern ghost-seeing culture chiefly because of her relentless calls for society to turn its attention to the unexplained phenomena in its midst and investigate them in an objective manner.” [McCorristine p.10]

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A Reblog: Bringing Neglected Classics Back into Print—The Valancourt Classics Catalogue… some great horror & mystery thrillers return from … the grave …

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Young Frankenstein, the Play. Photographer/Actors unknown (Pinterest).

Rise, I say! Rise! Give my creature LIFE!!

I get a little excited, I guess, when publishers bring back awesome books we’ve forgotten about—or never knew about due to their having been published before our time!

Valancourt Books is doing just that, and here is a nice article on the subject with juicy details, from our buds over at Black Gate (an intensely cool website). And check out these revamped covers (below are 8 of them I liked)!

I’ll also include buying info below for those of you who like to build your own horror library.

Hey, life is short; only read the good stuff.

SW🌱

The Article

https://www.blackgate.com/2014/11/27/bringing-neglected-greats-back-into-print-the-horror-catalog-of-valancourt-books/

The Covers

Click in thumbnails to enlarge…

 

 

Where to Buy

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Current Read: The Child Finder, a Literary Mystery by Rene Denfeld—I really like this book!

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The prose is clean and well done—the story: a very sad and, more and more, a common one, is intensified by the protagonist—a young woman who basically “specializes” in finding missing children.

Here’s a prose sample (image, left)…

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From Amazon…

‘A haunting, richly atmospheric, and deeply suspenseful novel from the acclaimed author of The Enchanted about an investigator who must use her unique insights to find a missing little girl.

“Where are you, Madison Culver? Flying with the angels, a silver speck on a wing? Are you dreaming, buried under snow? Or—is it possible—you are still alive?”

Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight-years-old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as “the Child Finder,” Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl, too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

Told in the alternating voices of Naomi and a deeply imaginative child, The Child Finder is a breathtaking, exquisitely rendered literary page-turner about redemption, the line between reality and memories and dreams, and the human capacity to survive.’

Get the book and others by this author, here:

Books by Rene Denfeld at Amazon.com

Current Read: 20th-Century Ghosts—A Collection of Award-Winning Ghost Stories by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King!) …

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Stephen King had a son?

Yes. In fact, King had two sons; and a daughter. Both sons, Joe (see below) and Owen (see: https://owen-king.com/ ) are writers. This post is about Joe Hillstrom King (aka. Joe Hill).2F079018-D3A8-4B46-818E-28CAAEAD7174

You’ll recognize the family resemblance in the photo below. But, damn, can Joe Hill write a mean ghost story!

The story goes he published this on his own without any influence from Stephen King which is commendable. So for, what, a decade? Joe Hill wrote on faith that his own talent would garner a name for himself.

And you know what? It did.

Hill is the very successful author of the novels The Heart-Shaped Box (scared the @%#* outta me); Horns (made into a great film starring Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe); a hauntingly clever take on the vampire novel, N0S4A2 (“Nosferatu”); and The Fireman (also made into a feature film).

I’m starting out with this story: “You Will Hear the Locusts Sing” (above photo), partly because I hate locusts. Then, there’s the Bible plague (yuk); and the Exorcist II where James Earl Jones plays that African prince who commands the dreaded things and the camera is on the little locust back of one of them in some ingenious new film technique as it flies across the continent and oceans as the demon Pazuzu!).

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I’ve also heard a lot of good things about the story out on the grapevine. I’ll circle back and do a review of the collection! Hope you’ll pick up a copy and join me!

To read is to be.

Namaste.

Links

Joe’s Website

https://www.joehillfiction.com/#intro

Reviews

http://strangehorizons.com/non-fiction/reviews/20th-century-ghosts-by-joe-hill/

Interviews & Vids

Beyond the Veil: The Fiction of Arthur Machen–An Essay

Left: An early paperback edition of Machen’s fiction; right: Oxford Univ. Press 2018 edition.

from a 2011 essay by Michael Dirda see link to the full article after the post…

‘H.P. Lovecraft, the American master of supernatural fiction, once described Arthur Machen (1863 – 1947) as the author of “some dozen tales long and short, in which the elements of hidden horror and brooding fright attain an almost incomparable substance and realistic acuteness.” With his first major story, “The Great God Pan” (1894), Machen mixed together transgressive scientific experiments, pagan survivals, a heartless, only half-human femme fatale, and a fantasmagoric climax involving protoplasmic reversion. To this day, just saying that title — “The Great God Pan” — makes me shiver.

As Philip Van Doren Stern noted in his introduction to the 1948 Machen omnibus Tales of Horror and the Supernatural, the Welsh author “did not write a single ghost story.” Instead, “he wrote of things more ancient even than ghosts,…for Machen dealt with the elemental forces of evil, with spells that outlast time, and with the malign powers of folklore and fairy tale.” His work repeatedly underscores the thin line between the material world of appearances and a darker occult reality. As one of his characters poetically says:

Now I know that the walls of sense that seemed so impenetrable, that seemed to loom up above the heaven and to be founded below the depths, and to shut us in for evermore, are no such everlasting impassable barriers as we fancied, but thinnest and most airy veils that melt away before the seeker and dissolve as the early mist in the morning about the brooks.

In Machen’s central mythology a squat, malevolent race of primordial beings survives to the present day, lurking in hills and forests and caves. Machen describes their characteristics most fully in “The Novel of the Black Seal” when its narrator happens upon an old Latin treatise and makes the following translation:

The folk…dwells in remote and secret places, and celebrates foul mysteries on savage hills. Nothing have they in common with men save the face, and the customs of humanity are wholly strange to them; and they hate the sun. They hiss rather than speak; their voices are harsh, and not to be heard without fear. They boast of a certain stone, which they call Sixtystone; for they say that it displays sixty characters. And this stone has a secret unspeakable name, which is Ixaxar.

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Reblog: One of the great independent presses, Undertow Books, hits the mark again! Look at this!

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The Silent Garden: A New Journal of Esoteric Fabulism

From Michael Kelly, Undertow Books (http://www.undertowbooks.com/)

Dear Friends,

On behalf of the Silent Garden Collective, I will be publishing the inaugural volume of The Silent Garden: A Journal of Esoteric Fabulism.

The Silent Garden is a peer-reviewed journal, edited and curated by the Silent Garden Collective, a professional group of editors, writers, and scholars interested in exploring those liminal borderlands where darkness bends.

The Collective’s aim is to provide an annual journal of exceptional writing and art focussed on horror and the numinous, the fabulist, the uncanny, the weird, the gnostic, the avant-garde, the esoteric, and the dark interstices of the known and unknown world.

The Silent Garden Collective is an organic and changing group of editors. Each volume (assuming the first sells well enough) will be edited and curated by a different group. Thus, given the number of people potentially involved, they thought it prudent to form a Collective.

The book is currently in production, and should be available in August. Pricing and ordering information should be available soon. The amazing Table of Contents is listed below. If you want to be notified when it’s available, just drop me an e-mail and I will add you to the mailing list.

Thanks for the interest, folks. I think this is going to be a very special and unique project!

Specs

Deluxe square (8.5” X 8.5”) Hardcover, with interior color illustrations, printed on 70LB paper. Published by Undertow Books.

The inaugural volume of this very cool journal will feature the following:

Art

  • Transcending the Grotesquerie: The Surreal Landscapes of David Whitlam

Essays

  • “Translating The Ritual,” by J.T. Glover
  • “The Raw Food Movement: Comparing Transformative Diets in Han Kang’s The Vegetarian (2015) and Julia Ducournau’s Raw (2016),” by V.H. Leslie
  • “Unstitching the Patriarchy: A review of Camilla Grudova’s The Doll’s Alphabet,” by Rudrapriya Rathore
  • “Cinema of the Body: The Politics of Performativity in Lars Von Trier’s Dogville and Yorgos Lanthimo’s Dogtooth,” by Angelos Koutsourakis

Poetry

  • “Lincoln Hill,” by Daniel Mills
  • “Deposition of Darkness,” by Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles (Translated by Kristine Ong Muslim)
  • “Contortionist,” by Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles (Translated by Kristine Ong Muslim)

Fiction

  • “Waystations of the High Night,” by Marcel Brion (Translated by Edward Gauvin)
  • “Her Blood the Apples, Her Bones the Trees,” by Georgina Bruce
  • “La Tierra Blanca,” by Maurizio Cometto (Translated by Rachel S. Cordasco)
  • “Embolus of Cinnabar,” by Patricia Cram
  • “Palisade,” by Brian Evenson
  • “Under the Casket, A Beach!” by Nick Mamatas
  • “The Other Tiger,” by Helen Marshall
  • “Coruvorn” by Reggie Oliver
  • “Blood and Smoke, Vinegar and Ashes” by D.P. Watt
  • “The Palace of Force and Fire,” by Ron Weighell
  • “Nox Una,” by Marian Womack

Read more, here, and buy this! Support Undertow Books!

https://www.thesilentgarden.com/

http://www.undertowbooks.com/2018/04/29/the-silent-garden/#comment-39909

Reblog: Lovecraft & the Occult…

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The Horror Within by “pigboom” (Reddit).

You know I’m a huge fan of everything “Lovecraftian”. As I read more and more into the occult, what it means, its sources, the culture surrounding it, I realize that many of our greatest writers—from Arthur Machen, to Algernon Blackwood, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Howard Phillips Lovecraft—wrote about subjects steeped in the idea of forbidden knowledge, that which is “hidden”—which is what the term “occult” really means.

Here is a brief yet fascinating look at occult elements in the work of Lovecraft. Read on worshippers, read on!

Lovecraft & the Occult

A major component of cosmic horror in general, and of Lovecraft’s work in particular, is the element of the occult. In many ways, Lovecraft’s occult aspects are true to the origins of the word: much of what various characters in his stories seek is that which remains hidden or concealed from view. By uncovering and practicing secret rituals and speaking ancient words, these characters reveal powerful knowledge and cosmic truths, both awesome and terrifying in their implications and scope. For decades, scholars have explored Lovecraft’s real-life connections to the occult, based on his fiction, his correspondence, and his personal life, in order to unravel whether he had some truly esoteric link to realms beyond ours, or was simply an imaginative dreamer from Providence. He may very well have been a little of both.

Above: Lovecraft’s “Elder Sign” in Various Manifestations (Pinterest).

Lovecraft’s correspondence with others in his circle of friends suggests that, while he was well-read on the subject, he was not a personal practitioner of magick.6 Much of his knowledge of the occult seems to have come from books on European witchcraft, written by people outside those witch-groups and colored by the perceptions of non-Christian religions during his time, as well as colonial American witchcraft, as described by witch hunters of Salem like Cotton Mather.6 Some of these latter sources contain alleged accounts from accused witches, although the credibility and interpretation of such accounts would necessarily be, at best, somewhat questionable.

A movement toward freer expression of religion in the 1970s has given us some insight, however, into magickal systems. We have come to see that while some of the details of actual occult practice, both modern and traditional, are often misrepresented in Lovecraft’s work, there is much that Lovecraft incorporates that is, surprisingly, close enough to give actual practitioners pause. An examination of the specific words used by Lovecraft suggests that he was not intimately aware of actual occult practices for raising demons or demonic gods, since his language in the rituals more closely resembles protective spells, which include the invocation of various names of the Judao-Christian God (or slightly altered versions of those names), such as Hel, Heloym, Emmanvel, Tetragrammaton, and Iehova, as well as names of archangels, such as Sother and Saboth, referenced in “The Horror at Red Hook” (2, 6). These names are generally used in protective sigils by practitioners of magick against entities summoned against their will for service or information. Such usage would seem counterproductive in the raising of those entities themselves.

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