Deal Me In, Week 4 ~ “The Slype House”

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“The Slype House” by A. C. Benson

From: Jay’s Top Ten Favorite Ghost Stories, found online at Project Gutenberg.
Card picked: King of Spades (which coincidentally happens to be the same card Jay assigned it.)

Thoughts:

Anthony Purvis is the son of a unloving father. His mother died when he was young. His mentor was an Italian necromancer and his “friends” in adulthood are a surgeon and a priest. Anthony lives in Slype House, formerly a monk’s college that overlooks a church, with two servants and everything he needs, including a small dark room which no one but himself enters. Nearing the end of his life, Anthony begins to wonder:

Was he so certain, he began to think, after all, that death was the end? Were there not, perhaps, in the vast house of God, rooms and chambers beyond that in which he was set for awhile to pace to and fro?

Calling on the teachings of his old mentor, Anthony endeavors on a rheumy October night to find answers using the black arts.

A. C. Benson maybe isn’t as skilled or crafty an author as M. R. James or Ambrose Bierce, but “The Slype House” still packs a creepy punch. The straight-forwardness of his writing, especially when describing Slype House, reminds me of Hammer Horror movies: clear and in color.  And just when you think Benson has left us with a good Anglican tale of grace, well, it’s not *that* simple.

About the Author:

Arthur Christopher Benson was the son of Edward White Benson, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was, according to Wikipedia,

a distinguished academic…educated at Temple Grove School, Eton, and King’s College, Cambridge. From 1885 to 1903 he taught at Eton, returning to Cambridge to lecture in English literature for Magdalene College. From 1915 to 1925, he was Master of Magdalene. From 1906, he was a governor of Gresham’s School.

And a noted author of ghost stories.

January Reading Wrap-Up

ReadMyOwnDamnBooksbutton tbr-final-dare

My main two challenges for January are #readMyOwnDamnBooks and the TBR Triple Dog Dare. To recap, I’m aiming to read more of the books that I already own and, for the first three months of the year, *only* read books that I had acquired before the beginning of 2016. (My one exception is library audio books.)

So far, so okay.

I’ve finished four books thus far, two of them audio books and two books from my own bookcase:

I’ve also read 11 short stories. This is the place where I accidentally violated the TBR Triple Dog Dare. I follow many writers and fiction magazines on Twitter, and Shadows at the Door lured me in with the creepy tale “The Long Walk” by Kris Holt. My other short stories have been for Deal Me In (three of them coming from anthologies I own) and from a list of stories I’ve bookmarked previously. Yes, I have available to me more fiction than I can ever read.

Additions to my library:

  1. Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Illustrated) by Jules Verne, ebook  – Already own this in a different edition.
  2. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 2 – I can’t read this until April!!!
  3. Self Comes to Mind by Antonio Damasio – Gift to my husband.
  4. Central Station by Lavie Tidhar – ARC, not being published until May so I won’t violate TBR Triple Dog Dare.
  5. “Adaptive” by Matthew P. Buscemi, ebook
  6. The Long Way Down by Craig Schaefer, ebook

Review ~ White Plume Mountain

White Plume Mountain by Paul Kidd

This is my own damn book!

A remorseless ranger.

A sentient hell hound pelt with a penchant for pyromania.

An irksome pixie who sells intrigue and information.

Three companions who find themselves trapped in a city filled with warring priestly factions, devious machinations, and an angry fiend. To save the city, they must find three weapons of power, which lie in the most trap-laden, monster-infested place this side of Acererak’s tomb: White Plume Mountain. (via Goodreads)

I decided to start the year with a guaranteed-to-make-me-laugh reread.

Paul Kidd wrote three novels (and a short story) set in the Greyhawk fantasy world. All three feature the same cast of eccentric characters, snappy dialogue, and well-written action scenes. I’ll probably read the other two at some point during the year.

This is probably the third time I’ve read this book. It’s the second copy I’ve owned, after I loaned out my original. Now, this isn’t great literature. If you need a moral, well, it *is* all about working together; each member of this adventuring party bringing their unique talents to bear. But really, for me, this is just good entertainment. Not every reading experience should be a complete happy-fun-time, but sometimes, it’s really nice if it is.

Favorite quote:

She had a particular smell reminiscent of marked cards and forest flowers.

Publishing info, my copy: mass market paperback, TSR Inc., October 1999
Acquired: Originally Borders. This second copy from Book Mooch.
Genre: fantasy
Previously: This is a reread!

Magic Monday ~ I Saw David Abbott

MagicMonday

I like Mondays. On Monday, I am refreshed from the weekend and exhilarated by the possibilities of the week ahead. I also like magic. I like its history, its intersection with technology, and its crafty use of human nature. I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

More David Abbott!

A month or so ago, Dean Carnegie had a post on his blog about Frederick Eugene Powell and linked to footage of Powell from the Society of American Magician’s Vimeo account. It’s always cool to see film of magicians long gone, and I clicked over to watch some of the others. The compilation videos aren’t well annotated and the title cards are hard to read, so imagine my surprise when a segment included a portly gray-haired man and a tea kettle. Yep, footage of David P. Abbott!

Magician Chris Charlton filmed many magicians in the 20s and 30s. Clips of Abbott and Joseffy were included in the deluxe edition of House of Mystery. This, according to the title card (at 0:36), is Charlton with Abbott, presumably on the streets of Omaha. It’s just a short clip, nothing particularly magical happens, but to me, it’s still pretty cool.

I was hoping that some of the Joseffy footage was included too, but no luck.

SmallAce

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

Good Girls I Lie for Money: Candid, Outrageous Stories from a Magician's Misadventures

I have a pretty busy week ahead. My parents are coming into town today and will be here until Thursday. Then Saturday and Sunday is New Year Fest, our annual ultimate frisbee tournament. Might not get too much reading done.

I ended up DNFing Ghostwalkers by John Maberry. It really wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t the book for me right now. Instead I dove into Good Girls, the second in Glen Hirshberg’s Motherless Children trilogy. I’m also reading I Lie for Money by Steve Spill and “The Slype House” by A.C. Benson for Deal Me In.

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!

What Am I Writing?

Didn’t get as much editing done as I wanted last week and ended up juggling the table of contents again. I realize I have a stumbling block: I don’t think my two longer short stories are very good. Certainly not as good as some of their shorter companions. I’m going to try a new (to me) way of rewriting them. I’m going to put together a pretty in depth outline of the story from what I have and then start over. If the story turns out better, good deal. If not, I’ll scrap it and move on.

Deal Me In, Week 3 ~ “Witch War”

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“Witch War” by Richard Matheson

Card picked: Seven of Diamonds
From: I Am Legend and Other Stories by Richard Matheson

Thoughts:

My second Matheson story in as many weeks. This one was…not as good. It was more of a vignette than a story, weighing in at seven trade paperback pages.

The set-up? Seven pretty young girls (witches, though they are never called such) decimate an attacking infantry from the comfort of their common room by using mental powers. Men are spontaneously combusted, smashed with falling boulders, drowned by sudden waves, and attacked by various animals. It is especially pointed out that the girls seem “innocent” and there’s a certain amount of “excitement” that accompanies their side of the battle.

Written in 1951, “Witch War” hasn’t aged well. I wouldn’t be surprised though if this story particularly influenced Stephen King’s Carrie and Firestarter.

Review ~ As You Wish

Cover via Goodreads

As You Wish by Cary Elwes & Joe Layden

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years! (via Goodreads)

I love behind-the-scenes stories. I’m a fan of DVD extras and making-of documentaries. I’ve read all of William Goldman’s books about screenwriting and movie making. (He’s the writer and screenwriter of The Princess Bride, if you didn’t know.) But most of all, I really enjoy it when the people involved have actual love and enthusiasm for the work they’ve done. To me, that’s so much better than ugly, gossipy stories.

As You Wish is all about the love. If Cary Elwes has any regrets about forever being Westley (at least a little), he’s keeping that under his black pirate mask. Not that it was an easy shoot. Between rainy rural England and grueling sword-fight training sessions, it was not a piece of cake. But it’s all about who you’re in a situation with and the many cast comments attest that it wasn’t only Elwes who felt Princess Bride magic. In retrospect, it’s hard to believe that the movie would have been anything but a hit, but the production almost didn’t happen and the movie was only moderately successful. Thank goodness for cable TV and the home video revolution for bringing it to its eventual audience.

I listened to this as an audio book, read by Elwes, but including recordings by many of the cast, director Rob Reiner, and producers Andy Scheinman and Norman Lear. So, no never-seen-before photos for me, but instead Elwes dulcet tones telling me stories.

Publishing info, my copy: audio, Simon & Schuster, Oct 14, 2014
Acquired: Tempe OverDrive Digital Collection
Genre: Nonfiction, memoir

Magic Monday ~ Omaha’s Magic Man

MagicMonday

I like Mondays. On Monday, I am refreshed from the weekend and exhilarated by the possibilities of the week ahead. I also like magic. I like its history, its intersection with technology, and its crafty use of human nature. I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

I’m starting to get itchy; ready to get back to the David P. Abbott stories I want to tell. This is a really nice piece about Abbott done by Omaha’s KMTV. It aired around Halloween, but I missed it until yesterday.

SmallAce

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

Deadlands: Ghostwalkers Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys I Am Legend and Other Stories

Finished White Plume Mountain. Such a fun novel. The Oliver Sacks audio book didn’t go so well (the narration was annoying), so I ended up listening to You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day while taking down my Christmas tree.

This week I’m going to finish Deadlands: Ghostwalkers by Jonathan Maberry, an ARC I am woefully behind on reading and reviewing. My next audio book will be Still Foolin’ ‘Em by Billy Crystal. And another Richard Matheson story for Deal Me In.

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!

What Am I Writing?

Saying that I’m going to write a humorous story on demand is kind of like walking up to someone and saying “Quick, say something intelligent!” Mostly, you’re going to get a lot of unintelligent noises. Last week reaped nothing but writer’s block. I’m going to do some hard core editing on the stories I have, and work on a cover until the end of the month. Title? Bounded in a Nutshell. Haven’t decided if I want to add editorial notes.