H Russell Wakefield and Today’s Discoveries and Best Buys!!

“And I will end you
from the highest to the low
And I will end you
And my name you shall then know”
—HT 2011

The artwork of Santiago Caruso.

Artist on the spanish language book….Lovecraft: El horror de Dunwich/ The Dunwich Horror (Spanish Edition) [Hardcover]. About to go out of print. I don’t like Lovecraft enough to own him in English, much less Spanish. But the artist intrigued me on this, and for the fans among you… seems like a solid buy.

Lovecraft: El horror de Dunwich/ The Dunwich Horror (Spanish Edition)

The Ghost Stories of H. Russell Wakefield

The latest addition to my best short story list, this being H Russell Wakefield’s DAMP SHEETS from THE BEST GHOST STORIES OF H. RUSSELL WAKEFIELD

DAMP SHEETS- A couple in financial straits, eye a rich uncle. A simple premise, and now 80+ years removed from the stories publication, quite a well used premise, but as always Wakefield’s writing transcends the familiar, by being just so endearing, and engaging. You find yourself turning pages easily, as reading Wakefield is like a relaxed, almost conversational storyteller, spinning a yarn at a dinner party… just for you. And the story builds to one of those odd Wakefield endings, a bit curt, and wry, and ironic… that at first feels like someone put on the brakes perhaps a bit too quickly, but a shake of the head later, and a reread of the page, and nope, it’s just right. Just great ghost story writing, told in a handful of pages. Grade: B.

For more of my short story reviews go here.

The Best Ghost Stories of H. Russell Wakefield

Reunion at Dawn and Other Uncollected Ghost Stories

Strayers from Sheol

The Clock Strikes Twelve

Short Story Review! LOOK UP THERE by H. Russell Wakefield

“And my father
Where the Primrose
In Seasons
for two”

–Nubian Ditty Copyright 2011 HT

“Mr. Packard was a very important Civil Servant, and contrary to the opinion of the vulgar, Civil Servants sometines overwork.”

“I spent half the summer vac. at Gauntry Hall for the four years I was ‘up’. It was an exquisite house, gloriously placed, and the grounds were perfection. But you remember it, so I need not describe it. Sir John and Lady Gauntry were sweet survivals from an easier age — a type which began to disappear with the introduction of modern plumbing from America.”

“Dangerous? Yes, probably, but the old house had always seemed friendly to me. Here was I a professed student of the occult, presented with a glorious opportunity for investigation. If I failed to take it I should never forgive myself nor have any respect for myself. I imagine you can sympathise with my feelings to some extent.”

The above are excerpts from H. Russell Wakefield’s LOOK UP THERE, one of the stories to be found in his excellent collection THE BEST GHOST STORIES OF H. RUSSELL WAKEFIELD. That said LOOK UP THERE is not one of the better stories in this collection. It comes off as an unfinished, or an exercise of a story.

Still it’s nicely written, what there is of it, and is a quick read. So get the book for great stories such as THE RED LODGE, but even misfires such as LOOK UP THERE should not be missed.

The Best Ghost Stories of H. Russell Wakefield

On HP Lovecraft, HAUNTER OF THE DARK and The Melancholy of All Men

I’m not a fan of HP Lovecraft. I’ve read several of his short stories, listened to several more via audio dramas, and while the cult of Lovecraft is strong, and I appreciate his dark ramblings, I’m not particularly a fan of them.

I’m far more fond of the work of some of his contemporaries such as Clark Ashton Smith, MR James and particularly H Russell Wakefield.

And this goes beyond Lovecraft being a product of his manifest destiny upbringing, his work judged on its own… largely drones on me. He has a tendency to ‘talk’ his stories into repetitive circles, perhaps feeding his love for litany and language, at the expense of momentum and a story. And perhaps even simpler, as a pulp writer, paid by the word, padding the story was not out of the realm of his possibility or his purpose.

Whatever the truth his stories to differing extents, are perhaps not the better for their length. HAUNTER OF THE DARK being an example. The most interesting thing about the story is the 4 line poem that opens it.

I have seen the Dark Universe Yawning
Where the Black Planets roll without aim
Where they roll in their horror unheeded
Without knowledge, or luster, or name
… From the opening of THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK

That’s a great opening, unfortunately the story fails to be worthy of it.

I consider myself a person with some patience, and appreciation for the setting of mood. As I said I’m a fan of some of Lovecraft’s contemporaries, and even a few of Lovecraft’s own stories (The Outsider comes to mind), but the HAUNTER OF THE DARK showcases the over stylization that hinders rather than helps the world Lovecraft is trying to create. He can take 10 sentences to say “Blake ran out of the building”, and if you’re enriched by those 10 sentences that’s fine, but largely it’s a repetition of ten sentences he used to describe his protagonist walking into the building.

His erudition, taken to such extremes… is by definition pedantic. And as such his work can be far from compelling.

But at moments, in small doses, his work rises above the minutiae of the man, to be something not unlike… a window onto the melancholy of all men.