WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES #7: THE DREAMER IN THE FIRE AND OTHER STORIES By Sam Gafford

If you’re an H. P. Lovecraft fan, you’ll find plenty to like in Sam Gafford’s collection, The Dreamer in the Fire and Other Stories (2017). The book gets its title from “The Dreamer in the Fire: Notes on Robert Winslow’s ‘Sutters Corners.'” Like some of Lovecraft stories, “The Dreamer in the Fire” begins innocently enough with a scholar trying to track down documents of another, older, scholar for a publishing enterprise. And, like all Lovecraft stories, “The Dreamer in the Fire” veers into the nightmarish secret world of the Mythos.

My favorite story is “Good Morning, Innsmouth!” where an ambitious reporter for a morning news TV show finds more than she bargained for when she visits Innsmouth to film a routine feature.

The Dreamer in the Fire and Other Stories is an uneven collection, but there’s enough Good Stuff here to engage most readers. GRADE: B

Table of Contents

“Casting Fractals,” first published in Black Wings V, edited by S. T. Joshi (PS Publishing, 2016). — 7

“Showtime,” first published in Dark Corridor No. 1 (2007). — 25

“The Adventure of the Prometheus Calculation” is previously unpublished. — 31

“Homecoming,” first published in New Tales of the Old Ones, edited by Michael C. Dick (KnightWatch Press, 2013). — 39

“The Gathering Daemonica,” first published in Dark Corridor #3 (2009). — 59

“Static,” first published in Machina Mortis: Steampunk’d Tales of Terror, Volume 1, edited by Sam Gafford (KnightWatch Press, 2013). — 75

“Sunspots” is previously unpublished. — 89

“My Brother’s Keeper,” first published in Wicked Tales: The Journal of the New England Horror Writers, Volume 3 (2015). — 95

“‘How Does That Make You Feel?’” is previously unpublished. –105

“What Was That?” is previously unpublished. — 117

“‘The Dreamer in Fire’: Notes on Robert Winslow’s ‘Sutter’s Corners,’” first published in Grimoire No. 1 (1993). — 125

“He Whose Feet Trod the Lost Aeons” is previously unpublished. — 159

“‘Good Morning, Innsmouth!’” is previously unpublished. — 165

“Weltschmerz,” first published in Black Wings III, edited by S. T. Joshi (PS Publishing, 2014). — 183

“Hellhounds on the Trail,” first published in Shadows of the Past: Arkham Horror Book Club Anthology, Volume I, edited by Frederic Norton (NEHW Press, 2014). — 203

“The Land of Lonesomeness,” first published in the Weird Fiction Review No. 5 (November 2014). — 217

“Passing Spirits,” first published in Black Wings, edited by S. T. Joshi (PS Publishing, 2010). — 225

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS — 241

Lego Star Wars Holiday Special [Disney+]

I loved this animated holiday special (only 40 minutes!) which features all the Star Wars characters from the past three movies. Rey does some Time Traveling and meets the major characters from the “old” Star Wars movies. Plenty of fun and cleverness result. Check out the trailer below. Are you a Star Wars fan? GRADE: A

APROPOS OF NOTHING By Woody Allen

I’ve been a Woody Allen fan since I first saw Bananas in 1971. It was silly and funny. I liked other Woody Allen films from that era: Sleeper and Play It Again, Sam. Later, Woody Allen would move from comedy to drama with Annie Hall, Manhattan, and Hannah and Her Sisters. In Apropos of Nothing Allen talks about the movies he’s made, both the “successful” ones and the clunkers like September and Shadows and Fog. He praises most of the actors he’s worked with and complains about a few who disappointed him.

The Big Disappointment is Mia Farrow. Woody Allen “dated” her for 13 years and somehow during all that time didn’t see that she was manipulating him and abusing her seven children. At least, that’s Allen’s side of the story. Allen also drops the hammer on Ronan Farrow. I found this part of the book difficult to read and comprehend. But, on the other hand, Allen admits throughout Apropos of Nothing that he’s had relationships with dozens of women with serious mental problems. Allen’s second wife, Louise Lasser, apparently suffered from a myriad of psychological disorders. I’m amazed Woody Allen could make movies while all this drama was happening in his Life.

Whether you believe Woody Allen’s version of his problems with Mia Farrow or not, Apropos of Nothing does give the reader insights into a complicated, gifted, filmmaker. Are you a Woody Allen fan? GRADE: B+

LA CHARGERS VS. BUFFALO BILLS

After the crushing 32-30 conclusion of the Cardinals game where a “Hail Murray” touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins–who was triple covered!–snatched Victory from the Jaws of Defeat, the Bills spent their Bye Week trying to recover and preparing to face Justin Herbert and the LA Chargers. The weather is benign: 50 degrees and sunny (a rarity for this time in November in Western NY). No sign of snow yet! The Bills are 5 1/2 point favorites. How will your favorite NFL team do today?

THREE RINGS: A TALE OF EXILE, NARRATIVE, AND FATE By Daniel Mendelsohn

Daniel Mendelsohn’s meditation on the rise of the Nazis and their impact includes a disturbing story: “One minute we were middle-class people, doing ordinary things…. Then the next minute we were being hunted like animals. Anyone could kill us, you see. You weren’t a person anymore.” (p. 47)

One of the people who fled Europe and the Nazis in the 1930s was Erich Auerbach. He left his German homeland and ended up in Istanbul. There, he spent years working on a book that some critics call a masterpiece: Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. I’ve had Mimesis on my shelf for over 40 years. Mendelsohn’s book is motivating me to read it.

Mendelsohn also discusses Proust’s In Search of Lost Time and W. G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn. A lot is packed into this slim book! GRADE: A

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

PART I: The Lycée Français — 1

PART 2: The Education of Young Girls — 45

PART 3: The Temple — 81

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #619: MAIGRET AND THE APPARITION By Georges Simenon

Maigret and the Apparition (aka, Maigret and the Ghost) was translated by Eileen Ellenbogen (more about her in a few weeks) and published in 1964. When one of Maigret’s detectives, Lognon, is shot and near death, Maigret and the entire police department drop everything to investigate the shooting. Lognon, before being carted off the to hospital, says, “Apparition.” Maigret follows the clues to a wealthy art collector and his young wife.

There’s a very touching scene between Maigret and his wife that shows the intimacy of their relationship. This is in sharp contrast to the greed and cruelty of various aspects of this case. Sometimes Maigret novels plod along, but Maigret and the Apparition moves quickly to a surprising conclusion. Are you a Maigret fan? GRADE: A

HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2020

Patrick and Katie made the turkey and dinner rolls. Diane made our traditional Jello salad. She also made the gravy and dressing, green salad, and sweet potatoes. I provided the wine. Desserts: apple cake, pecan pie, and pumpkin pie were made by Patrick and Katie.

Diane and I are thankful for Patrick and Katie to be with us to share this special day. Patrick drove across the country from California to be with us. Katie drove from Boston. Both quarantined at their cousin’s condo in Lewiston, NY. Both got Covid-19 tests (both negative) so they could safely be around us. We won the Lottery of Life when we got these two great kids!

Hope you and your family enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving! What’s on your table?

WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES #6: DARK GODS by T. E. D. Klein

I recently reviewed T. E. D. Klein’s novel, The Ceremonies (you can read that review here), and decided to reread Klein’s novella collection, Dark Gods (1985). Dark Gods includes four long stories filled with dread.

“Children of the Kingdom” explores the relationship between a man and his grandfather. The assisted living facility where the grandfather resides deals with continuous gnawing of the power cords of the laundry machines. The owner claims it’s done by rats, but the culprit is much more menacing.

“Petey” takes place in a old home where a party is going on. One of the women at the party engages the other guests with a series of Tarot readings. And, the former owner of the house, now in an insane asylum, issues warnings…which are ignored. You can guess where this leads.

“Black Man With a Horn” is a moody story with the haunting presence of creatures from Lovecraft’s stories.

“Nadelman’s God” is my favorite story in Dark Gods. An advertising executive named Nadelman is contacted by a rock & roll group who want to use a poem he published in a college literary magazine as the lyric to one of their songs. Nadelman agrees and this leads to another situation years later when Nadelman receives a letter from a man who claims he’s following the “instructions” in the song to create a God. T.E.D. Klein writes stories that stay with you long after you finish reading them. GRADE: B+

Table of Contents:

Children of the kingdom — 1
Petey — 73
Black man with a horn — 129
Nadelman’s god — 175

AGATHA CHRISTIE’S MISS MARPLE: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION [9-DVD Set]

Yes, lightning can strike twice!

A couple of weeks ago, I visited a Salvation Army thrift store and to my amazement found AGATHA CHRISTIE’S POIROT: COMPLETE CASES COLLECTION [33 DVDs] for the incredible price of $3.99!

So I revisited that Salvation Army thrift store and to my surprise found AGATHA CHRISTIE’S MISS MARPLE: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION [9-DVD Set]. And once again the price was $3.99! (AMAZON has it at $49.98.) With Western NY pretty much shut down in the Orange Zone, I now have plenty of DVDs to watch and enjoy! Are you a Miss Marple/Joan Hickson fan?

EX-LIBRIS: 100 BOOKS TO READ AND REREAD By Michiko Kakutani

I’m a sucker for books like Michiko Kakutani’s Ex Libris: 100 Books to Read and Reread. Admittedly, the books recommended in this volume are diverse and not always appealing to my reading tastes. But rest assured, there is something for everyone in this book. Of course, some of these choices are a little bizarre. I did enjoy the mini-essays about each book.

How many of these books have you read? GRADE: A-

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Introduction –13

Americanah by Chimamnda Ngozi Adichie — 21

The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander — 24

Muhammad Ali Books: –27

The Greatest: My Own Story by Muhammad Ali

The Muhammad Ali Reader, edited by Gerald Early

King of the World by David Remnick

The Tribute: Muhammad Ali, 1942-2016 by Sports Illustrated

Experience by Martin Amis –30

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson — 33

The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt — 35

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood — 39

Collected Poems by W. H. Auden –42

Continental Drift by Russell Banks — 44

Books by Saul Bellow — 46

The Adventures of Augie March

Herzog

The Actual: A Novella

The Image by Daniel J. Boorstin — 48

Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges — 50

The Moth Presents: All These Wonders, edited by Catherine Burns — 53

The Plague by Albert Camus — 56

The Passage of Power by Robert A. Caro. — 58

Pursuits of Happiness by Stanley Cavell — 60

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast — 62

Books by Bruce Chatwin — 65

In Petagonia

What Am I Doing Here

The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark — 69

Books About Foreign Policy and the World — 72

The Retreat of Western Liberalism by Edward Luce

A World in Disarray by Richard Haass

Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat –76

Underworld by Don DeLillo — 79

The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao — 81

Books by Joan Didion — 84

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

The White Album

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers — 88

The Collected stories of Deborah Eisenberg — 91

The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot — 93

Books by Joseph J. Ellis — 95

Founding Brothers

American Cration

Revolutionary Summer

American Dialogue

The Founders on American Democracy — 98

The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton

George Washington’s Farewell Address

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison — 103

As I Lay Dying — William Faulkner — 106

The Neapolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante — 108

Books by David Finkel — 111

The Good Soldiers

Thank You for Your Service

Books About 9/11 and the War on Terror — 114

The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright

The Forever War by Dexter Filkins

Anatomy of Terror by Ali Soufan

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald — 119

Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan — 122

The Letters of Gustave Flaubert, 1830-1857 — 126

Sinatra! The Song Is You by Will Friedwald — 128

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez — 131

The Idea Factory by Jon Gertner — 133

The Peripheral by William Gibson — 137

The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz — 139

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand — 141

The Paranoid Style in American Politics by Richard Hofstadter — 143

The Odyssey by Homer — 145

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren — 148

The Liar’s Club by Mary Kart — 151

A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. — 155

On Writing by Stephen King — 158

The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston — 161

The Language of the Third Reich by Victor Klemperer — 164

Books About Democracy and Tyranny —167

On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder

How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt

The Sixth Extinction by Eliabeth Kolbert — 171

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri — 174

Books by Jaron Lanier — 177

You Are Not a Gadget

Dawn of the New Everything

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle — 180

Abraham Lincoln Books — 182

The Speeches of Writings of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Don E. Fehrenbacher

Lincoln at Gettysburg by Gary Wills

Lincoln by Fred Kaplan

Lincoln’s Sword by Douglas Moore

Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez — 186

Blood Meridian, or, the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy — 189

Atonement by Ian McEwan — 191

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville — 194

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore — 197

Books by Toni Morrison — 201

Song of Solomon

Beloved

Books by Vladimir Nabokov — 203

The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov, edited by Dmitri Nabokov

Speak, Memory

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi — 206

A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul — 209

Born a Crime Trevor Noah — 211

Books by Barack Obama — 214

Dreams from My Father

We Are the Change We Seek: The Speeches of Barack Obama, edited by E. J. Dionne, Jr., & Joy-Ann Reid

There There by Tommy Orange — 218

1984 by George Orwell — 220

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy — 223

Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon — 225

Life by Keith Richards with James Fox — 227

The Life of Picasso by John Richardson — 231

Books About Work and Vocation — 234

Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow

The Right Kind of Crazy by Adam Steltzner with William Patrick

The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks

Do No Harm by Henry Marsh

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson 241

American Pastoral by Philip Roth — 243

The Harry Potter Novels by J. K. Rowling — 245

Books by Salman Rusdie — 248

Midnight’s Children

The Moor’s Last Sigh

Books by Oliver Sacks — 251

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Other Clinical Tales

An Anthropologist on Mars

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak — 253

Books by Dr. Seuss — 255

Horton Hears a Who!

The Cat in the Hat

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Green Eggs and Ham

The Lorax

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

The Plays of William Shakespeare — 257

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley — 261

Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart — 264

White Teeth by Zadie Smith — 266

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor — 269

The Palm at the End of the Mind by Wallace Stevens 272

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt — 275

Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville — 277

The Lord of the Rings — J. R. R. Tolkien — 280

The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh — 283

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong — 285

The Poetry of Derek Walcott, 1948-2013 — 287

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace — 289

All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren — 292

Educated by Tara Westover — 294

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead — 297

The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig — 299