Martes, Enero 20, 2015

Algernon Blackwood- The Short Story Summaries

I'm getting rid of plenty of the literature I own that I've already read because that's the demand of me. Whenever I'm finished reading a short story by a great horror writer I really like, I write a short summary of it, so I won't forget what it was about. (Needless to say, by posting this here I am trying to forget about it.) I hope these summaries will be useful for anybody trying to find information about Blackwood.




A Bit of Wood: The titular small object becomes a cog in a Rube Goldberg like machine that changes a life.

A Case of Eavesdropping: A haunting in a crappy hotel serves as a microcosm of how sordid the city is. Features Jim Shorthouse.

A Descent into Egypt: THE PAST IS ABSORBING PEOPLE'S ESSENCES. Also, Egyptian gods use statues to communicate but doing so takes them thousands of years to get their message across. That was quite the trippy part.

A Desert Episode: Blackwood's version of a "love" story, there's destiny and other such nonsense, and obviously the man is older than the girl.

A Haunted Island: A paranoid white man sees his own death with "intercourse with two burly Indians." No such forcible intercourse occurs at the end however. Perfect story to read just before going off to live in an empty cabin in the woods near a lake (rofl).

A Psychical Invasion: The introductory story to John Silence features a ghost that drains the vitality of the house occupants. The dog gets his sight back at the least, thankfully. Also, don't do drugs.

A Victim of High Space: A formerly 3d man is TRIGGERED (TW) by certain sounds into activating his dimension-shifting power, which is like having your form get flushed into a single point inward of yourself.

Accessory Before the Fact: Precognition turns dangerous.

An Egyptian Hornet: An oddity in Blackwood's short stories, this one features no supernatural occurrences; instead provides social commentary by centering on the rudeness of a fat priest staying at a hotel. SPOILER: The priest is a mean douchebag to the other guests and his easily unnerved by the titular insect in the bathroom.

Ancient Sorceries: John Silence's second adventure, he listens to the tale of a man's encounter with cat-witches.

The Attic: Hallmark moment ahoy: A child ghost is crossed over into the light.

By Water: Blackwood's take on the classic self-fulfilling prophecy tale.

Cain's Atonement: A pair of brothers are reincarnated into two unrelated men, with one seeking to avenge the wrongs of the past he committed against the other. Blackwood was very fond of the name "Smith".

Carlton's Drive: A guy gets driven around in a carriage by that century's version of OJ Simpson. Nah, it's actually that guy whom Emily Dickinson stopped for her-DEATH.

Clairvoyance: A thinly-stretched out ghost story involving (ooh) PRESENCES.

Confession: An oaf stumbled on to a murder plot and listen to the criminal's own account of it, featuring a hat as the plot device for the twist.

First Hate: The moral seems to be that some people deserve to die if you and they were enemies in a previous life. THE TWIST: He confesses to murder and intentional homicide just so he could cover up his own tracks.

Wayfarers: Suck it, Interstellar-love is the only thing that can transcend history and temporality. Again featuring a pair of lovers having a relationship over a long-duration.

The Regeneration of Lord Ernie: A dispirited boy is transformed into a lively young man by the help of an older MALE mentor. How very much like the Greeks!

Garden of Survival: Hallmark moment ahoy-Despite the fearless vicissitudes of life, there lay behind all things a (Platonic) sanctuary. Tears at the end, omg.

Glamour of the Snow: A Frost Dryad enthralls a skier.

H.S.H: Satan comes on earth to convince one single nonbeliever that he's king of the world and stuff. Said nonbeliever seems pretty eager to please random men coming into his cabin. Satan is driven away by the love and compassion of Delane by the end.

If the Cap Fits: A genius story about how much it sucks to be receptive to psychic imprints.

Initiation: An old man is led by his young, strapping nephew into a magical forest world and they participate in a "ritual." If this story made you uncomfortable with how overt it was, don't blame yourself. Christ, Blackwood must have been in whatever was the San Francisco of that era. (In a later post, I show just how queer the subtext in Algernon Blackwood's stories is.)

Keeping His Promise: Two young men make a pact with each other to tell whoever lives ahead of them what lies beyond the veil.

Listener: An apocalyptic log of a man being driven insane by the ghost of a leper.

Max Hensig: BRILLIANT, heart-pounding story about some Hannibal Lecter-ish psycho with a penchant for bacteria-laden spikes. Better tension and suspense-building than Contagion. The main character is suprisingly not a white woman.

May Day Eve: Something something special day where the veil wears thin.

Old Clothes: Reincarnation story with some SERIOUSLY sick incest/paedo undertones.

Olive: Them romance stories sure blitz by real fast, huh? Magical love fate blah blah blah.

Sand: After a long build-up to a ritual of unknown purpose and significance, the creepy guy kills his own aunt by sacrificing her to the sand gods. One of many stories where the lead character isn't actually instrumental to the plot and instead is merely an observer.

Secret Worship: The Bruders want to make an "Opfer" to Asmodelius, if not only for Dr. Silence stepping in and saving the day. Quite spine-chilling.

Skeleton Lake: AMAZING murder story, where nothing supernatural at all happens and is instead merely human nature. Why was the murder committed at all?

Smith- Episode in a Lodging-House: Oooh, magic and weird circumstances. "You broke the outflow and saved me!"

Suspicious Gift: A murder story reeking with urban scares set in a hot New York apartelle in a ratchet neighborhood where violent and queer crime can happen in the space of a New York minute. Main character not a white woman. Gee, I wonder what it was like to be a (presumably single) man living in with other (presumably single) men in a one-room apartment back then?

The Camp of the Dog: It's Dog Soldiers with Astral Projection. This is the only story I've ever read where werewolves are also psychic phenomena and not the result of a curse on the body.

The Damned: A nice period piece on soul-sucking upper-class mansions (those two descriptors are connected). Think Rose Red with teeth. Nothing actually happens to the characters, and yet they are all changed come the end.

The Dance of Death: A man with a bad heart gets his heart's last desire.

The Eccentricity of Simon Parnacute: "World Policeman?" Snort. Something about birds in cages and freedom. STRAIGHT-laced professor becomes weird due to mysterious spirit-enforcer. Flying is actually Transition/Astral Projection.

The Empty House: (Jim) Shorthouse and his aunt go messin' with a haunted house. Perhaps the first ever Shorthouse story.

The Goblin's Collection: A mischievous spirit acts like a magpie, causing minor annoyance at best.

The Golden Fly: A story clearly meant to dissuade suicidal people. I'm surprised Blackwood himself didn't say at the end "You are all precious stars."

The Human Chord: Sound is the source of magic, so doing magic is using sound to distort the forms of things by vibrating at the right tempo. The Word of God is actually a super-secret-and-special magickal vibration. The leads, Bobby Spinrobin and his girl Miriam, act like total ingrates to their host and her father.

The Insanity of Jones: A reincarnated condemned man goes all Jason Bourne/Bryan Mills to get revenge on the man who had him killed. It is ambiguous whether the man's spiritual guide was benevolent, or if Jones was merely losing his mind.

The Invitation: I don't actually know if this is a complete story; if it is, then both of the characters have lost their minds or they are stuck in a time loop, forever held off from actualizing a meeting in the future.

The Kit Bag: Horror up a snowy mountain top, featuring misplacing of evidence and a severed head.

The Lane that Ran East and West: An elderly woman/strong female character still has one chance in her life for true love. The lane represents her youth and age.

The Man Who Found Out: THIS IS THE BEST BLACKWOOD STORY EVER. Is life worth living, or not? Are time and death merely "dreams! A devil's foolish dreams!"?

The Man who played Upon the Leaf: A wandering man and his dog lose their life in the woods, after having lived so long in the wilds.

The Man Whom the Trees Loved: A woman loses her husband's affection because of Mother Nature. That is one hell of a woman for her husband to make her a cuckold by.

The Nemesis of Fire: The best John Silence story has him and Mr. Hubbard square off against a fire elemental and the spirit of an old Egyptian priest. It has summoning and possession and mummies, Blackwood clearly went the whole nine yards with this one.

The Occupant of the Room: A hugely depressing story about a man feeling in his room the physical imprint of a suicidal woman.

The Other Wing: An adventure tale anachronistically reminiscent of Pan's Labyrinth, where a child meets cosmic/fantastic/archetypal figures.

The Sacrifice: Limasson goes mountain climbing, but THE OLD GODS ARE HUNGRY FOR A HUMAN SACRIFICE.

The Strange Adventures of a Private Secretary in New York: The BEST Shorthouse story. Shorthouse (not a white woman) is told by his boss to spend the night in a house with a creepy old guy and his creepy butler/Igor who may or may not be cannibals. Shorthouse becomes victim to voyeurism but not rape. High intrigue, but the climax suffers a scarcity of detail..

The Touch of Pan: Another social critique story, only scarcely dressed-up; at a party, strong independent woman character of Miss Elpseth, satyr and hipster extraordinaire, makes her move on this guy who had been crushing on her for some time now, and turns him into a Satyr too. They then play a gag on a couple of guests sneaking out to do the nasty. Basically, (rich) sociable people suck and are full of vice.

The Transfer: Vitality Vampirism.

The Tryst: Actual sad love story about being too late.

The Wendigo: THE prime Blackwood camping trip story, the most unforgettable classic of being stalked in the wilderness by a non-human monster.

The Whisperers: Everyone, read your books.

The Willows: Lovecraft predecessor story about how nature is alive.

The Wings of Horus: Binovitch believes he is a bird. Heavily features Freudian/psychoanalytical themes of repressed identity. Bino has a Black Swan-like transformation at the end, spurred on by uncanny confidence to pursue the girl of his dreams. And at the end, for him, "it was perfect."

The Wood of the Dead: Old Man Death has a new place he takes people when they die.

Vengeance is Mine: Blah blah he was fated to sacrifice himself and germans aren't that bad.

With Intent to Steal: An older Jim Shorthouse and his friend spend the night in a barn haunted by a dead black magician-and the oppressive ghost takes over Shorthouse's body.
 
Let Not the Sun-: A brother and sister try to adjust the schedules to allow the other , but alas it was too late for them. Regretting has a way of being poetic. Nigh-Hemingwaysian in its simplicity and scarcity of presence.

The Singular Death of Morton: The V-Word, plus more mountain hiking in pastoral areas.

Alexander, Alexander: Mysterious Dominant Male Figure is actually her timid submissive unremarkable uncle. This story speaks to the bipolarity inherent to all peoples.

Dream Trespass: He encountered a ruined inn before they even got there. MOAR ALPINE EXPLORATIONS.

Entrance and Exit: A Victim of Higher Space II: Electric Boogaloo, except it has a woman character as the anchor for the Victim this time.



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