Arboreatum: A Novella of Horror

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Summer Film Calendar. JULY 6Kiss Carmen: Hot! Austin Lyric Opera's latest staging of Bizet's Carmen is such a refreshing and vivid presentation -- and at the City Coliseum, no less -- that this tale of a gypsy love-sorceress and her jealous soldier-lover should smolder in audiences' imaginations well after this production's last embers have flickered out.

Naked City. Testimony ends in the first full week of Robert Springsteen's trial in the yogurt shop murders case, and jurors are left with the question: What evidence do prosecutors have? In Person. The most recent episode of The Sopranos illustrates the caste system among the women of the show -- but does watching a woman get beaten to death educate or entertain?

A no body , nothing. When the roommate offers money to the homeless I talked and talked to the anti-abortion activists. To my horror , I saw that my home, the house that I This patio is a public place not only Sin Fronteras. Most observers would agree that Austin has a Latino visual arts community, but within that community are many voices, many points of view, many styles -- and no borders. Fords await the centurions. A cheetah stalks the procession, em body ing the painter's racing imagination.

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In The Visit, a series Master of the Crossroads. The Rage: Carrie 2. Carrie 2 is a very bad teen horror effort that might appeal to true horror hounds. Luckily, she's not living with a religious fanatic mother Wanna see someone's head blow up and eyes pop out? Be certain of your answer before casting your gaze on Scanners , an early beaut from Toronto's king of visceral horror. Comfortably Butt Numb.

The Diagnosis. The Years With Carlos Fuentes. Carlos Fuentes says he can not imagine a world without Shakespeare and Cervantes, but it is impossible to imagine a Mexico without Fuentes. Carlos Fuentes tend not to exist anymore. His vast body of work not only reflects the historical events and Great American horror films were driven by monsters, nightmare creatures created out The Yards. Short Cuts. Upcoming events and workshops of interest to the Austin film community. I looked up to the window he was pointing at. That window.

There was no room up there that either of us could account for; the windows simply did not tally with our intimate recollections of the space in which we dwelt. I knew the house same as Max, and now we shared that same sense of uncertainty. We rushed inside and up the staircase to the second floor. We both counted the windows and then dashed back to the drive-way to count them again from the outside. The discrepancy remained and neither of us had the answer. What had once been a familiar space was now suddenly quite strange. Our home had become, in the truest definition of the word, unheimlich.

However, there was one thing we were absolutely sure of: we were less certain about our house than we were before.


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Uncertainties is, to be exact, a volume of uncanny tales. The uncanny often gets lumped into the broader genre that is horror, but perhaps does not entirely belong there. Sometimes the result instils a sense of horror, as in Lovecraft, but this is not always the case. This is a crude argument, I know, but I hope you understand my meaning anyway.

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Take for instance Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood, two authors regularly claimed by the horror camp. While no one would argue that they both wrote superb tales of horror, their respective bodies of work also segue into more subtle examinations of ontological disruption, often eschewing horror entirely.

In some ways the uncanny tale is the antithesis to the classic detective story, which relies on a mystery that usually is solved by the end of the narrative. On the contrary, the uncanny tale revels in the mystery itself. These stories start out in the recognisable world, the every-day, and slowly move into less familiar terrain. And instead of requiring the satisfaction of a solution, the connoisseur of the uncanny tale appreciates that lingering sense of wonderment, awe, and, yes, sometimes dread. It ignites the imagination. The stories gathered in this volume and its predecessor celebrate this notion.

A secret room of which Max and I were unaware? An alternate space with its own curious laws and secrets? Had we finally pierced the veil to other world? You might like to know, but to be overly concerned with the answer is to miss the point — what mattered in that moment was the mystery. Brian J. Sheridan Le Fanu. He also edits The Green Book , a journal devoted to Irish writers of the fantastic. Order Uncertainties Volume 1 here and Volume 2 here. My earliest exposure to Fritz Leiber was via the adventures of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser as they fought and drank and caroused their way through Lankhmar City of Sevenscore Thousand Smokes!

It picked up the World Fantasy Award for best novel of , and rightfully so. Our Lady of Darkness is a marvellous supernatural meta-fiction. Our Lady of Darkness remains one of my favourite novels, a carefully constructed and fully realised fictional world. A shorter version. You can see below that it was the cover story of the January issue as well. That painting there is by the great fantasy artist Ron Walotsky. Anyway, I was intrigued. I wanted to read The Pale Brown Thing. Familiar, yet different; more briskly paced. John Howard expands on this idea in the afterword of the Swan River Press edition.

I love literary artefacts, multiple versions of the same story, and the idea of a published evolution of a story. I wanted to explore the work and properly celebrate the book. John is a long-time scholar of the weird and had often written about Leiber. Jason was also a fan of the story and eager to get to work on a cover, a new piece that would pay tribute to Walotsky below.

So then what about an introduction? Surely not a job for just anyone. Sidney-Fryer was not only a good friend of Leiber back in his San Francisco days, but also counts Clark Ashton Smith as one of his early mentors. Sidney-Fryer is an accomplished author whose poems and essays are available from Hippocampus Press — you should really check them out. In any case, Donaldo — which is how he signs his letters — was more than happy to write an introduction. He wrote about his friendship with Leiber and his place in the novel.

My correspondence with Donaldo has been a privilege. This on-going conversation with Donaldo is as important a part of creating this new edition of The Pale Brown Thing as is the text itself. He is a connection to ghosts of times past: Leiber to Lovecraft and Smith to Bierce. He is a portal to a classic work of fiction that I have enjoyed many times over the years, and I am grateful for the opportunity to explore again.

If you want to read a bit more about Donaldo, John Howard was kind enough to interview him about The Pale Brown Thing , his writing, and his friendship with Leiber for our website. You can read it here. It will be out in July Order a copy of The Pale Brown Thing here.

I write a line to tell you of our terrible loss. His face looks so happy with a beautiful smile on it. We were quite unprepared for the end. But it comforts me to think he is in Heaven, for no one could have been better than he was. He lived only for us, and his life was a most troubled one. I know you will feel this Dear Lord Dufferin. He loved you very much and very often spoke of you.

It was written in a long flowing hand on card with a heavy black border. Le Fanu had many admirers, among them ghost story writer M. Sheridan Le Fanu the author of Uncle Silas and other romances was also of a chill and curdling nature. No author more frequently caused a reader to look over his shoulder in the dead hour of the night. None made a nervous visitor feel more uncomfortable in the big, bleak bedrooms of old Highland houses. Yet, memory, to me thou art The dearest of the gifts of mind, For all the joys that touch my heart Are joys that I have left behind. Over the summer I had the pleasure of visiting Fonthill, the astonishing storybook mansion designed and built by Henry C.

I can thank Peter Bell for my literary adventure to Fonthill — a journey of over 3, miles from my home in Oregon.

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It was here that Peter extolled the originality of November Night Tales and cited it as a great lost book that begged for rediscovery. Actually, it would be more correct to say: discovery , because very few copies of the original book were printed and sold, and until Peter wrote about it nobody really gave it much thought.

After gulping down the stories, I contacted Peter because I was thinking that my company, Bruin Books, could publish a paperback version. The situation became immediately more interesting when Peter connected me with Brian J. Showers at Swan River Press. A limited run hardback would be a more fitting tribute to this elusive gem of a book. One thing led to another and a few months later I found myself walking the Mercer Mile in Doylestown. November Night Tales was securely fastened in my mind. It is situated a mile from the Mercer Museum, which Mercer also designed and built and filled to the rafters with relics of early American farmers and craftsmen.

I visited the museum first, hoping to get a glimpse of the famous Lenape Stone, a carved relic discovered in a newly ploughed field in The stone, now broken in half, depicts a tribe of Native Americans taking down a Wooly Mammoth with spears. Mercer wrote an entire book about the finding, but it is now regarded as a forgery that was probably scratched out by a bored farm boy.

When I finally found the stone at the very top level of the museum, I was disappointed by its size. It was more like a skipping stone than a tablet. Yet, forgery or not, I still want to believe in the Lenape Stone, because a carving of Indians and Mammoths struggling for supremacy in ancient America is how it should have been. Its many levels and multiple stairways encircle a single room that stretches from floor to rafters. The vaulted ceiling, mounted with crates and miscellaneous contraptions posed upside down, gave the overhead spaces a strange mirrored look, creating the illusion that I was gazing into the bottom of a grotto strewn with cargo spilled from a shipwreck.

There are only so many weeding hoes and one-horse buggies a person can handle in an afternoon, so I made for the exit after an hour of exploring the museum. The stretch of road between museum and house is known as the Mercer mile, and there is a firm connection, both physically and spiritually, between the two massive structures. The quirky collection within the museum makes for an intriguing afternoon, but Fonthill is the true gem of the Mercer Mile. The house stands like a giant sand castle atop a gentle sloping hill. Mature columns of gnarled sycamore trees align a narrow asphalt road up to the house.

I was there on an oppressively hot and humid day in July. A native of the west coast, I naturally associated any gray day with cooler weather, but here in Bucks County the overcast served as a pressure cooker, creating a stifling steam bath that felt more like the Florida Everglades than Amish country. The slightest movement had me panting for water. The comfy air-conditioning in the museum had weakened my resolve. Mopping my head as I climbed the gravel path, it was hard to imagine the heavy snowfall that would blanket the grounds in winter. Walking up to Fonthill, two things popped into my mind: Dr.

Seuss and Sandcastles. Okay, three things: add Gormenghast. The many wings, turrets, balustrades and chimney pots of Fonthill could have been shaped by a child on the seashore. The stairs are cement. The beds, bookcases, sinks and window pane casings are cement. The exception is the roof, which is composed of red ceramic tiles made in his own kilns. Tossing aside the idea of using blueprints or even taking measurements, Mercer began work on Fonthill in All he worked from was his own sketchbook. He sculpted his castle straight from his imagination using a revolutionary reinforced cement molding process.

He studied the process firsthand while traveling in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and now encompassing a large part of the Czech Republic. A number of the stories in November Night Tales are situated in this ancient cauldron of myth and superstition — Stoker and Blackwood territory. He wanted something to show potential customers. In that sense, Fonthill is a mad kind of factory showroom. Every wall, floor, ceiling and arch is a canvass for the Mercer tiles. The only way to see the interior of the house is to pay for the guided tour. Sorry, no interior photography allowed.

Had Mercer been alive he would have met you at the door, provided lunch, good conversation and a place to spend the night before returning to Philadelphia — all out of genteel generosity and good salesmanship. The foyer features a diminutive gift shop and, thankfully, a free-access water cooler. The house was so hot that day that the shop clerk encouraged all the visitors to drink some water before the tour began. The house has dozens of enormous windows that fill the interior with warming sunshine.

At the height of summer with its insufferable humidity, however, the house became a Medieval bread oven. Our tour guide, who entertained us with Mercer facts spiced by a droll sense of humor, had the good sense to wear shorts and sandals, and to be conveniently bald.


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  • There are forty-seven rooms in Fonthill, no two alike. The shelves were stuffed with leather-bound books; the walls were adorned with tiles, ornate mirrors, and old photographs. The ceilings and windows were high, allowing the daylight to brighten the room. It was a simple sturdy table built into a cement alcove that was filled with cubbyholes and bookshelves fashioned of the same dark-stained wood.

    It was here that Mercer must have written November Night Tales , and given the fantastic nature of the book, I like to think the creaks and moans the house emitted were more inspiring than derisive to the task. Mercer used Fonthill to entertain the potential buyers of his tiles and pottery, and so all forty-seven rooms are smothered in decorative tiles.

    One might find a tale from Shakespeare, or Dickens or a fairy tale. The Columbus room is distinctly beautiful with its vaulted ceiling supported by classical pillars and positively splattered with hundreds of tiles telling the story of Columbus and his adventures in the New World but no mammoths. One of the nicer guest rooms has the story of Bluebeard encircling the wide, muscular fireplace.

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    How pleasant, I think, to lay in the guest-bed and drowsily study the many murdered wives of Bluebeard. My favorite tiled tableau is from the Pickwick Papers. When I build my dream house with its wide muscular fireplace I will purchase this set from the Moravian Tile Works down the hill. A layer of sand capped the earthworks, and into this Mercer positioned his tiles. Once the cement cured, the platforms were removed and the sand washed away. In one hallway there is a pair of hands pushing through the ceiling, undoubtedly placed there by Mercer himself.

    The effect is delightfully creepy. Many of the rooms were inspired by Mercers world travels. The little tour group descended one staircase that was overhung with an authentic Chinese pagoda roof. The sloping roofline and stone dragons jutting from the high wall presented an impressive if supremely odd effect. His footprints can be found in cement at both Fonthill and the Mercer Museum. A life-sized bronze statue of Rollo greets visitors as they enter the museum.

    Somebody from inside the shop had to let me in, and once in I immediately started making the two ladies very nervous by picking up and examining all the tiles on display.


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