Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

"The Case of Charles Dexter Ward", first published in Weird Tales, May-July 1941.

This is the the thirty-second entry in my read-through of the commemorative edition of Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H P Lovecraft.

This story is told by one of those distant and all-knowing but unknown narrators that you find a lot in classic stories. It's the the kind of narrator that can say of “none of these colloquies were ocularly witnessed, because the windows were always heavily draped” with a seemingly straight face. It can pose rhetorical questions in rapid succession, like an interrogation:

“was it not of this that Mr. Ward was reminded when his son barked forth those pitiable tones to which he now claimed to be reduced? Who had ever seen Charles and Allen together? Yes, the officials had once, but who later on? Was it not when Allen left that Charles suddenly lost his growing fright and began to live wholly at the bungalow?"

It's a often a gossipy, larky tone, such as when it observes that the local stalwart President Manning attended a violent raid on his neighbour “without the great periwig (the biggest in the county) for which he was noted.” It teases us at times, especially at the beginning with implications of horrors to come:

“And now swiftly followed that hideous experience which has left its indelible mark of fear on the soul of Marinus Bicknell Willett, and has added a decade to the visible age of one whose youth was even then far behind.”

It's almost a character in itself, it reminds me most of all of the narrator in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Can't you just imagine Charles Gray making a meal of this?
“The true madness, he is certain, came with a later change; after the Curwen portrait and the ancient papers had been unearthed; after a trip to strange foreign places had been made, and some terrible invocations chanted under strange and secret circumstances; after certain answers to these invocations had been plainly indicated, and a frantic letter penned under agonising and inexplicable conditions; after the wave of vampirism and the ominous Pawtuxet gossip; and after the patient’s memory commenced to exclude contemporary images whilst his voice failed and his physical aspect underwent the subtle modification so many subsequently noticed.”

First review of Panoptica!

Amazingly, I got a review on amazon! This one came from a facebook page friend like swap. There was no obligation to read, but I guess the swapper liked the look of it and gave it whirl. Forunately, she liked it!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Rush At The End by Royston Ellis

To this frank, penetrating analysis of naked human relationships, where a pregnant girl cannot marry the man her father loves, Royston Ellis brings all the qualities which riveted readers of The Flesh Merchants.

Ah, the 60s! It was a golden era when repression and freedom were mixed in just the right amounts to afford a real sense of liberation. It was it was a time when you really could kick against the pricks, and when there really were pricks to kick against. It was the days when being essentially juvenile, selfish and self-absorbed seemed like a radical act. How things change!

This is a novel about dropping out, turning your back on “the Grey Generation” and following your heart, all the things you ever wanted and denied yourself. It tells the story of Arthur Darby, a law clerk in City in his late fifties, who falls for a young man he meets on the train home one evening. Andrew is a young graduate in his first job, but finding the conventional life stultifying. They bond over their dissatisfaction. It's not just Arthur's story – though it's mostly his – it's Andrew's story, too. They're both of them coming out and understanding their sexuality, facing the big decision of whether to knuckle under to the Grey Generation's rules and expectations or to follow their real feelings.

However, it's something of a disappointment given the lurid exploitation novel promised by the back-cover blurb and the naked lady on the front.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Panoptica by Patrick Hudson

Well, chums, I've been and gone and done it. My novel-length satire Panoptica is now available at and presumably in other territories, too. It's got a Facebook page, even.
Click the link for some back cover blurb!