Samstag, 14. Januar 2012

When Evil Wakes

Hi Folks! Todays Book is one of the best anthologies that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading! It’s from 1963 and was published by Corgi Books and it’s called..............

“When Evil Wakes” and was editied by the late  “August Derleth”. Mr. Derleth was a correspondent  of H. P. Lovecraft, a prolific Author, Wisconsin historian, Poet, Editor and Co-publisher and Co-Founder of “Arkham House”. So it’s no wonder that almost all of the the Stories are copyrighted to either “Arkham House” or “Popular (Weird Tales) Publishing”.
It also contains 2 stories by Mr. Derleth himself. One of which is under his “Weird Tales” pen-name of “Stephen Grendon”, and the other is one of his post humus, and infamous collabarations with Mr. Lovecraft. I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say that these “collabarations “are basicaly stories based upon some single sentence story idea that HPL jotted down which Derleth expanded into a short story and put both his own and HPL’s names on the by-line.

When Evil Wakes
“A New Anthology of the Macabre”
Edited by August Derleth.

•    "The Eye and the Finger", by Donald Wandrei
•    "The Feasting Dead", by John Metcalfe
•    "Death Waters", by Frank Belknap Long
•    "An Invitation to the Hunt", by George Hitchcock
•    "The Tsanta in the Parlour", by Stephen Grendon
•    "Moonlight-Starlight", by Virginia Layefiky
•    "The Kite", by Carl Jacobi
•    "Sweets to the Sweet", by Robert Bloch
•    "A Thin Gentlemen With Gloves, by Simon West
•    "The Horror at Red Hook", by H. P. Lovecraft
•    "The Triumph of Death", by H. Russell Wakefield
•    "The Lips", by Henry S. Whitehead
•    "A Piece of Linoleum", by David H. Keller
•    "The Seed From the Sepulchre", by Clark Ashton Smith
•    "Canavan's Back Yard", by Joseph Payne Brennan
•    "The Shuttered Room", by H. P. Lovecraft & August Derleth
This is one of the rare anthologies that is chock full of excellent stories. Of all the anthologies that Mr. Derleth edited, this one is my favorite!
“The Feasting Dead” by John Metcalf alone, is worth the price of admission. It’s a short novel that was originaly published by “Arkham House” in 1954. It was also the only novel that they published in 1954.
It deals, without too many spoilers, with a widowed Englishman who befriends a slightly impovershed and also widowed, French nobleman who suggests that they exchange children for one summer.  The Frenchman’s reasoning is that this will broaden all of the children’s horizons. The Englishman plays along since his son and only child, whose mother happened to be half French, was ill and is lagging in his French studies. To make a long tory short, the Englsihman is totaly creeped out by the French kids who he refers to as “queer, cryptic little mokeys”. Now that’s not very nice!  At the end of summer when the young son returns from France we learn that he had a wonderful time. Possibly too wonderful since all he can talk about is that he can’t wait to return to return to the old Chateau in France. It’s seems that there happens to be a teeny weeny curse on the French family that concerns a long dead (or not) family Retainer who has fixiated on the chldren of the French family for the past several generations. Seems this dead French handyman is some kind of
1.    Psychic Vampire.
2.    Incubus.
3.    Pedarast Ghost.
It’s never 100% clear exactly what the fellow is. All that is clear is the he’s up to no good.
After a 2nd visit to France the boy’s Father is informed by his French acquaintance that the arrangement has to be terminated and that the englshman shouldn’t try to contact the French family anymore, and all of this with no explanation as to why.  It seems that the Dead Reatainer has attactched himself to the boy and has followed back to England in the form of a Scare Crow. And hilarity ensues once the story moves back to England, with tragic results.

I wish I would be able to put into words how genuinely scary this story is. It has a very strong “M.R. James” flavor to it with out having to sink into the realms of a Pastiche. The build up and slowly paced revaltions along with a strong sense of place makes this short novel a minor masterpiece.  And being a “child in danger” story just ups the Ante even further.

Another great goody included in the Anthology is “The Horror at Red Hook” by none other than H. P. Lovecraft himself!
This is a nifty little pre-Mythos story by Mr. Lovecraft at his paranoid racist best (or worse, depending on how you look at it.). It’s the story, tol in flash back, of a New York police dectective who suffered a nervous breakdown and has developed a ghastly fear of large brick buildings. It seems that the Red Hook section of Brooklyn is being overrun with a bad case of SDD’s. And I don’t mean “Sexualy Distributed Diseases” either! In this situation it means “Short, Dark & Dirty’s”!! (And yes, I’m being facetious here!). Yep! Ol’ Red Hooks being overrun with a whole slew of swarthy, shiftless, non-Christian, up to no good FOREIGNERS!!  Dective Malone works in the Red Hook district and doesn’t like what he’s seeing. He begins to notice lots of dark faces, funny languages and strange smells. The neighborhood starts going to hell with a sharp rise in organized crime, perversity, child nappings devil worship and other neat stuff. Turns out an old rich guy/foreigner is behind it all. So we end up with corpse nappings, corpse weddings, sub-terranean labyriths and all of the usual trappings of a good “swarthy menace” story. This is an immensely entertaining story if you just go and roll with the punches and accept the racism and xenephobia as just part of the insane ride which the story is.

Seriously though, normaly this kind of racism is very distasteful, but in case it is so ridiculous and hysterical it can’t, in my opinion, be taken seriously by a modern reader.

The last story I want to talk about is ...

The Seed from the Sepulchre
“The Seed from the Sepulchre” originally appeared in “Weird Tales” back in 1933.  This is a great way to close off the Anthology. It is short sweet and nasty! It a simple story about two explorers going down the Amazon in a canoe looking for Mayan ruins.  The eventually luck out and find a temple buried under the jungle growth. Of course they break in to explore and plunder. Sadly, as it always in these kinds of stories, the Temple is guarded by a sort of Man eating plant. I wonder if the guy who wrote “The Ruins” ever read this? They barely escape with their lives. This is not the end though. It’s just the beginning. They managed to inhale some of the spores that the plant released when they were battling it. And as we all know, breathing in Spores is not a good thing to do. A won’t give away anymore, except to say that the expression “a bitch of a head ache” gets a new meaning here!

Well, that’s it for this time. I got smart and used “Word” this time for the spell checking. I actually can spell. I just can’t type worth shit or proof read very well.

Take care.

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