Sonntag, 12. Februar 2012

The Macabre Reader

  The Macabre Reader.
Edited by Donald A. Wollheim.
Ace Books. 1959. 35Cents.

“The Ultimate in Terrifying Tales”
Thomas Lovell Beddoes - "The Phantom-Wooer"
Thorp McClusky - "The Crawling Horror"
Robert Bloch - "The Opener of the Way"
H. P. Lovecraft - "Night-Gaunts"
John Martin Leahy - "In Amundsen's Tent"
H. P. Lovecraft - "The Thing on the Door-step"
Thomas Burke - "The Hollow Man"
Donald Wandrei - "It Will Grow On You"
Clark Ashton Smith - "The Hunters from Beyond"
Zealia Brown Bishop - "The Curse of Yig" (with HPL)
Ray H. Zorn - "The Greegree"
Robert E. Howard - "The Cairn on the Headland"
Henry S. Whitehead - "The Trap"
H. P. Lovecraft - "The Dweller"

This is a nice little collection put out by Ace books back in 1959. I love the cover on this one. Can’t find out who did it though. This was put together by Mr.” DAW Books” himself, Donald A. Wollheim.

This paperback offers a pretty good selection of stories. Several of which have been repeatedly anthologized these past 53 years. All of these stories are either reprints from “Weird Tales” or from WT’s short lived competitor “ Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror ”. Ok, and one from Esquire.

McClusky’s “The Crawling Horror” is a pretty good “blob” story that Brian Lumley did a good take one in “David’s Worm”. At least the endings are pretty much the same.

“It will grow on you”  by Donald Wandrei is a pretty niftly cautionary tale about a very disturbing boil that refuses to be lanced! So don’t go pissing of those South Seas Island girls!

I’m a huge “Henry S. Whitehead“   fan and he’s represented here with “The Trap”. This was co-written by H.P. Lovecraft.  It’s an odd one about a boy at a Boarding School who gets sucked into mirror once owned by an evil sorcerer. It’s up to one of his instructors to mount a rescue.
I think the creepiest thing about this story is how much time the narrator spends with young boys in his quarters during the holiday recess.  This one isn’t nearly as good a many of Whitehead’s Caribbean Voodoo stories though.

“The Thing on the Doorstep” is an excellent “Mythos” story from HPL with some veeeery disturbing sexual connotations. Guy marries a slutty little bohemian black magic dabbling hottie from Innsmouth  who, SPOILER, just happens to just be the vessel for her fathers soul! That must have been a wild wedding night! Phew!

“The Curse of Yig” written by  Zealia Brown Bishop was actually ghosted by HPl. This gives us 1x pure HPl, 1x Co-written HPl and 1x pure HPl! Plus two HPl Poems. I guess Wollheim knew a good thing when he saw it. Any ways “The Curse of Yig” isn’t all that great. Guy gets cursed by Native American snake God. Been there, done that. It’s like they always told us in the Army, “Don’t fuck with the locals”. After a couple of stories in this book I can see how that can be sound advice.

“Clark Ashton Smith” is represented here in “The Hunters from Beyond”. This is doubly odd in that it is set in modern times, which smith didn’t do much of, and it is basically Smith’s version of HPL’s “Pickman’s Model”. It’s one of those “Weird, arrogant, bohemian artist sculpture guy who does sculptures of girls getting abused by other worldly monster thingies and no one has any idea from where he gets his ideas and his best friend finds out much to his chagrin and dismay”. I guess that you know what I mean.

“The Opener of the Way” is a pretty good Robert Bloch story about an ill fated Egyptian Archaeological dig that goes very very wrong. What I found as a real plus in this story is that there is no of the typical humour or pun ending that marked a lot of Mr. Bloch’s later stories.

"The Cairn on the Headland" by Robert E. Howard is on of his Gaelic tales and warns us to let sleeping Gods lie.

Well that’s it for this week. Even though several of these stories have been anthologized over and over, this is still a very entertaining anthology ,that for it’s time, offered the reader a lot of “new” stories and helped to (re)introduce some lesser know writers.

Thanks for stopping by!

Night Gaunts:
Out of what crypt they crawl, I cannot tell,
But every night I see the rubbery things,
Black, horned, and slender, with membranous wings,
They come in legions on the north wind's swell
With obscene clutch that titillates and stings,
Snatching me off on monstrous voyagings
To grey worlds hidden deep in nightmare's well.
Over the jagged peaks of Thok they sweep,
Heedless of all the cries I try to make,
And down the nether pits to that foul
Where the puffed shoggoths splash in doubtful sleep.
But ho! If only they would make some sound,
Or wear a face where faces should be found!
H.P. Lovecraft


  1. Cover artist of The Macabre Reader is EMSH (Ed Emshwiller), his signature is above the screaming man's head.


    1. Thanks! I never noticed that! I have several very old "Andre Norton" paperbacks from ACE Books with "Emshwiller EMSH" covers.

      take care.

  2. Wow! I never even noticed that! THANKS!! I have several very old "Andre Norton" paperbacks from ACE books with "EMSH" covers.

    Take care.