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Adalbert is a forum for me, to post ephemera, photography, poetry, occasional travel notes, and various spontaneous motions. Cover photo: Parsonage where my great-grandfather spent his early years. Taken near Liegnitz, Silesia, ca. 1870.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Kirby McCauley's Night Chills



 
 

 



 
 
A recent re-read was Night Chills (1975), edited by Kirby McCauley, with a menacing cover painting of a guy with three pupilless eyes, a turban, and skin problems, emerging from mist. The horror anthology is a solid sampler of different horror authors. I bought this copy around 1980 at a little used bookstore which was only in business for a few years, in a house a block or two east, I believe, of the location of the two "panorama" photos I took on Pioneer Boulevard in Sandy, Oregon a few years ago. The schoolhouse building was also at one time a laundromat operated by my family from around 1969 to 1981.

Many anthologies from this period include a Derleth/Lovecraft "posthumous collaboration," and Night Chills includes one, Innsmouth Clay, an account of a sculptor, Jeffrey Corey, who has a dash of Marsh blood, and who goes native after moving to the Innsmouth area. I liked it when I first read it, but am not so taken with it now.  As with any of these "collaborations," the level of writing is mediocre. There's a mashup of elements from The Shadow over Innsmouth, with a racy scene as well, and the usual amped up "rustic" eye dialect, but nothing like the symbolism and ecstatically alienated prose in Lovecraft's original work.

Two authors represented in this collection who use Lovecraft for inspiration, but who also use their own powerful voices and imaginations, are Richard L. Tierney in From Beyond the Stars and Karl Edward Wagner in Sticks. I just had the vaguest memory of Sticks from having read it over thirty years ago, but it's a well- constructed story of cosmic witchcraft and necromancy. Wagner showed artistic restraint, making the protagonist, Colin Leverett, a World War II veteran, working this element into the story in an admirably subtle way. Robert E. Howard's The People of the Black Coast is a poetic story of doom and revenge set on an imaginary Pacific Island (which region would become the setting for a different type of horror the decade after the tale was written).  Carl Jacobi's The Face in the Wind is florid and clumsy, but there are many excellent stories in Night Chills, with work by Ramsey Campbell, Dennis Etchison, Ray Bradbury, Walter De la Mare, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, Manly Wade Wellman (whose Goodman's Place is a great example of his Appalachian horror, written with Socratic irony) and others.

2 comments:

  1. The only name (besides Bradbury) I recognize is Fritz Lieber, he also wrote SF stories. I didn't notice the third eye of the man with the skin problems until you mentioned it.

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  2. I picked up Conjure Wife by Leiber recently which I hope to read soon. Yes, you're right, he wrote SF and other types of fiction. Robert E. Howard and Lovecraft are worth a look.

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