the horrors ofEverybody would agree that the man was, how shall I put it, not all there. What I feel needs to be told is that his work is of very uneven quality. Most people have read his stories The Pit and the Pendulum, The Cask of Amontillado, The Fall of the House of Usher. They're really fine. Other works of his are downright bad. There's a story set in Rotterdam, Holland, which is really the Bottom of the Cask. Forced humor all over, and those weird Dutchmen he describes defy description. Then there's Arthur Gordon Pym, where he imagines the hold of a ship as some sort of warehouse, with stacks of goods and a lot of room to move about around them. Really, I want people to get these things right. It's disturbing to me, like putting in a DC-3 and calling it a helicopter. Not to mention more stupid conventions.
Algernon Blackwood - Robert Bloch - H.P. Lovecraft - Edgar Allan Poe - Bram Stoker
Edgar Allan Poe
An enjoyable story is The Gold Bug, about a treasure hunt. But it's full of not-so-smart inconsistencies. To give but one example, a clue on the map they have is to drop a plummet through the left eye of a skull nailed on a tree branch. Poe makes much ado about the fact that they start digging and don't find it—the comically-stupidniggerselected the wrong eye when up in the tree. Poe never seems to have realized that in two centuries the tree must have grown appreciably more than the 5-10cms distance between two eyes. It doesn't really spoil the story, which is fine. Still, Treasure Island, it ain't.
Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe
To be sure, not everybody's cup of tea. But I like him. He set up a mythology that holds together, with a weird logic of its own.
If you don't go with it, you may feel that he's so far out, it's downright ridiculous. Yours is the loss.
After his death, other writers went on developing his mythological ecology. Small wonder they're not always that fine.
It's a cult! Try him sometime, regardless.
Tales of the Cthulhu MythosThe man who wrote the book(s) for the movie(s) Psycho.
I don't really need to say more, except that he did write other stuff that's quite as good. Like Firebug and The Couch. A bit too Freudian, possibly. So read it with a bulge in your cheek, just like he wrote it.
Then, he was one of those going on with the Cthulhu Myths where H.P. Lovecraft left off.
It's my contention that a good horror writer has a strong sense of humor. How else can he avoid bursting out with laughter while writing that nonsense? Robert Bloch proves so with the Lefty Feepstories. It takes a special frame of mind to enjoy those, but why not try? You can download many here, free.
This guy is good. No cheap thrills, here. Most of the time, nothing really happens; it only threatens to happen. Not very well known outside a small but dedicated clan of admirers.
Start out with The Willows , really creepy with nothing at all actually happening, and take it from there.
The man who wrote Dracula. Which remains his best book, at least, from those I've read. Stoker was an interesting man. He was the business manager of a very famous actor who ran his own theater. As he was no actor himself (it's a well-documented fact they tend to be jealous of each other's successes) this worked out fine, for a change. If you have never read Dracula , do yourself a favor and enjoy this classic ASAP. No matter if it's as Victorian as Jules Verne's beard—that happens to be exactly why it works
A rather unknown work by Jules Verne, Carpathian Castle, is set in exactly the same part of Transsylvania, the Carpathian Mountains, as Dracula. But in Verne, you can find the precise location on the map, which Stoker avoided giving. I really ought to go out there one of these years and have a look at the landscape. Should be worth it.
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