A Truant Disposition

"I must be idle."

Things That Go Bump In The Bright August Light

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Aug• 01•12

After a couple of heavy blog posts, it’s time for something light. Or dark. Depending on how you look at it. Today is M. R. James’ birthday and H. P. Lovecraft’s birthday is August 20th. (James 1862, Lovecraft 1890)

M. R. James is best known as the author of classic ghost stories. If you’ve read any anthology of classic ghost stories, you’ve undoubtedly read him. He wrote a certain type of story and many a modern story owes him a debt of thrills and chills. All his stories are in the public domain now so you can get them from Project Gutenberg (Ghost Stories of an Antiquary is listed three times: one is the first book, one is the second volume, and the third link is audiobooks. His third volume of ghost stories is A Thin Ghost, but for some unknown reason A Warning To The Curious, his final volume, isn’t available though it should be) or other online sources, but I’d encourage you to go one better if you really like James’s stories, particularly if you’re like me, a fan since childhood. Ash Tree Press has an annotated volume of his collected works, A Pleasing Terror (this link is the description of the physical book which is out of print), which is available as an ebook from their website for Kindle or epub. (This link is to the ebook page where you can order it.) I bought the epub for my Nook using Paypal: the file was emailed to me afterward. The ebook is 946 pages on my ereader. A must-have for James fans as I said in my Goodreads review. But, wait, there’s more! Last fall, two Englishmen began doing a podcast examining the stories of M. R. James beginning with the first story in the first book and working their way through. A Podcast To The Curious is wonderful! I look forward to every episode! There are excerpts in the podcasts, but these aren’t audiobooks: you need to read the story first, but the podcasts are really excellent discussions of the stories and a lot of fun to listen to. (The most recent, in honor of James’s 150 birthday, is an interview with an actor who performs the stories in a one man show, the rest are discussions of the stories.) You can also follow “Will and Mike” on Twitter: @MRJamesPodcast and like the podcast on Facebook. You can subscribe to the feed either by RSS or in iTunes. If you like the stories, you’ll like the podcast…and if you like the podcast you’ll like the massive annotated ebook, A Pleasing Terror. (Really, there’s nothing you won’t like, LOL.) 😆

I mentioned Lovecraft in the opening paragraph. Most of his books are in the public domain. If you’re a fan of his eerie tales of Cthulhu, Innsmouth, and assorted Weirdness, then check out this ebook bundle: The Cthulhu Mythos Megapack. It’s a nearly 900 page anthology which includes classic Lovecraft stories interspersed with new stories written in his style and within the mythos he created. It’s available for Nook and Kindle (I’ve got the Nook version; the Kindle version kind of comes and goes from the Amazon site for unknown reasons.) I thoroughly enjoyed this ebook from beginning to end! Lovecraft’s birthday is the 20th of this month and in honor of that The Drabblecast makes every August “Lovecraft month” in which they feature stories both by Lovecraft and also new stories in the Lovecraft tradition, some commissioned exclusively for the podcast. Lovecraft month kicked off this week with “The Music of Eric Zahn” by Lovecraft himself and there’ll be a new Lovecraftian story each week this month. To listen to offerings from previous Augusts, type “Lovecraft” into the Drabblecast search field. The Drabblecast is one of my favorite fiction podcasts. It’s an all-round good podcast of weird and (sometimes amusing) fiction hosted by Norm Sherman. I look forward to hearing what’s up for the rest of Lovecraft month. 🙂

Ghost stories and weird fiction are great for dark, cold, rainy, days and yet two masters of these genres were born in August, the hottest, driest, brightest month (at least here in the US). Think of this—the stories and podcasts mentioned above—as a preview of what you’ll spring on your friends for All Hallow’s Read in October. It’s a full moon tonight so turn out the lights and grab a flashlight because it is, as Norm Sherman would say, “Story Time”. 🙂


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