Reading more short fiction allows the easily digestible chunks of fiction to fit neatly into my modern, family-oriented lifestyle. At the end of a day of back-breaking labor spent repairing a crumbling stone wall (and the multiple runs to the hardware store because you always need just two more bags of cement) followed by an evening of dinner prep and board games it’s nice to grab a 20 page story, finish it off, and close your eyes to recharge for another day of the same. It also lets you skip around and read a lot of different authors on consecutive nights.
The downside from a blogging perspective is that you don’t have a whole lot to talk about because you’re only halfway through a number of different books.
For those of you who share the misery of a long commute, here’s a little something to ease the pain. Robert E. Howard, even when he isn’t writing about Conan or Solomon Kane, is one of the best of the best. I’ve been poking around CensorTube for some of his short fiction in audio format, and found this reading of The Fire of Asshurbanipal to be imminently listenable. The fact that this contemporary 1920s/30s tale fits so neatly into the Lovecraft universe makes a strong case for playing Call of Cthulhu in the pulp era. Also listen for the strongly sympathetic characterization of the Afghan tribesman – it’s the sort of writing we are constantly told was invented in 2012 by the SFWA “in-crowd” by that very crowd and their media sycophants.
Here’s another great one by the old master. Two men enter a room with a corpse, and four men leave. Sort of. Things get confusing toward the end of this suspense tale, but in a way that heightens the sense of unreality and doom. This story is another masterclass in horror fiction that doesn’t get enough attention.