At long last, the calendar has flipped to the most important time of year in the Macabre Republic: the High Holiday season, in the merry month of mayhem. These thirty-one days always seem to fly by faster than a witch late to a sabbath, so I encourage you to start celebrating early. Here’s hoping that your October is stocked with autumnal treats and attractive haunts, and that your Halloween proves a harvest of horror.
Speaking for myself, I am to be in the spirit all month long here on this blog. There will be plenty of Halloween-related posts to follow. Thanks to the recent release of the second cinematic chapter, this isn’t just the season of the witch but also the season of IT. I accordingly have a lot of items planned relating to Stephen King’s epic novel that should float the boat of Constant Readers.
First, for all those who can’t get their fill of fall, here’s a poem to kick off the season. It is from my collection Autumn Lauds (for a closer look inside this book, click the designated heading in the menu above).
Perfectly perfumery bottle, eau de orchard
Fairy horse of sweet tricolor bicuspids
Flaming aromatic–earthy wood, sere leaves
Limited time: we all bound to IHOP
Decorative hay bales
Squarely redolent of rural remotes
Dessert worthy of the Van Tassel banquet table
Not just of mists and mellow fruitfulness
(as Keats asserted)
But a season of scents and tastes to savor
I’m excited to report that I have received my contributor copies for Flame Tree Press’s new anthology American Gothic Short Stories, which contains my story “Gothic American.” The anthology features fourteen original tales and a slew of classic reprints. These latter are what make this writing credit my proudest one to date. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would see my name listed on the same Table of Contents page with so many of my literary idols–preeminent American Gothic authors such as Charles Brockden Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Flannery O’Connor, and Shirley Jackson.
“Gothic American” is one of my favorite pieces that I have written, largely because it deals with my favorite work of art: Grant Wood’s American Gothic. The house that inspired Wood and formed the backdrop for the now-iconic couple in the 1930 painting still stands in Eldon, Iowa, and has become an offbeat sort of tourist attraction (with visitors inevitably recreating the scene from the painting as they pose for photos). My story casts a darker shadow over such lighthearted mimicry. It also speculates: what if the American Gothic House (as this historic landmark is now called) actually was an American Gothic house?
The story went through countless drafts (and accumulated its fair share of rejections) over the years before I felt I finally got it right. I wanted “Gothic American” to allow multiple interpretations by readers, and believe the version published in American Gothic Short Stories has achieved the correct level of ambiguity (apropos of Wood’s vaguely-unsettling painting, whose meaning is so hard to pin down). I also believe the story has found the perfect home in Flame Tree Press’s anthology, and am thrilled to see it published there.
As I mentioned in a post last week, Flame Tree Press is releasing a new anthology titled American Gothic Short Stories, which includes the first publication of my story “Gothic American.” To celebrate the release of the anthology, Flame Tree has put another Author Q&A post up on its Fantasy and Gothic blog. One of the prompts this time around is: “What are your favorite stories from this genre?” Click on over to find out my choices, along with those by writers such as Lucy A. Snyder and Ramsey Campbell.
Flame Tree Press is set to publish its latest anthology, American Gothic Short Stories, which includes a new tale by me titled “Gothic American.” In conjunction with the book’s release, Flame Tree has asked the contributors to discuss the genesis of their story idea. My response, along with 18 others, has been posted on Flame Tree’s Fantasy & Gothic blog. So head that way to find my verbal signpost pointing to one of the greatest landmarks of our Macabre Republic:
October–what better time to receive cold greetings from the necropolis?
The last eight epitaphs have been added to the Grave Marker Macabre page above, completing the project that has been ongoing for the past year. I leave you here on 10/10 with a list of my top 100 boneyard bon mots…
More wit and wisdom unearthed: another eight epitaphs have been posted to the Grave Marker Macabre page above.
Venture back in October for the final octet from the dead set…
After receiving over 7000 reader nominations, NPR has published its list of 100 Favorite Horror Stories. The choices (novels, individual stories, and anthologies) have been grouped into ten categories–Blood Roots: Foundational Horror; Zombies and Vampires and Werewolves: Oh My; The Fear in Our Stars: Cosmic Horror and Weird Fiction; Horrible Houses: Ghosts and Hauntings; Final Girls: Horror By and About Woman; Horribly Ever After: Fantasy and Fairy Tale Horror; Hell is Other People: Real World Horrors; Short and Sharp: Story anthologies; The Kids Aren’t All Right: Creepy Kids; and Scar Your Children: Horror for Beginners. The judges (Stephen Graham Jones, Ruthanna Emrys, Tananarive Due, and Grady Hendrix) wax a tad political in their selections/commentary–(modern revisions of) Lovecraft’s racism seems to be a recurrent theme–but overall the accompanying summaries to each text are quite enjoyable to read. So whether you are looking to revisit a classic or to discover lesser-known scare fare, you can now be guided by an ultimate syllabus of horror. Quot libros, quam breve tempus, as some guy named Stephen King likes to say.
And eight more makes eighty-four: the latest batch of black-humored epitaphs have been added to the Grave Marker Macabre page above. Come check out the wit and wisdom of the checked out…
Another ten epitaphs have been added to the Grave Marker Macabre page above, bringing the grand total (here on 7/6) to 76. The plan is to post 100 total, so hopefully the dead keep passing on their wit and wisdom to me!
Another half-dozen epitaphs have been posted to the Grave Marker Macabre page above (which, here on June 6th, coincidentally brings the total to 66).