“Where the Summer Ends”

The menace is something unique in this week’s weird story being discussed over at LibraryThing.

Review: “Where the Summer Ends”, Karl Edward Wagner, 1980.

The setting is Wagner’s hometown, Knoxville, Tennessee. Wagner gives us the South in its hot, humid summer days. In particular, he vividly and verdantly recreates the portion of town around the local univerisity with its rundown buildings, student apartment made out of converted Victorian and Edwardian, and, particularly the many vacant, kudzu-covered vacant lots around Grand Avenue which have not even been rebuilt after the buildings have disappeared from them.

Protagonist Mercer, part-time art student and part-time construction worker, wants a mahogeny mantle from junk and antiques dealer Gradie. Gradie lives on Grand Avenue, an old time resident after all the other buildings were abandoned. 

In fact, Gradie made money on the decline of the neighborhood. He would make a deal with the city for salvage rights for anything in the abandoned buildings and his partner Morny would do the actual demolition. Often, a fire would mysteriously burn down the structure before its demolition was complete. The city seemed to tacitly go along with this arson by Gradie and Morny. 

Continue reading

“.220 Swift”

Review: “.220 Swift”, Karl Edward Wagner, 1980.b9f74979ed59af559386d615377434f414f4141

Yes, it’s a story named after a rifle cartridge. It’s got guns and a monstrous narrative with literary DNA from Milton and Machen, Lovecraft and Greek myth, and a substantial bit of North Carolina folklore. I did not fact check for the existence of cited works, but the Dark Crusade Podcast has, and they do exist.

Our story starts with Morris Kenlaw, a rather obnoxious archaeologist seeking out, in the mountains of North Carolina, evidence of early Spanish mining. As he wedges his bulk down a hole which local Dell Warner was told by his father might be evidence of old diggings, he’s described in rather bestial terms.

Tagging along and helping Kenlaw with the locals is Eric Brandon, a folklore student collecting materials for his master’s dissertation. He’s also an albino and an orphan. He’s the one carrying the Model 70 Winchester chambered in .220 Swift, at the time the world’s fastest load and ideal for the varmint hunting Brandon likes in his summer stays in the area. Continue reading

The Big Book of Jack the Ripper

No, I’m not a Ripperologist. I do not (often) go to Casebook.org.

But I don’t have to be a Ripperologist to know about Jack the Ripper, and neither do you. Never being caught and writing (maybe) those taunting letters to the police gave him a posthumous infamy not attained by those more vicious.

I’ve rarely gone out of my way to read about the Ripper – no nonfiction beyond some articles, a single novel and some short stories. All those, except for Robert Bloch’s The Night of the Ripper, were encountered by chance.

Ripper movies are another matter, but I don’t do movies at this blog. (For the record, my favorite Ripper films are Time After Time and Jack’s Back.)

So why did I ask Amazon to send me a review copy of an 864 page book on the subject?

Mostly because I didn’t have a copy of Robert Bloch’s “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” in the house, and we were discussing it on the Deep Ones discussion group at LibraryThing. And I am mildly curious about the Ripper.

Review: The Big Book of Jack the Ripper, ed. Otto Penzler, 2016.big-book-of-jack-the-ripper

Yes, it’s a big book, 864 pages, 11 non-fiction pieces and 41 pieces of fiction, and there’s no way I’m going to mention every single entry. (And, while it’s just barely manageable in print form and nicely laid out in double columns, you may want to spare your wrists the effort and go for the kindle edition. There are no illustrations.)

This book should satisfy everyone interested in the Ripper killings. The non-fiction pieces provide the context and introduction to the historical murders. Obsessive collectors on Ripper material will find new Ripper material here. (Though I note only one parenthetical mention of a suspect I find credible, American doctor Francis Tumblety.)

The first 136 pages are taken up with the historical details of the Ripper murders and the wake he left in criminology. Continue reading

It Came From The Drive-In

Another spin off of my weird western series.

Raw Feed (1997): It Came from The Drive-In, eds. Norman Partridge and Martin H. Greenberg, 1996.It Came from the Drive-In

“Introduction”, Norman Partridge — Introduction written around the conceit that the reader is entering a drive-in.

Talkin’ Trailer Trash”, Edward Bryant — A rather pointless story seemingly about America’s changed race relations since the ‘50s with giant chiggers standing in for blacks. I suppose Roger Corman’s occasional use of such metaphors explains the dedication to him.

10585”, Sean A. Moore — Enjoyable story – basically a modern updating of the movie The Blob crossed with zombie movies. I particularly liked the can-do veteran Ted Mack.

Big Bust at Herbert Hoover High”, Jay R. Bonansinga — Enjoyable and absurd story of an adolescent fixated on female breasts and their lingerie accompaniments. Thanks to one of those convenient nuclear accidents at his father’s work, the lad finds himself fused and joined to his girlfriend’s left breast – a fate he comes to gratefully accept. I liked the image of the girl’s left breast supplanting the boy’s head a lá the movie The Fly. I also liked the voice of actor Russ Tamblyn epitomizing cool.

’59 Frankenstein”, Norman Partridge — An amusing modern version of the Frankenstein in which the boy monster, tired of yet another condescending speech by the doctor after the boy asks for the car keys, throws his creator to the alligator in the basement. After striking out in his creation – a car cobbled together from other cars, the monster encounters the previous owner of one of his arms. The man graciously helps the monster after a car accident and then returns to imprison Dr. Frankenstein who has been mangled after the attacks of the monster and alligator and get another arm. Humorous and gruesome with genuine suspense and not just camp or absurd humor. Continue reading