Lord Mount Prospect

LORD MOUNT PROSPECT by John Betjeman

This must have been a major influence on Aickman. It is a masterpiece of absurdism involving obscure Irish Peers, and a strange religious sect in North London, a rhinoceros, a Gilbert and Sullivan opera and a vision of the ruined Taj Mahal in an Irish bog where Aickman’s propensity — that I recognised earlier in these Fontana reviews – to being gluily stuck in Zeno’s Paradox is rife!
No half measures though (!), as I give you the whole of this story to read here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/lord-mount-prospect-by-john-betjeman/
Sorry if there are any textual glitches. When I got rid of some, others appeared! On and on and on…again and again!

A story included by Aickman in his Fontana Ghosts Book no. 5

My reviews of Aickman Fontana Ghosts: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/04/30/the-fontana-great-ghost-stories-chosen-by-robert-aickman/

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Finding Yourself In The Dark — Steve Duffy

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SAROB PRESS (2021) – my previous reviews HERE

My previous reviews of Steve Duffy —

TRAGIC LIFE STORIES – https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/tragic-life-stories-by-steve-duffy/ (collection)
The Ice Beneath Us – https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2016/09/03/uncertainties-vols-1-2/#comment-8216
The Torturer – https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/never-again/
The Marsh Warden – https://conezero.wordpress.com/228-2/
THE LION’S DEN – https://cernzoo.wordpress.com/52-2/
THE PSYCHOMANTEUM: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2020/07/24/crooked-houses/#comment-19567

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

Uncertainties V

SWAN RIVER PRESS MMXXI (my previous reviews HERE)

Edited by Brian J. Showers

Work by Eóin Murphy, Ramsey Campbell, Sean Hogan, Jason E. Rolfe, Alan Moore, Aislínn Clarke, Inna Effress, Deirdre Sullivan, Simon Strantzas, Nina Antonia, John Langan, Carly Holmes.

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

The 7th Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories, edited by Robert Aickman

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My previous reviews of these Fontana Great Ghosts by Robert Aickman linked here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/04/30/the-fontana-great-ghost-stories-chosen-by-robert-aickman/

My previous reviews regarding this book’s editor: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/robert-aickman/

My previous reviews of older or classic books: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/reviews-of-older-books/

WHEN I READ THE STORIES IN THE 7th BOOK, MY REVIEW WILL APPEAR IN THE COMMENT STREAM BELOW.

The 5th Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories, edited by Robert Aickman

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My previous reviews of these Fontana Great Ghosts by Robert Aickman linked here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/04/30/the-fontana-great-ghost-stories-chosen-by-robert-aickman/

My previous reviews regarding this book’s editor: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/robert-aickman/

My previous reviews of older or classic books: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/reviews-of-older-books/

WHEN I READ THE STORIES IN THE 5th BOOK, MY REVIEW WILL APPEAR IN THE COMMENT STREAM BELOW.

The Visiting Star, © Robert Aickman 1966


THE VISITING STAR by Robert Aickman

“She nodded. ‘Will you take me down a mine?’”

Incredibly, I cannot remember reading this story before, although I surely must have done! It is, equally surely, his masterpiece. The Reggie Oliver-like theatrical story, here, of course, pre-apotheosised by Aickman, taking place in a town of coal mining, where, despite this, the young narrator is studying outdated lead and plumbago mining and I learned more about this activity than I would ever have wished! As well as theatrical — and here there is a wonderful character of a local theatre to die for and its manager and its faulty scenery ‘grid’ and its old timer of an actor called Ludlow also to die for — there is the Aickman classic ambiance of a lodging-house where dinner one night is luncheon meat and chips … and two people sitting in a bar munch interminably on mounds of margarine and bread, without talking to each other, as if in the midst of an argument. Above all, the trans- (Cf trains) triangulation of the actress Arabella Rokeby and the evasive Mr Superbus with his inscrutable luggage and the wan and frail Myrrha is a characterisation that outdoes all else in literature, I suspect. The implications of the story’s denouement in the light of this very triangulation are insidious and manifold and lasting. They will, in fact, enduringly last for any stretches of Null Immortalis that happen to ensue after reading this cracker of an Aickman, I promise you. And the intermissionary visit by the narrator with Arabella (carrying a single flashlight between them) into a lead/plumbago mine is absolutely ace. I can’t help noticing, too, that Aickman seems to have included, for its first publication, this story in this his own edited Fontana Ghosts anthology and he even labels it with a special ‘© 1966 Robert Aickman’ on the story’s title page as if to mark it proudly as ‘mine’!

“Then that will look after you. Where’s the mine? Conduct me.”

Full context of the above: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/05/28/the-3rd-fontana-book-of-great-ghost-stories-edited-by-robert-aickman/#comment-22007

The Man Who Came Back

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THE MAN WHO CAME BACK by William Gerhardi

I could not resist reproducing the whole of this short marvellous portrait HERE of an old man. It is substantially about me and my pretentious readerly and reviewer-ly essence, and also harkens back to the Immortality as now a perhaps more positive version of the Null Immortalis syndrome in the previous story above.
Beware! I shall be back.
At least, ironically, I still currently have the outlet of my gestalt real-time on-line dissemination and, so, I do not need, like he does, to depend on the odd face-to-face visitor or quilled interloper to my home in order to soak up my preternatural wisdoms! His white villa miles by sea from Toulon was the equivalent to his Covid lockdown or Lady Eleanor Smith’s island?

Full context of the above here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/05/28/the-3rd-fontana-book-of-great-ghost-stories-edited-by-robert-aickman/

The Fool-Killer

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THE FOOL-KILLER by O. Henry

“I sipped my absinthe drip and sawed wormwood.”

I am an author of fiction and I eventually made friends with the artist who clumsily misrepresented by illustration my printed fiction when published. I ever delighted in calling this artist friend a ‘fool’ to his face — and, enhancing my fiction with alcoholic drinks, as I often did, I included in this story reference to an absinthe drip when we two friends were meeting for a meal.
I shall never forget, though, this story’s character of the Fool-Killer who, with various pseudonyms, haunts us all. Here, though, the surprise I felt at the revealed identity of the Fool-Killer in this particular scenario actually transcended fiction itself! And that was nothing to do with the absinthe drip, I assure you. [Unsure, in O Henry’s day, whether ‘drip’ and ‘fool’ were synonymous!]

My continuing reviews of O. Henry: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2020/02/17/o-henry-stories/