Hallowe’en on the Town with John Hewitt but Far from Home

Generally I would be at home celebrating tonight with a not-terribly-thought-out costume,  a smoking bowl of dark-and-stormy, and a few  old friends. But instead I’m braving the night, the weather, and the Fæ by bumming around London — a city that long ago forgot about Hallowe’en — by myself.

The odds are against me bumping into any of you readers whilst I’m on the town (and also against us recognizing each other if we did).  So, instead of offering you a bowl of anything, I’ll leave this old poem of John Hewitt’s here.

At least it’s not a bad night for coming and going, and maybe we’ll all end up wandering into the places where we ought to be.

 

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Hallowe’en: Plugging the old Chapbook

If anyone is interested in reading something this Hallowe’en, my book Priceless Treasures and Ghastly is still available from the Oldstyle Tales Press. It’s a perfect book for sitting by the fire waiting for kids to stop by trick-or-treating, and short enough to read in one night.

And, if you order it now, it will arrive just before the fæ.

YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED UNTIL AFTER YOU’VE READ THIS

I have never sent out Christmas Cards and I likely never will.  It’s not that I don’t want to. Its that I have nothing to put in them.  If only I just got married like everybody keeps telling me to I’d have the cheery little faces of my progeny to put on there, but that seems like a big expense, and an even bigger hassle, for these purposes.

 

So last year, I decided to write a Christmas story and send it out to cheer people and remind them that I am doing something with my life.  Robert Frost, my country’s great poet, did this, so I figured I should too. I wrote the story. Something went awry and it is now slated for release in a horror anthology.

 

So this year I decided to play to my strengths and write a Hallowe’en story.  Nobody else sends out Hallowe’en cards, so I would be ahead of them on that.   I am a lot less busy at Hallowe’en so it should come out much better.  I wrote the story and realized that it was a little too horrific to send to my family, my friends, or to be handled by US postal clerks.

There is no need to check your mail.  You won’t be getting anything from me this year, and that is probably for the best.

 

One-Hundred-and-One Reasons to Half-Ass Your Hallowe’en Costume

A helpful guide, although slightly less helpful than ’50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.’

I happen to love my family, which places me in a rather small minority of Americans, so I don’t dread the holiday season, but I do find it stressful and expensive.

There is a strong neurotic strain in the American mind that always wants to put on a show of how much fun is being had, even if the show of fun detracts from the experience of it.  Discovering new enjoyable things isn’t any help, because after a while they will end up part of the show.

It is no secret that I am fond of one particular holiday: I wrote the book on it. And so,  I say let’s take  a stand on Hallowe’en and scale it back. Let’s keep it fun. Let’s half-ass our costumes.  Let’s throw the party on the cheap.  It is a day of masks so why be competitive and exhibitionistic?

Everything in life cannot be one crazed rush to show off.  Anyone worthy of being impressed won’t be, and you, Gentle Reader, will chase the enjoyment of life off into the dark October night.

Corextions…um…corrections

The first run of my book, Priceless Treasures and Ghastly, had a few noticeable errors, particularly in ‘Snakes and Cigarettes,’ and ‘Being for the Benefit of Mister Essex-Bathwater.’ They are all things that I did notice before it went to press, but somehow didn’t fixed.  I blame it on my nerves.

The plates have been broken and reset (or whatever it is that they do these days), and the corrected copies are available in plenty of time for the ghoul-tide revels.

AGAINST DRABBLES

NOTE: This is an unrevised entry from my old blog from August 5th, 2016

I don’t usually write gratis (out of principle this is one of my jobs) and I don’t usually write fast enough for commission, but I made an exception this week. I saw an open call for ‘drabbles,’  which are little hundred-word stories.  Collections of them are surprisingly common, this particular one had a Hallowe’en theme. So I gave it a try. It seemed like a challenge. It took nine seconds to write and another eleven to edit.  My home internet connection is a little slow so it took about fifteen seconds to send the submission by email.

I like the little story that I came up with, but I am not fond of the form. When laid out in textbooks the drabble looks as weird and arbitrary as the sonnet. But it isn’t — because the sonnet is not a set of arbitrary rules — poetic forms are made for the ear (and that mid-century America Literary critics couldn’t hear shows no problem with the sonnet, or any other form, but a problem with tin-eared critics).

Waltzes have value because when we hear them we have a background in waltzes, we know the dance.

The same is true with poetic forms. The cultural baggage is an aspect of the aesthetics and the meaning.  Whoever is experiencing the art provides  part of the meaning by knowing other things in the form. No one (or no one In-the-Know at least) has to count the beats to know the waltz, and no one has to count the lines to know the sonnet. They are just part of the world we live in.

The drabble, however, is just an arbitrary bit, it doesn’t have any distinction resulting from rhythm or repetition.  So a reader wouldn’t know what it is without counting the words, and there isn’t any reason  why a story with 100 words would differ in anyway from a story with 102.

Art has to have restraint, but the restraint has to have meaning for the both the one who experiences and the one who creates.  Which is to say you ought to know that you are reading a drabble, while you read the drabble, but there is nothing inherent in the drabble that would let you know this.

*****

 

Perhaps I shouldn’t be too hard on the drabble. I like what I wrote. I have read some by others that I liked. Maybe the discipline of word-counting is good practice.  And, if one is reading a book of drabbles, one is likely to acquire a drabblish sensibility.  The form does have a meaning in the context of an anthology, if not on its own.

And, reservations aside, I do look forward to seeing the other pieces by the other contributors, when the book is published.  And when it is I’ll post a link so that you may judge for yourself.

Priceless Treasures and Ghastly

My new book of Hallowe’en stories  is back from the printer earlier than expected. If you want to get a jump on the horrific and the fantastic before the holiday,  this is your chance.

It is a short lavishly illustrated collection of tales of horror, the uncanny, and Putin.