Settling through

I had a couple of ill-advised over-enthusiastic book purchases this year, and my number of owned-but-utterly-unread books is edging uncomfortably close to triple-digits.  (In fact, I think it might be over triple digits, but I am not checking at the moment; the list of eighty-six is quite unnerving enough without entering the books from one particular bookcase.)

(The list was actually at eighty-nine as of April 30.)

In light of this, I’m making a serious effort to read what I own.  I liked them enough to buy them, and as flip as I may occasionally be about this, that’s not a casual thing.  And an untouched book strikes me as a horribly sad thing.

I just finished Terry Lamsley’s Conference with the Dead yesterday. I discovered I’d read a couple of them before–this isn’t atypical, I’ve read horror anthologies and magazines for a couple of decades, and it’s actually getting a bit hard for me to find an anthology or collection that doesn’t have something I’ve read before. Still, it was long enough ago that I decided it was worth a reread.

His writing seems quite plain–not in a bad way, but plain in the way M.R. James is quiet. The later stories in the book are slightly weirder; there’s the same calm explanation as always, it’s just relating how reality is doing a quiet little fever-dream melt and slip. They never quite end up portraying the misunderstandings of a character as reality, though–it’s something I associate very much with Ramsey Campbell, and with him writing the introduction, I was a bit anxious about the possibility.

Overall, a very good read.

(Please understand; I like Campbell’s writing, but I’d settled into the quiet ghost story mood of he collection, and I don’t think the style would have fit.)

5 thoughts on “Settling through”

  1. I used to love horror and ghost stories, especially M.R. James. Now they terrify me to death. Have you read Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw?

    1. I have! 🙂 Also Machen’s “The White People”, which is a bit less subtle but still beautifully done.

      Can I ask what prompted the change? /curious

    2. Hmh, weird. (Sorry, I didn’t have the option to reply to your lowest comment…) I remember I had trouble with stright-up horror for a while after I got married, but that tapered off. Maybe it’ll clear up?

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