The final 4 stories from Nine Horrors and a Dream -
Canavan’s Backyard - probably Brennan's second most famous story (after Slime); has a vaguely Lovecraftian feel about it, as it combines a small-town New England setting, a local legend about a Salem-era witch, and weird geometrical effects occurring in an old book-dealer's back yard. I've read it a couple of times before, but it still works for me. There's a sequel, Canavan Calling (1985), which I haven't read - but I've found an audio recording from an obscure US radio station that I am going to listen to sometime soon.
I’m Murdering Mr. Massington - nonsupernatural story about the lengths a man will go to in order to live on in posterity; ironically, for me this is one of Brennan's least memorable stories.
The Hunt - a man is relentlessly pursued by a strange figure that he first encounters in a deserted train station; even at the end, it's not clear who or what the hunter actually is - and on this occasion, I think the story works all the better for it.
The Mail from Juniper Hill - "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" is supposed to be the creed of the US Postal Service; you can add "Death" to the list of things that won't stop Mr Postie delivering the mail.
Having read the two Dover collections, I think The Shapes of Midnight just has the edge over Nine Horrors and a Dream - though both of them are a bit hit-and-miss. At his best (The Horror at Chilton Castle, The Willow Platform, The Calamander Chest, Canavan’s Backyard) Brennan can certainly deliver pulpy thrills and chills; but he can also sometimes lean more towards folksiness, whimsy, and sentimentality (House of Memory, The House on Hazel Street, The Green Parrot, The Mail from Juniper Hill), which doesn't really work for me.
Certainly, but where has he sought to claim copyright on them?
Presumably he charges money for the use of his supposedly "correct" versions. What other point might there be to this activity?
“I had spent years at Brown University, as an undergraduate and graduate student, in examining Lovecraft’s manuscripts and early printed sources – I discovered that the current Arkham House editions contained thousands of textual and typographical errors. I approached Turner at the World Fantasy Convention in New Haven in 1982, suggesting that a new edition of Lovecraft’s fiction be issued with my corrected texts. It took a full year of negotiation to work out the details of this new edition, as I was concerned that I be properly acknowledged for my years of work.”
Interview with Innsmouth Free Press
Mr Joshi’s corrected and re-edited stories are clearly copyrighted. S.T. actually went back to the original handwritten manuscripts and had to do scholarly research and use his own insight on Lovecraft’s own writing style in order to repair “the damage” done by previous editors including August Derleth. This consisted of new work and thus these re-edited stories are copyrighted by Arkham House and the copyrights are current.
Yes, well... back to Joseph Payne Brennan. I listened to that radio reading of Canavan Calling and it was not very good; I mean mainly the reading, but also (I think) the story itself, which just seemed a pretty pointless exercise really. The narrator of the original story goes back to Canavan's house 25 years later; it's abandoned and overgrown, but he finds a tunnel dug into the cellar that extends out under the back yard. He waits in the dark, and eventually hears something crawling down the tunnel...
Hard to know whether I'd have liked it any more if it had been delivered better - it was literally just a guy reading into a mic live in a radio station. More info about that here, including many links to similar recordings (though, seriously, I wouldn't want it to seem like I was encouraging anyone) - www.sonic.net/~coad/bobbione.html