Groff Conklin (ed) - The Graveyard Reader (Ballantine, 1958)
Stories to chill the blood and set the nerve-ends screaming
Introduction - Groff Conklin
Ray Bradbury - The Screaming Woman Ambrose Bierce - A Bottomless Grave Richard Hughes - The Cart Henry Kuttner - The Graveyard Rats Roald Dahl - Skin Mary Elizabeth Counselman - Night Court Charles Beaumont - Free Dirt Wallace West - Listen Children, Listen John Collier - Special Delivery Fitz-James O'Brien - The Child That Loved A Grave H. P. Lovecraft - The Outsider Theodore Sturgeon - The Graveyard Reader
From the introduction: "Richard Powers once expressed a wish to paint a really horrifying cover. The result produced this title, THE GRAVEYARD READER, and inspired Groff Conklin, noted anthologist, to unearth (no pun intended) some of the most frightful, and frightening, stories ever to be put together in one volume."
Forget the latter claim - some of these stories are a bit wet to be truthful, but it's the mention of Richard Powers I find interesting. It was his artwork and the neat slim-line presentation of the books that got me into the Ballantine Chamber of Horror series. Also, they usually have groovy ads for current books in the series printed on the back replete with all-important illustrations.
I know nothing of Richard Powers beyond his work, and i'm not even sure how many books there were in the series. This is as far as I've got with the short story collections and then there were novels like Theodore Sturgeon's enduring human vampire classic, Some Of Your Blood, etc. If anyone can flesh it out ...
Groff Conklin (ed) - The Graveyard Reader (Ballantine, 1958) Basil Davenport (ed) - Deals With The Devil (Ballantine, 1959) Basil Davenport (ed) - Invisible Men (Ballantine, 1960) Basil Davenport (ed.) - Tales To Be Told In The Dark (Ballantine, 1960) Zacherley (ed) - Midnight Snacks (Ballantine, March 1960) Zacherley (ed.) - Vulture Stew (Ballantine, Aug, 1960: Feb, 1962) Whit & Hallie Burnett (eds.) - Things With Claws (Ballantine, 1961) Michael & Don Congdon (eds.) - Alone By Night (Ballantine, 1961) Don Congdon (ed.) - Tales Of Love And Horror (Ballantine, 1961) Charles Beaumont (ed.) - The Fiend In You (Ballantine, 1962) Calvin Beck (ed.) - The Frankenstein Reader (Ballantine, 1962)
Single Author Collections
August Derleth - Not Long For This World (Ballantine undated, originally Arkham House, 1948) H. P. Lovecraft & August Derleth - The Survivor & Others (Ballantine undated, originally Arkham House, 1957) Joseph Payne Brennan - Nine Horrors & A Dream (Ballantine undated, originally 1958) John Keir Cross - The Other Passenger (Ballantine, 1961, originally 1946) H. R. Wakefield - The Clock Strikes Twelve (Ballantine, 1961) Fritz Leiber - Night’s Black Agents (Ballantine, June 1961) Ray Russell - Sardonicus And Other Stories (Ballantine, 1961) Sarban - Ringstones & Other Curious Tales (Ballantine, 1961, originally Peter Davies Ltd, 1951) Fritz Leiber - Shadows With Eyes (Ballantine, 1962)
Back to The Graveyard Reader. We've met many of these before and, with few exceptions, they stand up far better than the folksy and whimsical tales it isn't even funny.
Henry Kuttner - The Graveyard Rats: Salem. old Masson, the cemetery caretaker, supplements his income by robbing the dead of their gold teeth and jewellery. Comes the rainy night when he digs up a grave to find the rats have gnawed a hole in it and dragged the corpse off along one of they innumerable tunnels. He crawls in after them ..
An incredibly busy plot - Kuttner even drags an animated, festering corpse into the proceedings - in it's day this was probably as ghastly a full-on horror story as had ever been written.
Charles Beaumont - Free Dirt: Mr. Aorta, petty thief, swindler, sponger and glutton, grows his crops in soil removed from the local cemetery. A plant in the shape of a human hand sees to it that he receives supernatural comeuppance. His body is found, bloated and hideous, stuffed to the gills with the contaminated earth.
Mary Elizabeth Counselman - Night Court: Bob has just escaped a ten year jail sentence after running over a black while driving well over the speed limit. His father and uncle are friends of the Judge so, for the second time, Bob is treated with outrageous leniency. Now, roaring along the highway on his way to his girlfriend, Mary's place, he collides with a little girl and this time a traffic cop (whose neck appears to be broken) hauls him off to the Night Court where the wretched road-hog is tried by a jury made up to resemble road accident victims. Among these 'mummies', a Judge with a hideously bashed in skull while some have "faces mashed and cut beyond the semblance of a face". The ghosts find him guilty but give him yet another chance as the girl he killed has yet to be born. Unless he changes his ways, he's doomed to kill his own daughter.
If we forgive the unwelcome 'and the moral is ... ' ending, this is a cracking spook story.
John Collier - Special Delivery: The story of Albert, who is besotted by a shop dummy called Eva. He writes to an agony columnist, 'Big Brother', about his problem but receives no useful advice, so he abducts her and the pair go on the run. They're sheltered by a kind hearted - if hideously deformed - artist who confides to Albert that yes, he is mad, but no harm will come to the pair in his house. Albert's paranoia gets the better of him and he makes off into the woods with Eva (who's developed the powers of speech). Eva 'dies' and Albert, listening desperately for her heartbeat, is set upon by two thugs who, not realising she's a dummy, want to ravish her. In the ensuing scuffle, Albert is killed and the couple are thrown into the chalk pit.
I've not done it justice, but you'll have to take my word for it that it's a great horror story, especially if you like 'em pretty grim.
Wallace West - Listen Children, Listen: A gentle magic mirror story. Ma walks through the glass to join her farmer husband in death. A search is instigated but her body is never found. Narrated by one of her children.
Richard Hughes - The Cart: Ursula is convinced that her dream of a mole is somehow a premonition of her father's impending death. Running to the doctor on behalf of her hypochondriac mother, she leaps aboard a cart carrying sheep's carcasses. Without doubt i'm missing something but am in no rush to reread this to find out what.
Fitz-James O'Brien - The Child That Loved A Grave: Sad fable of lonely, neglected little boy who lovingly tends a grave. When the body (that of a Prince) is exhumed, he dies of a broken heart. The grave he looked after so will be his own. This is all very well, but I wouldn't have included any of these three in a Horror! anthology.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty. - Christine Campbell Thomson
This is as far as I've got with the short story collections... If anyone can flesh it out
How about this one?
On An Odd Note - Gerald Kersh, Ballantine, 1958 Cover art: Richard Powers
"...Sometimes funny, sometimes nightmarish, always first-class entertainment."
The Beggar's Stone The Brighton Monster The Crewel Needle The Extraordinarily Horrible Dummy The Eye Fantasy Of A Hunted Man Frozen Beauty The Gentleman All In Black Prophet Without Honor The Queen Of Pig Island Reflections In A Tablespoon Seed Of Destruction The Sympathetic Souse