So this week I’m reading The End of the Story, a collection of short works by Clark Ashton Smith, who was a writer in the vein of HP Lovecraft, albeit (so far) a little less eldritch in his abominations.
Most of the stories in the book are quite short and yet, like many other stories from the early part of the 20th century, they each still manage to send me scurrying to the dictionary numerous times to look up words like “thurible” and “quinquereme”. No shortage of five-dollar words here!
“No, as I’ve told you fellows before, I haven’t a red cent’s worth of faith in the supernatural.”
The speaker was Arthur Avilton, whose tales of the ghostly and macabre had often been compared to Poe, Bierce and Machen. He was a master of imaginative horrors, with a command of diabolically convincing details, of monstrous cobweb suggestions, that had often laid a singular spell on the minds of readers who were not ordinarily attracted or impressed by literature of that type. It was his own boast, often made, that all his effects were secured in a purely ratiocinative, even scientific manner, by playing on the element of subconscious dread, the ancestral superstition latent in most human beings; but he claimed that he himself was utterly incredulous of anything occult or phantasmal, and that he had never in his life known the slightest tremor of fear concerning such things.
Golly, Mr. Avilton! I bet you’re going to regret you ever said that by the time we get to the end of this particular story.
Meanwhile, the (possibly) final paper edit of Television Man―a book without too many five-dollar words in it―continues, in those small gaps of time when I’m not entertaining, chasing, or cleaning up after a certain crazy red puppy. Once this round is finished, I’ll be going back into the file to make the updates, and then, perhaps, it will be time to proceed with formatting the book for publication. Or maybe I’ll print it out again and edit it one more time …
Collins shrugged. They stood there looking at each other.
He raised an eyebrow.
“Raise them both all the way to your hairline,” she said. “We’re still not leaving.”