Friday, November 2, 2012

GHOSTS AND THINGS, edited by Hal Cantor (Berkley, 1962); Harold Q. Masur, editor: ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS: STORIES TO BE READ WITH THE DOOR LOCKED (Random House, 1975)












1st printing, 1962; Berkley #F666 (coincidence?). 
Contents:
"The Lovely House" by Shirley Jackson

This, with its Richard Powers cover painting (the greenish version of the presentation was less common than the more violet, though not rare; mine is a copy of the violet), was the first anthology of horror fiction aimed at adults (and adventurous young readers) I purchased, when I was eight, and was thus introduced to Henry James, Algernon Blackwood, Richard Middleton, Oliver Onions, Andre Maurois, and Shirley Jackson...it was Bierce and Saki and probably Benson (though this might've been my introduction to his work, as well) that sold me on it, and I was not disappointed...I thought James took his time in telling his story, but that was fine, and "Running Wolf" among the stories by writers new to me really actually raised the hairs on the back of my neck, particularly in the middle passage of the story (something I was unused to at the time, since most horror fiction I'd read to that point built blatantly or slyly toward a frisson at the end), and in an anticipation of my current state of incipient Alzheimer's I've usually managed to forget Blackwood's title when trying to recall this story, and assumed incorrectly that I was thinking of "The Willows"...Cantor, a staff editor at Berkley at time of publication, is barely credited with this selection, in small type on the copyrights page, and its notable that he did select not quite the most obvious chestnuts from the writers in question, for the most part, but instead the next or one of the several next stories that one might read or certainly be amenable to reading after "The Lottery" or "Gabriel-Ernest" (or "The Interlopers" among so many) or "The Middle Toe of the Right Foot" (among so many) or "The Wendigo" (among...) or "The Beckoning Fair One" or "The Turn of the Screw"...which is probably why this modest, well-turned book sold so steadily that Berkley kept it in print for at least fifteen years and I'm not sure how many reprintings. It was hard to miss, for a while, and I'm eminently glad I didn't miss it. 


[As I noted in May 2008, but went little farther:]

This certainly wasn't the first "Hitchcock" anthology that I read, but it is the first that I owned a personal copy of, a Doubleday Book Club edition. How could any young reader (I was 10 at the time) manage to not have their doors blown off by a selection such as this:

First edition:
Random House, 1975, USA.
Contains:
"Royal Jelly" by Roald Dahl
"Hijack" by Robert L. Fish
"Tomorrow and Tomorrow" by Adobe James
"Funeral in Another Town" by Jerry Jacobson
"A Case for Quiet" by William Jeffrey (Bill Pronzini and Jeffrey Wallman)
"A Good Head for Murder" by Charles W. Runyon
"The Invisible Cat" by Betty Ren Wright
"Light Verse" by Issac Asimov
"The Distributor" by Richard Matheson
"How Henry J. Littlefinger Licked the Hippies' Scheme to Take Over the Country by Tossing Pot in Postage Stamp Glue" by John Keefauver
"The Leak" by Jacques Futrelle
"All the Sounds of Fear" by Harlan Ellison
"Little Foxes Sleep Warm" by Waldo Carlton Wright
"The Graft is Green" by Harold Q. Masur
"View by Moonlight" by Pat McGerr
"There Hangs Death!" by John D MacDonald
"Lincoln's Doctor's Son's Dog" by Warner Law
"Coyote Street" by Gary Brandner
"Zombique" by Joseph Payne Brennan
"The Pattern" by Bill Pronzini
"Pipe Dream" by Alan Dean Foster
"Shottle Bop" by Theodore Sturgeon
"The Magnum" by Jack Ritchie
"Voices in the Dust" by Gerald Kersh
"The Odor of Melting" by Edward D. Hoch
"The Sound of Murder" by William P. McGivern
"The Income Tax Mystery" by Michael Gilbert
"Watch for It" by Joseph N. (aka Joe) Gores
"The Affair of the Twisted Scarf" by Rex Stout

The eclecticism which Robert Arthur particularly had brought to his volumes of the "Hitchcock" anthologies he edited, both in the young readers' line for Viking and the adult-oriented series for Random House (which were paperbacked by Dell, who split the RH compliations into two volumes for their purposes, while Dell also published the "best-of" volumes from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in the same years, inspiring much confusion which others and I have addressed repeatedly on this blog and many other places) was ably continued by Masur, after Arthur's death...and Masur even added a few recurring contributors, such as gallows humorist John Keefauver and "Adobe James" with his slightly perfervid men's-magazine tales, to the band of Arthur's recurring favorites (Gerald Kersh, Rex Stout, and other worthies). This volume, I see in retrospect, is slimmer on women's contributions than at least some of Arthur's, but it does include at least three stories which genuinely stuck with me and really shook me up at the time, in the Sturgeon (not the first time I'd read his brilliant early work, but the first time I'd encountered "Shottle Bop," which goes from cocksure whimsy to jarring, touching sobriety masterfully), Joe Gores's "Watch for It" and Richard Matheson's "The Distributor" (I'm not sure I've read a better Matheson), and a number of the others came close to making such a strong impression...the closest to a bad story was Alan Dean Foster's pleasantly slick contribution, or the similar "James"--and the Jacobson, published in the last issue of the first Weird Tales revival, is a little too recursively about the predicament that magazine itself faced ...and this volume introduced me to a number of its contributors, since it was at latest the second of the AHP:  adult volumes I read, at time of purchase; I'd picked up the likes of Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful (one of Arthur's double-handful of YA anthologies) and at least one other Presents: volume previously at the Enfield Central Library, that trove of my youth.

Along with Henry Mazzeo's Hauntings, and the extent to which Les Daniels's Living in Fear was an anthology (the fiction there being almost illustrative examples to the critical/historical survey of horror in art), these were probably the most influential anthologies aimed at adults that I encountered in my early reading.

For more of this week's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog (though her machine is giving her difficulties).

17 comments:

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Some wonderful stuff there. I think there first 'adult' collection I ever had was edited by Nelson Algren (does anyone read his stuff anymore?), his "Book of Lonely Monsters" but it was much more mainstream I suppose (contributions by Heller and Bellow, Pynchon etc.) - maybe it's the title that stuck in my mind more than the contents ...

Todd Mason said...

NELSON ALGREN'S OWN BOOK OF LONESOME MONSTERS, no less...I did an FFB on it some years back (in my recurring thread on satire and black humor...that might've been among the first if not the first), and Algren is probably not read enough, but I'd say he's remembered...even if primarily for THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM and "Never sleep with anyone with worse problems than your own"...

http://socialistjazz.blogspot.com/2009/04/fridays-forgotten-books-nelson-algrens.html

BVLawson said...

Wow - that's an amazing collection of authors and stories in those two volumes, Todd. I don't have either one of these, but I want. Going to check our local library catalog right now...

Todd Mason said...

Well, I wouldn't disagree...and I was amused to see how all but the Jackson among the contents of the Cantor are online (even if MAN'S FATE's author's vignette requires a HARPER'S subscription to access), I gather legitimately so.

You'll have little trouble buying your own copies of either, if you choose to go that route...

George said...

I read all those Hitchcock anthologies when I was a kid. Great stuff! I vaguely remember the Hal Cantor anthology (I probably bought it for the cover but never got around to reading it).

Todd Mason said...

And Masur kept editing them till Hitchcock's death...one antho was, or there were a couple, drawn from the magazine afterward, and somewhat confusing titled AH PRESENTS:, which just muddied the already muddy waters further. Only in adulthood did I become aware of the earliest anthologies attributed to Hitchcock, such as BAR THE DOORS, a few of which I've FFB'd, as have others (notably "Zybahn")...

James Reasoner said...

I don't remember that particular Hitchcock anthology, but I must have read it because I remember most of those stories. Wonderful stuff.

Todd Mason said...

When you tote up all the AHMM anthologies, all the YA anthologies, all the AHP anthologies (and leave out for now the "Three Investigators" novels that Arthur wrote or edited, and the similar solve them yourself mystery book he put together), and then look at all the title variations the Dell reprints of the longer hardcovers introduce into the mix...it's a wonder anyone can remember any given volume in any of the series...

James Reasoner said...

STORIES THAT SCARED EVEN ME is probably my favorite, if for no other reason than that was where I first encountered Theodore Sturgeon's "It", one of my all-time favorite stories (with one of the best last lines ever).

Todd Mason said...

No argument from me there. The end of that story slaps the reader to the ground far more effectively than the menace in the story ever could. I think I actually read that one first in one of the Robert Arthur ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S [something something] or one of Helen Hoke's or someone's anthology aimed at YA readers...but it might've been in AHP:...EVEN ME. (Hm...maybe the recent discussion of Sturgeon's cruelty as a writer has more merit than I was crediting it with...)

Todd Mason said...

Helen Hoke's WEIRDIES might well've been it:

Publisher: Franklin Watts (1973)
Pages: 242

Contents:

Weirdies • interior artwork by Charles Keeping
9 • A Creature Imagined (excerpt) • shortfiction by C. S. Lewis
11 • The Cocoon • (1946) • shortstory by John B. L. Goodwin
35 • The Hair • (1928) • shortstory by A. J. Alan
47 • The Brown Hand • (1899) • shortstory by Arthur Conan Doyle (aka The Story of the Brown Hand) [as by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ]
67 • The Nightmare Lake • (1919) • poem by H. P. Lovecraft
70 • Mrs. Manifold • (1949) • shortstory by August Derleth [as by Stephen Grendon ]
86 • The Ancient Track • (1930) • poem by H. P. Lovecraft
88 • The Monster of Baylock • shortstory by F. H. Lee
94 • Phase Two (excerpt) • shortfiction by John Wyndham
109 • The Night Crawlers • poem by H. P. Lovecraft
110 • The Howler • [Fungi from Yuggoth • 12] • (1932) • poem by H. P. Lovecraft
112 • A Crossbreed • shortfiction by Franz Kafka
116 • The Mansions of the Dead • (1965) • poem by Robert Blair
117 • Hallowe'en in a Suburb • (1926) • poem by H. P. Lovecraft
119 • The Quest for Blank Claveringi • (1967) • shortstory by Patricia Highsmith
138 • Wentworth's Day • (1957) • shortstory by H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth
153 • The Shark-Man Nanaue • shortstory by E. M. Nakuina
164 • The Monster (excerpt) • shortfiction by Edmund Spenser
167 • The Upper Berth • (1885) • novelette by F. Marion Crawford
192 • What Was It? • (1859) • shortstory by Fitz-James O'Brien
211 • It • (1940) • novelette by Theodore Sturgeon

zybahn said...

DOOR LOCKED might have been my first AHP as a kid, and my intro to Roald Dahl. Back in the mid-80s my library had all the hardcovers of the Hitchcock and Queen anthologies, & even then I preferred the Arthurs over the Masurs. I don't think I have a copy of this one.

A few years ago I went back to that little local library hoping to nostalgically flip through the pages, but the copies were no longer available :(

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Todd, this is, indeed, an amazing collection of authors and stories. There're a few writers in both the anthologies that I've been wanting to read for a while, particularly Ambrose Bierce, Saki, Algernon Blackwood, Shirley Jackson, and Rex Stout. For this week's FFB I almost wrote about "The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction: 8th Series" edited by Anthony Boucher who, I have since learned, was the founding editor (along with J. Francis McComas) of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I was surprised to find that it still comes out at sfsite. The 8th Series has some interesting stories including "The Omen" by Shirley Jackson, A Deskful of Girls by Fritz Leiber, and The Up-To-Date Sorcerer by Isaac Asimov. The reason I decided not to write about it, even as a matter of interest, was because I didn't follow the first story, "Ministering Angels," by C.S. Lewis. In my lay view, Todd, sf fiction is not always easy to grasp. However, I'm not going to give up so easily; I intend to plod on till I get used to reading and understanding sf.

Todd Mason said...

"Zybahn": Welcome back. Unfortunately, entirely too many books such as the AHP: anthologies are likely to be "deaccessioned" (discarded) by libraries...you do realize that this one is a Masur volume, I gather...the Arthur volumes might've averaged a bit better, but Masur did make a relatively seamless transition, I think.

Prashant, I hope you noted that I put up links to all the stories except the Jackson in the table of contents of GHOSTS AND THINGS...I think all those links should work in India. I'm a little surprised that you are surprised THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION is still published (and maintains its site), given how often I mention it on this blog, but yes, it, like its old stablemate ELLERY QUEEN'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE and EQMM's current stablemates ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION AND FACT, and ASIMOV'S SCIENCE FICTION are all still on newsstands, as well as having websites...and they not alone. I haven't read that Lewis story, yet, so don't know what to say other than to note that Lewis was as devout an Anglican as Boucher was a Catholic, and the religious nature of the story is probably prominent. Boucher (William White) was a very busy man, translating, editing and reviewing as well as conducting radio opera programs, writing fiction and scripts for radio and television, and leading informal writing seminars.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Todd, I'm sure I have read about F&SF on your blog in the past except I seem to have overlooked it (in fact forgotten about it) completely while commenting here. The links you provided open easily and among the mystery and sf magazines you mentioned I have visited the EQMM and Analog sites, partaking of whatever's available for free(!).


Todd Mason said...

Then there are the magazines which have always (CLARKESWORLD, Tor.com) been exclusively online, and those which have moved to all-online (SUBTERRANEAN, the formerly independent FANTASY MAGAZINE, now incorporated into LIGHTSPEED)...

Richard L. Pangburn said...

Great work as always, Todd.

You mention the Algernon Blackwood story, "Running Wolf," which is difficult to find except in the anthology above.

What a brilliantly written adventure story! So true about magical days in the autumn woods.