"When I felt the wind on my face and saw that the tide was in it seemed all at once that I didn’t need answers to anything. The tide and the moon, the beacon on the headland and the wind were so here, so this, so now that nothing else was required. I felt free of myself, unlumbered. Where the moon ended and I began and which was which was of no consequence, Everything was what it was and the awareness of it was part of it.”
those who dream only by night: the gothic short stories rec list
have you ever felt like you want to read more fiction in the gothic tradition, but you haven’t the money or the time, or you’re the sort of person who only reads a novel if you’re sure you like the writer? i can help with that! here is a list of short stories, novellas, and one poem, all of which are important in the gothic tradition, the gothic revival, or contemporary gothic fiction, and they are all on the internet! for free! (i enjoy making rec lists, but i particularly enjoy making rec lists where i know that everyone who reads the list can get all of it for free.) so, take a night, make some hot chocolate, and frighten the life out of yourself. you’ll thank me!
In his essay on Salinger, Kazin writes with heavy irony, “Someday there will be learned theses on The Use of the Ash Tray in J.D. Salinger’s Stories; no other writer has made so much of Americans lighting up, reaching for the ash tray, setting up the ash tray with one hand while with the other they reach for a ringing telephone.” Kazin’s observation is true, but his irony is misplaced. The smoking in Salinger is well worth tracking. There is nothing idle or random about the cigarettes and cigars that appear in his stories, or with the characters’ dealings with them….
Like the food in “Franny,” the cigarettes in “Zooey” enact a kind of parallel plot. Cigarettes offer the writer (or used to offer) a great range of metaphoric possibilities. They have lives and deaths. They glow and they turn to ashes. They need attention. They create smoke. They make a mess. As we listen to Bessie Glass and Zooey talk, we follow the fortunes of their cigarettes. Some of them go out for lack of attention. Others threaten to burn the smoker’s fingers. Our sense of the mother and son’s aliveness, and of the life-and-death character of their discussion, is heightened by the perpetual presence of these inanimate yet animatable objects.
“I think nothing equals Macbeth.” Lincoln was deeply touched by the portrait of the mind of a politician who had committed great wrongs. He was not equally moved by the thoughts of a hero who reproached himself for doing too little.