Sunday, 2 October 2016

Sheridan Le Fanu.

Jim at Atomic Collectables gave me a copy of this collection of stories by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu thinking I might enjoy it as it had been edited by MR James.
              And how on the money he was. My da used to tell me ghost stories when i was a boy. Long rambling stories told in front of the fire. This is not a cliche to me it is a memory. Story telling is an art form and ghost story telling is an especially crafty one. Sheridan Le Fanu was a great teller of tales and his stories work so well on paper it is almost as if you have joined him on a chair before a crackling hearth on a windy wintery night. A few of the stories are collected versions of yarns told in a similar manner through out the Irish countryside. Mysterious figures that draw ever closer with no good intent. Stories that begin with an aged person relating the experiences of their youth. Fateful and terrifying experiences that change the course of the tellers life. There are encounters with chilling half real entities with talon like fingers that close around a bodies throat or come staggering judder man like out of dark places. There is very little whimsy present in these stories. They do not shy from the hardness of life particularly lives lived without love. Old Ireland could be a tough place to be weak and vulnerable I suppose it still is. Depending on the kindness is a lottery and there are way too many losers.
               I thought of the band from Dublin The Virgin Prunes and their macabre sound. I thought of old empty buildings where something stirred the dust and cold breath from undead lungs. Some of these stories should just be read out loud. To an empty room if need be.