What’s so special about Hemingway?

Last week we shared a some of the many authors who’ve been influenced by Ernest Hemingway, whose seminal role in American literature was highlighted in Lynn Novick and Ken Burns’ recent documentary Hemingway. Yet viewers of that show may have noted the intriguing fact that those interviewed often didn’t agree upon which of his works had merit, or why. Edna O’Brien, who defends Hemingway against charges of misogyny, dismisses The Old Man and the Sea as childish, while Mario Vargas Llosa regards it as Hemingway’s masterpiece. Vargas Llosa dissolves into chuckles over the bad writing in For Whom the Bell Tolls, while the late Senator John McCain regards it as “the great American novel,” speaking movingly about the book’s profound effect upon him. After watching hours of the author’s wife-hopping, self-aggrandizement, and mounting alcoholism and paranoia, viewers might be forgiven for wondering just what is the big deal about Ernest Hemingway? Continue reading “What’s so special about Hemingway?”

Read Something: Gripping

“If it’s not gripping you, you’re reading the wrong book.”  
– Nick Hornby

This week we Read Something gripping. What makes a book gripping is in the eye of the beholder. Some readers are gripped by a fast-paced covert-ops thriller with a high body count; others would use gripping to describe a well-realized, vivid work of history or a quietly intense coming of age memoir. That said, some authors have a special knack for grabbing us right away, and not letting go. Finding it hard to get going on a book? Check out one of these gripping reads:

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Continue reading “Read Something: Gripping”

Let’s bring back ghost stories for Xmas

The night has come for ghosties and ghoulies to peer from the flickering shadows, while we gather round the firelight to tell tales of terror and grue! No, not Hallowe’en: Christmas Eve! A century and more ago, this was the night to share scary stories:

“And not only do the ghosts themselves always walk on Christmas Eve, but live people always sit and talk about them on Christmas Eve. Whenever five or six English-speaking people meet round a fire on Christmas Eve, they start telling each other ghost stories. Nothing satisfies us on Christmas Eve but to hear each other tell authentic anecdotes about spectres. It is a genial, festive season, and we love to muse upon graves, and dead bodies, and murders, and blood.”

That quote is from Told After SupperJerome K. Jerome’s 1891 Christmas-themed collection of stories, one of several such collections that are available for you to check out right now.

If ever there was a haunted year, it was 2020, and so it is high time to revive the tradition! Nobody to read to this year? Visit our very own Thrilling Tales Podcast, where we have several classic ghost stories for your listening pleasure, including: Continue reading “Let’s bring back ghost stories for Xmas”

13 Tales for 13 Nights of Halloween

It’s that time of year again: time to gather round for a bone-chilling storytime. I’m so sad not to be joining you all at Lotties’ Lounge, Tippe & Drague, Floating Bridge, The Palace Theatre, Capitol Cider, The Pine Box, or any of the other wonderful venues where we’ve done ‘Ales from the Crypt over the past years. This year we’ll drink alone, but allow me to read you something scary on each of the 13 nights between now and Hallowe’en.

The House of the Nightmare, by Edward Lucas White. A car accident, a dark lonely road, a seemingly abandoned house, and a strange boy. Recorded July 2020.

The Red Lodge, by H. Russell Wakefield. A man moves into an old house with his family and begins to suspect that it is haunted. Recorded live, October 2017.

The Red Room, by H.G. Wells. Do you dare to spend just one night alone, in the Red Room? Recorded September 2020. Continue reading “13 Tales for 13 Nights of Halloween”

The Haunted Podcasts of Autumn

Image of frightened person courtesy of Camila Quintero Franco, via UnsplashWell, we’ve definitely turned the corner into the spookiest time of year. No, I don’t mean election season: I’m talking about the lead up to Hallowe’en. This time last year – and for the past five years – I’d be stepping out into the chill winds of Autumn to go read haunting ‘Ales from the Crypt in bars all over the city. Instead, we’ll be doing weekly Thrilling Tales Podcasts all October long of vintage spooky stories, for your shivery delight.

Never mind the hackneyed jump scares and bloated CGI monstrosities bursting from forth your TV screens this October, leaving nothing to your imagination. For real spookiness, there’s nothing quite like turning down the lights, pulling up the covers, and treating yourself to a mug of something warm, and a voice coming out of the darkness, reading you a thoroughly chilling story unearthed from the mouldering past. Nobody beats those bygone Edwardian and Victorian authors for casting a Continue reading “The Haunted Podcasts of Autumn”