Cross Henry James with M.R. James and you might end up with a writer like Robert Aickman, though his self-described ostrange storieso remain confoundingly and uniquely his own. Aickman's superbly written tales terrify not with standard thrills and gore but through a radical overturning of the laws of nature and everyday life. His territory of the strange, of the ovoid behind the face of order,o is a surreal region that grotesquely mimics the quotidian- Is that river the Thames, or is it even a river? What does it mean when a prospective lover removes one dress, and then another-and then another? Do a herd of cows in a peaceful churchyard contain the souls of jilted women preparing to trample a cruel lover to death? Published for the first time under one cover, this collection offers a generous introduction to a sophisticated, psychologically acute modernist whose achievements have too long been hidden under the cloak of genre.
The best and most interesting stories by Robert Aickman, a master of the supernatural tale, the uncanny, and the truly weird.
The son of an architect, Robert Fordyce Aickman (1914-1981) did not attend university and subsisted on a small family income as he worked variously as a literary agent, editor, and theater and art reviewer in London. A prominent advocate for preserving England's canals, he was a cofounder of the influential Inland Waterways Association. Besides eight volumes of published stories (one including stories written by the novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard) and a range of unpublished works, he wrote two memoirs, The Attempted Rescue and The River Runs Uphill.Victoria Nelson is a writer of fiction, criticism, and memoir. Her books includeaGothicka and The Secret Life of Puppets, a study of the supernatural grotesque in Western culture that won the Modern Language Association's Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies in 2001, and Wild California, a collection of stories. She teaches in Goddard College's MFA creative writing program.