Cover image for Compulsory games : and other stories
Title:
Compulsory games : and other stories
ISBN:
9781681371894
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New York Review Books, [2018]
Physical Description:
xvii, 341 pages ; 21 cm.
Contents:
Introduction: under the skin -- Compulsory games -- Hand in glove -- Marriage -- Le miroir -- No time is passing -- Raising the wind -- Residents only -- Wood -- Strangers -- Coffin house -- Letters to the postman -- Laura -- Fully-conducted tour -- A disciple of Plato -- Just a song at twilight.
Summary:
"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 'void behind the face of order,' 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?"-- Provided by publisher.
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Book Fiction Aickm
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Book Fiction Aickm
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Book Fiction Aickm
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Summary

Summary

Cross Henry James with M.R. James and you might end up with a writer like Robert Aickman, though his self-described "strange stories" 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 "void behind the face of order," 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.


Author Notes

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 include Gothicka 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.


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Aickman (1914-1981) was a master of the "strange story" whose nearly unclassifiable output relies neither on ghosts nor creaking castles. Each story in this collection is a small masterpiece of unease and psychological perplexity. In the title story, a mysterious woman gradually seduces and supplants both a husband and wife; in "Hand in Glove" a holiday in the country seems to cross over to a netherworld of carnivorous cows; and in "No Time Is Passing," a man discovers a river behind his house that leads to an island seemingly outside of time. Other stories feature ancient wooden cabins, reclusive women of mystery, and "dreams... hard to recall in their particulars." In "Residents Only," a neglected graveyard becomes walled off from the living by its population of living dead. "Wood" follows a man entering into a strange marriage with the daughter of a sinister carpenter. "Le Miroir" introduces a young woman who falls out of step with her own reflection. Insidious, haunting, and brilliant, Aickman's stories present dreamlike, inexplicable realities in prose both strangely sensual and entirely disarming, making this collection a treasure for fans of Poe, Kafka, and Lovecraft. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Table of Contents

Introduction: Under the Skinp. vii
Compulsory Gamesp. 1
Hand in Glovep. 25
Marriagep. 51
Le Miroirp. 84
No Time Is Passingp. 95
Raising the Windp. 120
Residents Onlyp. 130
Woodp. 179
The Strangersp. 204
The Coffin Housep. 253
Letters to the Postmanp. 258
Laurap. 296
The Fully-Conducted Tourp. 306
A Disciple of Platop. 313
Just a Song at Twilightp. 327