Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, September 14, 2020


September 11 Openers:  On  an otherwise ordinary evening in May, a week before his twenty-ninth birthday, Jonathan Hughes met his fate, coming from another time, another year, another life.

His fate was unrecognizable at first, of course, and boarded the train at the same hour, in Pennsylvania Station, and sat with Hughes for the dinnertime journey across Long Island.  It was the newspaper held by his fate disguised as an older man that caused Jonathan Hughes to stare and finally say:

"Sir, pardon me, your New York Times seems different from mine.  The typeface on you front page seems more modern.  Is that a later edition?"

-- Ray Bradbury, "A Touch of Petulance" (first published in Dark Forces, edited by Kirby McCauley, 1980)

Early in career, the legendary writer broke into the crime genre with a number of stories for the detective pulps, such as Detective Tales, Dime Mystery, and Detective Book Magazine.  Often overshadowed by his early fantasy and science fiction stories, these efforts have mainly laid undiscovered, some appearing on occasion in various collections of his work, others languishing.  In 1984, Dell issued a slim paperback containing fifteen of these early tales, a Memory of Murder; that book has never been reprinted in English.

Now, Hard Case Crime publisher Charles Ardai, Bradbury literary agent Michael Congdon, and Jonathan R. Eller, the director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University's School of Liberal Arts to select twenty of Bradbury's best crime and suspense stories, from his early pulp days to his later tales of the 1950s and 1960s.  The result:  A major new collection, Killer, Come Back to Me, issued this August from Hard Case Crime.

Understand that for the Bradbury fanatic, most of these stories have appeared over the years in Bradbury collections.  Six of them. plus Bradbury's introduction (presented here as an afterward), appeared in A Memory of Murder.  A (very) few have not appeared before in a Bradbury collection.  But...

They are here!  In one glorious collection!  Kaloo! Kalay!

To my mind, Bradbury's early stories have a raw strength about them.  There is nothing sentimental here, just a series of hard punches to the gut.  His later stories -- more evocative, more sensitive -- can often be just a little bit too sacarrine, or twee, for me.  But Bradbury in this collection?  He is a master, a genius, just beginning to feel his way through the literary landscape.  In these tales you can see that he is a force to be reckoned with.

  • "The Talking Box:  Ray bradbury's Crime Fiction" (an introduction by Jonathan R. Eller)
  • "A Touch of Petulance" (from Dark Forces, edited by Kirby McCauley, 1984; reprinted in Bradbury's The Toynbee Collector, 1988)
  • "The Screaming Woman" (from Today (The Philadelphia Inquirer), May 27, 1951; reprinted in Bradbury's S is for Space, 1966, in The Stories of Ray Bradbury, 1980, in A Medicine for Melancholy and Other Stories, 1998, and in Summer Morning, Summer Night, 2007)
  • "The Trunk Lady" (from Detective Tales, September 1944; reprinted in A Memory of Murder, 1984)
  • " 'I'm Not So Dumb!' " (from Detective Tales, February 1943; reprinted in A Memory of Murder, 1984)
  • "Killer, Come Back to Me!" (from Detective Tales, July 1944; not included in a previou Bradbury collection)
  • "Dead Men Rise Up Never" (from Dime Mystery, July 1945 [the copyright page mistakenly gives the month as May]; reprinted in A Memory of Murder, 1984)
  • "Where Everything Ends" (an original short story included in Subterranean Press's Where Everything Ends, 2009, a collection of Bradbury's three mystery novels [Death Is a Lonely Business, A Graveyard for Lunatics, and Let's All Kill Constance, plus this story, which was the source text for Death Is a Lonely Business)
  • "Corpse Carnival" (from Dime Mystery, July 1945, under the pseudonym D. R. Banet; reprinted in A Memory of Murder, 1984)
  • "And So Died Riabouchinska" (from The Saint Detective Magazine, June-July 1953; reprinted in Bradbury's The Machineries of Joy, 1964, and in The Stories of Ray Bradbury, 1980)
  • "Yesterday I Lived!" (from Flynn's Detective Fiction, August 1944; reprinted in A Memory of 
    , 1984)
  • "The Town Where No One Got Off" (from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, October 1958; reprinted in A Medicine for Melancholy, 1959, in Bradbury's Twice Twenty-Two, 1966, and in The Stories of Ray Bradbury, 1980)
  • "The Whole Town's Sleeping" (from McCall's Magazine, September 1950; incorporated into the novel Dandelion Wine, and reprinted in Bradbury Stories:  One Hundred of His Most Celebrated Stories, 2003)
  • "At Midnight , In the Month of June" (from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, June 1954, as a sequel to "The Whole Town's Sleeping," written at the request of Frederick Dannay [the magazine editorial half of "Ellery Queen;" reprinted in The Toynbee Convector, 1988, in Bradbury Stories:  One Hundred of His Most Celebrated Tales, 2003, and in Summer Morning, Summer Night, 2007)
  • "The Smiling People" (from Weird Tales, May 1946; reprinted in Dark Carnival, 1947, and in Bradbury Stories:  One Hundred of His Most Celebrated Tales, 2003)
  • "The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl" (from Detective Book Magazine, Spring 1949, under the title "Touch and Go;" reprinted in reprinted in Bradbury's The Golden Apples of the Sun, in The Vintage Bradbury, 1965, in Twice Twenty-Two, 1966, in Bradbury Stories:  One Hundred of His Most Celebrated Tales, 2003, and in Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories, 2005)
  • 'The Small Assassin" (from Dime Mystery, November 1946; reprinted in Dark Carnival, 1947, in The October Country, 1955, in The Vintage Bradbury, 1965, in The Stories of Ray Bradbury, 1980, and in A Memory of Murder, 1984,)
  • "Marionettes, Inc." (from Startling Stories, March 1949; reprinted in The Illustrated Man, 1951, in The Stories of Ray Bradbury, 1980, and in Bradbury's collection Marionettes, Inc., 2009; the story has been reprinted at least once under the title "No Strings Attached")
  • "Punishment Without Crime" (from Other Worlds, March 1950, reprinted in Bradbury's Long After Midnight, 1976, in The Stories of Ray Bradbury, 1980, and I Sing the Body Electric! and Other Stories, 1998)
  • "Some Live Like Lazarus" (from Playboy, December 1960; reprinted in The Machineries of Joy, 1964, and in The Stories of Ray Bradbury, 1980,)
  • "The Utterly Perfect Murder" (from Playboy, August 1971, under the title "My Perfect Murder;" reprinted in Long after Midnight, 1976, in The Stories of Ray Bradbury, 1980, and in I Sing the Body Electric! and Other Stories, 1998)
  • "Hammett?  Chandler?  Not to Worry!" (Bradbury's introduction to A Memory of Murder, 1984, used here as a postscript)
It's a joy to have all of these great stories under one cover.

  • Ramsey Campbell, The Last Voice They Hear.  Suspense novel.  "Geoff is happily married with a young son who is the delight of his life.  A famous, successful investigative journalist, he is in the middle of a publicity tour when a voice on the phone plunges him into the darkest part of his past, and into a deadly present.  The voice is that of geoff's long-lost brother, Ben...When they were small, Ben devised tortured puzzles for his borther to solve.  Now Ben is offering Geoff a new set of clues with a terrible secret at their core.  Someone is killing happily married couples...If Geoff fails, his son may pay the proce -- but if he succeeds, will he find that his brother has become a killer?"  Campbell, one of the best living horror writers, turns his hand to a suspense novel that is not far removed from horror.
  • Blake Crouch, Good Behavior, three interlinked novellas that formed the basis of the TNT television show Good Behavior, featuring burglar Letty Dobesh.  "While on the job, she overhears a man hiring a hit many to kill his wife.  Letty may or may not be winning any morality awards, but even she has limits."  Crouch, also the creator of Wayward Pines, has been producing interesting novels since his first, Desert Places, in 2004.
  • Samuel R. Delany, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue.  Two long-ish personal essays about Times Square, one about the Square pre-1985, when it was a wide-open place of peep shows, street hustlers, and adult movie houses. the other about the sanitized (read safe) Times Square that has lost its vital personality.  Published as part of New York University's Sexual Cultures:  New Directions from the Center for Gay and Lesbian Studies program.  Delany is always stretching the boundaries of literature, whether in fact or in fiction.
  • Erle Stanley, Gardner, The D.A. Calls It Murder.  Gardner's first Doug Selby mystery.  Selby investigates the death of a clergyman at the Madison Hotel.  Although signs point to suicide, Selby suspects foul play.  This 1937 novel harks back to Gardner's pulp roots.  This edition was published by The Franklin Library (part of the Franklin Mint), and is a handsome volume with 70-pound acid-free archival standard paper made especially for the publisher, with Granjon  typeface and a Aurora Grotesk display face, a specially designed cover panel, and a specially commissioned frontispiece by David Tamura.  In other words, this is a purty edition, made to look like a collector's item.
  • Charlotte MacLeod, Had She But Known:  A Biography of Mary Roberts Rinehart.  For a half century, Rinehart was the best-known, best-loved, and best-paid writer america had ever known, and the author of over fifty books.  charlotte MacLeod was best known for her cozy mystery series about Peter Shandy of the Balaclava Agricultural College and about Sarah and Max Kelling.  As "Alisha Craig" she wrote two series, one about RCMP Madoc Rhys and one about the Lobelia Falls Grub-and-Stakers Gardening and Roving Club.  She has been honored with a Nero Award, five American Mystery Awards, Life Achievement Awards from both Bouchercon XXIII and from Malice Domestic, as well as multiple nominations for both the Edgar and Anthony Awards.
  • Eleanor Sullivan, editor, Alfred Hitchcock:  Tales of Terror.  An instant remainder book containing 58 stories from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine from 1956 to 1976.  Among the usual suspects are Robert Bloch, Bill Pronzini, Lawrence Block, Nelson DeMille, John Lutz, Brian Garfield, Jack Ritchie, Henry Slesar, William P. McGivern, Edward D. Hoch, Margaret Maron, Helen Neilson, Hal ellson, harold Q. Masur, Arthur Porges, and August Derleth.  Prime pickings for those who love the mystery short story.

9-11:  Nineteen years ago all of our lives changed.  The change had been coming for a while except few of us realized it, but with the destruction of the two towers, the attack on the Pentagon, and the innocent bodies strewn across the Pennsylvania landscape, the world moved to a darker, more insecure place.  Sadly, we are still in that place.  For a brief moment after the attacks the world had come together, but George Bush and a bunch of neo-cons squandered that opportunity.  I think about what might have been often had our resolve and determination not been replaced by fear and xenophobia.  I can trace that thread all the way to today's disfunction.

We had just returned from a trip to Cape Cod the day before, driving through New York City.  We came home to find our cat Maggie -- the best cat in the world, ever -- sick and dying, curled up in our bathroom sink.  What happened to her, we didn't know.  I suspect she had been poisoned, perhaps she had ingested some antifreeze somehow.  She grew worse through the night and we made the painful choice of putting her to sleep.  The next morning, September 11, we drove her to the local animal shelter, arriving early, not knowing when they opened.  We went to a fast food joint for coffee while we waited for nine o'clock to come.  That's when we heard on the radio about the attack on one of the towers.  At first it seemed like a terrible accident rather than a terrorist attack.  There was no indication of the death toll yet, but we knew it had to be in the thousands.   Nine o'clock came and we took Maggie to the shelter to be put down.  There we heard about the second tower and the shit became real.  Then the attack on the Pentagon and the plane went down in Stoneycreek Township and in one morning the world completely turned.

Among all that horror I wept.  Not for the innocent victims, but for the damn cat.

Mother Nature:  The West Coast is burning and people are dying.  Hurricane Sally has targeted Louisiana and the possible toll is unknown.  My thoughts are with Rick in Portland and with Deb in Louisiana and with all the others affected by both disasters.  The last I heard (last night), our particular part of the Florida Panhandle will be getting anywhere from 2 to 15 inches of rain.  I'm glad they can predict things so accurately.

Carol:  Ed Emshwiller (1925-1990) was a noted science fiction illustrator and a pioneering experimental film maker.  The five-time Hugo award-winning artist and inductee into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame often used his wife, the ever-beautiful Carol (1921-2019), as a model.  (He also used Bill Griffith, a neighborhood boy who went on to create the comic strip Zippy, and Griffith's father as models for the cover of the September 1957 Original Science Fiction.)  Most of Emshwiller's magazine science fiction artwork was signed "Emsh," while his book covers were signed by his full name.  His wife Carol went on to become an acclaimed author and two-time Nebula Award winner; she was awarded a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2005.

Here is a brief film by Ed Emshwiller made as a tribute to his wife.  It's title, naturally, is "Carol Emshwiller."

McKinley:  Today marks the 119th anniversary of the death of President William McKinley, eight days after being shot twice in the stomach by the anarchist Leon Czolgosz.  Many feel that McKinley died of sepsis and gangrene caused by unsanitary conditions and poor medical treatment.  McKinley was seceded by Theodore Roosevelt.  As president, McKinley oversaw the victory of the Spanish-American War (bringing Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines as U.S. territories), raised protective tariffs, maintained the gold standard, annexed the Republic of Hawaii, and expanded American influence overseas, while also disappointing many of his followers by his lackluster approach to racial relations.

I grew up on a farm in Massachusetts that was owned by a man who was young when McKinley was assassinated.  The day of McKinley's death, he was paid a dollar by a McKinley follower to ring the local church bell in honor of the late president.  The bell was rung for over an hour.  He never tired of telling me that story.

John Gould:  Today is also the 216th  birthday of English ornithologist and bird artist John Gould.  He is considered the father of bird study in Australia and his work played a role in Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.  The link takes you to some of his amazing paintings.

Old Wishes:  Per NPR:  The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores had a unique idea to help them cope financially with the pandemic.  They drained a large waterfall at the site and recovered over 100 gallons of coins tossed in  by people making a wish.  Once the coins are cleaned they will be used to offset the aquariums expenses incurred during a six month (and counting) closure.

Florida Man:
  • Florida Man Rovester Ingram did not take it kindly when an elderly man asked him to socially distance at a Winter Park gas station because he wasn't wearing a protective mask.  Ingrim complied -- if by complying you mean beating the old man, kicking him in the head, and spitting on him.  The victim received serious injuries, including broken bones.  Perhaps the victim did not preface his request with a "Please."
  • In a surprising rare event, an unnamed Florida woman was attacked by an alligator while she was trimming trees near a North Fort Myers lake.  The 10-foot gator reportedly lay in ambush for her.  The victim was taken to a local hospital and was stated to be in stable condition with wounds to both legs.  Actual alligator attacks on people in Florida are rare.  The alligator was relocated and did not give officials a motive.
  • Lee County Florida Man Gene Sweetaple, 65,  has been arrested for attempting to steal a trolley while the driver was on a break.  A police officer repeatedly tried to get Sweetwater to come down from the trolley, only to be met with statements like, "I'm going to dive the trolley," and 'Say please."
  • In Fort Myers, three Florida "Bathing Suit Burglars" filled a hot tub at the Brookshire Bath and Tennis Club with soap, causing several hundred dollars in damages.  No one has been arrested and the culprits have not come clean.
  • Florida Man and former New York Jets wide receiver Josh Bellamy, 31, has been arrested for being part of a $24 million fraud scheme to receive illegal loans intended for COVID-19 relief.  He allegedly received over $1.2 million from the Paycheck Prevention Program, spending over $100,000 of the money on luxury items.  Bellamy was signed to a two-year five-million dollar contract with the Jets last year.  He suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and was released by the Jets last week.
  • The FBI is searching for Dade County Florida Man Yoelvis Denis Hernandez, 42, for stealing a $3 million dollar shipment of ventilators which were intended to assist El Salvador in their response to COVID-19.  Hernandez is believes to be hiding out somewhere in South Florida.  Multiple rewards have been posted for his arrest and conviction so it is safe to assume that Hernandez -- despite having so many ventilators -- is not breathing easily.

The Good Stuff:
  • Two-thirds of Americans believe they have become a better person this year
  • Landscaping pros have been giving free lawn care for health care workers to relieve their stress
  • McDonald's to use reusable, returnable coffee cups
  • Cancer survivor becomes the first woman to complete a grueling triathlon covering 330 miles in five days
  • Boy donates 22,000 diapers to single mothers using the proceeds from nis lemonade stand
  • Hungarian scientist wins 1 million euro prize for groundbreaking research that could eventually restore sight in blindness
  • Chrissy Teigen asked teachers for their wish lists and then fulfilled them by the dozens
  • Woman designs sturdy cardboard beds for overrun hospitals in India -- and her proud family sells them at cost

Today's Poem:
Fall, Leaves, Fall

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night's decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

-- Emily Bronte


  1. Used to hear a lot more from Charles Ardai. Wasn't even sure he was still publishing. The cat story...this is how we absorb the worst, through the things we love. I doubt that that percentage of people have become better this year. If that were true, we would not have a close election looming ahead of us.

  2. And, fwiw, Emshwiller also did no few crime-fiction magazines covers, probably in part because Mercury Press was publishing most of the ones he contributed to, including EQMM. Wouldn't be surprised if he did some for the Columbia Publications cf magazines, too...inasmuch as they were an early market, along with the sf magazines at Columbia, for Carol Emshwiller's fiction. Carol E. and Edward Hoch were arguably Robert Lowndes's great editorial "discoveries" of the 1950s, his last decade at Columbia, there till the bitter-end closure in 1960...Ms. Emshwiller had published one story professionally before her Columbia run began, in a regional magazine...her first three stories were thus contemporary mimetic, crime fiction and sf...a variety she wouldn't abandon, though as far as I know she wrote no westerns till her novels LEDOYT and LEAPING MAN HILL decades later. Columbia probably would've been happy to run them...

  3. Ed Emshwiller's cf magazine work also signed Emsh.

  4. Ramsey Campbell's second or third novel...yes, second, THE FACE THAT MUST DIE, was already a step away from horror, much the same way PSYCHO and his previous novels were for Robert Bloch...albeit it's all from the POV of a psychopath.

    I think it a mild shame that the new Bradbury book doesn't include "Long After Midnight" (which I hadn't realized had been collected, since I was looking lazily for it under the EROS magazine title "The Long After Midnight Girl"...but still looks like a book to have. Is your incoming all online shopping of late?

    1. All thrift stores, Todd. It had been a while since I had ventured out into them.