Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Late Reviews"

"Late Reviews" is the title of my column in Wormwood where I review obscure titles. I've written more of these reviews than have ever made it into the magazine, so I thought I'd occasionally post some of the otherwise unseen ones here.

Robbins, Tod [Clarence Aaron Robbins, 1888-1949]. The Scales of Justice and Other Poems (New York: J. S. Ogilvie, 1915).

Robbins’s third book and only collection of poems. This is a collection of twenty-three poems. Most are routine, and more than a bit sing-song in an old-fashioned way. Compared to Robbins’s fiction, these poems are almost entirely without interest. One example should suffice:

Come Dine

The night is cold, and dark, and drear;
Come dine, my brother, come dine.
A wanton whiff of Life’s good cheer,
A foaming glass, the larder near,
A taste of flesh, a sip of wine;
Come dine, my brother, come dine.

Dark shadows speed across the sea;
Come dine, my brother, come dine.
Soon other guests, than you and me,
Will enter in Life’s hostelry
To taste the flesh and sip the wine;
Come dine, my brother, come dine.

Your face is white, like winter snow;
Come dine, my brother, come dine.
The wind, you hear, is sighing low;
Close you eyes, and you’ll never know
Your sister’s flesh now steeped in wine;
Come dine, my brother, come dine.

The Silver Skull is in the sky;
Come dine, my brother, come dine—
It drives the charnel coach close by.
For all who sup at last must die
To pay for flesh and tasted wine;
Come dine, my brother, come dine.

Sloane, William M., III. Runner in the Snow: A Play of the Supernatural in One Act (Boston: Walter H. Baker Company, 1931).

This short play is labeled on the title page as “adapted from the story by W.B. Seabrook entitled ‘I Saw a Woman Turn into a Wolf’.” And Seabrook’s title basically says it all. It is the story of the bookish John Bannister, who has a small, ugly black idol, Yi King, the Chinese demon or god of the past. Bannister has asked his old friend Richard Seton to visit and monitor an experiment that their friend Mara Orloff will perform. Mara is a nervous Russian woman with an accent, and she has experimented with the idol. When under a trance and while holding Yi King in her left hand, she relives an ancestral memory, human or prehuman. In this instance, she relives for some short while of the life of a wolf. As a play, it is hard to imagine this coming off well.

Sloane (1906-1974) is better-remembered for his two novels, To Walk the Night (1937), and The Edge of Running Water (1939; filmed in 1941 as The Devil Commands, starring Boris Karloff). Seabrook’s story appeared in the July 1931 issue of Hearst’s International, with a reprint in Nash’s Pall Mall Magazine in May 1932. It was reworked as chapter VII of Part Two of Seabrook’s book Witchcraft (1940).


  1. I have been trying to obtain your books, On Tolkien, and The 100 Best Writers of Fantasy and Horror, but they are not available anywhere. I was waiting for them long before their publication date, which has come and gone, and Amazon.com said their supplier doesn't have any copies. What happened to these books?

  2. Neither book has been published. On Tolkien is still in the works, but the series in which The 100 Best Writers of Fantasy and Horror was to appear was cancelled and left that book in limbo.

  3. So who were the 100 writers you selected, Mr. Anderson? Is the list posted online somewhere?

    PS I just received H.P. LOVECRAFT'S FAVORITE WEIRD TALES as a gift and can't wait to start reading it.