Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber

conjure wife by fritz leiber
Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber, aka, “Honey, I’m having one of my spells!”

It’s a horror classic, so I wanted/needed to read it.

Fritz Leiber’s Conjure Wife is listed on every “Masterpieces of Classic Horror” list out there, so I was eager to experience it myself for the first time.

But this tale of witchcraft in the world of academia left me with some unsettling questions, like, “What woman in Fritz Leiber’s life damaged him to the point he would write such a weird, misogynistic tale?”

Serialized in 1940 pulp magazines, and released as a novel in 1953, Conjure Wife‘s premise that all women are witches, utilizing their charms to protect home and family (and maybe help hubby get a promotion at work) is as silly as a Dick Two episode of Bewitched.

But Leiber plays it straight, and builds an amazingly detailed study of the occult in the process. A protegé of H. P. Lovecraft, you can see Leiber blending “modern” science and weird fantasy to build his own mythos in Conjure Wife. Indeed, Leiber’s crafted  witchcraft undoubtedly influenced hundreds of other witchy projects. Is hard to believe John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick, or Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby could have existed without the literary trail Leiber blazed.

But sometimes the term “genre classic” is code for “dull,” “dated,” and “not very scary.” Sadly, this is the case with Conjure Wife. Toss in “sexist,” too.

Oh well. You have to expect some paranoid racism when you tackle H.P. Lovecraft, and swallow a lot of purple prose and sad, crappy poems when you take on Edgar Allan Poe. I guess Fritz Leiber is entitled to his woman issues.

Leiber’s later work, specifically 1977’s Our Lady of Darkness, expanded his occult mythos and explored the author’s  personal demons. (Devastated by the death of his wife, Leiber spent several years in an alcoholic haze.)

It’s a horror classic. I’ll have to read it.

Book Review: Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber

Check out my review of Fritz Leiber’s Conjure Wife.

Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber
Check out my review of Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber.

It’s a horror classic, so I wanted/needed to read it.

Fritz Leiber’s Conjure Wife is listed on every “Masterpieces of Classic Horror” list out there, so I was eager to experience it myself for the first time.

But this tale of witchcraft in the world of academia left me with some unsettling questions, like, “What woman in Fritz Leiber’s life damaged him to the point he would write such a weird, misogynistic tale?” (read the full review … )

The Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2012, edited by Paula Guran

best dark fantasy and horror 2012
The Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2012, edited by Paula Guran. $6.99 ebook.

Veteran editor Paula Guran has put together a comprehensive “year’s best” collection that includes some true gems.

All eyes will be drawn to Stephen King’s entry, “The Dune,” and Big Steve delivers a satisfying—if quaint—E.C comics-style chiller.

But King’s story is far from the best in this collection. My vote would be for Stephen Graham Jones’ coming of age / zombie baseball tale, “Rocket Man,” a tantalizing  blend of humor, heartache, and gore. Or maybe Joe Lansdale’s Lovecraftian musical interlude, “The Bleeding Shadow” (which—if I may be so bold, and insert a cheap plug —shares themes with the brilliant rock-n-roll horror novel, Hangman’s Jam.)

Other noteworthy stories include Priya Sharma’s sexually charged fairy tale, “The Fox Maiden,” and Tananarive Due’s “The Lake,” which is delivered by an unreliable—and increasingly inhuman—narrator.

Guran has put together a “something for everyone” story buffet, with whimsical fantasy tales butting up against hardcore horror. The effect can be jarring, but such is the nature of “Year’s Best” collections. There’s no linking theme to these stories, other than good writing and strong storytelling.

Pick up The Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2012, and you’re sure to find a story or two that will personally haunt you.

The Girl on the Glider by Brian Keene

Brian Keene's The Girl on the Glider, $2.99 ebook.
Brian Keene’s The Girl on the Glider, $2.99 ebook.

The Girl on the Glider introduces us to one of Brian Keene’s most interesting and complex characters—himself.

Keene’s foray into metafiction is a successful one. The Girl on the Glider chronicles Keene’s personal ghost story, as well as his private struggles as a husband, a father, and a cult horror writer with a big fan base but modest bank account.

Keene tips his hat to the authors that have walked this literary road before him; Hunter S. Thompson, Tim Powers, and Stephen King. The Girl On The Glider also shares a thematic bond with Whitley Strieber’s “all-true tales.” Is it easier or more difficult to suspend your disbelief when the storyteller is a known spinner of fantastic tales? Does even matter, so long as the writing is good?

Keene’s ghostly encounter leaves him a changed man — a better man.

The Girl on the Glider has the power to affect readers the same way.