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Old 11-10-2015   #1
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Saki

For the last week I have been checking out the works of Edwardian writer Saki through Wikisource and the like (I'm broke!). His macabre tales bring to mind the dark wit of Roald Dahl or Ambrose Bierce. He is classified as a weird writer by some, but so far of the stories I have read I would class very few under this umbrella, although The Music on the Hill feels like a sort of companion piece to Machen's The Great God Pan, with a greater focus on the psychological/emotional aspects which I look for in fiction.

My favourite Saki so far is a horror story, although not a supernatural one. It is entitled The Interlopers, which despite no weird elements contains a similar undiluted evocation of the futility of human endeavour under the indifferent, untameable spell of the wild universe. Instead of a tale of love conquering all, it is a tale of how the great All shall forever conquer love, with its ghoulish final twist being bleakly amusing. A perfect horror tale.

I am also fond of his beastly weird tale Sredni Vashtar, regarding dark youthful revenge, and of The Cobweb, which reminded me slightly of Walter de la Mare's more solemn, pensive tales of eerie spiritual disquiet. Another story of note is of course his famous ghost story subversion story The Open Window, which I may perhaps have encountered in school as it felt curiously familiar.

Any other fans of Saki on here? Any recommendations of other stories of his which could be considered 'weird fiction'?

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Old 11-10-2015   #2
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Re: Saki

I used to read Saki compulsively. I have never considered him a 'weird writer'. I think of him more in line with the great British authors like Waugh and Wodehouse. I like all of the stories you mention. "Tobermory" is also a favorite. Whenever I think about it, I laugh. Combining the attitudes of cats and the stereotypical 'superior' Englishman -and I say that with all due respect and admiration - is pure genius. I recommend The Chronicles of Clovis and Beast and Super-Beasts.
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Old 11-16-2015   #3
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Re: Saki

I've only read a few Saki stories but I agree that 'Sredni Vasthar' and 'Tobermory' are great. I also like 'Laura'.

The Mask Behind the Face, Pendragon Press 2005
Shards of Dreams, Double Dragon eBooks 2004
Spare Parts, Rainfall Books 2003

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Old 11-16-2015   #4
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Re: Saki

I've read lots of Saki in the past, and The Interlopers is my favorite short story, not just of his, but of all. I read it when I was, I don't know...maybe 10 years old? I never forgot it.

I think what grabbed me the most at that young age was the shocking cruelty of life. No matter the mood, the intentions, the genuine spiritual embrace, fear to unhinge the mind is just around the corner...or coming down the hill.

Lucian pigeon-holed the letter solemnly in the receptacle lettered 'Barbarians.' ~ The Hill of Dreams by Arthur Machen

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Last edited by njhorror; 11-19-2015 at 10:33 AM..
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Old 12-20-2015   #5
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Re: Saki

Just spotted this. Tom Baker reading Sredni Vashtar.

The Mask Behind the Face, Pendragon Press 2005
Shards of Dreams, Double Dragon eBooks 2004
Spare Parts, Rainfall Books 2003

Stuart Young\''s blog: http://stuartyoungwriter.blogspot.co.uk/
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Old 12-20-2015   #6
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Re: Saki

Only last week, on the spur of the moment, I bought a copy of Saki's The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories, published by New York Review Books, which features illustrations by Edward Gorey. There is a blurb on the back cover by another of my favourite writers, Patrick Mcgrath, and this is what he says:

Like Wilde and Wodehouse, Saki knew his way round the clubs and country houses of the upper classes, whose absurdities and hypocrisies he exposed with razor-sharp wit... One is delighted to discover a writer with a vision of humanity shot through with pessimism as bleak as that of Swift, Celine, Bernhard, Kingsley Amis.



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Old 12-22-2015   #7
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Re: Saki

Quote Originally Posted by bendk View Post
I used to read Saki compulsively. I have never considered him a 'weird writer'. I think of him more in line with the great British authors like Waugh and Wodehouse. I like all of the stories you mention. "Tobermory" is also a favorite. Whenever I think about it, I laugh. Combining the attitudes of cats and the stereotypical 'superior' Englishman -and I say that with all due respect and admiration - is pure genius. I recommend The Chronicles of Clovis and Beast and Super-Beasts.
Yesterday I read "Tobermory" for the first time and I still have a smile on my face. What a brilliant conceit, and perfectly executed. I love how quickly the assembled guests progress from incredulity to astonishment to mortification to planning the strychnine-sardines diet.

A cat "instructed in the art of human speech" is indeed a terrifying prospect. I dread to think what my cat would have to say about me, should I ever be foolish enough to ask him. The things he has witnessed in my little apartment--I shudder at the thought. I must keep him away from my dictionaries and grammar books!

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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Old 12-23-2015   #8
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Re: Saki

Apparently a talking cat would just say "Hey."

The Mask Behind the Face, Pendragon Press 2005
Shards of Dreams, Double Dragon eBooks 2004
Spare Parts, Rainfall Books 2003

Stuart Young\''s blog: http://stuartyoungwriter.blogspot.co.uk/
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Old 12-25-2015   #9
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Re: Saki

I read everything buy Saki when I was very young and he seeped into my bones. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. He was one of the authors killed in WW 1. His last words, right before the mortar shell landed that night in late 1916, were supposed to be, "put out that damned cigarette."

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