The Sting of Disillusionment

PerchanceToDreamIn his poem, “Roses,” William Carlos Williams writes, “The imagination, across the sorry facts, lifts us to make roses.”  The poem can be uplifting or cynical, depending on its interpretation.  When I sat down to write this piece, I was going to say that the poem was needlessly negative.  Are the “facts” really that “sorry”?  And can’t the mind work in an opposite way, so that everything around us is really rather nice but appears abysmal?  Conversely, writers, for years, have been fascinated with the concept of disillusionment.  Our minds build castles in the sky, and when those castles collapse, we see a depressing reality – or so the story goes sometimes.  This was clearly Charles Beaumont’s interest in “The Magic Man,” a short story in his Perchance to Dream anthology – a story that isn’t scary, per se, but that subtly leads us to the darker crevices of the human psyche.  (There will be some spoilers in this review). Continue reading “The Sting of Disillusionment”

The Sting of Disillusionment

To Read “Perchance to Dream”

PerchanceToDreamI love folksy beliefs.  Chief among those that interest me is the belief that if you die in your dream, you really die.  I don’t imagine this is true, because I have died in my dreams, and I’m still here to relate the experience.  Sometimes in my dreams, I don’t merely die; I’m already dead.  But Charles Beaumont taps into this fear of dream-death in his short story “Perchance to Dream,” which is also the name of the collection of short fiction the story appears in.  Beaumont, one of the most influential Twilight Zone writers, died of Pick’s disease (and, possibly, early-onset Alzheimer’s) at age 38, but his contributions to the horror and science fiction genres are nonetheless abundant.  This is the first of his works I’ve read, but with the compilation Perchance to Dream safely in my hands, I intend to read many more. Continue reading “To Read “Perchance to Dream””

To Read “Perchance to Dream”

“The Voice in the Night” and the Illusion of Place

The voice in the night 2“The Voice in the Night,” by William Hope Hodgson, published in 1907, starts like a stereotypical horror story: “It was a dark, starless night.” But Hodgson manages to provide suspense – and at least a few small surprises – throughout the telling of his story. As is typical of old horror stories, a narrator regales us with macabre events that have passed. George, the narrator, is sailing through the Northern Pacific with his friends, when they hear a faint voice coming from a small boat. Continue reading ““The Voice in the Night” and the Illusion of Place”

“The Voice in the Night” and the Illusion of Place