A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Saturday Shorts Week 41
Welcome to our weekend series for 2014. Every Saturday this year one of our staff will suggest a favorite short story from the library’s collection, all of them a great choice for quick weekend reading.
All these things I saw as they carried me dead and stiffening, for my soul was still among my bones, because there was no hell for it, and because Christian burial was denied me…
“Where the Tides Ebb and Flow” is told by a corpse. A corpse who “had done a horrible thing” and is denied proper burial. Left to rot at the edge of the tide, the sea regularly brings its bones a tantalizing peace that quickly ebbs away.
It’s a morose little plot that shouldn’t go anywhere, but Lord Dunsany turns it into a cosmic vision, not just of the afterlife, but of the far flung future.
It’s cleverly done and beautifully written to boot. There’s nothing else quite like it—the way it packs an irresistible narrative pull into an artsy, prose-poemy style.
Lord Dunsany’s work is mostly known as an important influence on Tolkien and Lovecraft. In a weird way I think his Great-Forefather reputation in fantasy and horror actually diminishes his real value. He’s too often praised and too rarely read. Give our Dunsany collection, In the Land of Time, a chance. It’s not just the roots of so much genre fiction, it’s a great read.
Review by Matthew