Beaumont(h) – Post 8/9

beaumont-08

Beaumont(h) Introduction

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]


 

[315] THE POOL (unpublished until 2000 collection)

A Touch of the Creature

5 out of 5 stars. 

The Plot:

Sleepless, Paul stands beside his dreaded pool in the middle of the night.

John Fowles’ Daniel Martin (1977) has scenes and themes which echo this piece (unintentional, since “The Pool” was unpublished until 2000). It’s odd to keep finding similarities between two authors who I would have considered to be so different (Post 6, note [227]).

[316] Reference:

The Japanese first made Pigeon’s Blood vases many years before Christ’s death and people thought only of their beauty; nowadays there are eccentric laws forbidding their manufacture.

(p.154)

There are still Pigeon Blood glassware and vases, but it seems to refer directly to the red color, not having been made from blood. Oddly, I can’t find any history of the term.

[317] “The Pool” feels painfully autobiographical, especially in script-writer Anderson’s desires:

The first novel of the distinguished young American short story writer, Paul Anderson, is without question one of the most important documents of this, or any other, generation. The prose is clean and deceptively simple, but in its eminent readability, one never loses sight of the tremendously profound message which underlies every sentence. What Hemingway was to another demand, Anderson is to…

(p.160)

[318] This story is steeped in the main character’s history and self-mythology but spells very little out. Beaumont manages to give a dreamy story depth – this is chilling and disturbing on a subliminal level. Probably the best piece of writing Beaumont produced. The only reason I can’t call it my favorite is because I don’t enjoy it as much as endure it.

In his dream, Paul saw two windows in the room, side by side. One was open, and wind set the ragged lace curtains undulating: the other window was closed, puttied, nailed, and dust lay caked over the seams.

Suddenly the room became alive. The sounds took shape and he saw many doves, spotless, fragile. The doves were fighting frantically for escape.

Before the dream closed into fitful darkness, Paul heard and saw the wild white birds flying again and again at the closed window, hurling their bodies at the grimy glass, some falling to the floor, some merely crying and fluttering their wings.

But all avoiding the open window.

(p.163)

[319] RESURRECTION ISLAND (unpublished until 2000 collection)

A Touch of the Creature 

5 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

Eccentric film director Carl Grushkin calls for 10,000 extras on his private island. Movie Secrets writer Arthur Wilde sneaks in to investigate.

[320] Crisp, attitude-filled style with none of the overly stylistic hep-crap nonsense that sours some of Beaumont’s other stories.

He was drinking milk out of a Martini glass as I walked in. The shades were drawn. Everything was quiet.

“You wanted me?” I asked.

He put down the glass and coughed: Welch had ulcers. “Yes. What are you working on?”

I wasn’t working on anything, but you learn to think fast in Hollywood. “The Sinatra thing.”

He looked puzzled for a second. Then he said, “Drop it. Turn it over to Mike.”

(p.138)

 

“I got the rumble from Angelino.”

Angelino: that’s a four-foot, five-inch newsie on the strip. A little blackmail here, a little informing there. People pity him. They tell him things. He tells us.

(p.138)

[321] Reference:

Then came the remake of Griffith’s Intolerance.

(p.139)

Intolerance is a 1916 epic silent film directed by D.W. Griffith. It is widely regarded as one of the great masterpieces of the silent era, as well as one of the first art films.

[322]

I felt it coming, the way you feel a dentist’s drill a second before it hits your tooth.

(p.140)

[323]

“Would Grushkin recognize you?” With me, it was a chance.

“I doubt it,” Sandy said. “Extras don’t have faces, friend. They’re just atmosphere.”

(p.141)

[324]

She looked mad for a second, then she smiled. “I like you, Mr. Wilde,” she said. “I don’t know exactly why – you’re not very good-looking, and you’re a little old. But I like you.”

“Everybody does,” I told her, “for the first five minutes.”

We did the silent scene; then somebody knocked on the door and shouted, “On deck!” and that broke it.

“Afterwards?” I said.

She said, “Afterwards.”

(p.143)

[325]

A small guy with a big limp led us up the steps.

(p.143)

[326]

And then, slowly, slowly, the giant door began to open.

Somebody said, “Goddamn.” He was right.

(p.144)

[327] Reference:

Grushkin was going out for the Quo Vadis routine.

(p.144)

Quo Vadis is a Latin phrase meaning “Where are you going?” It’s also the title of a 1951 American epic film directed by Mervyn LeRoy, adapted from the classic novel Quo Vadis (1896) by Henryk Sienkiewicz.

[328] References:

“Waiting on the field of crushed rock, by the banks of the Sambre, are fifteen hundred crack Nervii warriors.”

(p.147)

The Sambre is a river in northern France and in Wallonia, Belgium. The 19th-century theory that the Sambre was the location of Julius Caesar’s battle against a Belgic confederation (57 BC), was discarded by 1955 but is still repeated.

The Nervii were one of the most powerful Belgic tribes, living in northern Gaul at the time of its conquest by Rome.

[329]

He loped over to the highest turret, crawled to the top and stood on the edge. He swayed there a second, and I searched his face; but it wasn’t pain I saw. It wasn’t surrender, either. I don’t know what it was. I don’t think he knew himself.

He had fifty feet, straight down, to figure it out…

(p.153)

[330] THE RIVAL (unpublished until 2000 collection)

A Touch of the Creature

2 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

Tim Ryan’s wife is having an affair with someone he knows very well.

Feels like it takes place in the same depressing location with similarly depressing characters as “With the Family” (Post 9, note [373]).

[331] SONG FOR A LADY (1960)

Perchance to Dream; Twilight Zone Original Stories

3 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

Newlyweds taking the final cruise of the Lady Anne find the boat populated by aged Brits who demand the young couple leave.

[332] Reference:

In a way he looked like the late C. Aubrey Smith, only older and thinner.

(p.117)

Aubrey Smith (1863 – 1948) was an England Test cricketer who became a stage and film actor, acquiring a niche as the officer-and-gentleman type, as in the first sound version of The Prisoner of Zenda (1937).

[333]

Eileen said, “Look.”

I looked. And ran into hundreds of unblinking eyes, turned directly on us. Staring as though we were a new species.

(p.120)

[334] SORCERER’S MOON (1959)

Best of Beaumont; Perchance to Dream

1.5 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

The last two warlocks on earth battle with the help of a modern man.

A very short punchline story like “Blood Brother” (Post 1, note [17]) and “Place of Meeting” (Post 7, note [305]).

[335]

Although in his time, which was now approaching four hundred years, he had fetched corpses back to life, turned lead into gold, and joked with the Devil, he was nevertheless a skeptic at heart. What he did not understand, and he understood a great deal more than most people, he did not believe.

(p.35)

[336] TEARS OF THE MADONNA (1957)

The Hunger 

3 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

Ramon travels to the city with money saved for a bullfight. Instead he pays for a night with a woman known as the Flower of Mexico.

Well-written, but the story ends before the plot does. Beaumont requires the reader to do a lot of the work to find any meaning. We don’t know enough about the characters, how they feel about religion, the conflict, to understand Ramon’s actions and reactions.

[337]

“It is much too hot,” he said, “for death.”

(p.170)

[338]

He whispered in a low smelly voice.

(p.175)

[339] Translate:

The sign was solemnly lettered: TEATRO DE LA ALEGORIA.

(p.175)

Spanish: Theater of the allegory

[340] Fact Check:

“Did not the one who modeled Michelangelo’s infant Christ, did he not come back one day to the master and sit for the portrait of Judas Iscariot?”

(p.178)

According to Snopes, this story is “simply a Christian religious allegory warning of the inner spiritual decay (as exemplified by an outer physical decay) that awaits those who spurn Jesus Christ.”

[341]

“They make her stare into the lights,” the man said. “Otherwise, she cannot cry.”

(p.179)

[342] THREE THIRDS OF A GHOST (1953)

Best of Beaumont

3.5 out of 5 stars. 

The Plot:

Sir F— spends the night in kindly Baron von T—’s castle.

Beaumont uses the old-fashioned style of listing years, places, and people with dashes (18–; Sir F—; B— Forest), and then twists the expectations for great comic effect.

[343]

“—,” whispered Baroness von T—, when Sir F— made so bold as to —.

“—,” answered he.

“—–”

“—”

While the storm howled outside the unshuttered windows, they ——- the night long; then at the —’s first crow, the baroness bestowed a last —- on Sir F—’s —- and, smiling again the friendly smile, picked up the spent candle and darted silently from the room.

(p.230)

[344] Idiom/Reference:

Unable to answer, Sir F— boarded his train. And for years afterward, he could not hear the expression “laying a ghost,” without suffering a reaction variously described by his friends as hysteria, Sydenham’s chorea, and fantods.

(p.231)

I think Beaumont is referencing the saying “laying a ghost to rest.” I’ve never heard anyone just say “laying a ghost.”

Sydenham’s chorea (SC) or chorea minor (historically referred to as Saint Vitus Dance) is a disorder characterized by rapid, uncoordinated jerking movements primarily affecting the face, hands and feet.

[345] TIME AND AGAIN (unpublished until 2000 collection)

A Touch of the Creature 

3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

Mr. Friedman is talked out of selling his book collection by the prospective buyer himself; a failed author with strangely familiar eyes.

[346] First line:

His manner was courteous and, I thought, a little sad at the task before him – which was to cheat me.

(p.111)

[347] References:

He had unconsciously withdrawn a pristine copy of Breasted’s excellent study; his fingers ran along the finely tooled leather. It was an example of Bayntun’s best work.

(p.111)

James Henry Breasted (1865 – 1935) was an American archaeologist, Egyptologist, and historian. Breasted was a committed field researcher, and had a productive interest in recording and interpreting ancient writings, especially from sources and structures that he feared may be lost forever.

George Bayntun (1873 – 1940) was an English bookseller, bookbinder, and collector. He built a world-famous book-binding business, which is still active today.

[348]

He slumped into the chair and folded his hands. Thin, pale hands. Artist’s hands.

(p.113)

[349]

“The usual first novel?” I said, hoping to cheer him, hoping to learn more.

He crumpled an empty cigarette package and took one of mine. “Four novels,” he said. “Over a hundred short stories.”

“Rejected?”

He nodded.

I fumbled. “Were they good?”

“No,” he said, with finality. “No. You see, Mr. Friedman, the thing is just because you love books and literature, that doesn’t have a damn thing to do with whether or not you’re a good writer.”

(p.114)

[350] References:

Where the kindly old proprietor sits perched on a ladder and makes you buy a copy of Strindberg’s Spook Sonata.

(p.114)

Johan August Strindberg (1849 – 1912) was a Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist and painter. He is considered the “father” of modern Swedish literature and his The Red Room (1879) has frequently been described as the first modern Swedish novel.

The Ghost Sonata (Spoksonaten) is a play in three acts by Strindberg, written in 1907 and first produced in 1908. Ingmar Bergman directed the play four times.

[351] References:

Searching for data concerning the site of the village of El Amarna. Lovett’s Wonders of the Nile was proving inadequate to my needs.

(p.115)

Amarna is an extensive Egyptian archaeological site that represents the remains of the capital city established and built by the Pharoah Akhenaten and abandoned shortly after his death (1332 B.C.). The area is located on the east bank of the Nile River.

I can’t find an author by the name of Lovett that would fit this context, or a book called Wonders of the Nile.

[352] References:

HUYA-SON-OF-TERURA (…) Tomb uncovered by Prof. Richard von Hanstein’s fruitful expedition of 1926 into the Sakkarah site region.

(p.116)

Amarna Tomb is a sepulcher near Armana, Upper Egypt. It contains the tomb of the Ancient Egyptian noble Huya, who lived around 1350 BC. He was “Superintendent of the Royal Harem,” “Superintendent of the Treasury” and “Superintendent of the House.” His remains have never been identified.

Beaumont creates a different character of Huya than what is known from his tomb. In his story, Huya’s mummy has been identified and photographed; his occupation was an artist and he committed suicide by drowning.

Richard von Hanstein doesn’t appear to be a real figure.

Saqqara (also spelled Sakkara or Saccara in English) is a vast, ancient burial ground in Egypt, serving as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis.

[353] THE TRAIN (1957)

The Hunger 

1 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

A train-obsessed boy sneaks around the cars while his mother is asleep.

If you understand where this story goes after that one-line plot, please let me know. This might be Beaumont’s worst. It strains, it’s trying so hard, and I can’t follow it.

[354] Reference:

He walked from Tecumseh into Chief Powhatan.

(p.80)

Tecumseh (1768 – 1813) was a Native American leader of the Shawnee who led a large tribal confederacy which opposed the United States during Tecumseh’s War and became an ally of Britain in the War of 1812.

[355] An example of what I dislike so much in this one:

Listen, Neely! Listen, to the big sharp wind now, how it screams all around you! And see into the night, into the million fear-filled shadows, the cold and lifeless night. Feel the strong iron wheels bump and pound, carrying you through it all. And most important – he went to the railing and put his small hands about the metal – most important, Neely, let it come true. Let it come true!

(p.81 – 82)

[356] TRAUMEREI (1955)

Perchance to Dream 

2 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

A man set to be executed for murder warns those around him: they are all figments of his dreaming mind and if he dies, they all go.

A case where the Twilight Zone episode (“Shadow Play”) vastly improved on the source material. It’s hard to rate the story for itself because the episode is so ingrained in my mind.

[357] What does traumerei mean?

German: dream

Kinderszenen (“Scenes from Childhood”), Opus 15, by Robert Schumann, is a set of thirteen pieces of music for piano written in 1838. No. 7, Traumerei, is one of Schumann’s best known pieces.


 

Post 9/9

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