Thursday, March 09, 2006

"Nightmare" by Shirley Jackson

Whether this story is maddeningly funny or maddeningly frightening we leave to the listener to decide. It's a fine spring day in New York City and Miss Toni Morgan has a package to deliver for her boss, but somehow the world around her is not cooperating, or maybe she's just feeling a little paranoid. Read by Scoot. Time 33:09.

Most people (including ourselves) know Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery" and her novels We Have Always Lived in the Castle or The Haunting of Hill House, but perhaps not much more of her ouevre, although it includes a great many more stories and books she wrote before her untimely death in 1965. She was married to the critic Stanley Edgar Hyman, with whom she had four children. Somehow we suspect it wasn't the easiest thing in the world, being married to a critic with four kids while trying to write modern gothic tales, because the two memoirs she wrote about her family life were titled Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons. Perhaps she felt a bit persecuted.

Monday, March 06, 2006

"Potiphar's Wife" by Brion Gysin

You might remember the story of Joseph the shepherd and Potiphar his rich employer from the Old Testament; well, this isn't exactly that, though there are some parallels, obviously. Set in corrupt, smuggler-ridden post-World War II Morocco, which will be familar to readers of Paul Bowles, this is the tale of innocent Yussef and married Zuleika--who may just not be all that good for each other. Read by Scoot. Time 24:08.

Standing in the shadows and hidden in the indices of many mid-twentieth-century accounts of the Beats and other dharma bums is Brion Gysin, a true Renaissance man, inventor of the "cut-up" and the Dream Machine, painter, collagist, historian, jazz musician, shipyard welder, poet, novelist, "Sufi maverick," and anarchist of sorts. Although he described himself as "the man from nowhere," he was English, Canadian, American, and French, in that order. Maybe it was just the drugs, but he obviously wanted people to experience some kind of otherworldly, perhaps divine, experience through his work. Hassan-i-Sabbah, the Old Man of the Atlas Mountains, might be able to tell you more...