October Reading Group Selection

Book Beat’s Reading Group selection for October is Ancient Sorceries and Other Weird Stories by Algernon Blackwood. We will discuss the following stories: The Willows, The Insanity of Jones, Ancient Sorceries, The Man Who Found Out and the Windigo. The Reading Group will meet Wednesday, October 30 at 7pm in the Goldfish Teahouse (117 W 4th St, Downtown Royal Oak, MI 48067). Books are discounted 15% at Book Beat. All are welcome!

“Of the quality of Mr Blackwood’s genius there can be no dispute; for no one has ever approached the skill, seriousness, and minute fidelity whith which he records the overtones of strangeness in ordinary things and experiences.”—H.P. Lovecraft

By turns bizarre, unsettling, spooky, and sublime, Ancient Sorceries and Other Weird Stories showcases nine incomparable stories from master conjuror Algernon Blackwood. Evoking the uncanny spiritual forces of Nature, Blackwood’s writings all tread the nebulous borderland between fantasy, awe, wonder, and horror. Here Blackwood displays his best and most disturbing work-including “The Willows,” which Lovecraft singled out as “the single finest weird tale in literature”; “The Wendigo”; “The Insanity of Jones”; and “Sand.”

“Blackwood’s work is a brilliant envisioning of the Weird and the incomprehensible, an evoking of what the author calls with immeasurable understatement the peculiar beyond ordinary (p. 164). These stories not only defy time and the reality that gave our conception of it birth but, themselves, are timeless.” — The Hat Rack

“My fundamental interest, I suppose, is signs and proofs of other powers that lie hidden in us all; the extension, in other words, of human faculty. So many of my stories, therefore, deal with extension of consciousness; speculative and imaginative treatment of possibilities outside our normal range of consciousness. … Also, all that happens in our universe is natural; under Law; but an extension of our so limited normal consciousness can reveal new, extra-ordinary powers etc., and the word “supernatural” seems the best word for treating these in fiction. I believe it possible for our consciousness to change and grow, and that with this change we may become aware of a new universe. A “change” in consciousness, in its type, I mean, is something more than a mere extension of what we already possess and know.”  –Algernon Blackwood

Algernon Henry Blackwood was an English short story writer and novelist, one of the most prolific writers of ghost stories in the history of the genre. He was also a journalist and a broadcasting narrator. He was an occasional essayist for various periodicals. In his late thirties, he moved back to England and started to write stories of the supernatural. He was very successful, writing at least ten original collections of short stories and eventually appearing on both radio and television to tell them. He also wrote fourteen novels, several children’s books, and a number of plays, most of which were produced but not published.


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