Jean Muno’s Unusual Tales: The Silver Age of the Belgian School of the Strange

If the gods of Golden Age of the Belgian School of the Strange are Jean Ray, Thomas Owen, and Franz Hellens, its Silver Age hero is surely Jean Muno. The only child of writer parents, Muno was born Robert Burniaux in a Brussels suburb in 1924 — the year André Breton published the first Surrealist Manifesto, as Muno […]

65 Beginnings by Pierre Bettencourt

… and now for something completely different. Pierre Bettencourt (1917 – 2006) is a merry prankster, an eccentric of French letters. If the history of the French fantastique in the 20th century has gone somewhat underground, if many of its practitioners are forgotten today, Bettencourt is even more obscure, a lifelong outsider artist despite coming from a prominent family: his […]

Echoes III: Making Love in a Fishbowl: Comparing Two Short-Shorts

  “There was a story, probably apocryphal, that James T. Kirk had once said that captaining the Enterprise was like making love in a fish bowl. You couldn’t make a move without someone voicing an opinion about your technique.” ~ David Gerrold, Star Trek: The Next Generation – Encounter At Farpoint So, let’s talk about technique. This week we present, side by […]

Devaulx Redux: A Few Stories in Greater Detail

Discussions of Noël Devaulx often turn around a handful of the best-known, or at least most approachable, stories.  And the man has written so many: the count was 105 before his last four collections. I have spoken of Devaulx’s economy; here, for instance, is the opening line of his story “The Lady of Murcia”: We had rented […]

Pierrette Fleutiaux: The Queen’s Metamorphoses: The French Angela Carter?

The ogre’s wife is a secret vegetarian, a purger of eaten meats. A girl when the ogre abducts her, she believes him first an angel (in a snowstorm), then a devil (on a beach), mistaking his swiftness in seven-league boots for flight. The child’s perceptions are convincingly presented, and transparently horrifying; for adult readers, the crime is all the more chilling […]

Noël Devaulx: The Secret Master

Noël Devaulx is the secret master of the 20th century French fantastic,” I wrote in 2009. And by that I meant in letters, in essays, in interviews, in conversation, he was the name on everyone’s lips, everyone I was reading and researching. Scratch a French fantasist, find a reference to the former Breton engineer, René Forgeot, whose pseudonym had been […]