Weird France and Belgium: A Best Of

“Yet, I also began to have the sense, fostered in part by the cross-contamination of research, that around the world enclaves that never knew one another—writers who could not have read each other—still had communicated across decades and across vast distances, had stared up at the same shared unfamiliar constellations in the night sky, heard […]

About André Bay’s “The Queen of Spades”

I confess I know little, and almost all of it circumstantial, about this atmospheric sketch of a gutter-dwelling worm. It was written by André Bay (1916-2013), for more than four decades a senior editor at Éditions Stock. Among the diverse writers he championed there were Jorge Amado, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas Wolfe, Anaïs Nin, and […]

The Queen of Spades

Night travelers step from the train. I’m freezing. Footsteps hammer the street, shaking white droplets loose. The gutters are streaming. Mice are nibbling on cobwebs. Cows moo in the mist. Everywhere, without speaking a word, they fear the Queen of Spades. She is a woman, a monster, some claim; others maintain she is a gigantic […]

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 […]

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 […]