CC Spin: Stories of Walter de la Mare

Short Stories, vol. 1, by Walter de la Mare

When will I learn not to read giant collections of short stories all at once?  I regret it every time.

Walter de la Mare sure wrote a whole lot of short stories.  They were for an adult audience and published in magazines at the turn of the century, when there was an endless demand for them.  Volume I covers 1895 - 1926, so a good bit more than just the turn of the century. 

These stories are mostly somewhat spooky.  They're not outright scary or horror; they're gently unsettling, or creepy, or disturbing, but they're not usually obvious about it. 

Some of them are rather thematic.  There were four or five stories in a row featuring characters inspecting gravestones for interesting, amusing, or pathetic epitaphs, which I sincerely hope were real epitaphs de la Mare had collected himself.

One story, one of the more obviously spooky ones called "The Riddle," had a detail that I believe may well have made its way into John Bellairs' The Mansion in the Mist.   

But, the trouble is that when I try to read an entire collection of short stories, I very soon get pretty tired of whatever the short stories are.  This is nearly 500 pages' worth of de la Mare being gently unsettling, and I just didn't want that much all at once.  So while I didn't finish the collection, I did get a good dose of de la Mare, and I believe I could spot one of his stories at 100 paces.  I'm going to call it good.

So that was a fairly successful Spin, I think.  I hope another one shows up soon -- and meanwhile, tomorrow is the start of 20 Books of Summer!


  1. I love short stories but never seem to make time to read them. And I find them difficult to blog about -- do you write about individual stories? As a whole? And I agree, it's hard to read a lot of them at once. I hadn't heard of de la Mare but I am intrigued, especially the reference to John Bellairs who was one of my favorite writers as a child, I loved The House with a Clock in Its Walls. Delightfully creepy!

  2. Karen, I should have said who de la Mare was! He was an English writer and did a lot of stories and poetry for children, including collections of poetry in general. That's what he's most known for today.

  3. Good job reading so many! I'm trying to think what I know La Mare from. I think maybe children's poetry.

  4. I know what you mean about short story collections. I've been reading a collection of Guy du Maupassant's stories for Paris in July for 3 yrs now. I read 3-5 each year and will hopefully finish the book this year.
    I once tried to read William Trevor's complete short story collection as a regular book, by about the twentieth story I was feeling numb!! Took me years to pick it up again.

    Congrats on completing your (our) 20th ccspin :-)

  5. That's what I should do, Brona! And congrats to you too ;)

  6. Good effort! They were originally published in ways that were meant to be read once a month or week or so. Perhaps that's how they work best.

  7. There are a few short story collections that I have read all at once, but they were all fairly short. Definitely not 500 pages!

    I have not done a CC Spin yet since joining the club last year. Maybe I will do the next one.

  8. I hope so, Beth! Spins are my favorite. :)


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