You Hear The Strangest Things: The Eerie Stories Of Robert Aickman
The midcentury English author's dark stories have been making a comeback — and are ideal for fireside listening on dark nights.By Brendan ByrneOct 27, 2016 12:21 PM
The self-described “strange stories” of Robert Aickman feature protagonists who are travelers, indulgers of long meandering walks, or at the very least deeply at odds with the reality they inhabit. Operating within the established tradition of the classical English ghost story, as developed and entombed in cold, dank stone by M.R. James, Aickman writes a subtle, elegant, and deeply upsetting kind of horror.
When hearing Aickman’s stories, especially with the fluidity of actor Reece Shearsmith’s (co-creator of The League of Gentlemen) vocal performance, the listener is unable to place a barrier between themselves and the relentless momentum of the narrative. Shearsmith doesn’t hold hands in the narration, nor does he adopt the pseudo-Shakespearian inflection which often stands in for “British.” He speaks quickly (with a regional accent described by some English people as “soft Hull”) and lets the occasional off-kilter pause add to the disquiet. The result is truly chilling.
While Faber & Faber is republishing a great quantity of Aickman’s stories, both this autumn and next spring, the only way of getting The Wine Dark Sea and The Unsettled Dust this Hallow’s Eve is via Audible.