This is a very quickie blog post, composed in part because we have had all kinds of problems with people who have signed up for updates when new blogs go up to receive an email stating as much, with those emails never arriving. Another fix was attempted this morning. Hopefully it will work.
Wrote an op-ed this morning but I'm not optimistic that anyone will publish it. But, trying to get it out there now. Re-read Richard Middleton's "The Ghost Ship" for a Daily Beast piece I am writing this week. It's a wonderful story, unique in several ways, and Middleton hit upon an arresting first person narrative voice that sometimes, mid-sentence, has this little catch in it; I almost think of it like a crossover in hockey; you've slowed down, but you're building speed as you come back out of the crossover. (If you're not a hockey person, this is what you do when you're rounding a corner, and you cross one skate over the other--the outer skate over the inner, to be exact, as you lean in the direction in which you are turning.) Middleton killed himself in his late twenties. "The Ghost Ship" became the title story of his lone collection, for which Arthur Machen, who is better known among ghost story aficionados, wrote the introduction.
That's the first edition, obviously. But, you can also find the book online for free, and on Kindle. The Ghost Ship and Other Stories was published after Middleton's death. Raymond Chandler met him when Chandler was a young man. As you probably know, Chandler didn't really start his writing career until he was in his mid-forties. Richard Middleton may have been part of the reason. Middleton was always poor, and Chandler thought that he didn't have nearly Middleton's talent. Did he? Well, Chandler could be a fine writer, but I've never read something by him that is as indelible as "The Ghost Ship." Or as inventive. Not many people who have lived have the ability to think up a story like that, which looks so simple, and yet, you'd almost have to give your soul in a deal to come up with it. Anyway, Chandler thought that if Middleton couldn't achieve financial success as a writer, there was no way he could. We know that Middleton had not up until that point. But he would have had many years to keep trying. I think about him more than you might think. Part of that is because "The Ghost Ship" is one of the finest works I've short fiction I've ever read.