Eerie; but not supernatural, sf, dark fantasy, etc.

Extollager

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This thread is for the identification and discussion of stories that have a real quality of eeriness but do not involve the fantastic. I suppose there might be stories that could have a supernatural explanation, but this would not be the inevitable explanation. I would prefer to rule out stories that are plainly accounts of telepathy or precognition.

I suggest:

Novel: The Ice Palace, by Tarjei Vesaas
Movie: Vertigo
Story: "The Hour After Westerly," by Robert M. Coates. It is reprinted in Bradbury's Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow and first appeared in The New Yorker:


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tegeus-Cromis

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John Crowley, "The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines," in Conjunctions 39
M. John Harrison, "The Ice Monkey" as well as a bunch of other stories
Penelope Fitzgerald, The Gate of Angels, as well as a chapter in her The Beginning of Spring; oh, and several of her short stories collected in The Means of Escape
Borges, "The South"
 

Randy M.

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On my TBR are Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay and Wisteria Cottage by Robert Coates. I'm not sure either is exactly what you're looking for, but they came to mind almost immediately.

It's been too long since I read these to recall with precision, but how about "The Fifth Head of Cerberus" by Gene Wolfe and Against Infinity by Greg Benford?

Maybe, "How Beautiful with Banners" by James Blish, and "The Man Who Walked Home" by James Tiptree, Jr.?

Oh, and To Walk the Night by William Sloane, though his plain prose style may work against eeriness a bit.

Just some thoughts.

Randy M.
 

Extollager

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Randy, I've read Picnic, and, yes, that works within the parameters I indicated. The stories you mention I don't think I have read. To Walk the Night I've read a couple of times, but it's certainly sf and so wouldn't fit this thread. (I liked The Edge of Running Water more, I think.)

Wisteria Cottage I'll have to look up. (And try to keep myself from expecting something out of Sherlock Holmes!)
 

Toby Frost

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My first thought would be the film Heavenly Creatures, by Peter Jackson, where a sort of hysteria (for want of a better term) makes imaginary figures come to "life" for the two girl characters. I remember the Joan Hickson adaptations of Miss Marple for the BBC had similar elements. Their version of Nemesis terrified me as a child. Mary Stewart - who wrote several Arthurian novels - wrote a romance called Thornyhold that worked a bit like this.

Personally, I find this feeling in a lot of crime fiction, particularly that set before 1960, where the potential presence of the murderer haunts the story like a ghost. I find the waterfront section of Chander's Farewell My Lovely and the casting-reel bits of The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy very much like this.
 

Extollager

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Penelope Fitzgerald, The Gate of Angels, as well as a chapter in her The Beginning of Spring; oh, and several of her short stories collected in The Means of Escape

I've read those novels, but that was some years ago. I don't recall eeriness in them except that there was an outright supernatural; ghost story -- I think; wasn't it an MRJ pastiche? -- in Gate. Thanks.
 

Toby Frost

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Would The Hound of the Baskervilles work? I don't find it eerie, personally, but I did find that in the short story "The Dancing Men".

Oh, and I wonder if parts of The Dumas Club by Arturo Perez-Reverte would count? It's about a man trying to summon Satan, but there's no indication that the summoning would work and that the man isn't just deluded. It contains some creepy pictures, probably inspired by Basil Valentine's alchemical writings.
 

Randy M.

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Randy, I've read Picnic, and, yes, that works within the parameters I indicated. The stories you mention I don't think I have read. To Walk the Night I've read a couple of times, but it's certainly sf and so wouldn't fit this thread. (I liked The Edge of Running Water more, I think.)

Oops. Should have read the thread title more carefully.

The Hound of the Baskervilles might well be eerie to some readers. Rebecca, sometimes described as a ghost story without a ghost, might also be.

Wisteria Cottage I'll have to look up. (And try to keep myself from expecting something out of Sherlock Holmes!)

:)


Randy M.
 

tegeus-Cromis

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I've read those novels, but that was some years ago. I don't recall eeriness in them except that there was an outright supernatural; ghost story -- I think; wasn't it an MRJ pastiche? -- in Gate. Thanks.
Read them again. At the end of Gate, the gate of the title is mysteriously open for IIRC the third time in 500 years. No one knows who opened it. This casts the whole book in a different light, and (ambiguously, yes, but that's precisely what you were asking for) puts the M.R. James pastiche too in a different light -- maybe it wasn't just fiction.

In The Beginning of Spring, the late chapter set at the dacha has some eerie elements that are never explained: either dream, hallucination, or something supernatural.
 

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Some Shirley Jackson stories come to mind, specifically 'The Witch'. For a book, I'd say The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. The whole 'I'm a bug now' could be taken literally or metaphorically. From that same book, OP, there are 'The Sound Machine' by Roald Dahl and 'The Witnesses' by William Sansom. In fact, a lot of those stories seem to fit the bill.

For a movie...The Vampire's Kiss?
 

Extollager

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Remember, folks, we seek books for this thread that are not sf or stories of “the supernatural” ....
 

Randy M.

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Don't know, Baylor. "Eerie" leaves a lot of room for subjectivity, but I'm not sure I think of "Sardonicus" as eerie. There is a section of Cornell Woolrich's Black Alibi -- a young girl going for her father's dinner -- that I think comes closer to eerie. (And again, someone else might disagree with that.)
 

Guttersnipe

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Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction is an anthology series with each episode compounded by five stories that are either whole cloth or bizarre true accounts. Many of the real stories seem supernatural, but are likely explicable.
 

Randy M.

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Another that comes to mind, but might lean toward the supernatural enough to be disqualified: John Dickson Carr's The Burning Court. I've read that Carr often played on the fringes of ghost/horror stories with his mysteries. The Burning Court, not one of his series novels, offers two solutions to the crime under investigation, one natural, one less so.
 

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