Read Vampire's Honeymoon by Cornell Woolrich Free Online
Book Title: Vampire's Honeymoon|
The author of the book: Cornell Woolrich
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 471 KB
Edition: Carroll & Graf Publishers
Date of issue: July 1st 1985
ISBN 13: 9780881841329
Read full description of the books Vampire's Honeymoon:This is a small paperback, packaging together 4 stories. I wonder what the motivation was - "vampire books are selling - do we have any classic vampire stuff in our holdings? And anything else that's similar, by the same author?" or, the reverse "I'd really like to get some of these Woolrich holdings back out into the public - this vampire story is kind of weak but vampires are selling right now..." Who can tell?
Regardless - when Woolrich was attempting to break into the pulp markets he tried his hand at a number of genres. Thus, the titular story here - although Woolrich's cynical and bleak worldview had some resonance with "horror" (and he had interest in some horror tropes as story props, see "I'm Dangerous Tonight" and "Jane Brown's Body") he was not a "horror writer", really, but the first story in this collection, "Vampire's Honeymoon", *is* a straight-up horror tale (seemingly influenced by the vampire films of the time) with a "real, live vampire" (to quote Carl Kolchak). The set-up feels very noir, as a mysterious women inexplicably draws the main character (Dick Mannering) away from his fiancee and into an obsessed marriage after only a chance meeting (nicely staged on the inaccessible balcony of a Manhattan penthouse). The role of savant, the expert in vampire lore, is perfunctorily filled here by a GP at a shore vacation town. Woolrich's main interest is in Mannering's falling thrall to Faustine (the vampire), her will overcoming his. It's interesting that the vampire has already been codified, by this point, as a stylish creature of the night, moving coldly through high society parties (could all this be derived from Dracula or from films of the time?). Some of the material here can be read as symbolic of a gay subtext, given Woolrich's real-world situation (Faustine's attempt to initiate Mannering into the strange world of vampires) or more of a flash-forward to brutal noir (Mannering's repeated attempts to suffocate Faustine with a pillow as she sleeps - to no avail - and, believe it or not, using the butt of a gun to hammer a stake into a vampire's heart!). It's not as subtly written as most Woolrich - the agonized main character is not as well-drawn as usual - but it's probably the first time in literature a vampire (view spoiler)[was ever killed with a broken hockey stick (hide spoiler)]!
for the two central stories, I will now re-purpose reviews from previous readings in different volumes:
"Graves For The Living" - a full-bore pulp horror crime story in which a man with a morbid obsession with premature burial (how Poe!) runs afoul of the Friends Of Death - a secret society that offers members eternal life (or at least resurrection from natural death) in return for loyalty and financial remuneration - but if you break the rules, you get buried alive! (just his luck!). This has a great dramatic "cut to the chase" opening (even if it then necessitates a rather unlikely extended flashback, given the dire circumstances) written in a suspenseful pulpy style that just clips along (what could be more pulp than a secret society that's infiltrated the country and meets in a seemingly abandoned country mansion where they maintain their own private graveyard and perform initiation rituals in black robes and skull masks?!? They're practically *begging* to have The Spider burst through the doors and gun them down while cackling insanely!). As usual with a secret society story, paranoia is all embracing (they're everywhere and know everything!) which gives us a superb moment mid-story involving a crowded train station and a telephone booth and - presaging later Woolrich - there's a hideous moment of implied police torture of an informer (purely to save someone's life, you understand!). The story rattles along with such punchy writing that you can kind of forgive the formulaic ending (it's a truism that vast conspiracies are easier to dispose of convincingly in novels rather than short stories, where the quick dismantling draws the reader's attention to the literary sleight of hand the author pulled in the first place). A fun read!
"I'm Dangerous Tonight" - A thoroughly enjoyable novella, Woolrich's take on the "cursed item" horror trope but here fed through a pulp-crime-noir lens - the item in question is a haute couture red dress (demonically inspired, it would seem, and named by the title) that ignites generalized hatred and near uncontrollable homicidal desires in those that wear it. The early chapters trace the owners of the dress through vignettes of random murder, betrayal, madness and suicide - while simultaneously tracking the parallel story of an American detective in Paris out to avenge the death of his brother who was killed by a heroin dealer - this thread later taking over the story proper until the fatal piece of clothing unexpectedly reappears (because it has to!). What's so enjoyable in the reading of this is that Woolrich has come up with a perfect conceit to justify mayhem and amoral, bloodthirsty action - essentially, the dress transforms anyone who wears it (hell, anyone who even holds it) into a femme fatale and turns every relationship between characters into a scenario waiting to be corrupted into a noir movie! As the story moves back to the United States and it's flashy ending in a Long Island night club, we also get a bit of crossover with the world of William S. Burroughs, as a scene involving a heroin dealer reveals the same street argot of names that Burroughs mined so effectively (here "Revolving Larry" caught my eye, specifically).
The final story here, "The Street Of Jungle Death" was expanded by Woolrich into the novel Black Alibi and filmed as THE LEOPARD MAN (directed by Jacques Tourneur). When a movie ballyhoo stunt goes awry, a leopard is accidentally released into the streets of Hollywood - but is it responsible for the string of killings that follow? One detective thinks not, despite public and police opinion to the contrary. Woolrich realized that the plot afforded him the opportunity to showcase extended, suspenseful sequences of lone victims being stalked, playing ancient fears of wild predators against modern urban settings. On the other hand - it's not a very good story, truth be told. The central misdirection "mystery" (human or animal killer?) is fairly obvious early on but, since the tale is a whodunnit, we can't actually get to know the weird motivations of the actual killer (he doesn't even get a "ha ha ha -you'll never understand why I did it!!" scene) as the usual "race against the clock" plot (fairly clumsily handled itself, what with a chase of a hansom cab and subsequent search of a five story apartment) only allows after-the-fact explanations and suppositions. Still, the suspense sequences are well-done and I liked the razzle-dazzle opening, as a beautiful girl walks a dangerous leopard down Hollywood Boulevard on a flimsy leash. I might mention that, as in "Vampire's Honeymoon", there's a character here named "Mannering" - perhaps the brother of the character in the initial story?
Read information about the authorCornell Woolrich is widely regarded as the twentieth century’s finest writer of pure suspense fiction. The author of numerous classic novels and short stories (many of which were turned into classic films) such as Rear Window, The Bride Wore Black, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, Waltz Into Darkness, and I Married a Dead Man, Woolrich began his career in the 1920s writing mainstream novels that won him comparisons to F. Scott Fitzgerald. The bulk of his best-known work, however, was written in the field of crime fiction, often appearing serialized in pulp magazines or as paperback novels. Because he was prolific, he found it necessary to publish under multiple pseudonyms, including "William Irish" and "George Hopley" [...] Woolrich lived a life as dark and emotionally tortured as any of his unfortunate characters and died, alone, in a seedy Manhattan hotel room following the amputation of a gangrenous leg. Upon his death, he left a bequest of one million dollars to Columbia University, to fund a scholarship for young writers.
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