Vintage Treasures: Nine Horrors and a Dream by Joseph Payne Brennan
Back in September, prodded on by some comments Douglas Draa made in my article on The People of the Black Circle, I tracked down a copy of Joseph Payne Brennan’s short story collection The Shapes of Midnight (which I wrote about in detail here).
I didn’t know much about Brennan (that’s one of the wonderful things about this hobby — always delightful new authors to discover!) I recently came across him again, this time in a collection of 52 vintage paperbacks I bought on eBay for fifteen bucks — a collection which also included The Unknown and Robert Bloch’s Nightmares. (Here’s a pic of the set, since I know I’m gonna get questions about it). The book this time was titled Nine Horrors and a Dream, a very slender paperback containing, not too surprisingly, 10 stories.
Once again I turned to the experts to find out more. Our buddy Douglas Draa talks in detail about the book on his blog, Uncle Doug’s Bunker of Horror. Here’s what he has to say, in part:
Nine Horrors and a Dream has been one of my most sought after books these last several years… the wonderful “Richard Powers” cover art has help to maintain the high interest in this specific collection. So I was very happy to get this book at a fair price…
What I enjoy so much about these stories is Mr. Brennan’s economy of word, sense of place and strong mood. Most of his stories [are] fairly short, but he stills manages to make them into fully fleshed out reading experiences. Nine Horrors and a Dream is a prime example… That calibre of writing [isn’t] something you stumble across every day.
More than enough of an endorsement for me. I find it curious that there’s some story duplication with The Shapes of Midnight, though. And while we’re asking questions, which story is the dream? I suppose that’s all part of the mystery. I plan to dig into in this weekend and find out.
Nine Horrors and a Dream was published in 1962 by Ballantine Books. It is 122 pages, originally priced at 35 cents in paperback. It was originally published in hardcover by Arkham House in 1958. It has been out of print for over five decades. I bought my copy for about 30 cents, as part of a collection.
I’ve only read a few of his stories, but I’ve enjoyed all of them. I’ve got a couple of Brennan collections in the TBR pile, but not this one. I’ll have to hunt it down.
Have you read Borders Just Beyond, the collection from Donald Grant? It was only available in hardcover, so it’s much pricier than the other Brennan paperbacks. Still, I’ve very curious about it.
I have ‘Borders Just Beyond’. I think I paid around $45 for it in decent shape, though it often goes for more. (The perils of there only being a signed limited with no reprints). It mainly has stories written in the mid 1980s with a handful from the 50s/60s/70s. Well worth reading, although it does become apparent that Brennan does like to re-explore the same themes again and again in different stories. I’ve read ‘Nine Horrors and a Dream’, ‘Borders Just Beyond’, ‘The Shapes of Midnight’, ‘Stories of Darkness and Dread’ along with most of the Lucius Leffing collections. One interesting little fact about the Arkham House edition of ‘Stories of Darkness and Dread’: Stuart David Schiff (of Whispers) got together with Brennan, and they took 100 copies of ‘Stories of Darkness and Dread’ and created an ‘Authors edition’ signed and numbered by Brennan. Just for extra annoyance to collectors 🙂
> One interesting little fact about the Arkham House edition of ‘Stories of Darkness and Dread’: Stuart David Schiff (of Whispers) got together with Brennan, and they took
> 100 copies of ‘Stories of Darkness and Dread’ and created an ‘Authors edition’ signed and numbered by Brennan. Just for extra annoyance to collector
I’ve never collected signed, limited editions, although I know they’re popular. I spend enough money just collecting the cheap paperbacks, thank you!
But I know that the money that comes from the signed limited editions frequently subsidizes the regular editions, and it keeps collectors happy… so I guess everyone wins. 🙂