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Manly Wade Wellman
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 21 January, 2019 03:12PM
Hi,

By a sheer accident I found a book of short stories by Manly Wade Wellman who wrote for Weird Tales. Has anybody read something by this author to tell me if his work is worth giving a try?

Thanks.

Re: Manly Wade Wellman
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 22 January, 2019 08:09PM
In my opinion, it is.

I think he was a serious artist whose sensibilities were largely formed by the 1930s "common man" archetype. He has a recurring character, Wander John, or something ike that, who is a wandering folk musician/hired hand with some unspoken knowledge of folk traditions and magic. In a sense, Woody Guthrie with mojo. The best stories are set in the Appallachians, and there is s dark, woodsy element that reminds you of buck dancing and moonshine.

In my mind he is related thematically to R.A. Lafferty.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Manly Wade Wellman
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 3 August, 2020 04:22AM
Being attracted to the Appalachian hillbilly setting with supernatural overtones, I tried one of Wellman's tales, "Walk Like a Mountain". But I thought the prose was much too simple to be enjoyable for an adult. It reads like something out of Andrew Lang's Fairy Books. There were a few good lines of descriptive atmosphere ("Best-looking big woman I ever see, brown hair like a wagonful of home-cured tobacco, eyes green and bright as a fresh-squoze grape pulp."), but not much. Does not hold up as fine weird literature. And the prose doesn't connect very well with the setting or the deeper meaning of events, at times so bad or hasty as to be incomprehensible. In purpose a simple morality tale using terminology taken from the Bible. Something you might perhaps find in a Christian book store, in the children's section.

I suppose one has become spoiled, reading authors like Lovecraft, Smith, Blackwood, and Walter de la Mare ... .

Re: Manly Wade Wellman
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 3 August, 2020 10:38AM
Stylistically nothing like CSS, huh? :^)

Wellman is like an FDR-era folklorist--a sort of Woody Guthrie of modern folk myth. For another more closely related author, in both style and tone, there's R. A. Lafferty.

Too, I got the same feeling from Wagner's "Sticks"--uniquely American rural.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Manly Wade Wellman
Posted by: Ken K. (IP Logged)
Date: 3 August, 2020 03:33PM
I can only say that I enjoyed Wellman's stories as a child and continue to enjoy them as an adult. It's true that he doesn't have the "cosmic" viewpoint of some other weird authors, but that isn't a prerequisite for me. As for his voice, I think it is an integral part of the appeal of his stories. I find his rustic, backwoods characters more believable than HPl's.

That said, I never thought Walk like a mountain was the best of the John the Balladeer tales. The Desrick on Yandro is far superior, in my opinion.

Re: Manly Wade Wellman
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 7 August, 2020 05:49AM
Ken K. Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I can only say that I enjoyed Wellman's stories as
> a child and continue to enjoy them as an adult.
> It's true that he doesn't have the "cosmic"
> viewpoint of some other weird authors, but that
> isn't a prerequisite for me. As for his voice, I
> think it is an integral part of the appeal of his
> stories. I find his rustic, backwoods characters
> more believable than HPl's.
>
> That said, I never thought Walk like a mountain
> was the best of the John the Balladeer tales. The
> Desrick on Yandro is far superior, in my opinion.


Well, I also gave "The Kelpie" a try, as kelpies are a fetish of mine. I liked it better, especially the early part, enjoyed the perked up humour. Still pulpy.

That sentence I cited above has stuck with me. Instead of using generic terms, like the sea, emeralds, chestnut, Wellman described the woman's hair with tobacco and her eyes with fresh-squeezed grape pulp, which really gives a sense of beauty and location in the rustic backwood. Truly wonderful, I have not read anything similar before.

I will read "Desrick on Yandro" too.

Have tried to find a "best of" Wellman list. A few indications point toward After Dark, "Shonokin Town", "Up Under the Roof", "When it Was Moonlight", "Come Into My Parlor", "Fearful Rock", ... .

Re: Manly Wade Wellman
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 7 August, 2020 10:14AM
If you would ever like to get a pretty good rendering of central/western Appalachian dialect, try out Cormac McCarthy's The Outer Dark, or Child of God, if you haven't already.

I'm interested in how these dialects traveled west. As a kid, in rural California, I grew up with the sons and daughters of the grapes of wrath; I might as well have gone to grade school with the Joads. These folk came mainly from Arkansas/Oklahoma, but my guess is that many of their forebears came from with Appalachia or the deep south and really not that much prior to the migration to CA.

There are lots of differences, too. Where McCarthy heard "kindly" in the place where we on the west coast would use "kind of", I heard "kindy".

"I'm kindy (or kindly) tired today."

(Ah'm kindy tarred today.)

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Manly Wade Wellman
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 7 August, 2020 04:54PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As a kid, in rural California, I grew up with the sons and daughters of the grapes of wrath

The Residents moved from Louisiana to San Francisco, and started career from avant-garde art music. I don't think they ever felt the grapes of wrath. They became their own "free market capitalists", tongue-in-cheek. Buy or Die! was their slogan.


Here is their moody cover of Hank Williams' great song Jambalaya.
Live at the Fillmore - Jambalaya

Last night as I lay sleeping, ... I heard my darling call. ... And then I went to meet her ... by the singing waterfall.

Goodbye Joe, me gotta go me oh my oh
Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou
My Yvonne, the sweetest one, me oh my oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou

Jambalaya, a-crawfish pie and-a file gumbo
'Cause tonight I'm gonna see my ma cher amio
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou.

The Thibodaux the Fontaineaux the place is buzzin'
Kinfolk come to see Yvonne by the dozen
Dress in style and go hog wild me oh my oh
Son of a gun we'll have big fun on the bayou



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 7 Aug 20 | 05:35PM by Knygatin.

Re: Manly Wade Wellman
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 7 August, 2020 05:28PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If you would ever like to get a pretty good
> rendering of central/western Appalachian dialect,
> try out Cormac McCarthy's The Outer Dark, or Child
> of God, if you haven't already.
>

He writes about pretty gritty matters, doesn't he?

Re: Manly Wade Wellman
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 7 August, 2020 06:42PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > If you would ever like to get a pretty good
> > rendering of central/western Appalachian
> dialect,
> > try out Cormac McCarthy's The Outer Dark, or
> Child
> > of God, if you haven't already.
> >
>
> He writes about pretty gritty matters, doesn't he?

Pretty grim sometimes, yes.

The first and only time I read The Road, I had to put the book down for a while, when I realized the reality that the narrative POV was facing with his son.

It was this: all of his effort was to try as hard as he could to keep his son alive since toddlerhood, day-to-day, with utterly no real hope of anything being any better, and the constant threat that it was likely to be infinitely worse.

His legacy was to leave his young son, maybe 8, with a single bullet for a revolver, and the knowledge of how to use it to kill himself, in the very likely event that this would prove the best way out. This was his *greatest* possible gift, given the situation. The entire 6 year odyssey came down to that.

I've never had that happen before or since, where I put a down for a while before finishing it.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Manly Wade Wellman
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 10 August, 2020 06:17PM
The Residents have their roots in the southeast backwoods, so I'll post one more melody, just for the hell of it. I realize their music and art can be very unpleasant. It is intentionally grating.

Here is a creepy one. I am curious how Lovecraft and Smith would have reacted if they saw this? Merely disgusted?
Love Leaks Out

Re: Manly Wade Wellman
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 10 August, 2020 08:32PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The Residents have their roots in the southeast
> backwoods, so I'll post one more melody, just for
> the hell of it. I realize their music and art can
> be very unpleasant. It is intentionally grating.
>
> Here is a creepy one. I am curious how Lovecraft
> and Smith would have reacted if they saw this?
> Merely disgusted?
> Love Leaks Out


Hah!

Well, they're not for everyone, are they? ;^)

I can recall when they first made an impact in the Bay Area. I did not see them or hear them, but merely read *about* them.

OK, would Love Leaks Out have the same effect without the transitional face? To me, probably not. It would still be weird and compelling, but not necessarily grotesque.

Do you feel that they may well have affected David Lynch's visual sensibilities?

O think that this sort of art is valid. It doesn't need to have a point: its strength comes from what it evokes in the listener on the subliminal level. In this regard it s somewhat like Satie's piano stuff (Gnossienne 3, especially), or some minimalist compositions that basically sneak around the protection that they conscious can give us, and scares/disturbs us an a near primal level. This is NOT to say they are musically related, but are related in the way they can evoke an audience response.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Manly Wade Wellman
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 11 August, 2020 07:12AM
Glad it found some reaction! I was younger when I saw this the first time, and it disturbed me badly. There have been discussions whether The Residents have influenced David Lynch, but I don't know if it's confirmed. I think they are quite different from each other, sharing the nightmarishly unpleasant. But sure, I think Lynch is aware of them. Lynch is such a strong individual that he almost seems to stand independent all on his own. Matt Groening, who created The Simpsons, is a big fan of The Residents.

They were not musically schooled, but grew into instruments and all manners of sound-making tools alongside their artwork. I think they musically belong among the giant geniuses of the other 1970s rock groups, but took a weird slant and therefore remained obscure. They have been accused of damaging pop/rock music development in the transition from the 70s into the future. I think their overall most typical and greatest record is probably Duck Stab / Buster & Glenn.

Re: Manly Wade Wellman
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 11 August, 2020 07:30AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Satie's piano
> stuff (Gnossienne 3, especially), or some
> minimalist compositions that basically sneak
> around the protection that they consciously can give
> us, and scares/disturbs us an a near primal level.
>

I listened to Gnossienne 3. It was quite beautiful. Made me think of a bodiless soul, lost and seeking for a new home, without too much hurry or panic.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11 Aug 20 | 07:33AM by Knygatin.

Re: Manly Wade Wellman
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 11 August, 2020 09:26AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Satie's piano
> > stuff (Gnossienne 3, especially), or some
> > minimalist compositions that basically sneak
> > around the protection that they consciously can
> give
> > us, and scares/disturbs us an a near primal
> level.
> >

Ah, I typo'ed horribly, above. It changed my intended meaning...

Should be:

"[Resdients, Satie] or some minimalist compositions that basically sneak
around the protection that the conscious can give us, and scares/disturbs us an a near primal level."

My main point--and to me, this is important...I'm exploring this--is that certain works of art by-pass the conscious, sneaking past all conditioned defenses, like smug cynicism, hipness, etc.

In an emotional, reactive sense, they work the same way that viewing the liberation footage of the WWII death camps work: I could not avoid an emotional reaction, no matter what.

I'm now considering that some art also works the same way. Music especially.

...and by its nature, it is VERY powerful art.

>
> I listened to Gnossienne 3. It was quite
> beautiful. Made me think of a bodiless soul, lost
> and seeking for a new home, without too much hurry
> or panic.

Yes, I can see this, but...

I listen to a classical station to fall asleep to. I usually set the timer to 90 minutes. I awoke in the middle of the night, groggy, dissociative, and Gnossienne 3 was playing. I had never heard it before and it was *extremely* disorienting to me, in the half awake state, there in the dark.

It was very funny, later!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

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