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The Wine Dark Sea Hardcover – October, 1988

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Since his death several years ago, British writer Aickman's reputation has continued to grow among connoisseurs of the horror story. Unlike much of the current form, full of blood, monsters and melodrama, Aickman's stories achieve a quieter, more subtle and, in several ways, more lasting sense of disquiet. His lucid, finely tuned prose moves imperceptibly from the small crises and celebrations of ordinary life into another sphere. In these 11 stories, the occasion may be a walking tour of Northern England, a birthday present of a Victorian dollhouse or a stay at a Swedish sanatorium for insomniacs, but it simultaneously traps the characters with dread and opens them up to a new awareness of a greater, deeper and more dangerous world. A remarkable collection by an author who deserves to be better known.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A traveler finds and loses paradise on an island in "The Wine Dark Sea" while another voyager's dreams come all too true in "Never Visit Venice." Together with nine other stories (uncollected in the United States) by the late author of The Model , this collection of subtle, sometimes ethereal horror tales provides a welcome antidote to more blatant examples of dark fantasy. Recommended. JC
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Arbor House Pub Co; 1st edition (October 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557100357
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557100351
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,305,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I strongly recommend the sadly hard-to-find fiction of Robert Aickman to ghost story aficionados, lovers of British literature, horror fiction readers willing to try something different and challenging, or just lovers of the short story form. Aickman's compelling, beautifully written, dreamlike stories are often puzzling, always atmospheric, and generally extremely memorable. The title story, a "strange story" (as the author liked to call his fiction) of a British tourist who journeys to a very strange Mediterranean island and meets three even stranger women, is typical of Aickman's bizarre, unsettling fiction. These stories are among his most accessible (although some readers will still undoubtedly find them opaque). If you are willing to risk being confused, Aickman's fiction is well worth your time. If you ever come across a copy of his first novel "The Late Breakfasters," which I don't believe has ever been published in this country, I would recommend that book perhaps even more highly.
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Format: Hardcover
'The Wine Dark Sea' is a fabulous collection by an unjustly neglected author. Robert Aickman writes stories unparalleled by any other writer. It's not hyperbole to call him the finest spooky story writer of the 20th century.
This particular collection, published several years after Aickman's death, gathers together several of his later stories. My favorite story is the eerie 'The Wine-Dark Sea' which tells the tale of a vacationer in Greece who, against the admonishments of his Greek hosts, takes a boat out to a deserted island. Once there he finds three exotic women who claim to be sorceresses. What follows is a magnificent story of magic, love, and betrayal. Quite simply one of the finest novellas I've ever read.
The rest of the stories in the collection are all fine reading, but none approaches the level of the title story. Of particular note is 'The Trains', the creepy story of two girls bumming through Europe who stumble across a mansion with a mysterious past.
As a previous reviewer noted, Aickman's stories aren't easy to read. You get the most out of an Aickman story if you go slowly, read every word, and occasionally re-read paragraphs. This method, combined with his lengthy stories, means that one story can take you up to an hour to read. It's a lengthy process, but the stories are worth it.
I'm only exaggerating a little when I say that it's a tragedy Aickman's stories are out-of-print. There was a very ..., complete collection released in the UK in 2000, but that doesn't help us Americans!
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Format: Hardcover
Robert Aickman's "strange stories" are far from the usual horror fare, and readers who prefer straightforward, no-nonsense spectres are well-advised to steer clear of Aickman's work. But if you are a fan of the beautifully-crafted supernatural stories of Henry James and/or Walter de la Mare, Aickman will be *essential* reading for you. At his best, his stories are small masterpieces of the uncanny that are all the more disturbing because it's often not entirely clear what has happened. *The Wine Dark Sea* is an excellent collection, which brings together a number of Aickman's most evocative tales. Try "The Inner Room" if you're skeptical--if it doesn't work for you, then Aickman may not be your cup of tea. Some of the stories in this volume are a bit uncharacteristically direct--"The Fetch and "Never Visit Venice" for example--but even they have layers of multiple meaning that make them very rich and rewarding reading. ...................... so don't give up on finding some of the stories of this great and sadly under-appreciated master of the supernatural story.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The British writer Robert Aickman is something of a legend among horror writers, because there has been no one writing like him since or even quite a while before him. His closest antecedents might be Franz Kafka, Isak Dinesen, and Algernon Blackwood--yet none of them are quite the same. His stories always feature very memorable atmospherics and a constant sense of the uncanny; yet although undeniably supernatural events often occur within them they are only rarely named or made explicable. The sense of them is like the dread you find when reading the great creepy stories by Roald Dahl or John Collier or even Rod Serling, but they (happily) lack the simple and too-satisfying "twist" explanations at the end.

Neither of his two novels are currently in print, and most of his story collections have not been; for now the three editions from Faber Finds, rife though they are with proofreading errors, are all that are in print. THE WINE-DARK SEA is certainly the place to begin, seeing as it has some of his very best stories and what Peter Straub calls in his preface Aickman's masterpiece, "Into the Wood." While this superior story about being specially chosen (and alienated) may well be his most profound piece of writing, it's certainly not Aickman's creepiest: that award might well belong to two other little gems in this collection, both of which involve his characteristic set-up of travelers going exactly where they shouldn't. "The Inner Room," an allegory of responsibility, reads like a supernatural version of an Ivy Compton-Burnett novel; it's repulsive in the best of senses.
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