"He said he'd come like a lion, with wings on..."
August 26, 2007 9:03 PM   Subscribe

Here are four classic short stories by John Collier in four different forms: the original text of his famous "Thus I Refute Beelzy"; a 1947 radio script for "Evening Primrose"; a radio version of "Back for Christmas", starring Peter Lorre; and Patton Oswalt's interpretation of "The Chaser."
posted by Iridic (10 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Wonderful. I'd never read "Beelzy" before and it's perfect. Thank you.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:59 PM on August 26, 2007

I am a huge fan of John Collier. If you like these, I highly recommend the collection "Fancies and Goodnights", which contains all of these stories (I know it has three of them, anyway, and I think it has the fourth as well) and many more.

He also wrote a novel (only one, to my knowledge) called "His Monkey Wife", which is quite good, although it never rises to the level of his best short stories.

I have always thought his style very reminiscent of the adult works of Roald Dahl (which I would also highly recommend, espcially to those of you grew up on his works for children and teens and are pining for the same wit with more sex, violence, and misanthropy). But Collier has a voice which is also uniquely his own -- all at once dry, cynical, innocent, and twisty, like a fairy tale that accidentally wandered into an abbatoir, or an O. Henry tale as interpreted by someone with more humor and skill.

Thanks for this post.
posted by kyrademon at 11:41 PM on August 26, 2007

Good lord do I love John Collier, thank you for this post.

I was a pretty creepy little kid, and I remember going to one of the public librarians complaining that I'd made my way through all of Stephen King and John Saul and various others, and that there just wasn't anything left to read. She smiled and led me to "The John Collier Reader." I devoured it. I still think back to that as an example of fantastic reader's advisory - knowing what I had already read, and taking me to the next level, of something a step above.

Years later I tracked it down to purchase, it's long out of print, and it's even better to read now as an adult.
posted by librarianamy at 5:34 AM on August 27, 2007

I've been a fan of Collier since I was just a bit older than Small Simon, and the final line of "Beelzy" has stayed with me for decades. Thank you for the links.
posted by mkhall at 5:36 AM on August 27, 2007

Another Collier fan here—a battered copy of Fancies and Goodnights is among my oldest possessions, and I never get tired of reading those wonderfully mordant little stories. Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 6:34 AM on August 27, 2007

John Collier +++.

As others have mentioned, I treasure my copy of Fancies and Goodnights. "Evening Primrose" has always been one of my favorite short stories.

Thanks for the post. Iridic.
posted by dersins at 8:46 AM on August 27, 2007

We had to read "Beelzy" in the ninth grade. I remember it being in a smallish textbook with a bunch of other great short stories by a variety of writers - "Bill's Little Girl," "The Rocking Horse Winner," "Snakedance," and "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" were a few of the stories I remember being in it. I wish I could find a copy of that book, or at least remember the name of it.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:10 AM on August 27, 2007

I'd never read Collier before, but after "Beelzy" I'm a fan. Thanks for the post.
posted by danb at 11:05 AM on August 27, 2007

Glad there are so many fans here!

I also guard my copy of Fancies and Goodnights closely. It's a paperback "Bantam Giant" from 1953. Age has done such a number on the spine that to read the book is to damage it. And yet, I keep reading...
posted by Iridic at 5:12 PM on August 27, 2007

"The Touch of Nutmeg": short, simple, creepy as hell. This description applies to so many of Collier's stories. I recommend reading Fancies and Goodnights a little at a time. They're so short, it's tempting to gulp down a few at a time. But control yourself; they deserve to be savored.
posted by SPrintF at 8:32 PM on August 27, 2007

« Older My Early Muir Owl (it's an anagram)   |   Can't Hurt To Ask! Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments