One of the things I often do as I'm reading a novel or short story is keep track of words whose definitions I do not know or that I find interesting. Either way, these interesting words are ones I feel might be of use in my own writing. That, and it's good to expand one's vocabulary every once in a while.
These interesting words were found in Paul Kemp's Ephemera: Dark Stories from the mind of Paul S. Kemp.
apotheosis: the elevation of a person (as to the status of a god)
caravel: The caravel of the 16th century was a small vessel with broad bows, high, narrow poop, four masts, and lateen sails. Columbus commanded three caravels on his great voyage.
effigy: a representation of a person (especially in the form of sculpture
iconoclast: someone who tries to destroy traditional ideas or institutions
inchoate: only partly in existence; imperfectly formed
insensate: devoid of feeling and consciousness and animation
parturition: the process of giving birth
proclivities: a natural inclination
repertory: the entire range of skills or aptitudes or devices used in a particular field or occupation
torpor: inactivity resulting from torpidity and lack of vigor or energy
viridian: a durable bluish-green pigment
[ Follow me on Twitter ]
Ephemera by Paul S. Kemp is a collection of previously published shorts that the author collected together into a new, single volume source available in Amazon's Kindle store. Kemp is the NY Times bestselling author of the popular Erevis Cale novels and stories.
As the sub-title indicates, these are dark tales. You won't come away feeling good. You'll experience murder, rape, injustice, and torture. But Kemp handles each of these topics with a certain finesse, neither overdoing it nor throwing in something just for shock factor. There may be some unsavory happenings, but they're each integral to the story in question.
The collection consists of just over 200 pages and includes the following stories:
- The Signal (available as a free download from the author's blog): A hard-boiled detective story with a Lovecraftian slant.
- One Thousand and One Words: A reporter's visit to a reclusive enigma's mansion may be his last.
- Marlboro Man: A story about a very unangel-like angel.
- Confession: Two brothers go to summon a demon.
- The Spinner: A nautical tale about wrongdoing and self-sacrifice.
- Stillborn: A witch's tale of sacrifice.
- The Sixth Floor: A short but chilling story of zombies and survival.
I found each of the stories enjoyable (maybe that's the wrong word given the content; let's say instead the stories and characters did an excellent job of luring me in). The only exception might be Marlboro Man. I don't object to the blasphemy. The story itself just didn't leave me as haunted or as satisfied as the others. My favorites were The Signal, The Spinner, and The Sixth Floor. The last, while the shortest, is also the most chilling. It's a nice send-off for what is a very well written, haunting collection of shorts.