June 27, 2023

Cocktail Talk: The Terror By Night

Night Terrors Ghost Stories E.F. Benson

Recently delved into the full collection of ghost-and-such stories by E.F. Benson, said collection being called Night Terrors. E.F. Benson was an English writer, late 1800s-to-early-mid-1900s, who wrote all kinds of things, though he’s most known for his ghostly and spectral and other spine-tingling tales, which are, in the main, awfully fun to read (whether you do it at night or in the daytime – up to you). They follow along the time-period’s aesthetic (no modern slasher fair here friends), which I find myself enjoying muchly, especially in the last few years. There’s something so, oh, atmospheric, and the writing itself, always well-done. I’m not going to say every story here was to my taste, but there’s a lot of variety (vampires? Check. Ghosts of all kinds? Check. Giant worms? Check. And more!), and enough worthy chillers to balance out any less worthy. Do I like Mr. Benson’s work overall as well as M.R. James (the master of the time and genre)? Probably not, but I have been to Lamb House, where Benson lived in Rye, UK, so that’s something (admittedly, I visited cause Henry James himself lived there before E.F. Benson, but still). Not a ton of Cocktail Talking in the collection, but there was something delightful in the below quote, how one character manages to swipe a drink from another by saying “touch of liver.”

“I have felt most awfully down all day,” he said; “and just after receiving this splendid account from Daisy. I can’t think what is the matter.”

He poured himself out some whisky and soda as he spoke.

“Oh, touch of liver,” I said. “I shouldn’t drink that if I were you. Give it to me instead.”

–E.F. Benson, “The Terror by Night”

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