Robert W. Chambers: Sentimental Horrification

An inspiration behind HBO's True Detective brings the horrors and earthly delights of the nineteenth century's roaring conclusion.

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The Philip Trent Mysteries

Why three lost tales of an amateur sleuth are among the best detective stories ever written.

 

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Wintry Mix

An inviting pile of season's readings -- magical, mysterious, and mirthful.

 

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The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton

The great chronicler of turn-of-the-century New York was also a master of the chilling tale.

 

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The Riddle of the Sands

Why this 1903 "Record of Secret Service" may be the first great modern spy novel.

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Jean-Claude Izzo: Noir under the Sun

Hot nights and cold Cassis with Marseilles' master of crime fiction.

 

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Evan S. Connell: Bridging the Islands

The late author was an artist unconstrained by genre or convention.

 

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A Pleasing Terror: Kingsley Amis's "The Green Man"

The novelist's booze-soaked, bittersweet take on the classic ghost story.

 

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The Purple Cloud

A chilling Arctic expedition, fueled by horrific magic.

 

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A Duckburg Holiday

How Carl Barks made Uncle Scrooge McDuck the center of a magical, web-footed world.

 

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Religio Medici and Urne-Burial

The haunting imagination and musical prose of a seventeenth-century physician.

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Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

A classic critique of our nation's changing discourse feels more relevant than ever.

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Mediterranean Breeze

Norman Douglas's classic novel of an Italian island makes for hilarious and "utterly pagan" beach reading.

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Diamond in the Roughneck: The Books of Harry Crews

The lasting impact of a writer committed to the "jagged edges" of the soul.

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Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights

How the stories of Scheherazade invented fantasy.

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A Dreamer of Mars: Edgar Rice Burroughs and John Carter

How a failed salesman became a titan of planetary romance.

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"We Revel in a Crowd of Any Kind": Dickens the Journalist

The great novelist, in love with the life of the streets.

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Journey to the Abyss: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler

A diplomat’s journals form a scintillating chronicle of the Belle Époque – and beyond.

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Beyond the Veil: The Fiction of Arthur Machen

It's Halloween -- time to revisit the stories of the one of the masters of the "weird tale."

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Arabian Sands

A classic epic of endurance is also a testament to the beauty and hardship of desert life.

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When the World Spoke French

A captivating history of an era in which the gaze of the world was fixed on Paris.

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Idle Reading

A wealth of recommendations for whiling away the summer days.

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Tono-Bungay

H.G. Wells's most insightful visions concerned money, ambition, and the human heart.

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The Vintage Thrillers of John Buchan

A celebration of the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps and other classic early modern thrillers.

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We, The Drowned

Carsten Jensen's international bestseller is a darkly magical voyage through a sea of stories.

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The Idle Pleasures of Jerome K. Jerome

Michael Dirda on the comic Victorian charms of the author of Three Men in a Boat.

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Winter's Tales

A host of haunting stories, made to savor by a December fireside.

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The Exploits and Adventures of Brigadier Gerard

A not-to-be-missed collection of delightful tales of the Napoleonic Wars, penned by the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

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The Ghost Stories of Lafcadio Hearn

 The uniquely chilling tales of an almost forgotten master of spectral fiction.

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A Visit to Don Otavio

Bruce Chatwin called Sybille Bedford's classic of travel writing a "book of marvels," and Michael Dirda agrees.

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About the Columnist
Michael Dirda is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post Book World. He is the author of the memoir An Open Book and several collections of essays. His most recent book is Classics for Pleasure.

April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.