W. W. Jacobs’ greatest legacy remains his occult horror story "The Monkey’s Paw", the grotesque talisman of the title offering its owner three wishes, albeit with unintended consequences. Ironically, however, the great majority of Jacobs’ short stories are humorous, lighthearted affairs, often celebrating saucy English sailors. Performer Walter Covell exhibits remarkable vocal dexterity as he weaves together seemingly disparate threads - horror and comedy - into this rich and varied tapestry of storytelling. Covell alternately conjures up the dark, foreboding cadence of an Edgar Allen Poe tale one moment, and the jaunty good humor of a Bertie Wooster the next - indeed, Jacobs was a favorite of fellow British humorist P. G. Wodehouse. This classic collection features 12 short stories, including "The Well", "The Monkey’s Paw", and the title piece.
Stories included are:
"The Lady of the Barge"
"The Monkey's Paw"
"Bill's Paper Chase"
"In the Library"
"A Tiger's Skin"
"A Mixed Proposal"
"An Adulteration Act"
"The Golden Venture"
"Three at Table"
Walter Covell rough almost harsh voice leaves one feeling as though the narrator has spent or misspent a lifetime on the open seas. He tells these stories like an old mariner at the dockside pub.
I had mixed reactions to these short stories. Almost none came out the way one expects. In one case, a murderer walks away unpunished; further the reader (listener) cheers and the tiger story is absolutely fun, well at the end. My three favorites are: The Lady of the Barge although, I am not exactly sure what was resolved, it was an interesting boat ride, I think the guy got the girl; A Mixed Proposal where the lover is cheated out of his lady by his lady and his rival (I cheered for the rival); Captain Rogers was alluded to above as a story where the murderer walks free undetected. The Monkey's Paw and The Well are a bit macabre for my sensitive nature and tender heart. Nevertheless, there other natures and hearts which will find them engrossing, even entertaining.
If you buy this book, don't expected a barn burner. The stories are merely interesting, drops of picante sauce in the gumbo of one's library of life.
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