Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Weird Tales Books

Alone By Night edited by Michael and Don Congdon

Don Congdon (1918-2009) was a longtime editor in the nation's publishing capital of New York City, arriving in 1935, and at the end of his life, running his own agency. According to the New York Times, he "developed an enviable reputation as a skilled editor, tough negotiator and shrewd judge of talent." He was Ray Bradbury's editor for over half a century. Other clients included William Styron, Jack Finney, and Evan S. Connell. Congdon landed himself in the news in 1966 when he sold the serial rights to William Manchester's "Death of a President" to Look magazine for the then-staggering sum of $600,000. A contentious lawsuit by the president's widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, followed. After changes were made to Manchester's manuscript, Mrs. Kennedy dropped her suit and the book and adaptation went to press.

During the 1960s, Congdon edited several collections of romance, war, and horror stories. One of these was Alone By Night (1961). Published by Ballantine Books and co-edited by Congdon's son, Michael Congdon, Alone By Night went through several printings as late as 1967. The book includes eleven stories. The subject of each is a favorite monster or creature: witch, ghost, werewolf, vampire. Even succubi, imps, fiends, and phantoms are represented. Three of the stories are from Weird Tales. The most famous of the stories in this book is probably Richard Matheson's "Nightmare at Twenty Thousand Feet," which was adapted to television in 1963 as an episode of The Twilight Zone with William Shatner in the lead role. A final comment: Henry Kuttner gets credit by name for "A Gnome There Was," but the story originally appeared under the pseudonym Lewis Padgett. That was a name shared by Kuttner and his wife, C.L. Moore, who was also of course a teller of weird tales.

Alone By Night edited by Michael and Don Congdon
(Ballantine Books, 1967, 144 pp.)
Introduction: "A Note to Teachers and Parents" by Richard H. Tyre, Abington High School, Abington, Pennsylvania
"Sweets to the Sweet" by Robert Bloch (Weird Tales, Mar. 1947)
"The Strange Children" by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Aug. 1955)
"The Likeness of Julie" by Logan Swanson (1962)
"It Will Come to You" by Frank Belknap Long (Unknown Worlds, Dec. 1942)
"A Gnome There Was" by Henry Kuttner (Unknown Worlds, Oct. 1941, as by Lewis Padgett)
"Nightmare at Twenty Thousand Feet" by Richard Matheson (1962)
"In the Midst of Death" by Ben Hecht (1945)
"Gabriel-Ernest" by Saki (The Short Stories of Saki)
"Baynter's Imp" by August Derleth (Weird Tales, Sept. 1943)
"Enoch" by Robert Bloch (Weird Tales, Sept. 1946)
"For the Blood Is the Life" by F. Marion Crawford (Wandering Ghosts, 1911)

Alone By Night, edited by Michael and Don Congdon. The cover artist is not identified, and I don't see a signature, but it looks like the work of Richard M. Powers.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

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