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Cold Hand in Mine Paperback – 21 Aug 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (21 Aug. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571244254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571244256
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 510,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

Cold Hand in Mine, by Robert Aickman, is a reissue of the classic collection from the master of horror, with an introduction by the writer and creator of The League of Gentlemen, Reece Shearsmith. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Robert Fordyce Aickman was born in 1914 in London. He was married to Edith Ray Gregorson from 1941 to 1957. In 1946 the couple, along with Tom and Angela Rolt, set up the Inland Waterways Association to preserve the canals of Britain. It was in 1951 that Aickman, in collaboration with Elizabeth Jane Howard, published his first ghost stories in a volume entitled We Are for the Dark. Aickman went on to publish seven more volumes of 'strange stories' as well as two novels and two volumes of autobiography. He also edited the first eight volumes of The Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories. He died in February 1981.

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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Reader in Tokyo on 26 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
This book was published in 1975 and was the fifth of the eight original collections of the author's short stories. The works in it have been dated between 1969 and 1975; all but one were from the early/mid-1970s, near the end of the author's career.

During his lifetime, Aickman published 47 short stories, and two more pieces have come into print since his death in 1981. For this reader, the best of his short works from throughout his career succeeded in balancing four elements: hypnotic developments and action, mesmerizing and dreamlike images that captured a character's inner life, an uncovering of the ways people behave toward each other, and a haunting and open-ended conclusion.

Model stories combining these things included "The Trains" (1951), "Ringing the Changes" (1955) and "The Swords" (1969). Almost as good were "The Inner Room" (1966) and "The Hospice" (1975), despite extra layers of obscurity or developments bordering on parody. By comparison, many other pieces by the author often contained something memorable but felt lacking in one element or another. Another type of worthwhile story from this writer expressed a bit more of what might be called his philosophical outlook, and for me the clearest of these was "The Wine-Dark Sea" (1966). Others were "Into the Wood" (1968) and "The View" (1951).

The present collection contained just two of the stories named above: "The Swords" and "The Hospice," works about sexual initiation and death, and which were mainly what made this collection worthwhile. The rest of the later pieces here, for me, were in the category of "not his best," comparatively lacking in depth and power; they were from a period when the pacing of his stories seemed to grow increasingly deliberate, the text longer and the prose heavier.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By TomCat on 16 April 2012
Format: Paperback
Robert Aickman's stylistic proclivities are in line with such writers as Algernon Blackwood and H.P. Lovecraft - (and more recently Thomas Ligotti owes Aickman a debt) - in that his stories are characterised by a wanton sense of ambiguity and a frequent refusal to provide the reader with any kind of closure or resolution. It's telling that Cold Hand in Mine quotes in epigraph Sacheverell Sitwell, "In the end it is the mystery that lasts and not the explanation", and I took this as a useful heuristic when faced with the frustration of an abruptly ended story or the never-arrival of a long-teased denouement. `The Swords', for example, opens with the sexually suggestive question "My first experience?" and a short biography from the narrator that baits the reader into expecting an entirely conventional loss of virginity bildungsroman. What follows, however, is a journey to that staple locale of so many classic horror stories: the out-of-the-way mist-shrouded town, and an encounter with a strange kind of theatre in which a woman is repeatedly stabbed by members of the audience - (coming to no apparent harm) - before being sold as prostitute to our narrator and literally falling to pieces during the sex act. It's tempting to paste some hackneyed psychoanalytical significance onto the repeated stabbing of the woman, and the sexual metaphor of swords as phallic substitute is perhaps a little too in-your-face; but fundamentally this is a narrative that demands reader-input and analysis if it's to make any kind of sense. The language of performance coupled with the theatre sequence definitely casts the reader in the role of scopophiliac audience member, consigning all sex scenes to acts of inherent voyeurism with the reader as the third party onlooker.Read more ›
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By @tubbs_chubbs on 28 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
I came across Robert Aickman's stories via Jeremy Dyson, the author of two collections of short stories of a similar style ('Never Trust A Rabbit' and 'The Cranes That Build The Cranes', both excellent). Aickman always desecribed his short stories as 'Stange Stories' rather than ghost stories, or horror. He was right to do so - this collection showcases his talents across a range of subjects.

I haven't read his other collections, but Cold Hand In Mine served as as good an introduction as any other - good variation of styles and subjects. None of these tales are terrifying, instead I found them unnerving, intriguing and chilling. Personal favourites are 'Swords' - unnerving and delightful in the way its told - and 'The Hospice', perhaps the best of the bunch.

If you like short stories, and books like 'The Wasp Factory' then this author is for you. Published by Faber Finds, there are a few typos here and there, but as there's no other inexpensive way of owning them, this is a small price to pay.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By disturbedchinchilla on 21 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's rare to come across a writer who is truly sui generis, but Aickman certainly comes close. True, some of these stories follow well-worn genre conventions; 'Pages from a young girl's diary' could be read as a straightforward Bram stoker period pastiche. However, scratch the surface and Aickman yields unsettling rewards; 'Cold hand in Mine' reads like a series of allegories - but the author deliberately refuses to enlighten us as to what lessons we are supposed to learn.
Since Aickman described his own work as 'strange tales' it's tempting to pigeonhole him with Lovecraft, Blackwood and Machen as another proponent of Weird Fiction. Aickman seems to me to be an altogether subtler and more modern writer. Where Lovecraft's baroque fantasies conjure a terror of the material universe and BLackwood focuses on the uncanny in the natural world, Aickman dwells on the inner landscape of psychology, more specifically, sexuality.
This collection is worth buying for 'the swords' and 'the hospice' alone - these are true classics of short fiction in which the quotidian and the carnivalesque meet in a macabre dance. Both leave you asking questions.
Aside from the slightly hammy Gothic of 'Niemandswasser', Aickman typically adopts a flat, unaffected tone. This seems to lie at the heart of his genius: there's something so matter-of-fact in his expression that any weirdness we experience seems our own, and not his. Furthermore, this matter-of-factness allows Aickman to subtley misdirect us from the fact that his key characters are far from straight-forward. The narrator in 'the Swords' seems embarrassed, smug and coldly unsympathetic at once.
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