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Arts & Entertainment

Younger, scarier Ray Bradbury in Arkham House

With the possibility of Cliff's Books closing, I've been spending a lot more time perusing the aisles (and sometimes the stacks of books on the floor) at Pasadena's Book Alley. A couple of months ago, I found an out of print Arkham House collection that had a wonderful surprise in its pages -- an early short story by Ray Bradbury.

Before Ray Bradbury was Ray Bradbury, he was a contributor to pulp magazines like Weird Tales and had some of his early short stories published by August Derleth's Arkham House press. In Arkham House's 1946 collection, Who Knocks?: Twenty Masterpieces of the Spectral for the Connoisseur, Bradbury had his short story "The Lake" published alongside the works of H.P. Lovecraft and others. While Bradbury is of course known for his classic Sci-Fi works, some might forget that he also published works in the horror genre. A macabre piece that explores death and time, "The Lake" tells the story of a young boy whose friend disappears in a lake only to resurface years later, dead, but looking the same as she did the day she disappeared.

A revealing short work from what Arkham House calls in the collection a "young California writer," in "The Lake" you can feel the churning powers of a young Bradbury, pre Fahrenheit 451 and Dandelion Wine.

And as far as Cliff's Books, current word from an employee is that they will indeed be closing down.