Review – The Village Green and Other Pieces

The Village Green and Other Pieces by Edith Miniter
Edited by Kenneth W. Faig, Jr. and Sean Donnelly
Hippocampus Press (2013)

All but forgotten today, Edith May (Dowe) Miniter (1867-1934) was the undisputed doyenne of amateur journalism. The Village Green and Other Pieces is the second collection of her works released by Hippocampus Press, preceded by Dead Houses and Other Works (2008). The first woman president of the National Amateur Press Association in 1909, Miniter was more than a prolific writer of carefully crafted mainstream short fiction, she ran a newspaper, published a novel, edited and wrote for daily newspapers in Boston and New Hampshire.

But it is as hostess to H. P. Lovecraft that Miniter cements her mark in horror. In 1928, Miniter hosted Lovecraft during his visit to Wilbraham. MA. On his explorations of the Wilbraham countryside with Minister, HPL first learned of the folklore belief that whippoorwills can sense a departing soul and try to capture it as it flees the body. Lovecraft then used this lore as a plot device in “The Dunwich Horror.” He also used the general topography of Wilbraham as the inspiration for the lands around Dunwich.

Lovecraft’s letter to Miniter include an exacting description of her home, so detailed that when August Derleth went looking for new scraps of Lovecraft writing to bastardize into his posthumous “collaborations, he used the description of the Miniter home to describe the ancestral home inherited by Asaph Peabody’s grandson in “The Peabody Heritage.”

The Village Green and Other Pieces doesn’t address this pivotal visit. It is a collection of her unfinished novels, her short fiction from amateur journals, an article written for the Boston Globe, and an autobiographical look back at amateur journalism.

Most of her work cannot, by any stretch, be considered horror, but she does occasionally wander into the realm of the weird tale with stories such as “The Other Elizabeth,” included in this collection. It is a chilling tale of an infanticide prone mother who names her new daughter after her deceased daughter.

If you’re looking for horror, Village Green and its companion Dead Houses should not be on your shopping list. If you’re interested in the background of amateur journalism and the peripheral figures that served as muse and support to the rise of horror figures such as Lovecraft and Derleth, these are an invaluable addition to your collection.

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About goudsward

Writer of stuff not easily categorized. (Trust me, I got the royalty checks to prove it)
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