Throwback Thursday: James Herbert
It's Thursday and this week's Throwback Thursday focuses on the life and death of James Herbert, the 54 million horror seller legend.
Few 20th century British horror writers have influenced the genre as much as James Herbert OBE. Born 8th April 1943 and dead on 20th March 2013, Herbert was an English horror writer that changed people’s lives and is sorely missed.
A full-time writer that also designed his own book covers and publicity, he churned out novel after novel, with 54 million copies sold worldwide to date; all of which have been translated into 34 languages, including Chinese and Russian. Not bad going for the son of Herbert Herbert, who was a stall-holder at London's famous Brick Lane Market.
It was a sad day indeed when Herbert died at his home in Sussex at the age of 69. The world of horror lovers took stock of the man they had quietly known for decades and realised just how much they would miss him and over all, his trademark books. He was survived by his wife, Eileen, and three daughters. His estate was valued at £8.3 million.
He remains a respected figure in the genre, with the Master of horror himself speaking highly of him. “Herbert was by no means literary, but his work had a raw urgency," said Stephen King. "His best novels, The Rats and The Fog, had the effect of Mike Tyson in his championship days: no finesse, all crude power. Those books were best sellers because many readers (including me) were too horrified to put them down."
"There are few things I would like to do less than lie under a cloudy night sky while someone read aloud the more vivid passages of 'Moon,'" Andrew Postman wrote in The New York Times Book Review. "In the thriller genre, do recommendations come any higher?"
So yes, Herbert may be gone, but his legend will forever life on in his brutal, yet charmingly British books. He has scared and influenced many, so let’s look forward to him haunting us through the words of a myriad writers for generations to come.
So, that's all for this week, Prosers,
Until next time,
HELLO FELLOW PROSERS!
Hey everyone! I have been feeling very disconnected from the Prose. Environment lately! Having been here for so long, I havenʼt had the chance to get to know a lot of the newer Prosers. Iʼd love to get to know some of you; comment something about yourself, a fun fact or a greeting, and I'll check out your writing and give you a follow! Thanks guys, canʼt wait to hear from you.
she had madness in her mind
and bullets on her breath.
taking every moment passing by as
a second closer to death.
the cracks begged to be crusted over
in her crazy, corrupt brain:
she itched and traced her tired veins
washing them with rotten rain.
to people on the street she was
just another girl, just another face
but they all felt the same to her
just a different mob, just a different place.
she was never at home
she was never at rest
is life really worth
all of my best?
she wondered helplessly
why she couldnʼt make tears
she waited every moment until
finally she could disappear.
and the cold sun set on her spare day
the smile on her corpse gave it all away.
grey stars, grey skies, grey mornings and grey nights
i told them it was grey.
the soap in the shower,
the comforter on my bed,
the look in his eyes:
grey, grey, grey.
the soap would be white again
with a little more use:
you scrub and it swipes away
your love and pride.
and that old comforter
can be colorful again,
as it can be washed and dried.
but his eyes- they'll always be grey.
i said no.
his eyes are green.
within them are the emeralds
that whisper sins and secrets,
the pins and codes i use
to unlock his heart.
because the way he looks at me is foreign and simple,
but a pure work of art.
and i know in my heart his eyes are green
but i see only grey.
and he sees the same as me
much to my dismay.
so together we tell them what we see:
grey, grey, grey.
they say we'll get better, well won't we?
if we can find our way.
together or not our paths are steep-
you can always rely on fate.
sometimes it's the quiet ones
that get you the most.
the faded colors on winter trees,
the wind softened under voices,
the rose petals that glisten
and soak under the summer sun.
i always knew i had you.
since the moment bread met butter in grade 8
when the pulsing colors became blind;
i knew you were with me.
i knew and with that i healed.
slowly the blood rushed back to my brain
and i was free
and i was good
and i was better.
and then i fell again:
tripped over his long legs, black converse
and he was there to catch me.
but i still bent and back you came,
less quiet and now with vengeance,
and your black tendrils threatened to break me once more.
i pushed them out,
i pulled myself away,
and he would've held me safe
but you told him no way.
i lay dull in your tendrils and smoke
and i shatter in the mess we've made.
Only 25 People Attended F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Funeral
We were all so full of ourselves,
Tom Robbins, Gary Snyder,
Robert Sund, Ginsberg,
Buk, all of us,
all of them,
so sure that what
we were doing would
last, if not forever,
at least a lot longer
than we would last.
We wrote books
and struggled to find
while pretending that
there was nothing to it,
that people of taste and smarts
would naturally flock to us
and find us
and say our names
and have us autograph things
and maybe, who knows,
sleep with us
and speak well of us and
of course, NEVER forget us.
I mean how could they possibly?
our ‘works’ would be in
treasured spots in their homes and in
or for all eternity
whichever lasted longer.
And of course,
pictures of us standing with our fans
looking thoughtful or cool,
sucking on a beer, smoking a joint
or staring, knowingly into the camera—
these photos, in black and white
would be treasured
and this immortality,
which we never
but thought about constantly
would work out for us.
things didn’t necessarily
turn out exactly like we expected.
But on the ‘for sure’ side
we all either died-
or one day, soon,
Most of us
pretty much forgotten
as should have always
been the case.
What we should probably
have wished for after all
was that no one would have
to rustle up six strangers
and pay them to be pall-bearers
at our funerals.
And that maybe, with luck
we’d even beat
i knew we were flawed.
two broken bodies trying to find the right thing in the right people
sometimes 'right' can be wrong
because the more i gave
the less you wanted
the more i wanted
the less you gave
we weren't the magic i told my friends.
we weren't the mess you made us out to be.
we both knew we...
our pretending was for hope
the last piece of me holding out
and one of the many you had rearranged to fit wrong in your shape
so i kept giving
my words on a string that led to your hands
pulling, pulling, pulling
and finally nothing.
you took that string
left the mess for me to clean
and flew like a bird on the wings of truth
now i'm dull
out of words and solidity and 'right'
the ghosts will keep me here for now
Running in your blood
Nob Hill in the afternoon
sitting in a dead bar remembering
the alleys of Rome
all the fucking coffees
put back, the caffeine rush
of broken-faced statues
the screaming dead
to grip the heart
but back home now
Jack & Coke
which is fine, actually
the biggest thrill of travel
is knowing the typewriter
in the room back home is
where your life is lived like
it always was
like you knew it was already
you had to feel the night
the beats of London
and the fire-age of Italy
but what you've learned from
all the Christs and Darwins and Satans
running in your blood
Nietzsche in skin but
simultaneous acceptance and
rejection of nature and nurture
shit and shinola
the cunts endured
or the loves lost
gone in the catacombs
beyond the chasms of
the comrades turned enemies
sharing that dead space
if we're lucky
a broken heart blown
to stone and shattered
if we're lucky
the Sun from now reaching
bright and open to
OUR intent for the last
half of the game
for the rest of
the words in
your blood that
against the shore
of what you
Wave of mutilation
Long Island, premium
because fuck it, that's why
10:40 in the morning
one stop in Dallas then across
the pond to the old world.
Head full of fire and hope
-of old things I've left here
45 years on this rock
out that window something
a new old style
on the page from a glance
moving toward me
since the first piece of paper.
Here now, tired, wired, altered, alone.
The Amalfi Coast sitting brilliant
with the world watching back
while the coast runs up to France
waiting and winking and
naked of care
In here now
drinking away the
Life for all of this
A lot of ex-cons and drunks lived in the building. My room was the corner spot on the 3rd floor. The old man in the room next to me was deaf. The girl in the room across from me was a diagnosed schizophrenic. She almost never wore clothes. She was maybe 25. The government gave her 500 dollars a month. She kept her door open. Big black men walked in there and shut the door. It was a shitty place to live. The bathroom was never occupied when I had to use it. I was the only one in the building who showered regularly. But the toilet was well used. Every time I walked in there I came face to face with a bowl full of dead shit and sometimes a syringe on the floor. The bathrooms on the other floors were worse. I had a sink in my room. I pissed in the sink late at night. I was the youngest tenant, and the only one with a job. I had to walk past the landlord’s office to get up to my room. I’d walk in and deal with him.
“How was workin’ tonight, young man?”
“It was work.”
“Anybody asks you anything about this building you tell them you don’t know.”
“Don’t tell them my name, neither.”
“I’d rather die.”
“And don’t bring no girls up there, neither.”
“Fact, don’t bring nobody up there.”
It was almost the same scene every night. I’d get in my room and shut the door. Then he’d knock.
He’d sit on my bed. Dave was tall and slim and black. Dave smoked menthols. He was fifty. He had the job and nothing else. I never saw him laugh. The world was out to get him.
He sat down and lit up. I leaned on the desk.
“Feels like I just saw you, Dave.”
He nodded to my typewriter.
“You writin’ stories ‘bout me an’ this hotel?”
“See to it you don’t.”
“Let me have a menthol, Dave.”
“Can’t do it. I have one every hour. I have the pack timed.”
“Bullshit. You’re on your second smoke since I walked in.”
“Still can’t do it.”
I lit one of my own, “Dave, and don’t take this personally, you need to get out of the building once in a while. This place is getting to you.”
"Can’t leave. One a you might try somethin’ on me.”
“Sneak somebody in, move out without notice. I run a tight ship here.”
“The place is fucking destroyed, man.”
“You have any stories about me here?”
“Seriously, Dave. Take a walk down 23rd or something. Ease your mind.”
The front buzzer sounded. Somebody had walked in downstairs. He jumped up and ran out of the room. I locked the door, closed the blinds and laid in bed. I listened to the street and the wind, the hours taken by the jobs and the rain, the repeating day and night varied only by a new tenant getting the boot or a new story that I would start and maybe finish. The winter and the cancer air of the hotel had become a morbid process, and my job was another tumor that had grown from it. I closed my eyes and thought about hot sand.
My manager was worse than my landlord. Her name was Shelly. Shelly was 6 feet tall. Once I called her Michelle. She told me she wasn’t a Michelle. I’d see her in Chinatown once in a while with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend worked in the kitchen. They lived together. She had to have a spotlight shining on her. She’d walk back into the kitchen with her long bird legs and long black straw hair.
“I wish these guys would leave me alone! I keep telling them: I HAVE A BOYFRIEND!”
Which she never did. She never told them. Her boyfriend was short and muscular. I didn’t like him. His brain was propelled by jealousy. He threatened me every other day.
“Hey, man, when you talk to Shelly you keep it professional.”
“Give it a fucking break, Manny.”
“You just keep it professional.”
There was nothing professional about the job. I was either sick from the food or I was dodging the old gay men who lived in the smoking section. One time a professional basketball player stayed at the hotel. Shelly was on fire. She was going to his room and bothering him. She came into the kitchen. I had just turned in an order. Manny took the ticket.
“What the fuck’s this word?”
The word was Benedict.
“The word is Benedict. Eggs Benedict.”
“Poached eggs over English muffins with hollandaise sauce.”
“Don’t tell me how to do MY job, motherfucker.”
Shelly came in around the corner. Her face was weak and crazy. A film of sweat formed tiny beads on her make-up. She was playing with her hair.
“Manny, can you handle things down here for a minute?”
Manny’s eyes lit up. He looked around and pressed his tongue against his cheek, “Yeah, I can handle it, baby.”
“Good. I’m taking Jamal Dupree a fruit basket. His team lost the game. I want to make sure he stays here next year.”
Manny was horrified.
“Why the hell you doin’ that? He’s just a big dumb ape. He’ll get over it.”
“She tossed her hair behind her shoulder.
“Manny, I don’t appreciate your tone right now. We are working. I am the manager. I am trying to secure this account. You have nothing to worry about.”
She took off. Manny went to work. Half an hour later Shelly hadn’t returned. I walked into the kitchen and folded napkins. Manny was on the other side of the wheel. He talked to me through a skillet. It hung there between us.
“Don’t you say a fuckin’ word, prick. You so much as give me one of those smartass looks of yours and I’ll break your fuckin’ nose.”
I’d been putting up with him for two months. I never said anything to him because I didn’t want to lose my job. But the job wasn’t worth it anymore.
“Tell you what, you sorry sack of shit, after your girl gets done screwing that big black cock I might even take a shot at her.”
“Your fuckin’ order’s up, dead man.”
But after work he had a fight with Shelly. I was waiting for him by the back door. He walked by in a huff.
“Your lucky day, motherfucker.”
I never got to fight Manny because he had narced me off to Shelly about what I’d said to him. Shelly kept me after work. I sat across from her in her little office downstairs.
“We need to talk about what you said to Manny.”
I lied through my teeth, “Shelly, I only said that to get to him. I don’t think you would fool around like that. Manny’s just worried that I’m going to try something with you. I would never do something like that.”
Her face changed entirely. It was pathetic.
“Well, for one, you’re with Manny. For two, you’re my boss. And for three, let’s face it, you’re way out of my league.”
Her eyes lit up like Manny’s. They both had dull and dumb eyes.
“I was going to fire you. I called you in here to let you go.”
She raised an eyebrow at me. I sat back and lit a smoke. It wasn’t worth it. Her and her long bird legs and long black straw hair. But it was mostly her face, the way she needed attention. She would dry up and blow away without it. But sitting there facing the end of my job it occurred to me that I didn’t want to look for another one. It also occurred to me that I would have sex with her, if I had met her in a bar and I was leaving town the next day, some circumstance like that. For a second I thought of walking in Manny’s shoes. I’d rather eat a bullet. She crossed her bird legs and smiled at me.
“I never knew you felt that way.”
“I’m just saying.”
We heard the back door open. A pair of shoes came running down the hallway. There was a slip, a grunt, and then walking. I shook my head at the desk. Manny peeked his head around the corner. She stared at him.
“Sit down, Manny.”
He sat down next to me. She cocked her head at him, “I don’t want any more trouble between you two. Shake hands.”
I smiled at Manny and put my hand out.
“I ain’t shakin’ his fuckin’ hand, Shelly.”
“Manny, shake his hand.”
He did it. It killed him. She told him to wait in the car. She had to tell him a few times. He left. I asked her, “How’s Dupree?”
“Oh, he’s fine. We had a good talk...”
I put out my smoke.
“I guess I’ll be leaving.”
She uncrossed her bird legs and sat forward.
“I should go, too. Listen, you were wrong about my being out of your league. I want you to know that.”
“Thanks, Shelly. See you on Monday.”
She watched me leave.
I walked down Burnside and bought a coffee. I walked the river and sat next to a sleeping bum. There was another bench empty, but it was covered in bird shit. A boat hauling a barge floated by. The bum shifted and made a loud honking sound. I got up and walked into downtown. I bought a drink and watched the people on the sidewalk. It had been a short summer. There was a week of frozen streets. It was getting ready snow again. I walked into Chinatown and ate a cheap lunch. Down on the street two cops were walking up on an old man with a string of shopping carts. He had the carts tied together. One of the cops nodded to him.
“This your train?”
The old man lit a rolled cigarette and smoked through his long beard.
“It ain’t no fuckin’ train. But, yeah, it’s mine.”
I heard them going back and forth behind me. Portland was soft but it was hard. I didn’t know anybody anymore. I had been there six years. There was sometimes a flurry of people, then it would die off, then there was a girl here and there, and she would die off. I hadn’t had a girl in almost a year. I mostly stayed in my room. I opened the drapes and wrote about the job, the building, Dave and the schizophrenic. For some reason I laid down and jacked off thinking about fucking Shelly. I had her on her desk and her bird legs were wrapped around my waist, her thirsty hair soaked with sweat. It was a good one. I shot over my shoulder. The phone rang. It was her.
“This is awkward. Listen, Manny just put his fist through our living room window and walked out. Apparently he was lingering by the door after he left and heard everything I said to you. Pretty low, if you ask me.”
“Oh, he’s a fucker.”
I wiped off with my sheet and pulled my shirt back down. She sighed.
“You really threw me for a loop in my office, what you said to me.”
“It’s alright, Shelly. No need for me to go back there.”
“Thank you, Kurt. I really appreciate that. Listen, why don’t I stop by for a little while?”
I hung up. It rang back and I unplugged it. I heard Dave knocking on the door across from me, yelling about someone being in her room after ten pm. It had cost me next to nothing to live there, but next to nothing is what it was. I sat up and found my sweater and pulled my duffel bag from under the bed.