Friday, June 13, 2014

FFB: Men Without Bones -- Gerald Kersh

The title story of this collection was, at least for a time, a well-known horror tale.  Now, both Kersh and the story are pretty much forgotten.  The setup of the story is one of those that's familiar but that always works, at least for me: a man working on a banana boat in some banana republic tells us about a man who came out of the jungle with a fantastic tale to tell, a tale of men without bones.  The telling of the tale is what matters, but the snapper ending is still a good one.  It's very atmospheric and stylish and fun to read.

And speaking of style, I mentioned Kersh's style in another FFB post.  All the stories in this collection are written in a style that would probably be thought of by most readers today as antiquated.  It was probably a bit old-fashioned even when the stories originally appeared.  However, it's not as rococo as the style in The Secret Masters.  The style was fine by me.  I can adjust to styles from different eras.  I know some people can't, though.

If you're of a mind to, you can download the collection at

Here's the complete Toc: 
Men Without Bones
The Shady Life of Annibal
The Ape and the Mystery
The Oxoxoco Bottle
Thicker than Water
The Madwoman
The Terrible Ride of Colonel Tessier
The Dancing Doll
The Hack
Ladies or Clothes
In a Room Without Walls
Clock Without Hands
The Epistle of Simple Simon


Anonymous said...

Few people know it but Men Without Bones was the original name of Men Without Hats.

Anyway, good title. The only Kersh collection I've read was the one published by Crippen & Landru about Karmesin.


George said...

I read MEN WITHOUT BONES when it was first published. Kersh was a quirky writer, but I like his originality.

Michael E. Stamm said...

This is one of only three mass-market Kersh collections to be published in the US; the others were ON AN ODD NOTE (Ballantine, 1958) and NIGHTSHADE AND DAMNATIONS, edited by Harlan Ellison (Fawcett, 1967). The latter introduced me to Kersh in 1972, and I've been hooked ever since; I now have an extensive Kersh collection running over 30 volumes. Kerhs was a wonderful writer who deserves to be re-introduced to the reading world on a larger scale than recent small-press collections have been able to reach. Thanks for this posting!

Matthew said...

I read this in anthology of different writers, but I can't remember which one.

I thought it was a decent story, but I wasn't blown away. I did really like Kersh's novel Night and the City.

Kersh of course is Harlan Ellison's favorite writer.

Todd Mason said...

There're the styles that have fallen out of favor...and then the attitudes that are rather less acceptable, including insistences about How Things And People Are that were more likely to go unchallenged (not entirely however), back when...a book I didn't finish for this week had a big rock in the tapioca of that sort for me. All women are this, all Mexicans are that...happily for me, I don't remember much of that in Kersh...but it's been a while (and Mike Stamm was kind enough to send along some of his duplicate copies of Kersh collections some years back).

Rick Robinson said...

The cover looks very familiar, but I'm sure I neither have nor have read this book. It's quite tempting.