The Bloody Tugboat and Other Witcheries
Robert H. Waugh, a leading critic and scholar of weird, fantasy, and science fiction, has in the past decade quietly demonstrated his skill as a weird fictionist of luminous prose and powerful supernatural concepts. This first collection of his tales exhibits the wide range of his talents, containing such gems as "The Hot Tub Horror," telling of the bizarreries a man finds in a jacuzzi; "Yet Here's a Spot," where anomalous and ever-moving spots appear on a man's body; "Mr. Hoffman's Cat," about a mysterious feline and its even more mysterious owner; "Playing with Fire," a story of psychological aberration about a pyromaniac; and the title story, a riveting tale of sea horror.
Waugh is particularly adept at evoking the terror inherent in towns weighted down by centuries of tradition (as in "The Churches on the Hill," evoking the strangeness of the upstate New York town of New Paltz, where Waugh long resided), and he is just as skilled at fusing horror and pathos, as in the plangent narratives "The Wind of His Passing" and "The Violinist."
In all the twenty-five stories in this volume, we find a sensitivity to fine shades of human emotion, a deftness in introducing the supernatural into a mundane setting, and a supple, richly textured prose that bespeak a literary craftsman of the highest order. But Waugh never forgets that weirdness lies at the heart of the weird tale.
Robert H. Waugh is the author of The Monster in the Mirror: Looking for H. P. Lovecraft (2006), A Monster of Voices: Speaking for H. P. Lovecraft (2011), and essays on J. R. R. Tolkien and other writers of fantasy and science fiction. He is a professor emeritus of English at the State University of New York at New Paltz.