This week’s bit of weird fiction . . .
Review: “To Kiss Your Canvas”, W. H. Pugmire, 2015.
This story works in its eeriness and menacing weirdness. It’s a good example of how style can overcome plot clichés.
In this story we’ve got a notorious painting, a painted mirror, a library of occult tomes, a mysterious suicide, and rumors of dark rites.
To further add to the familiar air of the story are the names. Our hero is Blake which brings to mind not only the poet William Blake but the Robert Blake of H. P. Lovecraft’s “Haunter of the Dark”. There’s a landlady named Dupin which, of course, brings to mind Edgar Allan Poe’s famous detective Auguste Dupin.
The artist at the center of all this is Honoré Dupin. Before he slung a hangman’s noose over a beam in a Paris garrett in 1848 and gave his final sacrifice to his god Thanatos, Dupin completed the painting “The Grim Reaper”.
Blake has scraped his money together to visit Dupin’s room, still preserved as he left it except for a replica of “The Grim Reaper” replacing the original. Inspired by a Hollywood biopic he’s watched countless times, Blake wants to get a feeling of the man and his room to do a novel about Dupin.
And, of course, he finds more than he – though probably not the reader – expects in the room. Still, Pugmire carries his short story off well despite the rather standard plot.