Stephen Vincent Benét

Thirteen-O'Clock by Stephen Vincent Benét contains thirteen stories, five of which are sf, fantasy, or alternate history, perhaps eight or ten of which I would term character stories, and perhaps four one might call social satire - with a good deal of overlap amongst these loose categories. Of them, I had only seen "The Devil and Daniel Webster" before in any other collection. Its sequel, "Daniel Webster and the Sea-Serpent," is, though not so excellent as the original story, great fun and well worth reading if you can find it. "The Curfew Tolls," which asks what might a certain famous man's life have been like if he had been born a few years earlier than he was in our time, is pretty good, though not worth an exaustive search unless one is specially interested in alternate history. "By the Waters of Babylon" is a decent, but not exceptional, post-apocalypse story. "The King of the Cats" is a fun fantasy set in 1930s New York, about two mysterious foreign visitors (a Princess of Siam and a conductor from Paris) and what comes of their meeting.

Probably the best of the non-fantasies is "Everybody Was Very Nice." This rambling first-person narrative is a very effective satire of the institution of casual divorce and remarriage, ironically funny and very sad. Other effective stories, of which I'll say no more but that they're worth reading if you happen to find the book, are "Glamour," "A Story By Angela Poe," and "The Sobbin' Women."

This collection has been reprinted by Ayer Co. in their short story index reprint series.

Several of these stories are reprinted in: The Devil and Daniel Webster and Other Writings (Penguin Classics).

Some of them were reprinted in volume 1 of Selected Works of Stephen Vincent Benet (Henry Holt, 1942).

I also much enjoyed Western Star, the only published part of an epic poem about the settlement of America that Benét was working on when he died. John Brown's Body is in my to-read queue.

%T Thirteen-O'Clock: Stories of Several Worlds
%A Benet, Stephen Vincent
%D 1937
%I Farrar & Rinehart
%G (no ISBN)
%P 305 pp.
%B By the Waters of Babylon
%B The Blood of the Martyrs
%B The King of the Cats
%B A Story By Angela Poe
%B The Treasure of Vasco Gomez
%B The Curfew Tolls
%B The Sobbin' Women
%B The Devil and Daniel Webster
%B Daniel Webster and the Sea Serpent
%B Glamour
%B Everybody was Very Nice
%B A Death in the Country
%B Blossom and Fruit

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Last update November 2005

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