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In Sarah's House by Stefan Grabiński

In Sarah's House

by Stefan Grabiński

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In Sarah's House is a collection of horror tales by Polish writer Stefan Grabinski. Grabinski is considered the "Polish Poe". Now, I hear that a lot. Every European country has an author they call "The Poe of so-and-so". Many are very good horror writers, but not all evoke the mood and style of Poe; however, Grabinski is very deserving of the title. Like Poe, his stories are very bleak and full off dark obsessions. In Grabinski's case the obsession is usually trains. Writing in pre-WWII Poland, he wonderfully describes shabby Polish landscapes and the ever-present trains belching smoke and soot. Grabinski himself was obsessed with trains, and it shows. A number of the story's themes revolve around aspects of engines and the rail system. He uses the railway as a metaphor for dozens of human conditions. He's very fond of giving trains a very demonic aspect and uses them as a symbol of the horrors of industrialization.

The stories are great. This is the only translation in English, so I don't have others to compare it to. However, I assume it's good, as I didn't encounter any clunky words. In one creepy story, pair of young chimneysweeps fail to emerge from the stack of an old brewery due to the fact that something has taken up lodging inside. The title story is about a woman who stays young by draining the life force of her successive husbands. In another story, on a disused stretch of track, a retired and dying railway man discovers the railway is a metaphor for his own life.

This is a great book. I can see why Poland celebrates his writing. ( )
3 vote Dead_Dreamer | Jan 12, 2010 |
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