A Rejection Letter for Moby Dick [Letter]

March 1, 2017

On tonight's podcast, we'll be looking at a rejection letter written by Peter Bentley of Bentley and Son's Publishing House, to one Herman Melville, on the subject of Moby Dick.

This is one of those time where you wish there was an alternate reality where Peter had gotten his way.

Because if he did, there would a version of Moby Dick out there with no whales and a lot of voluptuous, young maidens.

Peter also didn't like all the messy talk of religion, unless it was about Lutherans, which I guess didn't count.

While Peter passed on the book it was ultimately Richard Bentley, of the same Publishing House, who accepted Melville's manuscript in 1851. While most of Peter's revisions didn't make the cut, the British edition of the book is notable for having about 1200 words missing, because they were deemed sacrilegious.

Interestingly, a number of "sexually explicit" passages were also excised, which most have been a real bee in Peter's bonnet.

This letter is the story of the intersection of art and commerce, and a great example of why not every well meaning suggestion, is one you should take.

I hope you enjoy.

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The Three Princesses of Whiteland [Norwegian Folk Tale]

February 8, 2017

Welcome everyone, I'm Steve Spalding and this is Season Two of Steve Reads Stories. Sorry for the long delay, but I needed some time to find new things to read to you, and a bit of energy to put behing other projects.

Honestly it's probably for the best, but now I'm back and ready to hit the ground running with a folk tale I think you're going to really like.

This one is called The Three Princesses of Whiteland and it was born in Norway and orginally collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe. Andrew Lang in The Red Fairy Book, published in 1890.

Lang published a number of other "Fairy Books" in the same decade -- The Blue Fairy Book, The Green Fairy Book, The Yellow Fairy Book, The Pink Fairy Book and right at the turn of the century, The Grey Fairy Book.

His other works included titles like, "The True Story Book," "The Animal Story Book," and "The Red Book of Animal Stories." While he never published, "The True Yellow Book of Animal Stories," I'm sure he was working on it.

The Princesses of Whiteland is a story about a fisherman's son turned errant King who finds himself on an adventure to get back to his wife, one of the Princesses as you might suspect. On the way, he takes a lot a bad advice, steals a number of things, and yet somehow makes it out with his head still attached.

Some people have all the luck.

In the end, I think this is a tale about the importance of listening to directions, which is a lesson we all can use every once in a while.

I hope you enjoy.

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Inside Fictions - Dead Eyes at the Midnight [Special Episode]

October 25, 2016
On today's episode, I introduce you to the secret project I've been talking about for the last few months. It's a serialized fiction collaboration between me and Jessica Kinghorn called, At the Midnight. If you like stories about hotel desk managers combating eldritch horrors, you'll like this. 

You'll find new episode of this and more on Inside Fictions main channel: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inside-fictions/id1159779864?mt=2

Music by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas
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Inside Fictions - The Weisz Institute and Temporal Crisis Hotline [Special Episode]

October 4, 2016

On today's episode, I briefly discuss Season 2 of Steve Reads Stories, and I give you a preview of a full episode of a new project I've been working on, Inside Fictions. Take a listen, I think you'll like it. 

If you're interested in more Inside Fictions, you can subscribe here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inside-fictions/id1159779864?mt=2

Music by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas
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C.S. Lewis Writes About Writing to a Young Fan [Letter]

July 21, 2016
On tonight's podcast, we'll be looking at a letter written in 1956 by C.S. Lewis to a young fan named Joan Lancaster.

C.S. Lewis is best known as the person who brought the Chronicles of Narnia, but he also wrote many other fascinating novels, including the Cosmic Trilogy, which was a part of a deal he made with J.R.R Tolkien. He would write a "space travel" story, if Tolkien wrote one about time travel.

Unfortunately, Tolkien never never finished his. It's unfortunately because his plan was to link Middle-Earth to the modern world, which could have changed the world as we know it.

1956 was the year the very last book in the Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle was published, and the same year he published Till We Have Faces, a re-telling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche.

This is a letter about writing, from a writer, to an aspiring writer, and I love it not only because it offers some very good advice on craft, but also because it's exactly the sort of thing I needed to read tonight.

This is a good letter, filled with good ideas.

I hope you enjoy!

Background music provided by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas/classik-electro

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/steve-reads-stories/id1087197185
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Bearskin [German Folk Tale]

July 14, 2016
On tonight's podcast, we'll be looking at Bearskin, a German folk tale brought to us by Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen. 

Bearskin was originally published in 1670, under the title, "The Origin of the Name Bearskin." It's a folk tale of type 361, which are stories about people who get into deals with the Devil, and come out at the other side with wealth and a beautiful bride -- a rarity indeed. 

Before getting into the rest, it's worth taking a moment to mention that Hans Jakob is also the author of, "The life of an odd vagrant named Melchior Sternfels von Fuchshaim: namely where and in what manner he came into this world, what he saw, learned, experienced, and endured therein; also why he again left it of his own free will." which is not only one of the longest subtitles I've ever had the pleasure of relating, but is also said to be one of the finest pieces of German literature of the 17th century.

Bearskin is a story about a soldier who desserts, runs off to the woods, nearly starves to death, meets the Devil, neglects his hygiene and marries a princess. 

It's also one of those rare times when the Devil gets his due, but not on the person who actually made the deal.

This is ultimately a tale about how failing to listen to your father, can be more dangerous than taking up with Satan himself.

I hope you enjoy.

Background music provided by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas/classik-electro

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/steve-reads-stories/id1087197185
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A Widow Writes to Her Dead Husband Eung-Tae Lee [Letter]

July 7, 2016
On tonight's podcast, we'll be looking at a letter written in 1586 by an unnamed and pregnant widow to her dead husband Eung-Tae Lee. 

This letter was discovered in 1996 in a tomb in Andong City, South Korea. Eung-Tae Lee, who was a member of the ancient Goseong Yi clan, was found with it along with a pair of sandals -- apparently woven from hemp bark and his wife's own hair.

This is a moving and deeply affecting letter, and I hope I've done it justice.

And I hope you enjoy. 

Background music provided by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas/classik-electro

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/steve-reads-stories/id1087197185
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The Singing Sword [Estonian Folk Tale]

June 30, 2016

On tonight's podcast, we'll be looking at The Singing Sword, an Eastern European folk tale brought to us from Estonia via Brooklyn. 


It was written in 1928 by Frances Jenkins Olcott, who was born in Paris and later moved to New York to become an assistant librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library. She left that position to head up the first Children's Department at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, returning to New York in 1911 to write children's books, including Wonder Tales From Baltic Wizards -- where we find this piece. 

The Singing Sword is a brilliantly energetic tale, opening with a breathless description of our hero, the Giant Kalevide, and his titular weapon. It goes on to describe how he loses the sword first at the hands of crafty wizard, and then more permanently to a Water Nymph.

Honestly, it has been a while since I've had this much fun with a read.

The Singing Sword is a fast-paced story about giants, wizards, magic, and the beauty of Nymphs. 

I hope you enjoy. 

Background music provided by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas/classik-electro

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/steve-reads-stories/id1087197185
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A 16 Year Old George R. R. Martin to Stan Lee [Letter]

June 23, 2016
On tonight's podcast, we'll be looking at a letter written in 1964 from George R.R. Martin to Stan Lee. 

George was 16 when he wrote this, and despite the generally gloomy tone his more recent works have taken, here you find a young man bursting at the seams. It's a letter than bleeds joy onto the page, written by someone whose looking at comics with the eye of a connoseiur. It's also sophisticated, you can tell that this was penned by a person who cares about stories and their structure.

It'd be another 12 years before he published his first full length work, a short story collection called A Song for Lya, but this is George already building worlds.

I hope you enjoy.

Background music provided by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas/classik-electro

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/steve-reads-stories/id1087197185

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The Raven [Grimm Fairy Tale]

June 16, 2016
On tonight's podcast, we'll be looking at The Raven, another German folk tale from the collection of the Brother's Grimm.

The version we are interested in is found in the 1905 edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales, and is of type 401, as classified by the Aarne-Thompson system. For those keeping score, these are tales where young girls are transformed into animals. In our particular case, that animal is a Raven.

This is one of those stories where I find myself questioning the translation a little. In the very first scene, the princess is transformed into a Raven and flies off into the dark, dark woods. Yet, throughout the rest of the telling, she rides around in carriages, hands out magical foodstuffs and golden rings, and generally gets on about her business just fine.

I don't know a lot of Ravens who could pull off half the tricks that she manages. 

This is also a fairy tale that manages to pack in witches, giants and highwaymen all at the same time, which is quite a feat when you think about it.

The Raven is a story of magic sticks, magic food, and incredibly talented bird women.

I hope you enjoy. 

Background music provided by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas/classik-electro

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/steve-reads-stories/id1087197185

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