The Corner

The Horror of WFB

William F. Buckley, Jr. authored several spy novels and other works of fiction. He also wrote a single work of horror. Sort of. I wouldn’t necessarily classify his short story “The Temptation of Wilfred Malachey” as horror. It’s more like fantasy. But this is one of the weaknesses of genre fiction: the relentless, hair-splitting effort to segregate and compartmentalize. Others certainly have regarded the tale as horror fiction. It appears in a 1994 anthology called Tombs, whose other contributors include Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, and Lisa Tuttle. (Before that, in 1985, it was an illustrated hardcover book for young adults.) Here’s an extract:

The Brookfield community was aware that things had gone badly for the school during recent years. Everything went wrong that could go wrong: the pipes had burst in the main building; the large barn that housed the student activities center had burned almost to the ground (of course, the school was underinsured); the new tractor with which the vegetable gardens and the corn were tended during the summer had suddenly ceased to work, and by the time it was fixed the damage to the gardens and fields was irreversible. “The place seems haunted,” said Xavier Plum, Headmaster.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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