Grim Observations: Lee Brown Coye – Where Is Abby? & Other Tales (2015)

Read here by son Robert Coye, this spoken word album (or one could use the term “audiobook”) is a compendium of short stories taken from his father’s editorial column Chips and Shavings, which ran from 1964 – 1970 in the Mid-York Weekly. In all honesty, it’s very difficult to give a sort of review to this work if you will, for who am I as a writer of fiction, to pass judgment on a man who was featured quite a bit in the world famous Weird Tales pulp magazine, as well as having had a number of books published by Arkham House. In other words, I am but an ant judging the size and stature of a man who has accomplished the very same sorts of things in the world of writing that I myself hope to accomplish in the years to come. So then let’s not focus on the quality of his work, and instead focus on the presentation as a whole. Robert Coye is himself, a rather aged fellow, but this matured voice brings a sense of seriousness to the work as a whole. So while you very much are going to be listening to a bevy of strange tales read by an old man, you’re going to be listening to what I might describe as some of the most bizarre stories I believe I’ve ever heard, with the gist of them relating to those who have since passed. There’s no question that Coye had a way of getting under your skin with these slimy tales, whether they be short poems like that of “The Undertaker” (0:42) or much longer stories like “What Remained Of Margaret Rogers” (7:37) which I found quite fascinating in its story of an extremely obese woman. As a writer and author, there is really no reason why I couldn’t recommend such oddities to lovers of the macabre. I couldn’t even hope to write such oblong pieces such as these, which almost seem so believable that I’m not exactly sure if they’re mere tales at all. Instead of focusing on the vampires and werewolves of this age, Coye focused on weird people; who in my opinion are far more fascinating than werewolves and vampires. The record itself is not very long, but it doesn’t need to be. After all, Where Is Abby & Other Tales is not music at all – it’s a trip through a rather dark and murky history of several different individuals who may or may not have been alive around the time that Coye was writing the article. We don’t know for sure… and that just sort of adds to the genius of Lee Brown Coye as both an author and illustrator. If you’re thinking about going to visit a few graveyards around Halloween (as I used to do) then I would definitely recommend listening to this record as you meander through the tombstones. It’s a classic of the macabre, reformatted for modern listening implements.

(8 Tracks, 38:00)


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