“The Bloomsbury Nudes” by Jameson Currier from The Haunted Heart and Other Tales, Chelsea Station Editions 2014. Originally published by Lethe Press, 2009.
The next story in the collection is “The Man in the Mirror” but I reviewed it already as part of the inaugural issue of Icarus Magazine (see Short Stories 365/280).
Here I’m tempted to say the author saved the best for last, but you should be informed up front that I am biased. This story is about an artist named Dennis, who falls in love with a dancer, Jared, who is in a tempestuous relationship with a painter, Clive, who was involved with a man, Teddy, who was, in the fictional world of the story, involved with the turn-of-the-last-century freethinkers known as the Bloomsbury Group. That would be more than interesting enough but he takes it even further by conflating that real life group with another of their day, namely the folks who orbited Aleister Crowley.
I’ve said it here before: I’ve read six biographies of Crowley. It was awhile ago, mind you, but I’ve retained enough that this story set my mind afire. (“Wait, was there that much cross-over? I don’t remember reading that.”)
The parlor was filled with gorgeously illustrated books on religion, mysticism, magic, and the occult, leather-bound volumes of The Book of the Law, The Equinox, The Secrets of Conjuring, Deceptive Conceptions, Malleus Maleficarium, Clavis Salomonis, Psuedomonarchia Daemonum, and early issues of The Magic Circular, The Criterion, and The Tatler.
Um, about that….
So yeah, definitely the best for last. In my book, anyway.