Anthony Melville Rud (11 Jan 1893 - 30 Nov 1942) was a second-generation Norwegian-American, in Chicago IL, a major center of American publishing. He graduated Dartmouth College, NH in 1914. The son of a medical doctor, he pursued post-graduate medical studies, but ultimately gained fame as an author of weird tales.
He died in New York City at age 49.
Notable works include:
A female art student interviews Hal Pemberton, a great but criminally-insane artist, in the insane asylum.
- Bad People Abuse Animals: At 16, Pemberton tortures beetles to death, providing him his first major artistic inspirations. As a man in his early twenties, he discovers even more inspiration from torturing small mammals.
- Believing Their Own Lies: The very first lines of the story:Pemberton: No, Madame. I am not insane!
- Black Sheep: Hal Pemberton came from a respectable, wealthy family. He became first an Eccentric Artist, then a Mad Artist and murderer.
- Framing Device: The female interviewer is the audience for the main story, told by Hal Pemberton.
- Gratuitous French: Pemberton sprinkles it into his dialogue. Justified Trope, as although he is American, he has spent a lot of time in France.
- Kids Are Cruel: Pemberton showed himself to be a Sadist from a shockingly early age:Pemberton: Before the age of ten, I had been expelled from three academies, always on account of the way I treated my associates. I was cruel to other boys ...
- Mad Artist: Hal Pemberton is obsessed by art, and claims to be able to produce supernal paintings by means of sacrificing living beings. To this end he kills animals, and eventually murders his wife.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Is Pemberton some sort of bizarre psychic vampire who sadistically-drains life and converts it to artistic inspiration? Or is he just a sadistic lunatic?
- Nested Story: The main story is told by Hal Pemberton to the narrator of the Framing Device.
- Nested Story Reveal: The nature of Pemberton's ultimate masterpiece reveals that he is an Unreliable Narrator.
- The Sociopath: As a child, Pemberton physically harms others, going so far as to inflict potentially-serious injuries, out of rebelliousness and boredom; as he grows older, he tortures animals to death when he believes he has a serious reason: he ultimately kills his own wife in pursuit of that reason.
- Soft-Spoken Sadist: Pemberton seems like a Cool Old Guy. He's actually quite malevolent.
- Teens Are Monsters: As Hal Pemberton passes through adolescence, he moves from pranking and picking fights to inflicting injuries on his tutors severe enough to make three of them quit.
- Til Murder Do Us Part: In the climactic scene of the inner Nested Story, Pemberton kills his own beloved wife in order to obtain the ultimate artistic inspiration. This is especially tragic, given that it is likely that he didn't receive any inspiration from it at all.
- Unreliable Narrator: Hal Pemberton is the narrator of his autobiography. At the end of the story, Hal Pemberton shows the narrator of the framing story his ultimate masterpiece. It is "a blank square of white canvas!" This calls into question the veracity of much that Pemberton claims.
In the summer of 1925 through the winter of 1925-26, Dr. Burnstrum encounters a curious medical case: that of a young real estate agent named John Pendleton, with a most unusual growth ...
- Body Horror: Poor Pendleton has a functional human hand growing from his side. And that's the least of his problems.
- Conjoined Twins: Pendleton's twin is of the parasitic variety, (apparently!) having no mind of its own.
- Downer Ending: John Pendleton's absorbed twin brother kills John, which of course ends its own pseudo-life as well. Dr. Burnstrum is badly-shaken and unable to publish the details of this remarkable case, as no one would believe him, so the incident doesn't even result in a gain made For Science!.
- Evil Hand: The regenerating hand of John Pendleton's absorbed twin brother bears clear malice toward John.
- Shown Their Work: The explanation given for parasitic conjoined twins is spot-on, and especially-impressive for a work written a century ago:Dr. Burnstrum: ... Identical twins, you know, come from a single fertilized egg. Sometimes such twins are equally developed; more often one twin is better developed than the other. What it means is that the twins compete with each other during embryonic and fetal life, and one may develop at the expense of the other. As a matter of fact, one twin may absorb the other, sometimes completely so, sometimes leaving a few traces such as a hand or foot. Apparently you absorbed your twin nearly completely. The hand is all that is left of him.