Charles Beaumont

in Chicago, Illinois, The United States
January 02, 1929

February 21, 1967



Charles Beaumont was born Charles Leroy Nutt in Chicago in 1929. He dropped out of high school in the tenth grade and worked at a number of jobs before selling his first story to Amazing Stories in 1950. His story “Black Country” (1954) was the first work of short fiction to appear in Playboy, and his classic tale “The Crooked Man” appeared in the same magazine the following year. Beaumont published numerous other short stories in the 1950s, both in mainstream periodicals like Playboy and Esquire and in science fiction and fantasy magazines.

His first story collection, The Hunger and Other Stories, was published in 1957 to immediate acclaim, and was followed by two further collections, Yonder (1958) and Night Ride and Other Journeys (1960).

Average rating: 3.99 · 5,627 ratings · 525 reviews · 176 distinct worksSimilar authors
Perchance to Dream: Selecte...

3.92 avg rating — 533 ratings — published 2015 — 6 editions
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The Howling Man

4.23 avg rating — 384 ratings — published 1988 — 3 editions
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The Hunger, and Other Stories

4.15 avg rating — 139 ratings — published 1957 — 12 editions
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Best of Beaumont

4.33 avg rating — 48 ratings — published 1982
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The Beautiful People

3.75 avg rating — 72 ratings — published 1952 — 12 editions
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The Magic Man and Other Sci...

4.04 avg rating — 45 ratings — published 1965 — 2 editions
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Night Ride And Other Journeys

4.04 avg rating — 48 ratings — published 1960 — 5 editions
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4.18 avg rating — 33 ratings — published 1958 — 2 editions
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The Intruder

3.93 avg rating — 42 ratings — published 1959 — 10 editions
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3.65 avg rating — 34 ratings — published 1953 — 7 editions
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More books by Charles Beaumont…
“He stopped and leaned against a pole and looked up at the deaf and swollen sky. It was a movement of dark shapes, a hurrying, a running.

He closed his eyes. ("Hunger")”
Charles Beaumont, Shock!

“A cold wind raced across the surrounding fields of wild grass, turning the land into a heaving dark-green ocean. It sighed up through the branches of cherry trees and rattled the thick leaves. Sometimes a cherry would break loose, tumble in the gale, fall and split, filling the night with its fragrance. The air was iron and loam and growth.

He walked and tried to pull these things into his lungs, the silence and coolness of them.

But someone was screaming, deep inside him. Someone was talking. ("Hunger")”
Charles Beaumont, Shock!

“Then it was horn time. Time for the big solo.

Sonny lifted the trumpet - One! Two! - He got it into sight - Three!

We all stopped dead. I mean we stopped.

That wasn't Sonny's horn. This one was dented-in and beat-up and the tip-end was nicked. It didn't shine, not a bit.

Lux leaned over-you could have fit a coffee cup into his mouth. "Jesus God," he said. "Am I seeing right?"

I looked close and said: "Man, I hope not."

But why kid? We'd seen that trumpet a million times.

It was Spoof's.

Rose-Ann was trembling. Just like me, she remembered how we'd buried the horn with Spoof. And she remembered how quiet it had been in Sonny's room last night...

I started to think real hophead thoughts, like - where did Sonny get hold of a shovel that late? and how could he expect a horn to play that's been under the ground for two years? and -

That blast got into our ears like long knives.

Spoof's own trademark!

Sonny looked caught, like he didn't know what to do at first, like he was hypnotized, scared, almighty scared. But as the sound came out, rolling out, sharp and clean and clear - new-trumpet sound - his expression changed. His eyes changed: they danced a little and opened wide.

Then he closed them, and blew that horn. Lord God of the Fishes, how he blew it! How he loved it and caressed it and pushed it up, higher and higher and higher. High C? Bottom of the barrel. He took off, and he walked all over the rules and stamped them flat.

The melody got lost, first off. Everything got lost, then, while that horn flew. It wasn't only jazz; it was the heart of jazz, and the insides, pulled out with the roots and held up for everybody to see; it was blues that told the story of all the lonely cats and all the ugly whores who ever lived, blues that spoke up for the loser lamping sunshine out of iron-gray bars and every hop head hooked and gone, for the bindlestiffs and the city slicers, for the country boys in Georgia shacks and the High Yellow hipsters in Chicago slums and the bootblacks on the corners and the fruits in New Orleans, a blues that spoke for all the lonely, sad and anxious downers who could never speak themselves...

And then, when it had said all this, it stopped and there was a quiet so quiet that Sonny could have shouted:

'It's okay, Spoof. It's all right now. You get it said, all of it - I'll help you. God, Spoof, you showed me how, you planned it - I'll do my best!'

And he laid back his head and fastened the horn and pulled in air and blew some more. Not sad, now, not blues - but not anything else you could call by a name. Except... jazz. It was Jazz.

Hate blew out of that horn, then. Hate and fury and mad and fight, like screams and snarls, like little razors shooting at you, millions of them, cutting, cutting deep...

And Sonny only stopping to wipe his lip and whisper in the silent room full of people: 'You're saying it, Spoof! You are!'

God Almighty Himself must have heard that trumpet, then; slapping and hitting and hurting with notes that don't exist and never existed. Man! Life took a real beating! Life got groined and sliced and belly-punched and the horn, it didn't stop until everything had all spilled out, every bit of the hate and mad that's built up in a man's heart. ("Black Country")”
Charles Beaumont, American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from the 1940's Until Now
tags: jazz