Re: Machen - have you read "The Hill of Dreams"? I have always loved that story and have returned to it many times. Available here for free:http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/13969
From Arthur Machen's "The Hill of Dreams", Chapter One:
On this summit oaks had grown, queer stunted-looking trees with twisted and contorted trunks, and writhing branches; and these now stood out black against the lighted sky. And then the air changed once more; the flush increased, and a spot like blood appeared in the pond by the gate, and all the clouds were touched with fiery spots and dapples of flame; here and there it looked as if awful furnace doors were being opened.
The wind blew wildly, and it came up through the woods with a noise like a scream, and a great oak by the roadside ground its boughs together with a dismal grating jar. As the red gained in the sky, the earth and all upon it glowed, even the grey winter fields and the bare hillsides crimsoned, the waterpools were cisterns of molten brass, and the very road glittered. He was wonder-struck, almost aghast, before the scarlet magic of the afterglow. The old Roman fort was invested with fire; flames from heaven were smitten about its walls, and above there was a dark floating cloud, like fume of smoke, and every haggard writhing tree showed as black as midnight against the black of the furnace.
What utterly brilliant writing. Thanks again, Caelum, I just started reading this, and it's simply fantastic. That section above epitomises Machen's gift for conveying the magical, other-worldly, phantasmagorical qualities of wild landscapes set beneath vast skies, what Machen calls earlier in the piece, "straying into outland and occult territory", all written in a beautifully arcane and vivid style. You can see how he might have influenced a photographer like Simon Marsden, and yet he remains little known and under-valued, at least in his own country. Anyone with an appreciation for fiction, and fine writing, should take the time to read an Arthur Machen story.
Btw, I've had an e-mail from Amazon to say that your other literary recommendation, made recently on the Wicker Man thread - "The Serpent's Circle" by Patrick Harpur - is en-route to me, so looking forward to that as well.