Tis the Season to Give Horror

Friday, October 29, 2010

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Jack Skellington-O-Lantern
Happy Friday, friends!  Halloween is almost here.  Are you ready?  Have your costume picked out?  Candy bought for all those goblin beggars that will be banging down your door this Sunday eve?  And did you know, by the way, that there are places that have banned Halloween on Sundays?  Yes, it's true.  I don't make this stuff up.  Look here, at this Huffington Post link.

See?  I'm just very, very glad not to live in such a sacrilegious place.

In other news, have you heard about Neil Gaiman's All Hallows Read?  Mr. Gaiman, in all of his wisdom, decided that there aren't enough holidays for which we give books.  So, he proposed that we do so for Hallowe'en (his more proper spelling, I'll assume).  The idea is to give a scary book to someone, anyone, for this most spooky of holidays.  His idea, my friends, has caught on like wild fire.  People have been tweeting and facebooking.  Even the venerable Stephen King has endorsed the idea on his own site  .  (Sigh... I do love that man... but I digress.)  And now, out of this spark of an idea presented by Neil Gaiman on his blog six days ago, allhallowsread.com is born!  News of this just went out today.  Per Mr. Gaiman's current blog entry:

It's very skeletal right now. I suggested it, the webgoblin and the former webelf collaborated, I wrote some FAQs based on things people had asked on Twitter, Facebook or here, and we threw it up, figuring it was more important to get something up (two days before Hallowe'en) than to get it right.

So, in the spirit of All Hallows Read, go to your local used book store and pick up some dusty tomes.  Hand them out to people you love.  Even if you just give one, and even if it's a dog-eared, cover-torn paperback, the Spirit of Halloween will surely smile upon you... and probably cackle.  

Not sure what to get and/or give?  Haven't really been that into horror and ghost stories, but think you might pick up the habit, just, you know, to be a follower?  I happen to have a few suggestion.  (Bet you didn't see that coming.)

If you're looking for something for kids, or just don't want too much R rated material, try these:
Scary Stories Treasury; Three Books to Chill Your Bones: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark/ More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark/ Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz.  The image/link to the left is actually for the whole Scary Stories Treasury.  The title I mention here is simply the first of three books.  I read these when I was a kid, they're sold as "children's books," but they are, to this day, some of the creepiest books I've ever laid my hands or eyes on.  The illustrations alone (brilliant work done by Stephen Gammell) will imprint upon your brain, never to be forgotten for as long as you live.  At least, that's my belief, as I've been carrying their haunting visages around in my head since childhood.  The stories themselves are urban legends and bits of folklore adapted by Schwartz, which, I think, is what makes them have such staying power.  Some of these stories you may have actually heard before, over a campfire late at night, or from your best friend's big brother that one time you stayed over.  And here they are, illustrated with pictures out of your worst nightmares.  
As an aside, I read on Wiki that:  This series is listed as being the most challenged series of books from 1990–1999[2] and seventh most challenged from 2000-2009 [3] by the American Library Association for its religious viewpoint and violence as well as for being occultist, satanic, or inappropriate.


Moving right along, you could also get your hands on a copy of 
The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.  I have a confession to make.  I haven't actually read this one yet.  But I hear it's fantastic, and that it's about a boy who's raised in a graveyard by ghosts.  Who's not intrigued now?  

Also, in case you don't already know, you can watch/listen to Neil Gaiman read The Graveyard Book in its entirety here:  http://www.mousecircus.com/videotour.aspx

But, if you're looking for something for more mature readers, I have to suggest some of my old favorites.
The Shining 
The Shining by Stephen King.  Of course.  This is one of King's most frightening tales, and here it is with its new pulp-fiction-styled cover.  This one never gets old.  It will scare the bejeezus out of you.  Best read late at night, in the house all alone.  Preferably with snow falling rapidly outside your window... but this is Halloween, so we can just skip that part.  But, if you're chicken, it's okay to read it in broad daylight, perhaps sitting outside a cafe with lots of people milling around you.  I'll leave that part up to you.

 If you'd like something a little more classic there's always:

Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan PoeYou cannot go wrong with Poe.  It's the law.  If you've never read any of his works... well... I'll first ask you what planet you've been living on your whole life or have you possibly been raised by wolves in the frozen tundra?  In that case, you're forgiven.  And I will also say that you just need to read one, maybe two of his stories in order to be hooked. (This, too, is The Law.)  What are my favorites, you ask?  I'm very attached to "The Tell-Tale Heart". And "The Masque of the Red Death" is honestly stunning.  Or "The Fall of the House of Usher" - a perfect tale for a dark and stormy night.  

Edgar Allan Poe Audio CollectionAlthough, I have heard that it's best to hear Poe read aloud, and I am not at all about to disagree.  There is this audio collection, read by Vincent Price and Basil Rathbone.  I wouldn't mind having this collection myself... look how beautiful!  If anyone wanted to send it to me... ;) 

(Also, I will tell you that I plan on posting my favorite Poe poem on Halloween day, if you want to check back to read it.)

Now, let's say you're tired of vampire romances, sick of your vampires sparkling (I'm sorry, but you know how I feel about the Twilight series, and if you don't, well... there it is.  Cat's out of the bag, I can't take it back now.), wishing there was something you could read (or give to overthrow an unhealthy vampire-romance addiction in another) that was a bit darker, a touch truer-to-legend, about our immortal blood-sucking brethren. Have you perchance read

Interview with the Vampire
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice?  No?  Get thee to a bookstore at once!  (Or, of course, you can order it through the Amazon link on the image to your left, but it's slutty of me to say so, so let's just pretend that didn't happen, okay?)  This is the first of a very, very good series where all the mortals are either prey or turned into vampires themselves.  As it should be.  Carry on.

 And now, I would be remiss if I didn't suggest some short story collections. (Apart from Mr. Poe's, that is, since he wrote primarily short stories and poetry, so that doesn't really count, does it?) 
Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark TalesEverything's Eventual is a more recent collection of short stories by Sai King, and it contains that most deeply disturbing encounter in room "1408".  Did you see the movie?  The short story is less elaborate than the movie, but somehow scarier for all of that.  This book also contains "Riding the Bullet", which was also turned into a movie that yours truly never even knew existed until my husband found it in the bargain bin at one of our local media stores.  This is now one of my favorite King movie adaptations.  You'll have to see it to understand why.  And, one last bit of enticement, for any of my readers that happen to be Dark Tower fans, I'll tell you a secret - there's a Tower story in here.  (Can you see the carrot dangling between my fingers?)

The Mammoth Book of the Best of Best New HorrorAnd finally, if you just can't decide, and need some variety in your life, hot of the presses April this year is The Mammoth Book of the Best of Best New Horror, featuring "Two decades of dark fiction" at your fingertips.  Stephen King, Peter Straub, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, and a whole bunch more.... there's got to be something worth giving in here.

I could go on and on (no, really I could - don't tempt me), suggesting books out of my very most favorite genre (though fantasy would be a very close second), but I'll stop here for now.  

I hope you have a wonderfully spooky weekend and manage to give away at least one scary book for All Hallows Read.  I should see you 'round this way on Halloween, but if we miss each other, have a happy, happy haunting!


GingerGirl said...

Love, love, LOVE The Graveyard Book, and we are listening to it online as well. I adore this new holiday!

firespark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
firespark said...

Me, too! This post was so much fun! Hope your kiddos have lots of spooky fun with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Tell Eldest it's best read to her younger siblings in the dark, under a blanket, with a flashlight. ;)

Oh, and my one and only is devouring 100 Cupboards, thank you very much!