Posts Tagged ‘horror’

Book Links

October 23, 2013

9 Books to scare the hell out of you. A good list with some I didn’t expect. I still have a hard time seeing lists like this with an array of newer titles while leaving anything by King, Rice, Matheson, etc. off. I know The Shining can only be on so many lists, and newer works deserve (and need) the exposure, but it’s still a bit weird for me. Nice seeing Shirley Jackson get some much deserved love, though. Despite her greatness, I think she gets overlooked at times.

 

Irma Boom: objectification of the book. I love books as physical objects, and Boom takes this to wonderful places. If you don’t know her work, check it out. You will enjoy it.

 

Libraries of the Rich and Famous.  I love the clutter of Keith Richard’s library, but I think Woody Allen’s tastes would most mirror my own. If I was filthy rich, that is.

 

We don’t read as well as we used to.  A new study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that American adults had a lower reading proficiency than their counterparts from twenty years ago.  It’s a bit of a thing that “young adult” books are becoming increasingly popular with adults, that it is common to see someone with some salt in their beard or grey in their hair lugging around Twilight or The Hunger Games, and it’s always assumed it’s because young adult fiction is becoming so well done. Maybe it’s because more and more people can’t handle more difficult reads.  This isn’t to say young adult novels are bad, but they are not really difficult, either. Anyway. There is my moment of fire in a crowded theater for this post.

Finally, David Bowie has a list of 100 must read books.

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Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories by M.R. James – review

September 2, 2011

I’ve been having a hard time coming up with what I want to say about this collection. First, it’s a very fine collection of classic horror, and the stories do not really show their age. If you like horror, it’s a must read. At the same time, there’s also nothing that really stands out about the collection. James has a definite grasp of specifics and of his locations. Throughout all of the stories there seems to be a theme a learned or educated person running into something his education hasn’t prepared him to deal with. Also, there is an element of religion turned malignant in many of the stories. Someone conjures demons, someone reads apocryphal texts, etc.

I thought the best story was “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad,”  about a guy who finds a whistle, blows in it, and then is bedeviled by a spirit that comes, uses the sheets of the spare bed in the guy’s room to form a body for itself, and tries to scare him to death. It sounds…kooky…when explained, but James’ grasp of language and attention to detail in constructing his setting pulls it off with aplomb.

The collection I had was the Penguins Classic edition.  If you’re really interested in James, I think this is the copy you should look for. Not only is it well done, as pretty much all of the Penguin Classics are, but it is heavily annotated. So, if you’re really curious what that bit of Latin means that James put into a story, you can flip to the back and see. While the annotations aren’t necessary, they can be helpful and they do bring a greater depth to the story and an appreciation for the amount of work James put into getting the details right. I plan on coming back and inserting reviews of a few of the stories but, for now, I’m just going to put this up for everyone.

You Should Write About Storms

September 21, 2009

it’s funny what can jog your memory. I was sitting on the front steps of our building with my g/f and the neighbor’s kid, waiting for the school bus, when he asks me if I write books. I joke back that I write books badly and chuckle when the conversation quickly shifts to the ever worsening weather. I mention in passing that I like thunderstorms, the darker, louder, windier the better. Then the kid says I should write about storms.

I’m not sure if the kid was joking or not. It was flat in tone and, with the right inflection, I could easily see it being a weird little jab at my “being a writer.” But it got me thinking about maybe writing about storms. What they could symbolize, how they could be worked into a story, etc. etc. etc. when I realized that I had already written about storms!

It was just a short story, with kids and an apocalyptic storm that fell disaster upon them – a real Stephen King Special – but it was something that I had really enjoyed when I had finished with it but which had been lost in the shuffle since I wrote it. It also made me think of the another little horror story I wrote for a fiction course I took a couple of years ago when I was pursuing my PhD. It was a little vampire tale with all sorts of sexual allusions and innuendo but it, too, had been lost to time and to the refuse of my harddrive.

While I enjoy both stories, it makes me think of the fight between being a REAL Writer and being a Genre Writer.  As a young child, I had been a big reader and writer. An only child, living in the middle of nowhere, it was really the only option before the proliferation of the internet and cable/satallite television. Unfortunately, it was a habit that elementary school fairly drummed out of me. What really drew me back into the fold was genre writers; it was Stephen King and Michael Cricton. Enjoying reading again was something they jointly gave back to me.

But, despite my debt to them and the great amount of joy I got and get from their work, why don’t I take my genre works more seriously? The two little horror stories I wrote I enjoy immensely but they haven’t been something I have given the sort of importance I give other works – despite the fact that they may be two of my better crafted works.

So what does this mean that I have sort of, maybe, kinda turned my back on a type of fiction I enjoy? I may have slipped into snobbish elitism, the inevitable result of too many lit courses and too many encounters with other would be Serious Writers. Or maybe my tastes since my re-introduction to the writing world have gradually widened to the point where I simply write what I want now and try to ignore having my work split into categories while also being aware that to be published within a genre has a definite risk of pigion holing me in that genre for eternity. After all, I still find copies of Motherless Brooklyn tucked away next to Amnesia Moon in the sci/fi section.

And I’m still thinking about writing about a storm.