October brings with it Halloween, and as far as reading goes, Halloween means a huge stack of creepy, dread-inducing, and scary tomes. I hope the ones I've chosen for this month are going to be good. I love reading a good ghost story, supernatural tale, weird fiction, or horror novel but I prefer not to go down the roads of splatter, torture, or anything gross. Nor do I care at all for zombies. I'm probably the only person on the planet that isn't crazy about zombies -- I just don't see their point. Okay, so they're dead, they come back, they eat people and it gets all gross so I won't read about them anyway. And zombie romance? Vampire romance? Ewww. Forget that. I like my horror cerebral -- I like imagining it all in my head, although sometimes that can backfire on me, and in one instance, caused me not to sleep for a couple of days. The story that kept me up with lights on is a story called "Beach Head," by Daniel Le Moal. I originally read it in Volume One of Ellen Datlow's series The Best Horror of the Year ;
when I wrote about it I noted that there is a line at which horror becomes no longer fun for me -- and this story crossed it. In the strictest sense of the word, I was indeed horrified, but this one went well beyond my comfort zone. I give much credit to the writer: the images his writing conjured were extremely vivid, but downright depressing and I hope to god I never see another story like this one again. I won't deny that the story was very well written, but there are just some things I don't want to see in my head. On the other hand, I love reading supernatural stories because they are, imho, a lot like crime fiction. Well-written ghost stories set up a situation that leads to a number of questions that you want answered; a good writer keeps the tension going just long enough until you have a solution of some sort. The best horror stories are the ones where the author slowly builds and intensifies a certain feeling of dread before things get resolved one way or another.
So, on the horror/supernatural stack this month so far (but this can change at any time):
John Boyne, This House is Haunted (which I've already read but I'll give it a reread and I'll be discussing it shortly)
Graham Joyce, The Year of the Ladybird: A Ghost Story
Stephen King, Doctor Sleep
Dan Simmons, The Abominable
There are also a couple of literary novels I want to get through this month -- The House of Journalists, by Tim Finch and The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri -- as well as new crime: Arnaldur Indridason's latest (which I'm reading now) called Strange Shores, and two nonfiction books, The Brothers, by Stephen Kinzer and Stanley Crouch's Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker. That's the plan anyway. We'll see what actually happens!
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