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Thread: Halloween Reading

  1. #1

    Lightbulb Halloween Reading

    There seems to be a lot of discussion of Horror recently. It is also coming up to Halloween. Also, as I have said before, I often feel supernatural, weird, eerie and horror stories are best in short form. So, this thread is for sharing short stories and short story collections that are apt for this spooky time of year when the moonlight bleeds the hues from the autumn forest.

    I've love to hear of any modern supernatural collections. Seems most deal with pre 60's stuff.

    I'll begin with a couple of my favourites.



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    What a good idea!

    I've always enjoyed Alvin Schwartz and in particular, 'In a Dark, Dark Room' and 'The Green Ribbon'.

    Angela Carter's 'The Bloody Chamber' too. Everything in it.

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    Another collection I've found myself returning to, in the depths of night when the coals burn low and the corners of the room are deeply shadowed, is Gogol's Ukrainian Tales.

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    I can't contribute to this thread but it set me to thinking which books I've read which genuinely scared me, and I can only think of Stephen King.

    Mind, this was when I was a teenager, so perhaps they wouldn't work so well on me now, but at the time I read 'The Shining', 'Pet Semetary' and 'It' they all scared the living poop out of me. I'm talking almost having to force myself to carry on reading scared.

    Clive Barker's short stories were gruesome but not really scary. Lovecraft I never find scary. I think they're too overwritten to be scary. M.R. James definitely can be scary.

    I think for Halloween I'll read 'The Turn of the Screw'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corpsey View Post
    I can't contribute to this thread but it set me to thinking which books I've read which genuinely scared me, and I can only think of Stephen King.

    Mind, this was when I was a teenager, so perhaps they wouldn't work so well on me now, but at the time I read 'The Shining', 'Pet Semetary' and 'It' they all scared the living poop out of me. I'm talking almost having to force myself to carry on reading scared.

    Clive Barker's short stories were gruesome but not really scary. Lovecraft I never find scary. I think they're too overwritten to be scary. M.R. James definitely can be scary.

    I think for Halloween I'll read 'The Turn of the Screw'.
    I've yet to pick up any of King's novels. I must read The Shining. I've only read a few shorts by him. The Turn of The Screw is excellent. I read it on Halloween last year traveling back from the highlands, a good book to cane in one go... bit wordy but, hey, that's James' style.

    One of my favourite collections has The Monkey's Paw by Jacobs in it. Great one.

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    A note on Lovecraft. I really just do not like his style at all. He has this overly effusive way of directly telling the reader X is scary. More adjectives will not make something scarier. He breaks the cardinal rule of story craft... he tells rather than shows (or alludes or conjures). Ligotti, on the other hand, is the opposite. Sure there are descriptive passages but not for the main horrors. I know some readers like HPL's baroque descriptive bent but I just find his infinitely abominable prose hideously tedious.

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    Yeah lovecraft is rubbish. Not that I have any interest in horror anyway. My mate jim keeps spruiking aickman

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    Zylpha Snyder's 'The Egypt Game' has nice Halloweeny vibes. All about play, ancient Egypt and a child serial killer It's true. And the treatment is wonderful and beautifully written. It's YA so you could easily burn through it in an afternoon too. Real treat.
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    I've always thought HP Lovecraft and MR James make nice mirror images of each other. Lovecraft has an amazing overarching cosmic vision, but the actual stories are underwhelming because of the overwrought prose. James essentially writes trite little Victorian parlour stories, but they work because his writing style is so clinically effective. MR James re-writing the Cthuhlu Mythos would be incredible.

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    Machen's 'The Terror' and Blackwood's 'The Willows' are both great and available for free. Big fan of The Barron Short collections. 'After the People Lights Have Gone Off' by Stephen Graham Jones and 'The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies' by John Langan were two of the standout collections from last year. 'Gateways to Abomination' by Matthew M. Bartlett and 'Burnt Black Suns' by Simon Strantzas were also rans.

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    I think I remember Slothrop's verdict on HPL and MRJ from ages ago. To my shame I've never read either of the Jameses, so I guess this autumn would be a great time to have a crack at both.

    As much as I love Lovecraft, I agree that in general he isn't scary at all. However I do think he's great at creating atmosphere - read 'The Music of Erich Zann' and tell me it isn't powerfully weird (and with nary an extraterrestrial god-monster or half-caste fish-man in sight). I've been massively into Ligotti since droid kindly sent me a whole bundle of ebooks including a ton of his stuff. Pretty much the whole of Grimscribe is superb. I especially liked 'The Shadow at the Bottom of the World', which reminded me a good deal of HPL's 'The Colour out of Space' (his best story by a country mile, in my opinion as well as the author's own).

    Anyone else here into Robert Chambers? His short story collection The King in Yellow, especially the first four stories, are essential reading for anyone into cosmic horror and/or fin-de-siecle decadence. They're also crucially important in the backstory to the first series of True Detective (indeed, I believe the book briefly climbed into the bestseller lists as a result of the popularity of the show).

    I asked for a book called The Sleep Room by F. R. Tallis for a birthday or Christmas a few years ago pretty much on spec. The premise was hugely promising: a creepy old Victorian sanitarium in deepest darkest Suffolk is repurposed in the 1950s as a facility where a maverick (and perhaps not overly ethics-burdened) psychiatrist is trialling a radical new therapy for horribly disturbed patients that involves keeping them in almost uninterrupted sleep for weeks or months at a time. Of course, the narrator (the prof's young assistant) is left there by himself as the winter nights draw in, and, inevitably, that's when the paranormal shit starts. It builds atmosphere really well in the early part of the book and there's a nice (though not totally unguessable) twist at the end, but in between I felt it didn't quite live up to the potential of such a great premise. There's also a basically inconsequential love interest, which leads to the hilarious scene where, immediately following red-hot sex with this smokin' fine young blonde nurse, the narrator falls into a reverie about the house they're going to set up together in Hampstead, right down to the matching chintz pattern on the sofa and curtains. Um, yeah OK, whatever!

    Also: Poe, of course! His stories aren't consistently brilliant but he's got plenty of great ones. A nice touch of romance to some of them (e.g. 'Ligeia'). 'The Casque of Amontillado' is a classic of the non-supernatural conte cruel (short story, often revenge-themed, characterized by gleeful cruelty and gruesome depictions of suffering). The Auguste Dupin tales are cool proto-detective stories with an immediately obvious influence on Conan Doyle.
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    I ordered The King In Yellow. When it arrived I discovered it was printed upside-down and backwards. I held the strange tome in my hands and felt like I'd slipped into some Ligottian nightmarish reality. Let this be a warning to ye who resist e-readers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by you View Post
    I ordered The King In Yellow. When it arrived I discovered it was printed upside-down and backwards. I held the strange tome in my hands and felt like I'd slipped into some Ligottian nightmarish reality. Let this be a warning to ye who resist e-readers.
    Hahaha yeah, I remember you told me about that at the time. Then, IIRC, you ordered Ito's Uzumaki and found it had been bound wrong way around TOO! And REALLY thought you were properly losing it! (Before you remembered it was a manga collection in one volume, and Japanese, and was bound like that because all Japanese books are bound like that.)

    Edit: although as you say, many Japanese books reprinted for Western markets must have the pagination reversed, I suppose.

    What did you think of TKiY, by the way?
    Last edited by Mr. Tea; 18-10-2016 at 11:33 AM.
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    Haha, yeah, it was the first manga I got that wasn't 'flipped' and I flipped. It arrived the day after the TKiY 'happening'. During that period my nerves were particularly sensitive. So much so I was more inclined than usual to succumb to rash proclivities and impulses. To receive Ito's masterpiece, with the residues of the previous day's unease still lurking in mind, led to a somewhat irrational bureaucratic exchange with various occult enigmas at Amazon UK's customer services department. I never sorted out another TKiY.

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    Oh, so was the actual text reversed, too? So it was unreadable? I thought you just meant the pages were in reverse order.
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