Friday, October 12, 2007

31 Days of Halloween - Day 12

I like to read more short stories for this season, than novels, for some reason. Here are some recommendations.

I really enjoyed Joe Hill's novel "Heart Shaped Box" about the consequences of a Rock musician purchasing a ghost, and a not too friendly ghost at that. His short story collection, "20th Century Ghosts," which will go on sale this coming Tuesday, October 16th, is even better. Hill is quickly becomming the best writer of horror fiction out there. It's dark, strange, and funny, and stays with you long after you've finished reading it. This collection is worth picking up even if it only contained "Pop Art" ( one of the most original, and the best stories I've read. Period.) and "Voluntary Committal." I liked everything else in the collection, but these two really resonated with me.

I haven't had a chance to read this year's anthology, "The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror" 2007, but I've read all the previous 19 volumes, and recommend them all (though the first few were simply fanatsy. Horror was added later). This series collects what truly are examples of the best short story and poetry being written in the genre, and collects it from very wide ranging sources. The recaps for novels, non-fiction, graphic novels, movies and television, and children's books which fill the anthology's first couple hundred pages will have you scouring for even more treasure.

"The Halloween Reader" is a collection of short stories, poems, play excerpts and miscellany from Halloween's earliest traditions, when people really did fear being whisked away by fairies (such as in Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's chilling "The Child That Went Away With the Fairies") and viewed Halloween as a time where they really would be visited by the spirits of the dead, and have their fortunes told to reveal the identities of their future spouses. This collection is more of a historical curiosity than an entertaining read, but if you're interested in Halloween's origins you might want to pick this up.

Finally, a book I haven't read in a few years, but a fond favorite is "Ghosts," a collection of ghost stories edited by Marvin Kaye. This is a thick collection of tales, and is now out of print, but worth obtaining.

These books are best read alone, late at night, when the wind is blowing outside, and rain and dead leaves are pelting your windows. Only a single light should be turned on, or better yet a candle. Never mind that creaking floor board. It's just the house settling, or is it you, unsettling?


Stephen said...

Hey, John, thanks for the recommendations!

Dane said...

I just heard about Joe Hill for the first time yesterday, and he got a rave review then too. I'm going to pick up one of his books tonight or tomorrow.

What impressed me even more about your review was your not even mentioning his father.

Rozum said...

Dane, I felt that even though pretty much anyone who's heard of Joe Hill knows who his dad is, he was obviously trying to make a name for himself without that shadow hanging over him. I'm glad he's becoming so successful because he deserves it. His work is fantastic.

Unfortunately, I can't say the same of his dad. He's written a whole bunch of short stories i like, but his novels over the past several years have been horrible (I haven't takene the time to read all of the Dark Tower series so can't comment on those). "The Cell" started of with real promise, then it seemed as if he just got bored about 100 pages in and gave up. "The Colorado Kid" had a beautiful cover, and wasn't even a story. It was like the premise to short story without an ending. Horrendous. "Lisey's Story" was predictable, overlong, and featured the most annoying protagonist I've encountered in a novel in some time. It pains me to feel this way, as I was one of those people that considered themself his biggest fan.