Monday, September 24, 2007

holiday reading and suggestions

Halloween is one of those holidays I don't hate. I actually picked up some reading to celebrate the month, which is my favorite of the year. It's not as special in Colorado - Massachusetts is cool, dry, sunny and exploding in the color of foliage. Anyway, here's what I picked up.

Some H.P. Lovecraft - lurker at the threshold. A really messed up homophobe, but the original master of terror. He helped create the concept of horror that was so fantastical, that it would destroy somebody's mind to behold it.

I am Legend by Richard Matheson. Good vampire fiction is some of the best. Bad vampire is, well, Anne Rice. This one I've started first, and so far its amazing. It takes the basic premise of vampires, as a lone predator in a world of prey, and turns it on its head. The book follows. Richard Neville, who is the last man on earth (as far as he and I know this early on) in a world where everyone else has turned into vampires. It's based very much in the practicality of survival. He is the lone prey in a world of predators. The omega man with Charlton Heston is the most famous adaptation. Will Smith is the lead in a remake coming out very soon - which was all the more reason to read this sooner rather than later.

Son of a Witch - the sequel to Wicked. Not really scary, but witches are involved. Wicked, in case you've been under a rock, is the story of the Wicked Witch of the West, told from her point of view. There's a lot of social commentary and good storytelling for adults. The sequel is, as the title would indicate, concerned with her orphaned son.

Halloween reading suggestions

Dracula: The original Dracula, by Bram Stoker, is a true classic of any genre. It's a good time capsule of how women were held in society at the time it was written. The narrative is pieced together from letters, diary entries and news clippings, which made it a pretty experimental piece of work as well.

Salem's Lot: If there are Stephen King doubters out there, read Salem's Lot. I will contend that that book is also a classic. most people who don't like King haven't read much or anything by him. If you read Salem's Lot and still hate him, then he's got nothing for you. Salem's Lot and the Shining are probably his two best works in my opinion.

World War Z: This isn't strictly terror, but Max Brook's vision of future where a zombie outbreak reaches a global pandemic is pretty scary in its attention to detail. It is gripping, told as a series of interconnected interviews with survivors. Brooks uses the tale as a metaphor for a global crisis capable of changing the socioeconomic fortunes of countries around the world. It's well written, and takes itself deadly serious.

As an english major, I spent a lot of time reading books that had prestige value or was supposed to imbue me with some quality in its reading. Halloween is a good time to remember that books can be high art - and fun at the same time. Don't take my suggestions, but take my advice - read a fun book in October (yes I know its still September - just got a little trigger happy I guess.)


Seamus Woods said...

Thanks! I need some good book recommendations. Mine usually come from Amy, who does well but her books are usually a little estrogen biased.

I liked wicked a lot -- I'm a sucker for the "take a well known story and re-tell it from another character's pov" genre. Grendel is another good one, and it might fit the halloween theme. RandGareD is a favorite, but not scary.

I like "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon" for King scary book. First, it is short and I read slowly. Second, that minimalism really shows how what is left out of the text is what really makes a book scary.

Amy Woods said...

Just to prove Seamus wrong (as usual), I would recommend the book "The Alienist." Scary in a suspenseful, eerie sort of way.

Giuseppe Jonathan Jones, CPA said...

Just finished "I Am Legend" It was really good. It clocks in at 170 pages, so its more of a novella, but it has a nice Jack London tautness to the story. Another plus for Seamus is that the hero is a scientist.