Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Great Halloween Read

The book world is being inundated with a genre that's close to my heart:  Horror.  I'm not really comfortable reading about gore and dismemberment (vampires can stay in their coffins, as far as I'm concerned), but I love subtle suspense.  Suspense earns a special place in the memory, and many of the classic horror writers have utilized this very well.  H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Justin Cronin, and Richard Matheson, to name a few.

But my particular favorite employs a special psychological horror which is a hallmark in almost everything she's written.

Shirley Jackson was an academic/housewife/author/addict who wrote stories about life in suburbia.  But her special gift was writing horror stories that, to this day, scare the beejeezus out of her readers.  Her plots begin in an everyday sort of way; suburban life, sibling relationships, everything people experience in their daily lives.  But keep reading, get involved, and the horror slowly creeps in.

One of her finest examples is the short story, 'The Lottery'.  I read it in high school and the ending blew me away.  I didn't see it coming, something that isn't typical in most current horror.  

But the story that has me coming back every year is 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle', a quiet study of insanity.  As you are drawn into the sisters' routine world, you slowly learn about the real horror of their existence. 

For a great introduction into Jackson's works, start with 'The Lottery' and 'The Haunting of Hill House' (which has been filmed two times; the best of the two stars Julie Harris).

Just remember that I warned you.


1 comment:

Passionet Bookworm said...

oooo.. now this may be one I could get into..