It's Halloween again, my favorite holiday, and I'm trying to get in the mood, despite the fact that the scariest thing I can think of right now is Sarah Palin being elected to...well, anything, really. But I'm going to soldier on, in the spirit of the season. I thought I'd do a new version of the list of Halloween reading I did a couple of years ago for Maud Newton (which had some movies on it, too); at the time I told her that it was a pretty arbitrary list, that if she'd asked me on a different day, I'd probably do a completely different list. Well, it's a different day, so here's a different list.
1) "It's a Good Life," by Jerome Bixby, who was also a screenwriter and TV writer, best known for a couple of good Star Trek episodes. Most people know this story from its superb Twilight Zone adaptation, starring a very young, very scary Billy Mumy. The story itself is a nasty slice of small-town gothic Americana, with a brilliantly bone-chilling sci-fi twist. It's still widely anthologized, I think, but I first read it in the Hitchcock anthology.
4) "The Daemon Lover," by Shirley Jackson. Another story I first read in the Bradbury anthology. It didn't really stick with me as a kid, but when I reread it in Jackson's own collection, The Lottery and Other Stories, it creeped me out. You have to be an adult, and to have had your heart broken, to be scared by this story.
7) "The Small Assassin," by Ray Bradbury. When I was a kid reading Bradbury's science fiction, a colleague of my father's at Ferris State College in Big Rapids, Michigan, where I grew up, suggested that I get a copy of Bradbury's The October Country, which he said was better than Bradbury's sci fi. It's a revised version of his first book, Dark Carnival, which was first published by August Derleth's Arkham House (best known for keeping Lovecraft's reputation alive). Bradbury writes in his introduction that the stories in the book present a side to him most of his readers don't know, and a sort of story—i.e., horror—which he had rarely written since 1946. There's some really creepy stuff here, but this one is my favorite. If you have young children, you may want to avoid it. Then again, maybe you won't.
In which I mostly write about books, movies, and TV. An all-purpose spoiler alert: Sometimes I will talk about these works on the assumption that the reader's already read or seen them, so if you haven't, be forewarned.
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