This Shiz is OG Scary

You guys. For real? So, I’m about half way through Dracula, and I felt like I just needed to get a few things off my chest (not to mention Mark will be home soon, and I needed something to help me transition from the book to the fish I have to go cook for dinner. How blogging helps me do that, I’m not sure, but it does help). Let us do this in list form, shall we?

  1. I LOVE ABRAHAM VAN HELSING. Sure, his crazy dialectical word inversions are making my eyes go all cross-eyed and loopy, but I just love him so much! He’s such a believer at heart, and we all know that if it weren’t for him, thing with Dracula would have been a lot worse than they actually were. He’s so nice to Mina! And he’s all, like, ‘I’m gruff and have no friends and eyebrows like Peter Gallagher, but all of you English people are so nice and all named Jonathan, so I believe I shall be your friend!”
  2. So, Lucy. She’s sick. Then she’s better. Then she’s sick again. And it’s great and scary and all (also clearly the work of a vampire) but really it’s more just monotonous repetition of “oh, I shan’t sleepwalk” “dear diary: oops, I sleepwalked” with every now and then a cool, creepy thing happening.
  3. Speaking of creepy cool things happening: I think that, without a doubt, my favorite part of the book so far (I’m sitting at page 235 out of some 440-ish) is the beginning of the novel, Jonathan Harker’s journal. The one he writes while he’s staying with the Count. Without a doubt, these first fifty-whatever pages are the SCARIEST shiz in the whole book. Stoker does such a great job (throughout the whole novel, but especially here) of creating this slowly encroaching feeling of madness. Each of his characters seems to go through the process of excusing little thing after little thing as simple aberrations or just simply oddities without explanation. And then BAM. They’re stuck in a nightmare they didn’t realize was coming. I’m thinking especially about how Stoker seems to constantly want his characters to blur the lines between dreams and reality, and the passing of time and the inverted behaviors associated with day and night all serve to create a kind of topsy-turvey world – similar, I imagine, to how the characters must feel when all this crazy business is happening.
  4. Honestly? Diaries? And letters? And journals? It’s great to have the first person narrations and all – and it’s kind of nice to mix it up with those newspaper clippings every now and then, but really, for me, it’s just too much ‘ephemera’. I’m a little glad books got further and further away from the epistolary style. If I have to hear one more character go “I swear, this is a verbatim conversation, I have a great memory. And if it’s not…my bad” I’m going to be slaphappy
  5. Reading this book this time of year is, of course, absolutely perfect. Today was bright and cold and I sat outside on my ghetto porch rocking chair with my giant buggy Mary Kate Olsen sunglasses and…do you know that fall has a smell? And I don’t mean, like, cinnamon and pumpkin and charcoal, although those smells are all equally awesome. I mean fall itself. The season. It’s on the air, and I don’t know how to describe it – a million bucks to the person who does. But the air was full of that smell today, and while it didn’t necessarily create the creepiest atmosphere for reading, it was still pretty bad-ass. Truthsies.

And there you have it. Blathering away on classic horror and great air smells. How’s your reading going?

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RIP VII: Settling in to Fall

Every year, without a doubt, my favorite reading challenge to participate in is the R.I.P. (Readers Imbibing Peril) Challenge hosted by Carl V. over at Stainless Steel Droppings. It’s one of the few challenges that I’m almost always guaranteed to finish – mostly because there are few things I love as much in this world as cold fall nights, the way that crisp air smells, and the feeling of a kind of expectant nostalgia (is that a thing?) where the hairs on your arm stand up and it’s creepy but it’s wonderful because it reminds you of all the times you’ve felt that before. Or, as Carl puts it:

As Autumn arrives upon this hemisphere, a beautiful melancholy settles itself over the world. Daylight fades as the darkness descends earlier each night. Nature beds down to rest and the last flashes of gorgeous color give way to the monochrome shades of winter. There is a wistful scent upon the air and the mood generated by this time of year turns my thoughts toward the mysterious, towards stories with gothic undertones, towards darkened streets and death and the men and women sent to detect those who do these dastardly deeds.

So it’s time to announce my intentions for this year’s wonderfully creepy challenge! For those of you who aren’t sure of the general challenge layout, full details can be found through the link above, but basically this challenge is all about dedicating your reading to all things creepy and Gothic and mysterious and that go bump in the night all through September and October. You can get involved on any number of levels, from reading four books to reading short stories to watching films to any combination of the above! As for me, I’m hoping to be able to really sink my teeth in to a couple great books with short stories rounding out the rest of the couple months. So, without further ado, my tentative list is as follows:

NOVELS

  • The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
  • The Woman in Whiteby Wilkie Collins
  • Draculaby Bram Stoker

SHORT STORIES

  • Fragile Thingsby Neil Gaiman (short story collection)
  • Edgar Allan Poe:
    • “The Pit and the Pendulum”
    • “The Masque of the Red Death”
    • “The Tell-Tale Heart”
    • “The Fall of the House of Usher”
    • “The Murders on the Rue Morgue”
  • H.P. Lovecraft
    • “The Call of Cthulhu”
    • “The Shadow over Innsmouth”
    • “The Colour Out of Space”
    • “The Dunwich Horror”
    • “The Outsider”

FILMS

  • Hocus Pocus
  • Carrie
  • The Shining

Well, I think that about wraps up my intention! This list puts me somewhere around

but of course I’ll also be doing Peril of the Short Story and Peril on the Screen. I’m also SUPER, SUPER excited to read this book:

for the Peril of the Group Read starting October 1st! This has long been one of my favorite Gaiman novels, and I had such a great time reading The Lantern last year during the group read that I can’t wait! Hope to see you all go sign up for the challenge – it’s truly the greatest way to pass the fall and head straight in to all of that great Christmas reading!