Thursday, October 6, 2016

An October reading list

Dozens of lists are out now recommending a variety of horror novels and short stories to be read during October.

I'm going to give you a bit of a variation on the theme and recommend some books with the word "October" in the title.

OCTOBER DREAMS: A CELEBRATION OF HALLOWEEN

Edited by Cemetery Dance head honcho Richard Chizmar and all-around awesome guy Robert Morrish, this anthology contains not only a wide variety of short stories celebrating my birthday Halloween, but also a number of favorite halloween memories from many of the writers. 

Featured writers include Ray Bradbury (we'll talk more about him soon), Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, Richard Laymon (like Bradbury, he will pop up again), and Caitlin R. Kiernan.

This tome also includes the first Thomas Ligotti story I ever read, "Conversations in a Dead Language."

I lucked out and have the trade paperback version. There is a sequel and if that ever gets out of the collector's edition phase, I'll get it and likely amend this list.




THE OCTOBER COUNTRY

Can we all just agree that Bradbury was the true king of Halloween? We can? Good.

Here, the master offers 19 short stories, many of which were in his collection THE DARK CARNIVAL in 1947. Published in 1954, THE OCTOBER COUNTRY included four new stories from Bradbury. A re-release in 1999 included an essay called "Homesteading the October Country."

Among the stories included are "The Jar" (notable for being an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents), "The Next in Line," and "The Small Assassin," which is one of the best short stories ever written (unless you are a parent).



NIGHT IN THE LONESOME OCTOBER

If you read modern horror, chances are you've come across one of Richard Laymon's books. He published a mountain of novels in the 1980s and '90s, and few even after his untimely death in 2001.

This entry, with a title cribbed from an E.A. Poe poem, follows college student Ed as he ventures out one late October night after being unceremoniously dumped by his girlfriend. Ed encounters a number of unusual people throughout the night, including an intriguing young woman and other not so friendly folks.

It's my favorite Laymon novel because the plot lends itself to meandering. There is an anthology feel to it that I find appealing.



A NIGHT IN THE LONESOME OCTOBER

It's a great line, so we shouldn't be surprised to see multiple authors using it for titles.

Here, Roger Zelazny uses it for his satirical--and final--novel told via journal entries by Snuff, a dog who happens to be the companion of Jack the Ripper.

Zelazny gets Lovecraftian throughout the book, but Snuff also encounters the gamut of horror archetypes including Dracula, Victor Frankenstein, a wolf man named Larry Talbot, Sherlock Holmes, and of course Jack the Ripper.

Each chapter represents one day the month, so if you could force yourself to be patience, the book would serve as sort of an advent calendar for Halloween.

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