Monday, October 8, 2012

Seasonal Books: October's Halloween Novels

Hey, today is Columbus Day Observed, or Native American Day if you're thinking of the folks who were doing the observing, who met the boat.  Anyway, Halloween is the next notation on the calendar and it is high time to get into the mood.

Last October, I was much more in the spirit of things.  My blog headlines for the month were:

Fun stuff.  The year before last, I read several Halloween-related books in October, including a reread of Deborah Blum's Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death, then Peter Ackroyd's A History of Ghosts: The True Story of Seances, Mediums, Ghosts, and Ghostbusters, then Norman Partridge's Johnny Halloween: Tales of the Dark Season and Dark Harvest. I also read Mike Ashley's excellent Starlight Man: The Extraordinary Life of Algernon Blackwood which goes into the spiritualism of the fantasy/occult novelist.

Every year I put back the spookiest mysteries and literary ghost stories to read in October.  But every year I find myself rereading some old favorites as well.  And every year I have some left over that I put back til the next fall.

New books for Halloween this year include Otto Penzler's The Big Book of Ghost Stories, which  is exactly that, including both classic and contemporary ghost yarns.

Another new anthology is Ghosts: Recent Hauntings, this one edited by Paula Guran and featuring new stories by Neil Gaiman, Elizabeth Hand, Glen Hirshberg, Peter Straub, Joe R. Lansdale, and many others.  In her introduction, Guan offers a good survey of the ghost stories, movies, and novels published since the turn of the century.

Guran touts such novels as Michael Koryta's So Cold the River, Michael Marshall Smith's The Servants, Hilary Mantel's Beyond Black, Simone St. Clair's The Haunting of Maddy Clare, Peter Straub's In the Night Room, and Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale.

Ghosts will always be with us, especially at this time of year.

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