Saturday, October 1, 2011

Scary Stories

It's October. That means spring has taken a hike, the hi-jinks are about to begin and somebody's house or car, might be yours, will get properly toilet papered this evening. Oh, also, people will be listening, watching and reading all things horror.

So what am I going to do with 31 days?

Share the best books of the genre I've ever read.

I grew up reading these. Each one was a lesson in real horror compared to the crap that's out there today. I'm all for old school horror. I'm talking about the books that made it hard for me to sleep at night.

Today, I'm reviewing Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz.

After a stint in the navy, Schwartz became interested in writing. Later, he got a degree in journalism. When he set to work, he penned a series of stories to tell in the dark, which were part old folk lore and part urban legends.

From 1981 to 1991 he gave us three books, packed with such memorable classics as The Big Toe, The Hook or The Viper. (Which I know the last one is a little silly and not really scary, "I've come to Vipe your Vindows," granted, but still a classic yarn.)

But what I love most about these stories are the details that aren't being shared. It just makes it that much creepier and certainly a tactic I hope to employ in my stories. If you're looking for a really good example, I recommend The Monkey's Paw. I won't spoil it for you, but I'll just say, you'll be relieved at the end but it will keep you up at night regardless.

There are so many simple, effective scary stories in these four collections. Some are not even 500 words long.

But, then again, some of my favorites are the ones that still terrorize me today such as the bride who accidentally got locked up in a steamer trunk...or The Dead Man's Hand, The Cat's Paw, or countless others.

Also the illustrations were also like something out of a bad dream. If the story didn't scare you, the illustration would.

I know now that the twists, turns and hauntingly mind-bending stories collected within these slim books was the closest I was going to get at that time to Horror and Suspense that matched Alfred Hitchcock.

So here's a salute, to ALA's No. 1 banned book. Great way to kick off the month. Share with your friends...if you dare.

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