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Scary Stories

It’s nearly midnight on Halloween, and a few moments ago I could actually hear the wind whistling through the trees–spooky in a pleasant sort of way.  Sure beats last year, when Hurricane Sandy pre-empted not only trick-or-treating but normal life.  Now that was a frightening Halloween. 

Though I love looking at lists like this one from Flavorwire in which readers nominate the stories that scared them senseless, I very rarely read horror or anything that bills itself as spine-tingling, bone-chilling, or terrifying.  This is less a genre bias than it is a failure of courage. Plus, I find so many things scary about the real world: antibiotic resistant bacteria, global water shortages, human bloodthirstiness (really any one of the four horseman of the apocalypse; war, famine, pestilence, death–take your pick) so who needs Stephen King to frighten me further?  I just read the draft memoir of a civil conflict specialist who worked in Rwanda after the genocide and in Charles Taylor’s Liberia, who adopted a child from Sierra Leone.  That gave me more nightmares than Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House or the Poe’s (admittedly freaky) Mask of Red Death ever did.  But I may be missing the gene for scary books.  I’m no fan of horror movies and detest the stomach-dropping sensation of rollercoasters.  

But what about you; What novels did you find frightening? Do you enjoy being creeped out?

One Response to Scary Stories

  1. Kevin A. Lewis says:

    I can sort of tell from the midlist-heavy client page that otherwordly stuff’s not your forte, so here’s a whole-damn-thing’s-too-real-and-in-the-present-tense offering for you: Hitler’s Furies by Wendy Lower. It’s eerily close to some elements in the YA project I’m shopping around (don’t worry, I won’t drop it on your doorstep) except I try to lighten the whole thing up by looking back on it all from the safety of a Thanksgiving holiday in the 21st Century. I know you probably don’t do scary movies either, so if you don’t have the nerve to look up the 1962 B&W version of THE HAUNTING, try DOWNFALL, which is sort of the German version of Saving Private Ryan about the last hours of the 3rd Reich. And honestly, I prefer stuff like Lovecraft or Poe to real-world horrors like cancer and despair which are stuff everyone has to face sooner or later; it baffles me why anyone would hang out there for fun. Check out the creepy moment in DOWNFALL where Magda Goebbels has her adorable kids sing a song for dear uncle Adolf right before she takes them in the next room and poisons them… You’ll never watch the SOUND OF MUSIC the same way again. Happy Dio De Los Muertos, and don’t put up any Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving!

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