Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Scary As A Genre

The title of this blog-posting may be a bit confusing.
At first glance it might seem to imply that I think the word "genre" is a scary word!
Perhaps I should have put a comma, after "scary."
At any rate, tonight I am thinking about "scary" books.
Halloween is fast approaching. And I want to read a SCARY book in the Halloween season.

So, tonight at Chapters I went up to this one Chapters employee and asked her, "Umm, where is your horror section?"
I know what you're thinking.
Since I practically LIVE at the place, shouldn't I already know where every section of the store is located?
Well, yes!
But recently this particular store did a big renovation and moved all their stuff around. As a veteran tenant, at first it was a bit traumatic for me. Like for quite a while I could not find the microwave, and trying to locate my mailbox? Yeah, well, I will save that story for a future blog. Suffice it to say, if I have not responded promptly to some of my fan [snail] mail lately, CHAPTERS is to blame!

I say to the girl, "Where is your HORROR section?"
And wow, I was standing right in front of it. I told her I need a "scary" book for Halloween season.
She pointed to Anne Rice and Stephen King, singling out a King novel called "Cell" as the next thing I should swipe my VISA about!
But see..... the truth is, I don't really want HORROR!
I want -- SCARY!
Totally different thing.
A guy getting chopped up with an unmanned chain saw? That's horror.
But see, I don't want horror, I want..... "scary."
Interesting that there is not a section in the store called "SCARY"....... or "SPOOKY."

I say all of this to just end with a question..... what is a great SCARY book you would recommend?
I do not want to read about some guy getting pushed into a wood-chipper.
I want -- SCARY! Like with ghosts and stuff like that.



rhapsodyinbooks said...

You're quite right; scary is different than horror. Have you thought about the Bible or the Quran?

Shark said...

Something on the economic future of North America?

I was going to read Wuthering Heights for Halloween. I don't know if it's "scary" but there are some ghosts I believe, and I loved Jane Eyre, though that's a different sister...

cipriano said...

Goo point. I never actually thought of sacred scripture at all, but you are quite right!

Wuthering Heights is delightfully........ dark and brooding. A favorite read of mine.
Scarier than Jane Eyre, yes, and you're right..... different sister and all.

Anonymous said...

First time I've posted here - and can I just say, as one bibliophile/maniac to another, yours is the finest, most erudite, entertaining and brilliantly written book-related blog I have yet come across.

Regarding scary, you should check out the ghost stories of MR James. Early 20th century British author - take a look at his biog on wikipedia. "Whistle And I'll Come To You, My Lad" is very spooky, for example.

Then there's the other James - Henry James. If you've never read his peerless psychological chiller, "The Turn Of The Screw", now is the time. A very disturbing short story - you will get to the end and question whether or not to believe the narrator. Did she really see ghosts, or was she stark raving mad? Brilliant stuff.

And although Stephen King is much maligned by literary critics and yes, a lot of his work is icky horror of the kind you said you wish to avoid, "The Shining" is a genuine masterpiece of raised-hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck spookiness. The Kubrick film is very different from the novel, and the latter is well worth checking out as a great example of the scary genre.

Enjoy your chills and happy Halloween! Long may your blog continue.

Isabella said...

Yes, Turn of the Screw — highly unsettling and recommended.

Alexandre Dumas wrote some ghoulishly weird little stories: One Thousand and One Ghosts — your local Chapters even has one in stock for you to peruse, if you can find it.

Also: Diane Setterfields' The Thirteenth Tale is appropriately Halloweenishly atmospheric (but a little shy of "scary" on the spectrum).

And: I've not read it myself but I've heard The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is super creepy, and I'll be looking up a copy myself.

Stefanie said...

Big difference between scary and horror. Scary I can do, horror gives me nightmares. I loved Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House and her We Have Always Lived in the Castle is excellent too. If you are looking for a classic and have not read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it's also a fun one.

cipriano said...

Wow, thank you so much Anonymous.
Your words about my blog are humbling to me. And thank you for your recommendations. Even though it isn't really "scary" per se, I really loved Stephen King's The Stand. [I like end-of-world stuff.]
I will go look at The Shining [I am at the bookstore right now.]

Thank you Isabella. I am going to go look at some of these books right now [I am at the store, as always]. I've actually looked at the Thirteenth Tale one before.

Stefanie, thank you. You know, I was thinking of Jekyll and Hyde. I have a copy at home. Also Frankenstein...... is that scary, I don't know?
But these Shirley Jackson ones, I am going to go and find them right now.

Stefanie said...

Hope you found some good books! I don't think Frankenstein is very scary, though it's got good gothic elements in it. I actually ended up feeling very sorry for the monster.

Isabella said...

Oh, and! House of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski! is scary! (and postmodern.)