Monday, October 13, 2008

Halloween Reading

I like Halloween. I get a kick out of all the ghostly goings on. I like to watch scary movies and to read ghost stories and horror stories during October. Got things off to a good start with F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack novel Conspiracies. I know, I know. I promised I wasn't going to tear through all of Wilson's Jack books, but darn it, they're just so much fun. I've read um...five of them so far. And I must admit that I'm likely to read one more before Halloween because the next one in sequence, The Haunted Air, is about a ghost.
Anyway, in Conspiracies, Jack is hired to track down a missing woman who was due to give a speech at a convention for conspiracy theorists. He figures the Con is the best place to start so soon Jack is caught up in the world of UFOs, Bigfoot, Kennedy assassinations, Satanists, and all manner of conspiracy theories. Most of the people seem harmless enough, but a couple have enough screws loose and enough connections to the missing woman to draw Jack's attention.
Of course being a Repairman Jack book it doesn't take long for real supernatural occurrences to pop up. There's the brand new rope ladder halfway imbedded in unbroken and very old cement in a suburban basement. There are the inhuman twins dressed all in black who seem willing to kill anyone who gets in their way. And there's Professor Salvatore Roma and his demon monkey. And of course, if you're familiar with Wilson's work the name Sal Roma should tip you off that things could get very bad indeed.
This is a mile a minute thriller and one of my favorites of the Repairman Jack books so far.
Next I moved to some horror short stories by E.F. Benson. Benson was an English novelist who published several books in the early 1900s and who turned out an amazing group of creepy short stories. I first discovered him when I read his eerie tale 'Caterpillars' in a collection of horror stories a couple of years back.
H.P. Lovecraft was a fan of Benson's work, particularly of the story 'The Man Who Went Too Far'. I read this one last night along with 'The Thing in the Hall.' Couple of real chillers. Most of Benson's ghost storied are available in books and as PDF files online. If you want to give him a try, go to the link at the bottom of this post for links to Etexts. This is Benson's page at The Literary Gothic website. Plenty of other ghostly, ghouly authors available there too.
Finally I re-read Robert E. Howard's 'The Black Stone', which is probably Howard's best horror story after 'Pigeons From Hell', and is definitely his best Cthulhu Mythos tale. Worth tracking down. Figure I'll read some more shorts by Howard, Benson, Poe, and maybe Lovecraft before Oct. 31st arrives. And yeah, probably another Repairman Jack book too.


Lanny said...

There is one particularly grisly moment in "The Black Stone" that really caught me off guard. I'm sure you know the one to which I refer. I almost like Howard's 'Lovecraft' better than Lovecraft's 'Lovecraft'. If you catch my meaning.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Yep, I know just the moment you mean. Brought a 'whoa' to me as well. And yes I know what you mean about Howard's 'Lovecraft.' REH's way with words was so forceful and direct as opposed to Lovecraft's which is more dreamlike and byzantine. So he could take one of Lovecraft's concepts and make it more real and frightening somehow. Packs a wallop.