Friday, October 20, 2017

Treat Yourself

I didn’t realize that choosing a book to read specifically for All Hallows’ Eve was a popular thing. Apparently, I was out of the loop—again. As Rap Sheet contributor Ali Karim explained in a Facebook post yesterday, “Each Halloween, I plan to watch a scary film or read a scary book.” His scheduled novel this year? Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, a first U.S. edition of which he owns, signed by the author during “his last visit to the UK.” Ali says he intends to follow that up with a rewatch of Mary Lambert’s 1989 big-screen adaptation of King’s yarn, just to keep the fright alive.

Coincidentally, I had already dived into a novel selected for its association with Halloween: H.G. Wells’ 1898 alien-invasion thriller, The War of the Worlds. You may not be aware of this, but October 31, 2017, will mark 79 years since the 1938 broadcast of Orson Welles’ radio drama based on that book scared many American listeners (though it may not have led to widespread public panic, as some sources claim). I think the last time I read The War of the Worlds was in high school, so I was overdue to be reacquainted with Wells’ sixth novel. And though there are parts of the first-person narrative that require more patience than today’s readers have been trained to expect, I am enjoying this Victorian yarn immensely. At my current pace, I should be done with it well in advance of October 31.

If you’d like to embark on a Halloween reading experience of your own, but are stymied for ideas, consider consulting Janet Rudolph’s list of crime and mystery novels appropriate to this spirited occasion. She offers the titles of more than 240 works, everything from Stacey Alabaster’s The Pumpkin Killer and E.J. Copperman’s Night of the Living Deed to Kathi Daley’s Trick or Treason, David Robbins’ Spook Night, and Agatha Christie’s 1969 Hercule Poirot whodunit, Hallowe'en Party. Mentioned, too, are more than a dozen anthologies of haunting short stories to sample when you’re not handing out candy or trying to keep your pumpkin lit amid crepuscular breezes.

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