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Old October 11 2007, 12:39 AM   #1
Spaceman Spiff
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Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

We had a thread about Hallowe'en books and stories last year. It was pretty interesting, so I thought we'd have another.

If Hallowe'en is your thing, what are you planning to read in the spirit of the season? What have you read in the past that you'd recommend? You get extra points if your suggestion is Hallowe'en-themed in some way, or if it takes place at this time of year and incorporates aspects of the holiday.

Last year, I was reading slightly older stuff, like Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, and some really old stuff in A Halloween Reader: Poems, Stories, And Plays From Halloweens Past.

Thanks to RJDiogenes and Cemetery Dance Publications, I have a pile of Hallowe'en books to get through. (I suspect they're conspiring.)

My first big recommendation is for Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge. I enjoyed the hell out of this little 176-page book. Here's the Publisher's Weekly synopsis/review from the Amazon link:

At the start of this mesmerizing new fantasy from Partridge (Mr. Fox and Other Feral Tales), it's Halloween night in 1963 in Anytown, U.S.A., and the local teenage boys are ramping up for the annual hunt for the October Boy, a pumpkin-headed being cultivated by the town fathers to run the gauntlet each All Hallows' Eve. The boy who brings him down before he makes it to the local church wins a highly coveted ticket out of town and, as most believe, liberation from the stultifying ennui of small-town life that has crushed all ambition and dreams out of the adults. Pete McCormack is among the most determined boys on the hunt, but this evening he will learn horrifying truths about his town's tradition and the terrible price he must pay for his manhood. Partridge has always had a knack for sifting deeper significance from period pop culture, but here he brilliantly distills a convincing male identity myth from teen rebel drive-in flicks, garish comic book horrors, hard-boiled crime pulps and other bits of lowbrow Americana. Whether read as potent dark fantasy or a modern coming-of-age parable, this is contemporary American writing at its finest.
It's unusual in that most of it is written in the second person, which gives it a sense of urgency that pervades the whole book. It has a hard-boiled pulp feel to it, while slipping in some subtext about growing up male in America. But even taken on a surface level, it's still a lot of fun, and obviously very rooted (heh) in the Hallowe'en spirit.

The novel won the 2006 Bram Stoker Award for Long Fiction, and it's been nominated for this year's World Fantasy Award for best novella.

For a while, it was only available at the aforementioned Cemetery Dance website, but it's been reprinted in trade format by Tor. You can probably find it at your local bookstore, but Amazon's got it a bit cheaper.

Now that I've plugged that book pretty thoroughly, what have you got?
"Love means never having to say you're ugly."
- Dr. Phibes
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