“That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coalbins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.” ~Ray Bradbury, The October Country
We’ve almost made it through October Country ourselves, and me with very little to show for it. As regular readers will have surmised, the blog has been on an extended hiatus because of technical difficulties, which persist, and so the hiatus must continue for the foreseeable future. Of late, the job has eaten ravenously all my energy and free time, but I am ripping my way free for a Hallowe’en blog post, a small offering that will in no way tide any of us over.
Shall we go on then, you and I?
♦ ALL HALLOW’S READ.
If you’re not yet familiar with All Hallow’s Read, instituted by Neil Gaiman, where have you been? The premise is simple From the website FAQ:
All Hallow’s Read is a Hallowe’en tradition. It’s simply that in the week of Hallowe’en, or on the night itself, you give someone a scary book.
Scholars have traced its origins as far back as this blog post.
I’ve been giving books at Hallowe’en to my nieces and nephews since they were babies and to some other young (and somewhat less young) folk for years, but I like that there’s an “official” tradition in place. As has been my habit since the tradition’s inception, here are some of my recommendations for books to give:
We’ll start with the newest Gaiman novel, with which, in case you’ve forgotten, I am quite deeply in love: The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Many things I liked about this book, but Gaiman wrote some moments that genuinely creeped me out, which is no easy thing to do. The story is a mix of genres: fairy tale and terror tale, an end-of-childhood tale and a memory tale.
My second recommendation I’ve written about before, too: In Search Of and Others, a short-story collection by the inimitable Will Ludwigsen. Unsettling and often heart-wrenching, Will’s stories will draw you in with their sublime prose as well as the masterful sense of unease. You’ll want for nothing weirder than this collection. If you don’t believe me, believe this starred review from Kirkus: ”Ludwigsen’s well-wrought, entertaining tales feel like a mashup of Ray Bradbury and Stephen King, and his evocative, whip-smart prose steeps readers in a realism that’s mordantly funny and matter-of-fact but glimmering with whimsy and horror that leaks around the edges.”
In the realm of graphic novels, try “rural noir” (love that term) Revival by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton. (Two volumes’ worth of the monthly comic have been collected in Volume 1: You’re Among Friends and Volume 2: Live Like You Mean It.) Here’s the official description for the first volume:
For one day in rural central Wisconsin, the dead came back to life. Now it’s up to Officer Dana Cypress to deal with the media scrutiny, religious zealots, and government quarantine that has come with them. In a town where the living have to learn to deal with those who are supposed to be dead, Officer Cypress must solve a brutal murder, and everyone, alive or undead, is a suspect.
The visuals get graphic, sure, but the story and the characters are what compel me to keep reading. Seeley and Norton talk about Revival in this interview at the TFAW blog.
One of my favorite films is The Reflecting Skin (1990), written and directed by Philip Ridley and starring Viggo Mortensen and Lindsay Duncan. I’ve waited for years and years for it to come out on DVD, but the one available is a fairly poor full-screen transfer (an Italian and a German Blu-ray exist, but I don’t know anything about them; TRS is also available on the DVD 8-Film Contemporary Cult Classics, but I haven’t watched it yet to see if the transfer is better). Many disturbing things happen in the story, but the visuals are gorgeous.
♦ TURN THE PAGE.
If Hallowe’en wasn’t cause enough for celebration, then a new comic from Emily Carroll certainly is! I swear I was so happy when I saw in my Feedly that Out of Skin existed I almost passed out. Delightfully disturbing and unsettling. I like very much.
Appropriately themed flax-golden tales by Erin Morgenstern: Pumpkin Picking, The Leaf Painters, Zombie Lawn Pirates, and Sunset-Colored Death in a Temporary Cage. The image below is by Carey Farrell for “Pumpkin Picking”:
Goblin Fruit, Fall 2013.
Neil Gaiman’s Down Among the Dead Men from Zombie Apocalypse! Fightback:
Taisia Kitaiskaia’s Ask Baba Yaga at The Hairpin remains one of my most favorite things on the internet. The one below hit home, but beneath that you’ll find links to other recent Ask Baba Yaga posts (and here’s a compilation if you want to eat them all).
Here’s an image Gypsy shared on Once Upon a Blog (which links to new Ask Baba Yaga posts):
♦ ART OBJECTS.
I wish these were sugar skulls:
In the interactive installation “What Will You Leave Behind?” by Nino Sarabutra, visitors are invited to walk on 100,000 miniature porcelain skulls that cover the floor of a gallery. Sarabutra enlisted a range of people, from relatives to students, to help make the skulls—she asked all of them to contemplate their lives as they worked.
Not a seasonal picture, but somehow more horrifying….
♦ THE HORNS OF ELFLAND.
I know I just posted this video in August, but it’s too perfect not to share for Hallowe’en: Sharon Needles’ Call Me on The Ouija Board (seizure-prone beware).