50 Essential Works of Horror Fiction (Part 2 of 2)
I conclude my survey of frightening fiction just in time for Halloween
Below is the second (and final) installment of my survey of horror fiction. Click here for part one.
Each title on the list links to a full review. This whole nasty thing—50 essays on horror—is enough to fill an entire book. Maybe it will someday.
In the meantime, it’s only available on The Honest Broker.
Happy Halloween reading!
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My Horror Fiction Reading List: 50 Weird & Creepy Books (Part 2 of 2)
Stephen King: Carrie
When he wrote Carrie, Stephen King was living in a trailer and writing on a borrowed typewriter. He had actually thrown away his first attempt at telling the story of horror at a high school prom. But his wife retrieved the discarded pages from the trash bin, insisting that the tale had potential. King persevered, and nine months later completed the manuscript….
William Peter Blatty: The Exorcist
In 1969, Blatty started work on The Exorcist, which would eventually sell thirteen million copies and inspire one of the highest-grossing films (in more ways than one) of the era. Both the book and the movie invariably rank high on lists of chillers and thrillers. Just a few months ago, The Exorcist came out on top of a bracket competition conducted by NBC’s Today to pick the scariest film of all time— some forty years after its release! (It defeated The Shining in the finals.)
Daphne du Maurier: Rebecca
Rebecca ranks among the most acute literary explorations of jealousy, and I suspect that much of its verisimilitude comes from the firsthand experiences of its author. Six years before the publication of Rebecca, the author married British military hero Frederick 'Boy' Browning, who had previously been engaged to Jeannette Ricardo, a glamorous, vivacious young woman who bears more than a little resemblance to the fictional Rebecca….
Fritz Leiber: Conjure Wife
The novel opens when John Saylor, a professor at a small New England college, decides to pry into his wife’s dressing room. Here, among the cosmetics, he finds vials of graveyard dirt, packets of hair and fingernail clippings from their acquaintances, incantations scrawled in the margins of a book, horseshoe nails, unusual herbal substances . . . and various other items not sold by Mary Kay. In short, Tansy Saylor is a witch….
Clarice Lispector: The Passion According to G.H.
The story is told of a young female fan of Lispector’s work who demanded a face-to-face meeting with the writer. The author obliged, but when the admiring reader arrived, Lispector merely sat silently and stared intently at the visitor until the latter fled in dismay. That’s exactly what you will find in the pages of The Passion According to G.H….
Richard Matheson: I Am Legend
This is Matheson’s best work, and deserves a film rendition that returns to his original vision. But the author himself had a different view. "They should just stop trying," he said, when asked about another movie version of I Am Legend. "To me, vampires are totally passé anyway. They are disgusting creatures who smell bad and are revolting in every way. Turning female vampires into sexy creatures is absurd…."
Clark Ashton Smith: The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies
Smith may have been the most erudite genre fiction writer of his generation— you won’t find another pulp writer with a larger vocabulary or more esoteric knowledge. In fact, if you asked me to pick the modern authors with the most expansive taste in words, I put him on the short list alongside Vladimir Nabokov and John Banville….To compensate for his lack of formal education—he never completed grammar school—Smith read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. And when he finished it, he read it a second time. To improve his knowledge of words, he did the same with Webster’s unabridged dictionary….
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