Tales Of The Macabre
Lovers of the macabre and morose, Halloween is upon us! Curl up this autumn with your favorite cozy blanket, a good reading light, a hot cup of tea, and a scary book. There’s nothing more fun this time of year, when the days get shorter and darkness comes early.
Joyce Carol Oates: Unrivaled in Creepiness
Joyce Carol Oates is one of those contemporary writers who has permeated the culture with her prolific output (she publishes a new book nearly every single year). While she has written all sorts of novels and short stories, YA lit (under a pseudonym), and even a memoir, some of her most memorable are the tales of the macabre and grotesque. If you’re looking for a bit of dark reading that may give you a fright, check out these titles:
- A Fair Maiden (2009)
- Because it is Bitter, and Because It is My Heart (1990)
- The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares (2011)
- Night-Gaunts and Other Tales of Suspense (2018)
- Night-Side: Eighteen Tales (1977)
Ira Levin: From Stepford Wives to Satanic Babies
Ira Levin’s fiction completely changed the culture, turning it on its ear. Because of Levin, we casually drop his literary references without even realizing it (by telling someone not to become a “Stepford Wife” or that an unhappy mom-to-be could turn into a “Rosemary’s Baby” situation).
- The Stepford Wives (1972): A novel where husbands replace their wives with robot versions of themselves!
- Rosemary’s Baby (1967): A husband sells his firstborn to Satan and tortures the pregnant wife who is, unwittingly, carrying the demon seed.
- A Kiss Before Dying (1953) is the story of a sociopathic boyfriend and a relationship turned deadly.
- The Boys From Brazil (1976) is a dystopian tale about Nazis creating genetic clones of Hitler.
Anne Rice: The Reigning Queen of Vampire Literature
- Interview with the Vampire (1976) is a gothic novel that completely enthralled readers and remains a best-seller. Before Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise came along for the movie version, only Rice’s words were on a page.
The idea of vampires—immortal creatures who drink blood and only come out at night—is intriguing and mysterious, to say the least.
- The Queen of the Damned (1988) is the third in Rice’s trilogy of vampire novels. When it comes to reading horror and vampiric gore, accept no less than a really great work of fiction.
And Don’t Forget…
“While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.” –Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven
- And don’t forget a little Stephen King (for you contemporary fiction lovers) and a bit of Edgar Allan Poe for the short story enthusiasts who also enjoy supremely creepy poetry. One of Poe’s poems that many of us have probably memorized is the supremely creepy classic “The Raven.” Written in 1845, it is a narrative-style poem that tells the tale of impending madness and an obsession with a raven: the symbol of death.
- H.P. Lovecraft—known for his frightening short stories that appeared in the publication Weird Tales—was actually relatively unknown as a great writer during his lifetime. Today he is revered as much more than a pulp writer and is regarded as a pioneer in the science and horror fiction genres (as well as a major influence on Stephen King’s fiction). The great thing about short fiction is that it’s meant to be read in one sitting: this way, the tension is never broken. Edgar Allan Poe is actually accredited as the creator of the short story form.