Random Observations

We are getting deeper into October and closer to the Witching Hour of the 31st of October. When I was younger (maybe last week, wink), I was much more ‘literary’ than I am today. I was a voracious reader and consumed large volumes to the tune of two to three a week. Good stuff. I have an intrinsic hatred for ‘romance novels’ because if your female and have at least reached the age of 14, you’re already pretty savvy to the lack of Princes on white chargers. But I found Poe first. I think I may have been 11 or twelve at the time and there’s something in pre-teens and teens that just draws them to the dark side. It may be hormonal, I’m not sure, but it seems to affect boys and girls alike. After Poe, I found Hemingway and was floored by him. I loved his style; if you’ve got something to say, say it – don’t tell me how the air smelled, the differing shades of the clouds in the sky – tell me the story. Which is exactly what Hemingway does. But I digress.

As a young married woman with children, I found Stephen King. It seems that only these last few years have I lost my taste for horror or the macabre or however one wants to define those stories. But I have fond memories of the fright and delight gained from reading the horror writers.

Horror has a long history in America and sometimes we don’t realize how much a part of the American landscape was shaped by our horror writers. A failing, I guess, is that I wasn’t as interested in the people who wrote the stories. I had a vague knowledge of the life story of Edgar Allen Poe but I just viewed this video and was hugely surprised by poor Edgar’s life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uknWHw32ZMI

While I have never read a Lovecraft story, my beloved son-in-law is a huge fan, even now in his 50s. My son-in-law is brilliant, a really fine mind, and because of him, I’ve included this clip about Lovecraft. I must confess, however – my son-in-law is a bit of a geek; Cthulhu lives large in their home, from knitted Cthulhu caps (!) to poster art. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIdf3DHLjMQ

Washington Irving was the biggest surprise to me. I was born and raised in New York and we cut our baby horror teeth on Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle. But the life and times of Washington Irving are jaw-dropping. Like Who’s Who of the times. Note James Fenimore Cooper, also Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), Sir Walter Scott, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Charles Dickens (!) and Nathaniel Hawthorne, not to mention Martin VanBuren. Washington Irving is where, it seems, politics meets horror (which may sound like an oxymoron). The clip is from 2010 and the images are a little lacking and the sound is a little tinny but do watch this clip – the names alone are worth the watching.

What sharing this with you has done is it seems to have fanned the flames of that old love of mine. I may have to reread Poe and Irving – and maybe even peruse Cthulhu.

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