I don’t mean to alarm you, but it’s almost Hallowe’en, which, as all Yukoners know, means winter will soon descend upon us with the stumbling, frozen fury of a zombie horde from The Walking Dead. If that’s not scary enough for you, here’s three creepy books you can read to get yourself in the mood for trick or treaters.
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (1997 Vintage Books) Translated by Jay Rubin
For The Existentialist:
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (1997 Vintage Books). Translated by Jay Rubin.
A good horror story doesn’t necessary need to be gory and hard-core horror fans probably wouldn’t classify Murakami’s masterpiece of magical realism as “scary.” Beginning with the disintegration of a marriage and a missing cat, at first Wind-up Bird seems pretty cut and dried – until things start to get weird. And then weirder. And then just plain messed up. What makes the novel frightening, however, is not the faceless shadowmen, psychic powers and Boris the Manskinner, but rather the overarching suggestion that the characters – and, by extension, the reader – are being manipulated by forces much larger and greater than themselves. If the idea that your free will is either cursory or – worse yet – utterly imaginary terrifies you, then Murakami’s most famous novel should be on your Hallowe’en reading list.
For the Scientist: H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction by H.P. Lovecraft (2011, Barnes and Noble)
For the Scientist:
H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction by H.P. Lovecraft. (2011, Barnes and Noble).
Destitute for most of his life and only recognized as a master of the genre after his death in 1937, Lovecraft wrote what has become known as cosmic horror. His work is populated by snake-faced monsters, demonic sexual liaisons and nameless, unimaginable terrors and deities such as his most famous creation, Cthulu. However, the real horror he shows us is the fragility of order and sanity in the face of a chaotic and unfathomable universe which probably does not love us. The story “The Colour from Outer Space” is a personal favourite; it is as uncanny and unsettling as it is badly named. Readers should be warned, however, that the works of H.P. Lovecraft sometimes contain extremely ethnophobic and racist sentiments and should be read as a product of their time.
For the True Horror Connoisseur: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (1991, Vintage Books)
For the True Horror Connoisseur:
American Psycho. Bret Easton Ellis. (1991, Vintage Books).
Possibly one of the most disturbing works of fiction in the history of American literature, Ellis’ most famous novel depicts the macabre, cocaine-fuelled, gruesomely violent sexual escapades of Wall Street investment banker Patrick Bateman, who also just so happens to be a serial killer. On one hand a deeply horrifying portrait of the inner workings of a disturbed human being and on the other a stark and equally unsettling commentary on consumer culture, Psycho is an unstoppable ride into a slasher-flick nightmare. Many people are sure to have seen the movie, but the book is even more surreal and horrible; there is a scene involving a rat and a paper towel tube which is so awful it cannot be described in print in this publication. Not for the faint of heart.