Thursday, July 23, 2009

Shudders - Various authors

I have a mountain of books I desperately want to read sooner than later. I have review books that are requiring my attention. But when my daughter picked up this book a few days ago and started questioning me about it, I just had to stop what I was doing and read it. You see, I have a history with this book. I bought it through a book fair when I was in grade school, and it somehow survived all of these years (that and Are You There God, It's Me Margaret.) My mom discovered it when she was cleaning closets, and handed it over, yellowed pages, destroyed spine, and all.

I believe this book was my maiden voyage into the creepy supernatural, which later led to my obsession with Stephen Kind and Dean Koontz. I remember my BFF, Tiffany, and I reading it over and over, and scaring the hell out of ourselves. What a great opportunity to travel back through time and see if these stories were really all that terrifying, and whether the writing was respectable or just trash.

The book is a collection of 10 short stories, and was compiled and published in 1972. The stories, however, are written by various authors primarily in the 1940's. The writing is decidedly for adults...big words, cerebral plots, and psychological intensity versus cheap thrills and gore. How on earth did I find this entertaining at an age of 10 or 12? Why was this book marketed to grade school kids at a book fair? Either way, it definitely left its mark on me in my impressionable youth.

A little girl to turns to voodoo to cope with an abusive father. A starving journalist agrees to write a story about his sleepover in a wax museum featuring history's most notorious serial killers. A used car with a odorous stain and a deadly history. A truck driver finds himself stranded in the middle of nowhere with a coffin and a corpse as his cargo. But the best one of all is "The Monkey's Paw"...surely some of you have read this one. You know, the one with the cursed, shriveled appendage that allows its owner to have three wishes? I'm sure the saying "you better be careful what you wish for, or it might just come true" must have stemmed from this story.

I guess I may be a bit more jaded now that I was in grade school, having done my time with Mr. King and Mr. Koontz. These stories certainly won't keep me up at night like they did back then, but they were enjoyable to read again. I love a good spooky story, don't you?

4.5 out of 5 stars


Melody said...

Thanks for sharing this with us, Sandy!

During my teenaged days, I read all the books by RL Stine and Christopher Pike! They write great thrillers/horrors and I couldn't get enough of them!

Unknown said...

I think I would have loved this when I was younger - I went through a real Point Horror phase.

I'm not a fan of adult horror though - I'm too easily scared!

Beth F said...

Actually, I'm a total weeny when it comes to adult horror -- I can't read it, it gives me nightmares. I can't even watch it!!

But I do love a good murder mystery and like to read about vampires and werewolves and fairies.

Frances said...

What a great story, Sandy! Right back to how our childhood book choices inform our reading lives today. As for me, I used to scare myself silly with Stephen King books as a teenager but never touch the stuff anymore. But can still recall not wanting to go to sleep after a long reading session with The Shining or Salem's Lot.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Melody - I was the same way. I can't remember the last time I picked up a really scary piece of fiction!

Jackie - it's funny that it didn't scare you as a kid!

Beth - what gives me nightmares the most are true crime novels. My husband said that when I was in my Ann Rule stage, I was waking up in the middle of the night acting scared of him!

Frances - Oh, I loved Stephen King. Still do. I think he's brilliant!

The Bumbles said...

I love going back and re-reading books - they can effect you so differently at different levels in your life. Not just YA (remember back then they didn't seem to care as much about "parental guidelines") but adult fiction, NF, bios, memoirs, fantasy, romance, sci-fi, thrillers, war...I know it is a goodie if it impacts me strongly, but in a different way, with each visit.

We gave you an award this evening - an advance thank you so to speak.

Anonymous said...

Not for me I'm afraid. I did just step over the SciFi threshold though by becoming totally addicted to the books of John Wyndham (probably best known for "DAy of the Triffids") As for scary movies, well the scariest I have ever seen is "Requiem for a Dream" directed by Darren Aronovsky. The fate of the mother is the scariest of all ....

Iliana said...

The Monkey's Paw - OMG - I loved that story! What a treasure to have found.

And, yes, I do love a good spooky story :)

D said...

I remember reading that book during sleepovers at my friend's. Do you recall the title and author of the story about the newlywed couple that honeymoons in Haiti? I was fascinated by that particular story!