In honor of this deliciously evil holiday, we present a bevy of tricks and treats. (We leave it YOU, Dear Reader, to discern which is the trick, and which the treat.)
- Anansi Boys author Neil Gaiman contributes an op-ed piece to the New York Times in which he extolls the virtues of the ghost story.
And still they ask, Why tell ghost stories? Why read them or listen to them? Why take such pleasure in tales that have no purpose but, comfortably, to scare?
I don't know. Not really. It goes way back. We have ghost stories from ancient Egypt, after all, ghost stories in the Bible, classical ghost stories from Rome (along with werewolves, cases of demonic possession and, of course, over and over, witches). We have been telling each other tales of otherness, of life beyond the grave, for a long time; stories that prickle the flesh and make the shadows deeper and, most important, remind us that we live, and that there is something special, something unique and remarkable about the state of being alive.
I was just thinking about stocking up on cases of demonic possession. I hear they sell them in packs of six, twelve, and twenty-four.
- Current guest blogger Rae Meadows will host a new show for the Bravo Network called What Not to Wear: Author Edition.
Each week, camera crew in tow, Meadows will help a fashion-challenged writer clean out his/her closet full of shame, then give them a $5,000 PEN Award to shop for a whole new wardrobe, with hair stylist and makeup tips included, in time for their book reading at Powell's. The show will debut next fall — check local listings.
- Alice Munro believes The View from Castle Rock will be her final book.
"I feel it's the right time to stop. I used to start writing at 7 in the morning, the best hours as far as freedom goes," says the author, who had a heart bypass four years ago. "Now I'm not out of bed 'til 8:30 and by 9, I'll get a phone call. I don't have the energy I used to."
Gee, she almost makes sleeping in 'til 9 a.m. sound like a bad thing.
- Simon & Schuster has announced that they will publish Stephen King's next book, a short story collection, in the fall of 2007. Inspired by Alice Munro's recent (perhaps final) collection, King's book will be titled The Other View from Castle Rock and will show the sensitive side of the tales that comprised such bestsellers as Salem's Lot, The Dead Zone, and Needful Things.
Expect pensive vampires yearning to be loved, serial killers who come to epiphanic realizations about their life choices, and, in the final story, the devil's version of Castle Rock's demise, in which he was the wronged party who had been victimized by the townspeople — all because he mourned a love lost when he was a much younger demon.
- Maud Newton posts Publish and Perish author James Hynes' top ten Halloween recommendations. His top choice:
1. Any collection of the ghost stories of the English academic M. R. James. All very scary, erudite, and witty. The third novella in my book Publish and Perish is a retelling of his great story "Casting the Runes" — either that, or my version is a shameless rip-off.
- Following his much-loved translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey, Robert Fagles' next book will be The Aenid, according to the Associated Press.
"I wanted to convey something about the modern understanding of war, and then about a man, an exile, a common soldier left terribly alone in the field of battle," he says. "Aeneas is like Clint Eastwood, like Gary Cooper, a warrior and a worrier. He changes into the heroic tragic man, duty and endure, endure and duty."
No word yet on whether Eastwood will play Aeneas in the upcoming film version.
- The most horrifying tales you'll ever read about published authors. True stories or urban legends? You decide!
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Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the Powells.com blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.
The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.
Books mentioned in this post