Monday, October 1, 2007

Bookgasm: Something Bookish This Way Comes

By Amanda Addison

In honor of Halloween and all things "unknown" here's a chronicle of what I'm reading or have read lately to get in a spooky mood.

Richard Matheson's I Am Legend: talk about overrated! It wasn't scary and 75% of the novel was filled with the main character, Robert Neville, drinking whisky, angrily waving his fists, and bemoaning his life. I never really found out why/how vampires infected the earth and the ending was anticlimactic to say the least. My copy of I Am Legend contains several short stories after the novel. These were fantastic! Scary, suspenseful, and well-written. Perhaps I Am Legend would have fared better as a short story.

Right now I am also reading The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories, by H.P. Lovecraft. It is super, super scary. When I am done I will compile a list of my favorite stories to share. I've noticed in many of Lovecraft's stories evil assaults all the senses; you see the horrors, you hear screams, surfaces are clammy, and you can taste putrescence in the air. My favorite sense for Lovecraft to describe, however, is smell. Smell is employed as a foreshadowing element in nearly all the tales, but the story called "The Shunned House." The story concerns a house where, for centuries, the inhabitants have died suddenly or gone ravingly mad. To the young man investigating the terrible house the evil seems to be concentrated in the mouldy, festering, damp cellar filled with weird mushrooms and a phosphorous glow; "out of the fungus-ridden earth steamed up a vaporous corpse-light, yellow and diseased, which bubbled and lapped to a gigantic height . . . a thin stream of mist . . . curled putridly about." Eww. This story is reminding me of the library where I work at. We have had some "climate" issues inside the library and the place reeks of damp, musty, grossness.

Speaking of grossness, don't ever, ever, ever, bother to view the Masterpiece Theatre version of Wilkie Collins's, The Woman in White. It is basically a bastardized version of the novel. The plot line is completely screwed up, Count Fosco is not nearly as evil (nor as fat) as he should be, Marian is annoying, and there is all this alleged rape and child molestation in the movie that is NO WHERE in the book! I agree with one Netflix review that said the movie was like a bad, Victorian version of Law and Order SVU. I had to shut it off once I realized that Percival Glyde's secret was nothing close to the one in the book and I realized I was screaming at the television.

Another gothic novel on the docket for October is The Illustrated Dracula by Bram Stoker (illustrated by Jae Lee). My friend Traci, with whom I'm buddy reading, has never read Dracula and I haven't read it in three years so this should be fun for both of us.