Book Recommendations from Culture Correspondent Justin Bogdanovitch
I try to read a short story, or part of a long short story, every single night. A good habit I started years ago. In the past couple months I picked three books with the word Dark in the titles, Haunted: Dark Delicacies III, Dark Masques and its companion, Darker Masques, off my shelf of books I bought with the future promise to myself to read as soon as I get home from the bookstore.
Del Howison is the founder of the world’s most famous horror emporium and bookstore, Dark Delicacies, in Burbank, CA. He uses his friendships in the horror field to compile these anthologies with editor Jeff Gelb, who is the leading anthologist in contemporary horror. Find all three of their collections. There are 21 tales in Haunted by a diverse group — Simon Clark, whose Children of the Vortex brought shivers, Richard Christian Matheson, John Connolly, Ardath Mayhar, Clive Barker, Chuck Palahniuk, David Morrell, Mick Garris and many others – and the best of these tales stand out and linger long afterwards, haunting dreams and some waking moments when shadows shift in the dark corners of the house. Beware! This book is available in paperback and eBook.
Each Dark Masque title combines two short story collections, and dozens and dozens of stories, most in the suspense/horror genre. I find myself willing to go to scary places before bedtime. Maybe to jumpstart fantastic dreams.
Dark Masques and Darker Masques features brilliant stories by masters of the genre including: Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, James Herbert, Robert R. McCammon, Ray Bradbury, Graham Masterson, F. Paul Wilson, and Dan Simmons. One story that lingers is Sea Gulls by Gahan Wilson, a fantastic story about a man who becomes increasingly annoyed by his mate. The best of them stuck in my head and colored my dreams after sleep took me, and I loved to travel to their macabre worlds. Some would say wishing for nightmares is a bit silly, or even more than odd, worse than just silly, but in dreamland I like to believe I can figure a way out of dire situations. Growing up a child of the seventies, where the horror films and books of the day became brilliant mirrors to real life struggles, I wouldn’t have it any other way. These collections are available in mass market.
After I put the Masques away I started ten days of tales by current masters of the genre. Aberrations is a new eBook anthology of ten tales by Bram Stoker Nominee and Editor/Writer Jeremy C. Shipp. These tales of monsters, the subject that linked the stories with an atmosphere of dread and filled with dreadful things, are perfect Halloween bedtime reading. Each writer has a singular voice, and the stories that stayed in my head, thinking of the creative drive and lyrical writing, are Bug House by Lisa Tuttle, Survivors by Joe McKinney, The Hounds of Love by Scott Nicholson, Goat Boy by Jeremy C. Shipp, and the weary voice of a Piper in hiding in Patrick Burke’s From Hamlin to Harperville. Download this eBook collection and check out the authors and their other books too.
The two collections of stories I’ve been savoring this month are by two extraordinary writers.
If you haven’t heard of Laird Barron, run to your bookstore and discover his two books for yourself: The Imago Sequence and Other Stories and his second short story collection Occultation. A third book is due next year. His story, Procession of the Black Sloth is the best story I read this year (and I came late to the Laird Barron party). Both are available in paperback and eBook.
I’ll be recommending Ben Loory’s paperback original Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day in a future post all on its own but I wanted to give you the heads up so you could start reading along. These are witty, fantastic tales, some fables about animals finding their way home. They are whimsical too and, although seemingly simple in structure and language, they are pitch perfect; each word has meaning. Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day is a very poetic collection filled with characters I’d like to sit down with and have intimate conversations about forgotten realms, animals who fall in love with inanimate objects, and books with no words that become bestsellers! Enjoy these collections for Halloween and beyond. Off to choose another book to read – my favorite part of the process.
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