Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson

Last week I reread Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House for a book group discussion. It was the first time that I participated in a book group and reread a book; both experiences were illuminating. Members’ different perspectives enabled me to view the book in many dimensions. For instance, it never occurred to me that just maybe the house was not haunted, Eleanor Vance, the protagonist might just be, in layman's terms, crazy, and the other denizens of Hill House, deceitful.

Another interpretation, Hill House is haunted and targets Eleanor, the most vulnerable inhabitant. As for me, I agree with the latter, but it is a moot issue. The validity, I would argue is the third person omniscient narrator that describes Dr. Montague intent of his research at Hill House, which would absolve him of any disingenuous behavior. Nevertheless, Eleanor also narrates the story. Lastly, the treacherous library scene, and the words Eleanor utters before the tragic end, demonstrates there was a paranormal event-taking place at Hill House. The disputable interpretations of The Haunting of Hill House substantiates it is a brilliantly written psychological horror. Reading attentively (for me a reread) reveals repletion of foreshadowing and correlations among characters.

Short Synopsis:

Dr. Montague, an erudite man pursues to validate his premise of uncovering supernatural phenomena through conducting research in an infamous haunted house called Hill House. He seeks out individuals with paranormal abilities to aid in his quest. Cold spots, loud banging, and mumbling voices are just a few of the abnormal events that occur at Hill House.


The Book of Lists: Horror (Stephen Kings Favorite Horror Novels)

Saturday I went hiking and Sunday, I went to the bookstore; it was the ideal weekend. In the bookstore, I stumbled across a book called The Book of Lists: Horror. Of course, I picked it up off the shelf, thumb through it, and decided to buy the 410-page paperback dedicated to lists, in particularly horror. I have noticed lists captivate many people online. I immensely appreciate a fine list. To enrich my knowledge of a particular genre, I search for specialized book lists. Most book lists contain books exemplary to the genre. For me, it is a great way to discover books that I may have overlooked throughout the years.

The Book of Lists: Horror lists not only horror literature, but also almost anything related to horror. For instance, it lists the top six grossing horror movies, top ten horror-themed rock ‘n’ roll songs, ten horror cocktails and how to make them (Bloody Mary, Vampire, Zombie, Werewolf, Frankenstein, Exorcist, Mummy, Devil’s Tail, The Hemorrhaging Brain, and Headless Horseman), and etc.

The literature section, chapter two, titled “For the Love of God, Montresor! The Literature of the Dread” contains some remarkable lists by prominent writers such as Bentley Little, Poppy Z. Brite, Jack Ketchum, Ramsey Campbell, Thomas Ligotti, Tim Lebbon and more. The lists encompasses topics about locations, surprising horror writers, revealed horror writers' pseudonyms, one hit wonders, apocalypses, original book titles and much more.

Sample List from The Book of Lists: Horror

Stephen King’s Ten Favorite Horror Novels or Short Stories

1. Ghost Story by Peter Straub
2. Dracula by Bram Stoker
3. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
4. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
5. Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco
6. Casting the Runes by M. R. James
7. Two Bottles of Relish by Lord Dunsany
8. The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen
9. The Colour Out of Space by H. P. Lovecraft
10. The Upper Berth by F. Marion Crawford

Left: One of the many waterfalls I saw while hiking. Photo taken by me.


Nightmare Before Christmas Bookends

It’s September 17th, and you know what that means, there are only 44 days until Halloween and stores are ready, supplied for demand. I have a fondness for this ghoulish holiday. Stalking across my neighbors’ threshold, wearing a sinister witchy costume, filling my plastic pumpkin with an ample supply of candy is reminiscent of my childhood. The colorful costumes, the glow of jack-o’-lanterns, the dry corns hanging, the brisk cool air, and the ground ablaze with dry leaves commences my holiday spirit. I have digressed from the topic, which is The Nightmare Before Christmas bookend set, but the movie evokes Halloween nostalgia. In addition, as a Tim Burton admirer, I love the claymation film, and Danny Elfman’s songs and score contributes to the enchantment of the film.

Anyhow, I consider myself lucky; I purchased the last set of bookends and candleholders. After some (Velma) snooping, I found out that these items availability at the Disney store are limited. It is not even selling on the Disney online store. The Nightmare Before Christmas bookends are of the Mayor’s car. The headlights actually lights up as well as the back hanging lanterns.

The Nightmare Before Christmas bookends now supporting my Easton Press 13 Classic Horror collection.

(front of car) side and front view

(back of car) back view

(back of car) right side view

(back of car) left side view


Richard Matheson's Button, Button: Uncanny Stories (The Box)

Button, Button: Uncanny Stories
by Richard Matheson

Revered Richard Matheson is well known for his novella I am legend, which has recently again dawned our motion picture multiplexes, starring Will Smith. It is not the only literary work of Matheson to make it to the big screen. I can think of at least two other films based on Matheson's novels. The first to thought, Hell House and the second is What Dreams May Come starring Robin Williams. In 2009, another motion picture, starring Cameron Diaz will be added to Matheson's credit, based on a short-story Button, Button. Renamed to The Box, the movie will be release in theaters late March. In addition, Button, Button was also adapted to an episode of The Twilight Zone. Only eleven pages long, it might be a surprise that this very short story will soon be a movie. Keep in mind it is not the quantity but the quality that is salient. It is a unique and intriguing story.

Teaser Synopsis: A surprising gift with a peculiar offer, sometimes if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A couple gets an offer too sweet to resist, money, but someone will have to pay the price with life.

I have never been an enthusiast of anthologies or short-story collections. Although I must admit, I own quite a few anthologies. Button, Button: Uncanny Stories a short-story collection, is an instant gratification book. Each story is engaging by the first page, but I have my favorites, which are Mute, Dying Room Only, and Clothes Make the Man. After reading Matheson's Button, Button: Uncanny Stories, I am inclined to start reading more short stories.


Stephen King's N.

by Stephen King

For all the Stephen King fans, short-story collection Just After Sunset will be available on November 11 2008. N., one of the short stories, is accessible before the release of the book in a series of 25 graphic video episodes. The episodes are available for download on itune, but you will have to pay for it. On the other hand, view it below on my blog or go to www.NisHere.com

“The original series tells the story of a psychiatrist who falls victim to the same deadly obsession as his patient—an obsession that just might save the world!”

Note: This has been available since July 28th. Synopsis quoted from (http://www.simonsays.com/specials/stephen-king-nishere/questions.cfm)


Horror Another 100 Best Books

Horror Another 100 Best Books
Edited by Stephen Jones & Kim Newman

A couple of months ago, I posted Horror 100 Best Books. I finally got my hands on the sequel Another Horror 100 Best Books. Of course, I wanted to share this list with all the devoted horror enthusiast on the web. However, I recommend borrowing or buying a copy to thoroughly enjoy. Further delving into the book, you might stumble across your favorite author writing an explanatory essay about one of the books listed. Alternatively, get it for the list of recommended readings.
Again, this is not a definitive ranking of the best horror novels but should be approached as a guide.  

The List:

1. The Revenger's Tragedy by Cyril Tourneur
2. Pikovaia Dama/The Queen of Spades by Aleksandr Pushkin
3. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë 
5. Rekopiz Znaleziony w Saragossie/ The Manuscrit Found in Saragossa by Jan, Count Potocki
6. New Grub Street by George Gissing
7. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
8. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
9. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
10. The Boats of the "Glen Carrig" by William Hope Hodgson
11. Le fantôme de l'Opéra/ The Phantome of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
12. Fantômas by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain
13. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward by H. P. Lovecraft
14. They Return at Evening by H. R. Wakefield
15. Creep, Shadow! by A. Merritt
16. The Trail of Fu Manchu by Sax Rohmer
17. The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley
18. The Haunted Omnibus edited by Alexander Laing
19. The Edge of Running Water by William Sloane
20. L'Étranger/The Stranger by Albert Camus
21. Sleep No More: Twenty Masterpieces of Horror for the Connoisseur edited by August Derleth
22. Lost Worlds by Clark Ashton Smith
23. Jumbee and Other Uncanny Tales by Henry S. Whitehead
24. Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural edited by Herbert A. Wise and Phyllis Fraser
25. The Opener of the Way by Robert Bloch
26. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
27. Carnacki the Ghost-Finder by William Hope Hodgson
28. Darker Than You Think by Jack Williamson
29. Tales of Horror and the Supernatural by Arthur Machen
30. Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell
31. House of Flesh by Bruno Fischer
32. Fancies and Goodnights by John Collier
33. The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
34. The Third Ghost Book edited by Lady Cynthia Asquith
35. The Body Snatcher by Jack Finney
36. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
37. The Hunger and Other Stories by Charles Beaumont 
38. The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat
39. The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham
40. A Scent of New-Mown Hay by John Blackburn
41. A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson
42. The Weirdstone of Brinsingamen by Alan Garner
43. Tales of Terror edited by Charles Higham
44. Some of Your Blood by Theordore Sturgeon
45. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
46. The Case Against Satan by Ray Russell
47. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
48. The Collector by John Fowles
49. Who Fears the Devil? by Manly Wade Wellman
50. A Wrinkle in the Skin by John Christopher
51. Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin
52. The Playboy Book of Horror and the Supernatural edited by the Editors of Playboy
53. Pages from Cold Point by Paul Bowles 
54. Outer Dark by Cormac Mccarthy
55. The Book of Skulls by Rober Silverberg
56. Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon
57. The Night Stalker by Jeff Rice
58. Blood Sport by Robert F. Jones
59. Nightshade by Derek Marlowe
60. Peace by Gene Wolfe
61. The Year of the Sex Olympics: Three TV Plays by Nigel Kneale
62. Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber
63. The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
64. Darkness Weaves With Many Shades by Karl Edward Wagner
65. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
66. Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler
67. The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen by Elizabeth Bowen
68. Dark Forces: New Stories of Suspense and Supernatural Horror edited by Kirby McCauley
69. Tales from the Nightside by Charles L. Grant
70. The Thirst by Robert R. McCammon 
71. The Face That Must Die by Ramsey Campbell
72. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
73. Pet Sematary by Stephen King
74. Clive Barker's Books of Blood Volumes One, Two, and Three by Clive Barker
75. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind
76. Finishing Touches by Thomas Tessier
77. Strange Toy by Patricia Geary
78. The Dark Decent edited by David G. Hartwell
79. Misery by Stephen King
80. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
81. Prime Evil edited by Douglas E. Winter
82. By Bizarre Hands: Stories by Joe R. Lansdale 
83. The Grotesque by Patrick McGrath
84. Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons 
85. From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
86. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
87. Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite
88. The Course of the Heart by John Harrison
89. Flicker by Theodore Roszak
90. X, Y by Michael Blumlein
91. Skin by Kathe Koja
92. Throat Sprockets: A Novel of Erotic Obsession by Tim Lucas
93. The Off Season: A Victorian Sequel by Jack Cady
94. The Nightmare Factory by Thomas Ligotti
95. A Sight for Sore Eyes by Ruth Rendell
96. Reprisal by Mitchell Smith 
97. A Haunting Beauty by Sir Charles Birkin
98. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
99. Feesters in the Lake & Other Stories by Bob Leman
100. More Tomorrow & Other Stories by Michael Marshall Smith


Psychological Horror

A Winter Haunting
by Dan Simmons

I own quite a few Dan Simmons' novels. For years, I intended to read Carrion Comfort (considered to be a vampire classic). When The Terror was publish, I purchased it planning to enjoy a good read. I actually started reading The Terror, but the heavy hardcover was a deterrent. Thus, A Winter Haunting is the first Dan Simmons novel that I have read.

Picking up A Winter Haunting at a bookstore, I did not realize that it is a sequel to Summer of Night; there was no indication in the synopsis. I read the entire book without the slightest clue that there was a prequel. I am not sure whether I will read a Summer of Night now or ever, but I will certainty read more Simmons' novels.

A Winter Haunting is a cleverly written suspenseful psychological horror. Dale Stewart, an English college professor has hit a snag in his life when he commences an affair with a graduate student, Clare Two Heart. On sabbatical, Dale travels to his childhood hometown of Elm Haven to seek solace. He rents the home of a decease childhood friend Duane McBride, who is narrating the white-knuckle winter events.

Although the story is slow paced, and I would rather there have been less flashback of Dale's romance with Clare, the adage, patience is a virtue is quite true for A Winter Haunting. Simmons uses Henry James' short story The Jolly Corner to establish a certainty of reality within his own story then breaks it all down. Are there really ghosts? The evocative prose supplies the mind's eye with classic horror scenes, simply, CGI free. Con: The esoteric, cryptic messages was annoying but engaging at times.