Saturday, October 1, 2011

Countdown To Halloween-- Day 1 (Books!)

What's this dusty, sad-looking website over here? Aw, jeez; it's my BLOG, poor neglected thing. But that's okay, it's October and time for another round of Countdown To Halloween, wherein I attempt to... to... well, let's let the organizers explain:

"The Halloween Countdown is something of a virtual neighborhood to go trick or treating in. Imagine a neighborhood where all of the neighbors really got into the spirit of the holiday and went all out with decorating their yards and homes and on top of that also handed out the coolest treats whenever some kid in a costume rang their doorbell. Well, you are that kid in a costume, and the participants in the countdown are the neighbors with the cool houses and candy. When you visit their blogs, you will essentially be ringing their doorbell and shouting 'Trick or treat.' rewarded by a solid thunk at the bottom of your plastic Halloween bucket which is their post for the day. In a way that's even better than the actual Halloween (no way! I hear you saying) you get to ring their doorbell and trick or treat every single day throughout October. Not only that, but there is bound to be over 100 houses for you to visit each day as well."

If you know me at all, then you know I revel in Halloween. Other holidays are, well, they're okay, but Halloween? Halloween is special. Halloween is about darkness and night and imagination; it's about what if.... It's wondering what, exactly, caused that noise in the cellar just now and whether things that go bump in the night should be investigated... or quietly ignored from beneath the safety of the bed covers. It's cooling temperatures and cold, crisp apples, it's falling leaves and skeletal trees outlined against the twilight autumn sky...

I just gave myself the shivers.

Now, since I have a major book obsession, I figured this year I'd start off with some Halloween-related reading material. You know, just some little somethings to help us get into the spirit of things. Caveat: these are items on my Wish List; I don't own any of them yet, but a cursory glance makes me think these would be fantastic additions to anyone's Library of Spooky Stuff.

Halloween Nation: Behind the Scenes of America's Fright Night by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne (nice review by Spooky Little Girl).

Halloween: An American Holiday, An American History by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne.

Death Makes A Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween by David J. Skal (author of The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror, which I have read and which is, pardon the expression, frightfully good).

Extreme Pumpkins: Diabolical Do-It-Yourself Designs To Amuse Your Friends and Scare Your Neighbors by Tom Nardone.

Extreme Pumpkins II: Take Back Halloween and Freak Out A Few More Neighbors by Tom Nardone
"At what point did the carving of pumpkins turn into a "cute" event? When did boys stop carving pumpkins and moms start? Where did we lose touch with one of the year's coolest events?"

"Today we will seize back this ritual. Today is the day we throw away those safe, cute carving tools. Today we will buy a big, ugly, pumpkin so large one man cannot lift or move it. Today. We will carve that sumbitch into something ugly and plop it on the front porch. October 31st we will light it brightly enough to give visiting children suntans."

"Pumpkin carving is reborn."

October Dreams: A Celebration of Halloween ed. by Richard Chizmar & Robert Morrish.

And because I live in Richmond, VA, Richmond Macabre: Nightmares From The River City ed. by Beth Brown and Phil Ford (review here).

Not directly Halloween-related and not available until Oct. 24, but this looks to be quite the, uh, coffin-table book (sorry): The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnal Houses by Paul Koudounaris.

"The sites in this specially photographed and brilliantly original study range from the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Palermo, where the living would visit mummified or skeletal remains and lovingly dress them; to the Paris catacombs; to fantastic bone-encrusted creations in Austria, Cambodia, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Italy, Peru, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and elsewhere."

"Paul Koudounaris photographed more than seventy sites for this book. He analyzes the role of these remarkable memorials within the cultures that created them, as well as the mythology and folklore that developed around them, and skillfully traces a remarkable human endeavor. 290 photographs, 260 in color.

By the way, if you're at all familiar with the All Hallow's Read concept--during the week of Halloween, or on the night itself, give someone a scary book--these would be perfect!

Have at it!

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