Friday, March 25, 2011

The Horror...The Horror!

Recent reading: Frankenstein by Mary Shelly and Dracula by Bram Stoker--which I just finished this morning.
My review on these horror classics is simple: Frankenstein gets the thumbs down--Dracula, thumbs up!
Part of this is style--Shelley's tome is a story within a story (and sometimes even another level within that--and so never really grips one. Stoker, on the other hand, though he tells his whole vampire story in diary and journal entries, along with letters and such, often feels quite immediate, and often quite eerie.
Neither is the sort of horror tale to keep one up at night with lights on--or give one bad dreams--though Dracula definitely produces a shiver or two.
Another recent read: Wuthering Heights, which certainly qualifies as ranking in the eerie literary world, full of ghosts and such, is still set in a more real unreal world. Heathcliff is a scary old bastard, that's for sure, but the "love story" never gripped me--guess I'm not a true Bronte fan.
Best horror tales I've read would definitely include some Stephen King, like The Shining, Pet Sematary, and It.
Oddly, the spookiest book I ever read was Communion: A True Story, by Whitley Strieber, which is about aliens and the like, but written from such a skeptical "voice" that--true or not--it really frightens!
Next I return to the "scary" world of reading modern fiction...whoo-ooo...
hasta pronto!

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Great Short Story by Lore Segal; Listen and Learn!

If you don't already subscribe to the New Yorkers free fiction podcasts, I highly recommend it--the only thing better than reading great fiction is having someone else read it to can sign up through the iTunes store or visit the New Yorker's podcast archive website to learn more.
I just heard Jennifer Egan read “The Reverse Bug,” by Lore Segal (and discuss it with The New Yorker’s fiction editor, Deborah Treisman). This is perhaps one of the best short stories ever--and the whole podcast is less than an hour, so go ahead and download it or listen to it now!
Writing teachers and gurus always talk about the subtle and not so subtle use of metaphor and symbolism--but most of us fear sounding like a soapbox when we try to tackle big issues. The "Reverse Bug" is an excellent example...In fact, this story is a Master class in the art of writing: how to draw characters, reveal setting and especially, how to employ stunning metaphor.
Again, to go to the New Yorker page where you can listen to or download the story, nicely read by Egan, for free, click here.
I'm writing today...
hasta pronto!