Neil Gaiman’s All Hallows’ Read, A New Halloween Tradition?

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Leave it to Neil Gaiman to try and make Halloween an even cooler holiday than it already is.

All Hallows’ Read is a new tradition of horror/scary book giving that Mr. Gaiman is hoping catches on.

“I propose that, on Hallowe’en or during the week of Hallowe’en, we give each other scary books. Give children scary books they’ll like and can handle. Give adults scary books they’ll enjoy. I propose that stories by authors like John Bellairs and Stephen King and Arthur Machen and Ramsey Campbell and M R James and Lisa Tuttle and Peter Straub and Daphne Du Maurier and Clive Barker and a hundred hundred others change hands — new books or old or second-hand, beloved books or unknown. Give someone a scary book for Hallowe’en. Make their flesh creep…” Neil Gaiman

In my humble opinion, it’s a great idea. In this age of ipads and electronic media it’s important not to underestimate the power of the printed page. The way it feels in your hands, the way the pages crease and age, as a bibliophile I appreciate the tactile sensibilities a book holds. My favorite uncle used to gift me books when I was young. Scary, interesting books filled with weird poems and wonderful illustrations. He was a university professor and he taught me the love of reading through the books he gave me. This is how I know it is such an important thing, because I was given that gift. Thanks Neil, for recognizing something so small such as a gift of a book, can mean so much.

What does Neil recommend we read this Halloween?

Stephen King – Carrie, Salem’s Lot, The Stand

James Herbert – The Magic Cottage

Peter Straub – Ghost Story, Mr. X

Clive Barker – Books of Blood, Damnation Game

Joe Hill – Heart Shaped Box

Susan Hill – The Woman in Black

Any Short Story Collection by Edgar Allen Poe, H.P Lovecraft,

or Robert Aickerman.

And For younger readers he recommends:

Roald Dahl – The Witches

Clive Barker – The Thief of Always

Ray Bradbury – The Halloween Tree, Something Wicked This Way Comes

Neil’s complete book  recommendation list is available in PDF form at allhallowsread.com

“Science Fiction & Fantasy writer Neil Gaiman put a great idea up on Twitter a few days ago: This year make Halloween All Hallow’s Read. Neil suggests giving someone you love a scary book on the 31st. I think it’s a great idea. It can be one of mine but it doesn’t have to be. Have a great Halloween!”  Stephen king

all hallows' read

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Pagan Costumes

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A little history for your Friday afternoon…

THE SKELETON KEY

Let us not forget that our favorite holiday originated in the Pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice. One ritual back then was dressing in costume, but this was long before Freddie Krueger masks were available on every corner. The Pagans were inspired to portray the demons they faced in nature: bears that could tear a person limb from limb, or tall trees that could cast long, mysterious shadows.

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Charles Freger‘s photography series spotlights these “tribal European” costumes, still in use today, which may resemble some of history’s first. “Freger captures demons, devils, bears, stags and straw men as well as hybrid figures dressed in skins, hides, leaves, and antlers, that seem to have arrived out of the darker reaches of fairytales.”

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“[T]he costumes and masks worn in folk festivals that mark the coming of spring, winter, or the new year remain vibrant and even frightening. As Fréger’s book shows, the…

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The Great Poe Valentine Mystery

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Gothic romance is a particular fetish of mine, so obviously I love the whole debacle that is Valentine’s Day. The sheer terror that it inspires in single people and the panic and inevitable disappointment it holds for those of us who are married is what Gothic romance is all about.

Poe wrote this Valentine to a married woman and hid her name in the poem itself as a message for her eyes only. Can you figure out the riddle? I will give you a hint…it is an acrostic poem…

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A Valentine

(1846)

by Edgar Allan Poe

(1809-1849)

For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,

Brightly expressive as the twins of Leda,

Shall find her own sweet name, that nestling lies

Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.

Search narrowly the lines!–they hold a treasure

Divine–a talisman–an amulet

That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure-

The words–the syllables! Do not forget

The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor

And yet there is in this no Gordian knot

Which one might not undo without a sabre,

If one could merely comprehend the plot.

Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering

Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus

Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing

Of poets, by poets–as the name is a poet’s, too,

Its letters, although naturally lying

Like the knight Pinto–Mendez Ferdinando-

Still form a synonym for Truth–Cease trying!

You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.

THE END

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Happy 165th Birthday Bram Stoker!

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My brilliant Irish Uncle Lee who was born in Belfast and now resides in Dublin (Professor-Trinity College) first introduced me to Bram Stoker , a fellow Dubliner, when I was little girl. The stories Lee made up about vampires (paraphrasing I’m sure for little ears) thrilled me and the scary books he unearthed in mouldy used bookstores peaked my interest in the world of horror and fantasy. Dracula was one of the books he gifted to me, even though at the time i didn’t realize what influence it would have on my life.

The Bram Stoker Estate.