The Classic Halloween Tale:
Though most people have had a chance to read the more well-known masters of horror, and no witching hour is deemed truly freaky without mention of theÃ‚Â Headless Horseman, I would also argue that W.W. Jacobs's "The Monkey's Paw"Ã‚Â should be added to the must-read-when-cozying-up-to-a-flickering-hearth-in-a-red-velvet-chair-with-a-whiskey list. The short story is replete with cursed fakir talismans, zombies, and, of course, chess.
David J. Skal is an important historian whose primary focus is horror films and their effects on the American psyche. Though he's got some Sci-Fi dime paperbacks under his belt, his true calling is cultural criticism, and his comprehensive tome Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of HalloweenÃ‚Â takes us from the ancient roots of All Hallows Eve (when it was a booze-fueled sex festival) to the present day (when it became, well, a booze-fueled sex festival), via all the religion in between. Plus, it's got one of those cool two-part academic titles, so it must be smart.
Contemporary Halloween Lit:
Although there are quite a few up-and-coming online/print hybrid lit mags out there right now, with more popping up every week, we feel that the guys over at Gigantic MagazineÃ‚Â are doing right by the people by promising that you will not see, on their pages, the words or phrases "glimmer, shimmer, swaths, bleating, said flatly, beads of sweat..." They will be launching an online Halloween issue in the next few days, tentatively titled the "The Gigantic Mini-Monster Issue," and our sources tell us that the issue will include an in-depth interview with Brian Evenson, vampire fiction by Carmen Lau, and the possibility of some super-scary short films.
The Oddball Halloween Detractor Lit:
In the pursuit of fairness, we thought it would be a good idea to represent both sides of the Halloween coin and make sure that everyone who has pushed happiness away and denied their childhood can read something, too. Here is a cranky op-edÃ‚Â piece on Halloween by some old lady who hates fun.
The Halloween Reality Check Lit:
And finally, a little reality check to keep all you hipsters in line: remember, this holiday is actually really really scary and you probably will die if you walk around, or eat candy, or light yourself on fire.