Keaton’s Haunted Corner of Horror: October Country

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Welcome back, all you maniacs! It’s another edition of my semi-irregular newsletter of boo-kish terror, and what better time to check in than as we enter the dark heart of spooky season--October??? Taking a cue from the great Ray Bradbury, I’ve coined this entry of the Haunted Corner of Horror as October Country. And this month certainly has an atmosphere all its own. Perhaps we’re feeling the remnants of humanity’s more ritualistic past bleeding into our modern age like a palimpsest of a time when the supernatural realm was intrinsically linked to our everyday lives. Maybe as the days grow shorter, our collective psyche is pulled towards the darkness as well. Or maybe it's just marketing by candy companies and Hollywood studios. But whatever the reason for the special feeling permeating this month as we draw nearer to All Hallow’s Eve, if we allow ourselves to be carried away a bit like a witch on the wind, there’s no telling what awful wonders we might encounter in the night.

This year, we are possessed with a veritable bounty of terror-inducing reads to accompany your time in October Country. Too many to enumerate them all in this brief missive, as it were. From melodramatic self-aware Gothic Romance to radical transgender body horror and a star-studded anthology edited by auteur Jordan Peele, there really is something for everyone within the ever more inclusive and imaginative horror genre. However, I’d like to take a moment to highlight one book that completely caught me by surprise this season. And strangely enough, it’s a nonfiction title! Fittingly, with the 50th anniversary this year of what I believe to be objectively the best horror film ever made (come at me, bro) and the so-so relaunch of the franchise just this month, there could not have been a better time to come across NIGHT MOTHER: A PERSONAL AND CULTURAL HISTORY OF THE EXORCIST by Marlena Williams. This is an insightful and incisive critique/memoir of the highly influential and problematic classic that explodes its impact outward into the innumerable centers of American culture that informed its creation and reception. Touching on film history, feminist theory, race studies, and far more, this is the single best work of creative nonfiction I’ve read this year. It’s an addictive deep dive into a cultural touchstone that evokes a reckoning with the evil within us all. So put on “Tubular Bells”, warm up some pea soup, and check it out.       

But wait!! There’s more! We are coming up to the finale for the premiere season of our horror book club, The Living Read, and our last pick of the year is Sara Gran’s truly terrifying possession tale--COME CLOSER. This cult classic is celebrating its 20th anniversary and is ripe for rediscovery by another generation of horror readers. It’s one of the few (if not the only) possession stories told from the perspective of the possessed herself. A taut, unnerving descent into an unraveling mind and spirit--don’t miss it! And Sara will be in attendance via Zoom when we meet on Tuesday, October 24 as well! Finally, I just want to say that since February we’ve had nine great months of discussing horror fiction and virtual author appearances. I couldn’t have hoped for a better reception. Thanks to everyone who participated or just bought some of our selections. And fear not--er, I mean…BEWARE!!! The Living Read will return for another run in 2024.

Until next time…stay spooky!!! 


The October Country: Stories By Ray Bradbury Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345407856
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Del Rey - September 24th, 1996

Bluebeard's Castle: A Novel (Verso Fiction) By Anna Biller Cover Image
ISBN: 9781804291856
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Verso - October 10th, 2023

Brainwyrms By Alison Rumfitt Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250866257
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Tor Nightfire - October 10th, 2023

Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror By Jordan Peele (Editor), John Joseph Adams (Editor), Jordan Peele (Introduction by), N. K. Jemisin (Contributions by), Rebecca Roanhorse (Contributions by), Tananarive Due (Contributions by), Nnedi Okorafor (Contributions by) Cover Image
By Jordan Peele (Editor), John Joseph Adams (Editor), Jordan Peele (Introduction by), N. K. Jemisin (Contributions by), Rebecca Roanhorse (Contributions by), Tananarive Due (Contributions by), Nnedi Okorafor (Contributions by)
ISBN: 9780593243794
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - October 3rd, 2023

Night Mother: A Personal and Cultural History of The Exorcist (21st Century Essays) By Marlena Williams Cover Image
ISBN: 9780814258767
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mad Creek Books - October 20th, 2023

Come Closer By Sara Gran Cover Image
ISBN: 9781641295246
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hell's Hundred - September 26th, 2023

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