What I’m reading (hint: it’s scary)

I had the most incredible urge to reread Peter Straub’s Ghost Story.

So my partner biked all the way to the library and checked it out for me. He’s special like that.

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I love this book, love how the writing veers toward literary, love how Straub’s mind works, how he slips in little asides that add so many dimensions to the story. Here’s one:

“I thought she had adapted to the house in some uncanny fashion, had subtly altered from the student of Virginia Woolf to suburban housewife: suddenly I could see her stocking up on chip dip at the supermarket.”

I love when writers really know their characters, when they dig down and allow them to be imperfect and vulnerable; when they know that all characters are doomed to make mistakes. It seems that many writers are too insecure to give full rein to their characters, to allow them to behave badly and (gasp!), appear unlikable, which is both needed and necessary.

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Here’s a pic of Stephen King and Peter Straub together. Aren’t they oddly adorable in an I-know-they-write-horror kind of way?

But enough of my theories/views, etc. If you haven’t read Ghost Story, you must. It’s a whopper of a tale, complex and multi-layered, and the main characters are elderly men (how often do you see old men as heroes?).

Plus it’s scary. Not gory-blood-splashing-over-walls-and-heads-exploding-scary but real scary, the kind of fear that creeps up slowly, grabs your hand, squeezes tight and refuses to let go.

“What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?
I won’t tell you that but I’ll tell you the worst thing that’s ever happened to me … the most dreadful thing …”

Aside from reading scary books right before bed, I’ve been in a bit of a funk. Things are going well. It’s summer in Alaska, for christ’s sake, so of course things are going well. Yet I’ve been wrestling with a couple of areas of my life and know I have to make a decision, and it’s weighing on me. Oh, how I hate making decisions.

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Summer in Alaska: a float plane flying over the Chugach Mountains.

But my writing is plodding along. I have work coming out in a magazine later this month, another one next month and one later this fall. I’m running and swimming and taking long walks with my partner and the dog. And my son heads to Stanford next month to start his PhD fellowship (he is the most amazing young man). So it’s all good, or mostly good. Or, to put it this way, the good outweighs the bad. So why, then, have I been spending nights obsessing over the bad?

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Running with Seriously in Kincaid Park. She has the good sense to not stay up all hours of the night obsessing over stupid problems.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend. It’s raining here, which perfectly suits my melancholy mood. (For some reason, I suddenly thought of that scene in Persuasion where Anne and all the Elliots head down to Bath. Why would I suddenly think of that, I wonder? Oh, right, probably because of the rain, which reminded me of Anne and Captain Wentworth and the wonderful umbrella scene. Is it just me or has anyone else ever wondered if Jane Austen was slipping us a Freudian moment when Capt. Wentworth says to Jane, about his umbrella, “I wish you would make use of it.”)

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9 thoughts on “What I’m reading (hint: it’s scary)

  1. When I was in high school, all those many years ago, my first Stephen King book was The Shining. I read it one weekend, the Saturday night of which I was home alone. Never been more scared while reading a book. The next book I read was Ghost Story. It was a good follow-up to The Shining to keep the scare going. I haven’t read it in a long time. Somewhere along the way I got rid of my paperback copy of the thing. Wish I still had it. Good luck with those decisions and getting out of your funk!

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    1. OMG, I love Stephen King’s earlier works. I read “Salem’s Lot” in high school and slept with the light one for three nights. I also wore a rosary around my neck when I ran early in the morning, to keep safe from vampires. “The Shining” is my favorite King book. Wish they hadn’t butchered the movie version.
      Cheers and yeah, I’m slowly pulling out of my funk, thanks so much.

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      1. I’ll respond here to your question about the “personal drama” about my book … Weed Therapy was my second novel. It’s about a man who is unhappy in his marriage and family life who “runs away” to a small town in Mexico where he spends a few days with an old priest who imparts pearls of wisdom about finding happiness. While fictional, it is filled with “flash backs” that are based on my own unhappiness. My wife wasn’t too thrilled that I had published it. 😉

        As for my book, if you’re talking about One Night in Bridgeport, don’t expect much. 😉 If you ask, I may just send you a copy of Weed Therapy, as it is a better representation, I believe, of my writing.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. All I can remember of my visit to Bath is buying an umbrella and hiding under it and peering out at the gloom. Thanks for the book tip! I’m not a horror lover, but you managed to intrigue me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I want to visit Bath and peer out at the gloom from beneath an umbrella. (Maybe I’d see the ghost of Captain Wentworth, eh? Is it possible to see ghosts of fictional characters?) Cheers and have a great week.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Like Luanne, I don’t usually read horror, although I am fond of Stephen King, both as a person (from what I have been able to gather from stories about him), and as a writer. He can really turn a phrase, as they say. As for brooding in the night, I have been sick for more than a week, so the world seems blue (sad), and the constant medication has me on edge too. Missing my late doggy like crazy. As a contrast to you, I have been doing NO exercise. But reading your posts inspires me to do more, and I thank you for that, Cynthia!

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