Good morning, friends. I’m up early again, as is my wont: three a.m. to be exact. The witching hour. I like sitting under a single pool of light in a dark and quiet house, sipping coffee before the birds wake up. When I was a little girl, sleeping over at my grandparents’ house, I remember rising in the wee hours to find my grandpa seated in his armchair, deeply immersed in one of the Zane Grey or Louis L’Amour paperbacks he kept in a dusty cardboard box on the floor by his chair, so I guess I come by my predawn ways naturally.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but it’s become clear to me that everything cycles back around to itself. Sometimes you’re in, sometimes you’re out, sometimes up, sometimes down, the Wheel keeps on turning. This is a truth that applies to big, significant, mind-altering events in a person’s life, but also to small, less-harrowing ones… like what to read, for example.
After a year or so of inundating myself with Scandinavian and British crime thrillers, to my surprise I’ve found myself back to good old horror. I have an entire long shelf on my bookcases dedicated to scary short stories and favorite scary novels, but I had begun to wonder if I’d ever reread them since I’d lost interest so completely. Instead, I wanted my Wallander, my Konrad Sejer, my Erlendur and Department of Q and Martin Beck and Rebus and Hazel Micallef and half a dozen others.
But now I find myself thinking fondly of Uncle Stevie again, and searching out new authors who might offer fresh titillations, something to scare me a little. I am rarely frightened by what I read or see on the screen; the only thing that scares me, really, is the thought of contorted figures creeping across the floor or up onto the bed–anything else is kind of a yawn. Remember when the girl in The Ring crawled out of the television set? Or when Emily Rose was bent over backwards on the floor of her dorm room, all with the crazy eyes? Yeah, ME TOO. But that’s about it, in all my years of reading and watching.
As I’ve been writing, it suddenly occurs to me why I’m wanting horror again. (See how writing can be cathartic?) I’ve been struggling with depression lately, something that hasn’t happened to me in years–that vague, undefined sadness that stretches as far back as I can remember. Horror at least lends the possibility of offering me a way to feel again, fingers that might wend their way inside and poke out an answer to my question of numbness and insulation. Horror is very warm and cozy; I can sink straight into it and sublimate my own personal terror through the lives of its characters. It makes perfect psychological sense. I didn’t realize what was going on until now.
Happiness and sadness cycle, too. I’m grateful that my arcs of happiness are longer than they used to be–I’ll never forget the entire year I spent dragging myself from bed to couch and back again–and that aching despair arrives more in mosquito bite-sized bumps than mountains. Instead of trying to Make the Bad Man Go Away, as I used to, I’ve come to accept his rare visits with equanimity. You know, do whatever needs to be done to help myself feel better, because I don’t like wallowing, but not fight him being here either. I had a hypnagogic dream once where a huge scary demonic figure lurched toward me, but instead of running away screaming, I swallowed that initial impulse and calmly faced him. As he approached and saw that I wasn’t reacting in fear, he suddenly lost all his ferocity, shrunk to person-size, and walked up to me meekly. We shook hands, and made friends. Our demons have something to teach us.
Sprechen ze Stephen King, kind of, I have once again begun exploring the work of his son, Joe Hill, who is a truly gifted writer. His 20th Century Ghosts is the best collection of short stories I’ve ever read, even better than 999, my previous favorite. I just picked up the first volume of Locke & Key, a series of graphic novels he wrote with the illustrator Gabriel Rodriguez, and tore through it greedily yesterday. It was great and I can’t wait to get the next volume. I’ve started The Floating Staircase by Ronald Malfi and so far it’s okay, though it hasn’t gripped me; it seems a little pedestrian and may end up being merely a diverting read while I’m at it, easily forgotten afterwards. Maybe he’ll surprise me, though.
The BEST book I’ve read in ages is one I just finished a couple days ago: The Passage, by Justin Cronin. At almost 800 pages it could have been a strewn-out mess but it so wasn’t. It kept me riveted for three days. I couldn’t stop reading. I stayed up all one night to read it, and continued on through the next morning and well into the afternoon, bleary-eyed and unable to tear myself away until I finally finished it with a sigh of satisfaction and a happy smile. Best of all, it’s the first of a trilogy! Mother of meat, I’m in heaven. It stands unique and entirely on its own merits, but as a post-Apocalyptic novel, it reminded me a lot of The Stand, smacked a little of the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness, and I can see where the writers of The Walking Dead might have gotten a couple of their ideas for the third season from it. It’s not really a horror unless you find the idea of a body-mutating virus a la I Am Legend horrifying (and well, I guess one should), so I didn’t find it scary, per se, but it was thrilling… and sparkling and imaginative and towering and epic and I just read that Ridley Scott has bought the rights to make it into a movie. Which I probably will be reluctant to see because I know I’ll be disappointed. But STILL. Even if you don’t have an interest in the horror genre, you might love this book, too.
All right, dawn has finally come and gone and the morning is winding up to be a beauty. I think we’re going to go on a long motorcycle ride today and I’m really looking forward to that. I wish you well. Love.