The horror of it all

I’m a horror fiction fan, there I said it. I remember telling one friend that I like reading scary books and he had this disappointed look on his face. He looked like he wanted to ask why I would bother reading such rubbish but thought better of it. He’s into non-fiction books and classic literature. I guess he felt I’m wasting my time with those pulp fiction stuff and should get into loftier subjects.

I discovered the genre when I went to a friend’s house to watch a video with a group of friends. I got bored with whatever it was were watching and my eyes wandered to the bookshelf just beside the television. My friend’s brother had this whole shelf of Stephen King books and I picked up the one titled The Shining. I read it while my friends endured the movie and I borrowed the book after I realised I wouldn’t be able to finish it then and there. From then on, I was hooked. I’ve read most of Stephen King’s works and enjoyed most of his earlier works. Among my favourites are The Shining, Bag of Bones, Skeleton Crew, Nightmares and Dreamscapes, Everything’s Eventual, Four Past Midnight, The Dark Half and Needful Things. Other works of his that I’ve watched but haven’t read (but would still recommend) are Misery, The Stand, The Dead Zone, Carrie, Thinner, The Langoliers, The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption.

Yes, I guess you could say I’ve been a Stephen King fan since that fateful day when I got my hands on The Shining. However, I still find Edgar Allan Poe‘s stories chilling particularly The Pit and the Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death, The Cask of Amontillado and the unforgettable The Tell-Tale Heart. Then there’s also Ray Bradbury with his Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Illustrated Man and I Sing the Body Electric to keep me busy during my university years. More recently, I’ve also enjoyed I am Legend by Richard Matheson. On the other hand, I found Dean Koontz’ kind of horror lacking and has avoided his books after plowing through a couple of them.

Lately, I’ve been haunting the bookstores to find new authors to read and realised that there is truth in what some horror writers (and readers) say, the genre is marginalised. It’s easy to walk into a bookstore and find the Science Fiction or Crime section, in fact there are just rows and rows of shelves dedicated to these sort of books. Horror fiction, on the other hand, is lumped up with general fiction or only has very limited shelf space devoted to it. Either way, the choices are dismally small. The only book shop I’ve seen that has a respectable selection of horror fiction is Borders at Jam Factory.

Even the libraries follow the same pattern, thus making the hope of browsing through shelves to discover a new author who specialises in horror a remote possibility. Sure, some of the books have stickers indicating the genre they belong to but not all of them do.

What’s a horror fiction fan to do? Right now, I’ve been trawling at Amazon.com’s horror fiction category, taking note of the author’s name then going to the shops to try and find the book. Failing that, I’d search for the author’s works from my library’s online catalogue and putting in a request for it. There is some good news though if the work is no longer protected by copyright laws and are available online. Horror Masters, Project Gutenberg and East of the Web have proven to be a treasure trove of short stories that should keep me busy for quite a long time. Now, if only I could find the time to read them.

Advertisements
Published in: on July 20, 2006 at 9:40 pm  Comments (3)