Fear of the Classics

Featured

I have a problem, it’s with classics but not all classics just some of them.

I’ve read, Frankenstein, Dracula, most of Lovecraft, Alexandre Dumas, and I love Algernon Blackwood, Dum. The Willows is one of my favorite stories I’ve ever read.

But there are others that I have trouble with; Dostoevsky, Faulkner(not all of them), Melville. I know that I should read them and enjoy them but I don’t. I have tried reading Crime & Punishment at least 10 times, but on the last read, I quit. I can’t read that book.

I wish I knew why I have this trouble, but I’ve narrowed it down to fear.

What if it’s amazing and I wished I’d read it earlier. I feel that way about Frankenstein and a few others, but they’re either sci-fi or horror. It’s the literary classics I have trouble with. It’s not the way it’s written, it’s the fear that I’ll either hate it and feel like I’ve wasted my time on it or I’ll love the hell out of it.

This comes in many ways to me. I am going to read a bunch of classics this year and my current read is ‘The Brothers Karamazov’. I know it’s Dostoevsky, but I want to read it for my own reasons. These books are part of my learning as a writer and while I hope to enjoy them, there’s that fear I won’t.

It’s the whole I’m not good enough to do this writing thing. What if I read something and I feel I’ll never accomplish that grandiosity of what I’ve read? This came to me a lot in the early days of writing but hasn’t been raising its nasty little head lately.

I don’t know how to get past all of this other than keep reading, keep writing, and ignoring the voice in my head, so I’ll ignore it and read all these books.

This started as a conversation between my wife and me. I bought Don Quixote recently and she was surprised I’d never read it. I told her it’s one of those books I was afraid to read for all of the reasons I stated above.

Anyway, read what you like and don’t let that voice screw it up for you.

Recent reads

Featured

I haven’t done an update on what I’m reading for a while, so here’s what I’ve read so far this year.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman: I don’t talk about it much but I’m big into learning about Norse mythology both as a personal interest because of beliefs and because I think it’s cool to know about other belief systems.

Over the years I’ve read books about Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and have read most of the texts associated with each of the beliefs I’ve listed. I enjoyed reading the Baghavad Gita quite a bit as well as Buddhism, but Norse Paganism is where I find myself.

The Best Horror of the Year, edited by Ellen Datlow: I loved every moment of this anthology. The stories were incredible and while I usually have a hard time getting through anthologies I read this over three days from the first story to the last. It’s the first time I’ve done that with an anthology. I usually skip around.

I told myself I’d read a bit more classic horror this year and the next book blew me away.

The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson: This is a weird book and I found myself thinking of House of Leaves quite a bit as well as Hill House and various Lovecraft stories.

It’s a very odd novel and while I read it I compared it to those I above as well as The Worm and his Kings by Hailey Piper, which is one of my favorite books that I read last year.

The next book is one that I’ve had on my shelf for a while but hadn’t read. Last week as I recovered from Covid I read quickly.

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris: I’ve watched this movie dozens of times. I enjoyed the book more than I believed I would considering how much of its content is mimicked or mocked in our society. I feel more for Starling the book than I did in the film. Her childhood and what she went through to get to the FBI is a wonderful backstory and it’s my favorite part of the novel.

Now I’m going to add something I put as finished last year, but didn’t.

Lonesome Dove By Larry McMurtry: I started this book last year after a suggestion by Stephen Graham Jones. I read up to page 600 and got stuck. It may have been from reading it so quickly. I got there in a few days, but my brain fought with me a lot last year and it’s more likely than the former.

After finishing it I’ve been going through a rough spot in reading and have picked up three different books. Yesterday I went to the library and picked up Streets of Laredo, which is the book Stephen Graham Jones suggested I read after Lonesome Dove. I’m only 100 pages into that one and it picks up from Lonesome Dove a while later.

I enjoyed Lonesome Dove more than I thought I would it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.

There are other books I’ll be reading this year, Hailey Pipers “Queen of Teeth,” Catriona Ward’s “Last House on Needless Street,” as well as my intentions to finish “The Great and Secret Show” by Clive Barker which I’ve put off the last couple of years.

I have a lot to read and with my Nightworms subscription, I won’t run out of things to read.

Find your happy place and read something you enjoy.

In the way

Featured

it comes in rainbows and somersaults. the way through to the escape hatch has been blocked. the entrance, a small window of light, the exit a blood filled pool, contains and taints us all. I see the ripples of the pool and run to the side. It never ends. the slipping, sliding of the sloshing pool under my feet as I slip in the mud and there’s more than that, but my vision is clouded with the rain of blood coming down. I see the randomness of the dark. The feeling of it pulling into my soul. the world slips. the ground rips and I’m there, standing at the shallow end of the blood filled pool. The spigot has run dry and I don’t know where I’m going and I feel like I’m in the way.

What horror and fear mean to me

Featured

I am a child of the ’80’s. I watched Nightmare on Elm Street on VHS, saw Freddy’s Dead in theaters with the 3D glasses, and horror was my escape.

I was home alone a lot and staying up late watching scary movies on HBO was my favorite thing. My mom jokes about me watching Children of the Corn and Halloween and how it didn’t scare me much. I think it unnerved her that it didn’t scare me, which I understand.

But for me horror has been something I’ve always gravitated towards and while I’ve talked of the reasons on this blog, I’ve still never narrowed it down. I’m sure it has something to do with dealing with trauma. There was plenty of yelling and screaming in the house before my parents divorced in ’85. That yelling and having one parent belittling me constantly about my weight left scars that will always be there.

I have a couple of stories that deal with that stuff that I’m shopping around, but I may hold onto them for something else.

When I was a kid I knew that I wouldn’t make it past 40. I don’t know why I knew this, but I did. Now I’m 45 and after living with that for so long everything is easier. I was worried the whole year leading up to 40. Anytime I was in the car I felt unsafe. It was a weird feeling to believe you would die. I was completely absorbed in the concept, though I never told anyone.

There are other things that I think about going back to my childhood that float around in my head, but that’s a bigger one.

When you believe you’re not going to make it past 40 you don’t try that hard beforehand, at least I felt like I didn’t.

Today I feel like I’m working harder to make something of myself because after believing you’re going to die at a certain age, things afterward are different. You look at life in a certain way. Nothing that happens, even today as I sit in the bedroom isolated from my family, none of this feels hard and while I’m pissed that I got Covid, it’s just another thing to get through and I’m okay with that.

I was a horror movie fan long before I started reading horror. My first experience with reading horror was King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes and Four Past Midnight. I got them from my big sister and while I loved them, I didn’t read any horror for a while after that.

There was always a stigma around reading horror, especially growing up in Utah. If you read horror there was something wrong with you mentally. I’ve read quite a bit of King since and other older authors like Algernon Blackwood, Lovecraft of course and I’m making my way through the shorter fiction of William Hope Hodgson, Guy De Maupassant, and F. Marion Crawford.

I told myself I would read more classical horror, authors of color, and those in the LGBTQIA+ community this year. I have few books by authors in those categories as well but I’m always looking for recommendations.

I’ll leave you with this. No matter how hard things are I’ve always found peace in reading and watching horror. Fear is not the creature in the woods, the killer with the knife, or anything else. It’s the tricks your mind plays on you when you’re trying to get through the day.

A bit different

Featured

I’ve been sitting in my bedroom the last few days after testing positive for Covid-19 on Saturday morning.

I come to the blog a bit pissed as I’ve been cautious with everything but obviously not cautious enough.

There are many things not say but as I’ve been away from my family in the bedroom my wife and I usually share I think that I’ve realized my health needs work, and it’s not because I’m terribly sick. I have a cough, had a fever earlier in the week, but I need to get in better shape and eat better.

When it comes to writing I have to make good a promise I made to myself. I have to get busy on figuring out how to make my own covers and not just shitty ones I’ve made to my needs.

I have goals this year and I’ll not be held back by anything.

I’m tired of existing. I’m going to live.