Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Let's dig something out from the grave of the past...

I was going to start my review of the current reading (Broken Blade by Kelly McCullough, which will be fun, since I can tie it to at least two other series), but, given it's Halloween Eve and I had a few discussions today that I thought might make better blog fodder....

A conversation with a coworker today brought back memories of Main News, a store that used to be in my hometown.  It was kind of a convenience store that also sold lots and lots of paperbacks, magazines, newspapers and the like. Most of the paperbacks fell into the best seller or pulp categories, but they did have a young adult section, which wound up emptying my very slim wallet most weeks. When new owners bought the business in the mid 1980's, they added pipe tobacco and cigars to the milieu. Such scents as pipe tobacco tend to get in things, namely pulpy paperbacks. So many books of my youth still carry the scent, and to this day, smoke shops tend to bring back fond memories of browsing the wire racks for something of interest and looking at the comic books for something that caught my eye.

Oddly enough, one of my recurring nightmares involves going in to Main News and finding a labyrinth of books that I have to navigate.

Sadly, the building holding Main News fell apart and had to be torn down not long after I moved away for college. Is it odd that my heart holds a special place for a bookstore? (As a side note, the book I most remember buying here was the 3 in 1 novelization of the first 3 Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Which was funny, since the novelization of Dream Warriors was obviously based on an earlier script. The first 2 were fairly synoptic with their respective sources , but the third...Order of death was off, some of the one liners were WAY off, and the plot deviates at several points.)

Speaking of childhood horror, I was also reminded of another story almost no one has ever heard. I'm not sure if it still exists or not, but it used to be Scholastic would send home fliers with books listed appropriate for specific ages groups. Students would fill out the order, bring payment in, and BOOM! A month later, a bunch of books you forgot about arrived.

Well, once upon a time, I dreamed of a book. I recall the dream clearly, the book was glowing in my bedroom drawing down malevolent spirits. A few moths later, the book showed up on the Scholastic list. A book I had dreamed of, there in print waiting for me to invite it into my house. That book was When Midnight Comes... by Carol Beach York. Which didn't end up drawing malevolent spirits into my bedroom, but instead cured my insomnia. Seriously. It was basically a happy middle class family being invaded by an emo cousin, whom they blame for supernatural goings on. They kick the emo cousin out, and BAM! Midnight comes. Seriously. Worst juvenile horror ever.

On the other hand, some insomnia was caused by juvenile horror titled The House on Hackman's Hill by Joan Lowery Nixon. Which is funny, since the first half of the book is an elderly neighbor telling a story about Mr. Hackman and his stolen mummy and how a statue of Anubis pretty much came to life and made Mr. Hackman vanish; the second half is pretty much Jeff and Debbie breaking into the house and experiencing the same damn thing. Scared me to death as a child. It was a few years before I could read any Egyptian mythology, because I was convinced that Anubis was going to come chase me down over missing mummy eyes. Mind you, I read it again in my 20's and it wasn't nearly as nightmare inducing as it was when I was younger. It's still a good read, well constructed, and honestly, the Anubis Statue is more or less doing its job.  But I count this book as the gateway I found to get me sucked into horror fictions.

So, what books from childhood do you remember that shaped what you read today? And any bookstores you remember fondly?