Welcome to the Halloween Edition of the Reading in the Year of the Book. Fall is a magical time and it has been delightful to get deep into some spooky vibes. I do miss the woods and the fall spectacular show in Maine. Plus the apples...
Creative Symbols of Tantric Buddhism - Sangharakshita
This is a wonderful step into the history and use of creative symbolism in the development of Tantric Buddhism. The author described the imagery and etc of Vajrayana in a way that helps create a roadmap to the jungle of forms. Sangarakshita does a great job illuminating a few key aspects while providing a lot of helpful advice in to developing your own understanding of the symbols. Set up your own mandala: the figures are for play and in a true J. Campbell sense; if something does not resonate with you, then throw it out. I especially like the chapters on the history of the vajra and the Wheel of Life mandala as mirrored levels of insight.
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson
I wish more happened in this book. I love the characterization of the house and the idea of evil being implanted geographically but the action is a little bit lacking. Jackson's backstory for Hill house is great and there are some spooky moments for sure and I am very fond of the maze like quality of the rooms in the house and how the very structure seems to not want to let you go. Overall a very quick and good October read.
Salem's Lot - Stephen King
This is one vampire story that is creepy and a very enjoyable read. I love Stephen King and 'The Lot' hits all the right notes. The best part of it is that the gory stuff is mostly suggested with a few very bloody exemptions. Also, the small town politics play out in a wonderful way as the pattern of victims grows - the circle of the damned grows but those inflicting the harm are limited by their thirst with the exception here being the centuries old ring leader. King also does a smart thing by adapting the concept of 'evil' straight from Shirley Jackson and the Haunting with the character of the Marsten House whose original evil inhabitants could have easily been the original inhabitants of Hill House as well. Some places stand out…I had haunted places in my neighborhood we would not go in to as kids and this book does a great job bringing that feeling up.
It - Stephen King
This book was long and surprisingly deep. My favorite thing about King is his ability to bring up the old feelings of the monster in the crawl spaces and dark places of childhood. The style of momentum building by creating parallel story lines between the 27 year difference. The final confrontation seems a bit crazy…I mean…outer macroverse void spaces and the giant turtle who is incapable of helping? Weird.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving
The legend of the smashed pumpkin! It must have been bold Abraham "Bones" what did the schoolmaster in right? This is classic and to think that when it was written the references to Hessian Soldiers and hung Revolutionary traitors was not so far removed (even with the mention of the "ancient city of Manhattoes"). This story makes me miss Fall in New England; the juxtaposition of the bounty of the late harvest (apples) and the oncoming fear of the dark cold winter.
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
Bring forth the bright antidotes to fear and suffering! It is with laughter that the acceptance of being truly alive comes through. Mr. Dark and his twisted carnival prey on people's knots. These knots are woven out of a fear of time and a stubbornness to accept the march of life. Mr. Holloway-the janitor at the library-is the hero in the end. This book was great and it much surpassed the early teen name I had given it in my head. The way Bradbury moves through a scene by putting the descriptions just enough out of reach is beautiful. So many images seem turned on their heads and yet they fit in so well with the overall feel of the "October people". I know what that means and it suits the season so perfectly as the year progresses in to winter and those things that were green go away. Cool book.
The Green Man - Kingsley Amis
Lord Underhill has a messenger on the prowl to do his bidding while Mr. Allington of the Inn "The Green Man" has another whiskey to contemplate his wishful damsel bedding. Allington is a drunk and this blocks his ability to communicate the state of ghostly affairs going on in his Inn. The novel does a great job setting a devious ghost mystery in a social commentary framework touching drink, lust, the role of the priesthood, and unsatisfied desires. Plus: does God show up and give a little lecture? Weird. It took a while to get going on this one but it was well worth it in the end.