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Join the Club

The Atlantic Monthly hosts a Twitter-centered book club called 1Book140 and decided they wanted to read something skeeery for October. They put it to a poll and HEART-SHAPED BOX won out, an occurrence I would generally describe as pretty cool. There was a splash of controversy; after I mentioned that HEART-SHAPED BOX was in the running, over on Twitter, the folks who follow me swamped the polls.

Some have questioned the fairness of that. My feelings are mixed. On the one hand I’m awfully, awfully happy to have won (and, ah, I was actually ahead in the voting before I opened my dumb mouth on Twitter). On the other hand, it isn’t really fair to, say, Shirley Jackson, who is ten times the writer I am or ever will be, but who is not on Twitter, owing to death. This has led to a really fabulous suggestion: reading both HEART-SHAPED BOX and THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE this October. Sounds good to me… as far as I’m concerned, HILL HOUSE is almost required reading for anyone who wants to know about the American ghost story.

Also on Twitter you’ll find the Geek Girls Book Club, which was kind enough to pick HORNS as this October’s book selection. Wanna join in? Get a Twitter account and say hello to Nikki Sticks, who keeps the GGBC train rolling. My big thanks to them for choosin’ my book. They have company: the io9 book club also picked HORNS as their October reading. Much ‘preciated guys.

This is probably a good time to mention a notion started by Neil Gaiman last year, one which I very much support. This Halloween, why not give your loved ones sumpin’ spooky to read? Halloween is my favorite holiday, mostly because it is a celebration of frightening and unnatural stories. Give yer kids, yer grandkids, your parents, your lover, your friends something that will freak them out: give them a book loaded with disturbing ideas. It doesn’t have to be one of mine. Here are a few good suggestions to get you started: THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, Jason Zinoman’s SHOCK VALUE, Joey Comeau’s ONE BLOODY THING AFTER ANOTHER, or, ah, Shirley Jackson’s THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. You can find out much more about the All Hallow’s Read tradition here.

Happy haunted reading, all you.

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27 Responses to Join the Club

  1. I read Horns a few months ago and loved it. I’m reading Hill House for the first time now.

  2. Willa says:

    I read Horns a few months ago too and LOVED it. Plan is to get started on Heart-shaped Box tomorrow and I am looking forward to that one!

  3. M&M+S says:

    Ill take a book anytime for a birthday present…yes, it is oct 31.

  4. M&M+S says:

    Matter of fact…I think that Im going to go get THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE right now.

  5. ThisGirl says:

    I missed the twitter announcement made about the poll. All I can say is that it seems fair enough since Heart Shaped Box was ahead – I’m just sad to think if anyone, including the author, feels it should not have been the pick. I’m sure most will be happy to follow the journey of Jude and will enjoy it :) and to even the kharma out maybe I’ll get my hands on the Hill House.

  6. Tinker says:

    In regards to both novels, Joe’s storytelling is masterfully crafted. That said, another little project you may have heard of: LOCKE & KEY, is up for Spike TV’s Scream Awards (Best Comic book & Best Comic Writer)—so go vote while you still can!

  7. Melissa says:

    I was just thinking of the All Hallow’s Read this morning, and decided I need to get my son a new spooky book. He just finished all the Cirque du Freak books. Any suggestions for creepy books for a 12 year old. I’ve been TRYING to get him to read The Graveyard Book, but he won’t. I assume it’s because I like it so much, and reading what mom loves wouldn’t be “cool”. So I need to be sneaky about whatever I buy him. Ideas?

    And just to be part of the cool kids – I just downloaded The Haunting of Hill House for my nook. I have SO MANY books going right now, but this will be my “work book”, since I have a super-slow month coming up in the office!

  8. Vicki says:

    Halloween, I thought, is a recognition of what happens after death. I don’t know, but I think they’ve made it too gloomy. And the notion that black cats are tied to evil does MORE THAN disturb me, b/c there are people who abuse and kill black cats on account of they really believe all the hype, and I just don’t generally like something that will lead to an innocent animal suffering for the stupidity of certain human beings.

  9. Stacy says:

    THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE – such a great novel! I haven’t read HORNS yet, but I loved HEART-SHAPED BOX. Just got introduced to LOCKE & KEY, too. Intriguing. : )

  10. Janine says:

    Melissa, Halloween reading will always make me think of Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark ( which were a staple of my childhood. 12 may be a little old for them, but the illustrations were (and still are to this thirty-year old adult) disturbing as all hell. I was also a complete sucker for anything by Christopher Pike, but they might seem dated by now.

  11. Tinker says:

    Vicki…Halloween is a fun and safe way to view horror, through an imaginary lense of costuming and frights.
    Who woulda guessed it was responsible for cruelty towards animals? Being a little melodramatic, don’t cha think?

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  13. Vicki says:

    Not if you’ve seen all the animals they euthanize every single day in NYC, you wouldn’t think it’s melodramatic, most of which are black cats. They kill literally scores of cats every week in NYC’s animal shelters and there’s a larger than necessary number of black cats who get euthanized.
    At least 20 black cats were euthanized in the month of September, the reason being that black cats are chosen last, if at all, for adoption. We always have to be doing things like giving the person “10 good reasons to adopt a black cat.”
    And Halloween isn’t responsible for it. People’s dumb ideas are, and there are a lot of really dumb damn people running around, especially in NYC, but never mind that.
    Halloween, besides Thanksgiving, is my favorite holiday anyway. Which most people wouldn’t guess and, this year, Christmas will be my least favorite holiday, b/c I lost the good job and am still looking for a replacement. It’s hard for a holiday to be your favorite when you have no money to get people what they want.
    Halloween never costs anything for me. Or at least not as much as Christmas, and you don’t have to be running around with a phony smile on Halloween. But that’s probably too depressing to think about.
    I like holidays where you get to eat or be realistic; whether that’s happy or sad, it’s okay on Halloween. But on Christmas, you have to lie about how you feel most of the time. I think like Mark Twain about lying: if you don’t do it, you don’t have to remember anything.
    And I think people should check out the shelters in NYC, see how many black cats are being euthanized before they call ME melodramatic.

  14. Vicki says:

    I sure can’t wait until you become a Goodreads author. I thought you USED to be, but now I’m not sure.
    I’m just making sure I stay out of trouble, and I do that best by keeping my “nose in a book.”
    That’s how my mom always said it: “Vicki always has her nose buried in a book.”
    She thought it was unnatural, and she tried to get me to do the important things in life, like watch Gone With The Wind every year when it came on television, or get a new hairdo on a regular basis (yearly). Sometimes even twice a year. She got her OWN hair done every fall and spring. Anyway, I never got as interested in those things, not even to read about them. She got me the book, Gone With The Wind, and I TRIED to read it, but I just don’t do well with romance novels, and it didn’t hold my interest.
    There has to be something dramatic behind a romance novel. Like international espionage or something. I guess I’m melodramatic THAT way, at least. But I can’t relate to straight romance novels and all that phony talk that’s in them. I like Fantasy but not straight romance.
    I guess I’m kind of a dreamy person more than what you have to be in order to enjoy a Harlequin Romance.

  15. ThisGirl says:

    Awww Vicki I’m sure people may have already said to you OR you’ve at the very least have heard; it’s the thought that counts. I have two scenarios to tell you about if you care to read on.
    1) I have a huge family that keeps on getting bigger each year. I’m close to all my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc…add in all the in-laws…there’s just too many of us to be buying presents for. The first few years I missed a person or two…or ran out of funds…I was so upset & Christmas began to be dreaded. I reminded myself it’s about being together (for me at least), enjoying a meal, little kids giggling…calling the out of town family…we all finally said buy only for your parents, kids & spouses – now none of us stress and get to just enjoy each other & are happy to hear about each family’s Christmas morning. Free of envy, free of embarrassment – or anything I was starting to associate with my lack of giving gifts. Also, truly…my favorite presents to receive were the goodies…like a tin of homemade cookies, one year my sis-in-law baked banana nut bread…. I really lived those more than anything else!
    2) when our oldest daughter was 2 we had close to no money to buy Xmas presents. I knew she was two and santa did not have to fill the stocking…and she wouldn’t know the difference from the presents pouring out from underneath the tree the previous year to the 3 little boxes of this year … But I was heartbroken. My parents had said not to fret, she’d get so many from others that she’d still have plenty…I got over it and decided to just be thankful this was happening at 2 and not when she would think Santa thought she did not deserve more. I was unaware that my husband never got into a more positive thinking pattern like me and was upset ALL of Christmas Eve and all of Christmas day…was just miserable to be around. I became so angry with him and told him if he ever acts so ashamed and miserable like that again and ruin what good there could have been, I’d kill him. I knew then all I ever wanted and will ever want for Christmas is to be around people who are happy in spirit.
    My point? Don’t fret and don’t fake a smile. Toast to your those you can he with, toast to those you can’t be with…and be merry.

  16. tiger lily says:

    I know another reason why people aren’t buying as many books as they used to. There’s so much free reading available on the Internet. A lot of it is good quality material that could’ve been– or should’ve been published if the author had the support of an agent or someone else with the right connections. Everyone wants to get something for nothing. That applies not only to literature but to music and film as well (i.e. illegal downloading).

  17. DAvid Sullivan says:

    Love Horns and Heart Shaped Box……..any word on new book? Would love to have something new to read this fall or winter by Joe!

  18. phil17larry33 says:

    I used to have a black cat and his name was Goodfoot. He was my best friend and I loved him, unfortunately he was an outdoor cat and was killed by a car. I remember driving around the neighborhood looking for him after he hadn’t come home in a few days and seeing him clearly dead by the side of the road. I said to him “Are you alright buddy?” I then drove back home and cried. Black cats are cool and all animals are fun and provide love in your life. Poor Goodfoot and all those other black cats out there.

  19. ‘Tis a moot point maybe since Heart Shaped Box was ahead before the uh, boost, but on the other hand, in today’s shifting and author-platform driven environment, screw ‘em. Is the use of Twitter more or less of an unfair advantage than previous notoriety?

    Horns is friggin’ awesome, and I can hardly wait to start in on Heart Shaped Box, which is sitting on deck at the moment.

    Keep on writin’ ‘em and I’ll keep on readin’ ‘em.

  20. Vicki says:

    What the heck does author-platform driven environment mean? I’m about as far from the publishing world as a mouse is from an elephant in size.

    Unfortunately, I won’t be reading any more Locke & Key volumes at this time.
    I got too upset at the ending of the last one, mostly b/c it felt like it came out of thin air (and no, I DON’T know why it appeared to be that way.) I just know that, if I can’t handle the death scenes in a book or televised program, then I have to make the decision to leave the book or turn off the television.
    I’ve been called “weak” for doing so in the past, but NOT ONE OF the name-callers has been forced to watch while someone extremely important to them burned and died. Consequently, they can get bent IMO. I have to do what works for ME, not THEM.

    Incidentally Michael Imperioli, one of the guys who played a Sopranos’ character, told the press he dislikes on-screen violence and they did the write-up trying to make it seem like he was lying.
    I know he wasn’t though, b/c he told me the same thing when I met him. I wasn’t sure what to think until I saw the dumbass article, by a way more-than-likely JEALOUS reporter, that said “Mr. Imperioli CLAIMS he dislikes on-screen violence.”
    Some reporters are major jerks, that’s all there is to it. If the guy said he doesn’t like on-screen violence, I don’t see why people can’t take it at face value.
    He said it in private too, so now I believe him wholeheartedly.
    That probably has little to do with the topic, except I think it DOES matter at least a little.
    In literature and on television, I think people should think more about how it’s going to affect people, even though how much they can profit will almost certainly outweigh my suggestion.

  21. Greg says:

    PLEASE, please, please, will somebody take this story and make a screenplay. I’m just about finished reading “Horns” for the second time this year, and would love watching it as a movie. I can picture it in my head, and think it would be as successful as “Stand by Me”.

  22. Tinker says:

    Is Neil Jordan still attached to adapting HSB? If not, are there any updates on the project’s status that you can share with us?

  23. Selena Kitt says:

    Yay I’ve got some new reading material for my Kindle! Thanks for the suggestion of One Bloody Thing After Another! One-Click!

  24. janmaus says:

    While I would be the last one to diss Shirley Jackson who has written a couple of things in the top 25 horror stories ever, there comes a time to focus on stuff written in this century, vs the last. Still, I think Heart-Shaped Box can hold its own with literary quality horror from any century. That said, I’m also hoping for something new…

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