So Many Damn Books Talks All Things Horror
This Week on the So Many Damn Books Podcast
Christopher and Drew hang out and chat about books, which is to be expected. Having just celebrated Halloween, they get into what they did to celebrate the holiday, scary reads, and Drew has an October Country update as well as a life update about new employment at a *bookstore*!
Also, Christopher finds a long lost book title.
What’d you buy?
Christopher: Be Here to Love Me at the End of the World by Sasha Fletcher // The Face: A Time Code by Ruth Ozeki // The Book of the Most Precious Substance by Sara Gran // The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe
Drew: The Ninth Metal by Benjamin Percy
Christopher: Mr. Difficult (the Franzen podcast)
From the episode:
Christopher: I’m curious because it’s October Country and you’ve finished all of your reads. Is that scarier for you? Away from people, in your quiet house on your quiet street? Or is it less scary because there’s just fewer people around that might be the horrible character in the novel?
Drew: That’s kinda tough. I feel like there’s a third factor which is my horror tolerance on the page. It has gone up.
Christopher: Do you watch scary movies?
Drew: I like a handful of scary movies. I will get scared during a movie and sometimes I will pause a scary movie, in order to walk around, have a nice time—get my blood pressure down a little bit. I like an art-house scary movie and A24 scary movie.
Christopher: Are you not a Tim Burton Sleepy Hollow, Trick-Or-Treat? I’m not a big slasher, jumpy scare. I’ll read the Wikipedia entry sometimes. We talked about this a little bit with Mona Awad—that Sarah Gran book, Come Closer, definitely the scariest thing I’ve read this year. I re-read it just for the hell of it, and still scared the daylights out of me. And every once in a while that really sends a chill up my spine. But so often the scarier stuff to me really lives in a more cosmic realm. Emily Hughes said to me once that she thinks of horror as exposure therapy. So you can be scared of something, but in a safe place. Sort of in a “just in case” fashion.
Drew: Or like a rollercoaster. It’s a safe thrill.
Christopher: And I feel like at this point, even sort of something like possession or serial-killing slasher, there is particularly in media there’s often like a sense of right and wrong, and morality that comes into play. And it’s kind of Judeo-Christian. But the thing about cosmic horror, the post-Lovecraft stuff, the non-racist stuff has so much of “nope, some fucking shit can happen” for no reason because of some unimaginable forces that live outside of our realm or something. That feels scary to me, in the way that it makes a lot of sense to me that I have glommed onto it for the past say five years. I feel like there’s a lot of incomprehensible behavior happening that’s very scary to me because I can’t wrap my mind around it.
Drew: It’s interesting to me to think of cosmic horror and where it comes from. I don’t quite know, where this shooting past the bounds of the universe—and you’re actually describing that you’re shooting past the bounds of the universe—I recognize it specifically in It because he does it two times. And I think one time it’s very effective and the second time it’s less effective. He [Stephen King] does it in 11/22/63 as well. It’s like the beyond-time fear space. It is the scariest thing that he could do, but also your mileage may vary with how scary that actually is.
Christopher: You have to twist your brain in a very particular way. I also think, as I mentioned my in-laws were here, and my mother-in-law does not understand the appeal of horror. She’s a writer and I sent her this horror novella I’ve been working on and she was like “Great writing, but I had to read it as literary fiction and approach it like literary fiction because I just could not make sense of why people were behaving the ways in which they were behaving.” I think there are a lot of people who go even to that place. Like, why would you want to be scared? Letting in the scare is one thing, and getting to a point where the scare you’re letting in is “The Unknowable Chaos of the Universe.”