Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday Salon

The Sunday

Do you have a room in your house that's so filthy stinking disgusting dirty that you just give up and keep the door closed?

That would be my brothers' room.

They're at college for most of the year (I graduated in '08) so it's really only during the summer that their room gets really bad. No one ever has any reason to go in there except them, so my mother's strategy for awhile was to just let them wallow in their own muck. If they wanted to be pigs, that was their problem. But just last week, for some reason, Mom finally got royally fed up and made them clean their damn room. It's still not neat per se, but it's a hella big improvement. While going through his junk, my one brother (major undecided) unearthed some of the books he'd had to read for his course on Gothic Literature. They are:

Plus, this really interesting-looking history book:

Why didn't I ever take a class like this??? Every last one of these books sounds so fascinating I don't know which to read second! (First is definitely going to be Dracula.) I love Gothic literature, in case you haven't figured that out by now. I think that's one of the reasons Vigil disappointed me so much. It attempts to be Gothic, but is just too sappy to pull it off. It was like Thomas Kinkade does Jane Eyre.

Right now, I am in the middle of Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake, which is proving to be an excellent, if depressing, read. It has some similarities to Thomas Glavinic's Night Work (as I noted in my Night Work review) in that they both belong to what I call the "Last Man" sub-genre of post-apocalyptic fiction. Basically, it's those books that center at least in part on a solitary individual who survives the collapse of civilization and the death of humanity (or most of it, if the protagonist eventually finds other survivors). And speaking of Night Work, I found this great real-life story that perfectly illustrates the mood Glavinic sought to evoke:

Highrise has 32 stories, but just 1 tenant.

You might've heard this one - it has to do with the implosion of the housing market and the mortgage mess. According to the article (dated August 2, 2009):
A large, circular fountain in front of the building is dry. The automatic glass doors that lead to the front lobby are locked. On the front desk is a guest sign-in sheet. The last entry: Feb. 13, 2009. . .

On subsequent visits, however, the building grew more deserted.

The lights on the pool and palm trees were off. Their garbage chute was sealed, a trash bin placed in front of their unit instead.

Despite the empty units, they faithfully parked in their assigned spot on the second story of the parking garage. Then those lights went off, too.

Then there were security concerns. One night, someone pounded on their door at 11 p.m. They called the front desk at the next door building, which contacted police. A search turned up no one, though a pool entrance was open.

Another morning they awoke to find lounge chairs in the pool.

I mean, it's just your average Associated Press article, but just the bare facts make it so freaking creepy! It's EXACTLY like something out of Night Work or I Am Legend. It's a true story, yet it has precisely that same atmosphere of dead silence with something lurking right behind it. (The first 1/4 of Dean Koontz's Phantoms is like that too.)

So enough horror and death for now. What happy books are you reading?


claire said...

I like gothic, too, but not the very morbid kind. I want to read Frankenstein.

Incidentally, I'm reading a very happy book right now, so funny (Amigoland by Oscar Casares).

Also, you won a copy of Michelle de Kretser's The Lost Dog! Please email me your mailing address at dreamsongpoem at gmail dot com. :D

JoAnn said...

I've never read any of those...guess I haven't had much experience with gothic lit! Right now I'm reading Two Guys Read Jane Austen. It's for the Everything Austen challenge is quite funny at times.

Emily said...

I read The Monk last December, and it's freaking HILARIOUS. If you're looking for genuinely creepy I'd recommend looking elsewhere, but if you want a delightfully silly novel with which to play a spot-the-Gothic-stereotype drinking game, it's a goldmine.

Richard said...

I read Dracula years and years ago (fond memories), and I've got three of your brother's other books in my TBR pile. Hellfire Nation? Never heard of it. I think that Oxford edition of The Monk is so damn cool looking, though, that I almost bought a copy of it to replace the unread one with the ugly cover that I've been putting off reading for years. You and Emily are really putting quite the shopping pressure on me: must...own...that Oxford Monk!

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