(This is also posted on my mommy-blog on the Houston Chronicle but I’m posting it here too because I’m too busy watching The Omen to write a real post here today.)
I know. It’s been too long between posts but I’ve been busy and I’m about to bribe you with small tokens so you’ll forgive me. One of those tokens is a picture of me in the bathtub. You’re welcome. But all the good parts covered in blood. Sorry.
A few days ago Neil Gaiman wrote a post entreating people to begin a tradition of giving away a scary book at Halloween. I love this. I’ve built an entire dollhouse filled with hundreds of tiny hat-tips to the horror books and films that made life in small town Texas seem (just for a moment) a little more dark and exciting and open to the chaotic terror of not knowing what might be lurking in abandoned houses and echoing wells.
When I was little I feasted on Ruth Chew books. Sadly, they’re all out of print now but I’ve rummaged through back rooms of used book shops and library sales to piece together a small collection to pass on to Hailey. I couldn’t imagine my childhood without these small assurances from Ruth Chew that there was something magical out there if I looked hard enough, and I wanted Hailey to know that thrill as well.
This year Hailey was finally old enough to appreciate Ruth Chew. Ironically, at the same time she was being discovered by a new reader, Ruth Chew died, her books out of print and her work mostly forgotten.
But I haven’t forgotten.
I cut my teeth on Ruth Chew and by third grade I was reading Stephen King. In fourth I was devouring Poe and by seventh grade I discovered Lovecraft and Bradbury. Ruth Chew started me on a journey that gave me the gift of wonder. It was a journey that took me to dark and terrible places and which served me well, as it taught me the best way to appreciate the light. It’s a gift I can’t repay, but one which I can pass on. I can pass on great books to others and listen with pride as Hailey reads her own battered copy of Coraline to herself under her covers.
Last month I stayed at the Stanley Hotel and was photographed in Stephen King’s room, in the same bathtub that inspired the horrific corpse-in-the-bathtub scene from The Shining. For a brief second I was part of the story and while most people would find this whole thing macabre and vaguely wrong I loved it. It is, without exception, one of my favorite pictures of all time.
In honor of All-Hallows Read I’m giving away a few horror books here. All you have to do is tell me what your favorite scary book or story is in the comments section. I’ll randomly select a few people to win book gift certificates that you can use to buy your own scary book or that you can pass on to a friend.
Happy Halloween, y’all. Go read.