31 Lists of Horror: Chadwick Ginther’s Favourite Halloween Read

Howev­er you want to say and/or spell it—Halloween, Hallowe’en, All Hal­lows Eve, Net­flix and Chill—October 31 is indis­putably the choco­late industry’s spook­i­est time of year. With that in mind, I present 31 Lists of Hor­ror, of my own and of my lit­er­ary brethren both near and far.

These are per­son­al, high­ly sug­ges­tive lists of rec­om­men­da­tions, avoid­ances, and/or rem­i­nis­cences. I make no guar­an­tees, save one: if you don’t read the whole of each list, you’ll get a nasty splin­ter in the near future. I don’t make the rules.

Today’s special guest lister: Chadwick Ginther

Chad­wick Ginther is the Prix Auro­ra Award nom­i­nat­ed author of the Thun­der Road Tril­o­gy (Raven­stone Books) and the forth­com­ing Grave­yard Mind (ChiZine Pub­li­ca­tions). His short fic­tion has appeared recent­ly in Tesser­acts, Those Who Make Us and Grim­dark Mag­a­zine. With Saman­tha Beiko he is the co-cre­ator and writer of the com­ic series, Myth­fits. He lives and writes in Win­nipeg, Cana­da, spin­ning sagas set in the wild spaces of Canada’s west­ern wilder­ness where sure­ly mon­sters must exist.

October 6, 2017

Ten Reasons to Read A Night in the Lonesome October

A Night on the Lone­some Octo­ber, Roger Zelazny

1. There are thirty-one chapters, and the events of those chapters happen on the corresponding October day.

It has become some­thing of a tra­di­tion among (Roger) Zelazny buffs to read A Night in the Lone­some Octo­ber one chap­ter per day for the entire month of Octo­ber. A tra­di­tion I’ve kept up for the last five years ever since I tracked down a copy.

2. It’s no longer out of print.

It took me for­ev­er to find a good qual­i­ty used copy, all you need to do is place an order with your friend­ly neigh­bour­hood book­store.

3. Gahan Wilson art.

There are thir­ty-three full page illus­tra­tions by Gahan Wil­son, one per chap­ter (includ­ing the short pre­lude), and one on the inside back cov­er. Wilson’s grotesque car­toon­ing per­fect­ly suits the tone of Zelazny’s writ­ing in the nov­el.

4. It threads the line between funny and scary.

Zelazny has a fan­tas­tic dry wit, and that wit in A Night in the Lone­some Octo­ber per­fect­ly com­ple­ments the gris­ly plot points of grave rob­bery, rit­u­al sac­ri­fice and mur­der.

5. Every classic monster:

Do you like vam­pires? Were­wolves? A Night in the Lone­some Octo­ber has got them (and much, much more)!

The Count (Gahan Wil­son illus­tra­tion, A Night in the Lone­some Octo­ber)

6. Roger Zelazny:

Zelazny is among my favourite authors, and if my back is put to the wall, and I’m not allowed mul­ti­ple names when put to the ques­tion, prob­a­bly the one I’ll name as my favourite. I’ll read any­thing by Zelazny any day of the week, but A Night in the Lone­some Octo­ber was Zelazny’s final nov­el writ­ten with­out a col­lab­o­ra­tor and its one of my favourite works peri­od.

7. Narrated by Jack the Ripper’s dog:

Snuff is devot­ed to his mas­ter, who may be more than the sto­ries have revealed. Clever old Snuff is smart but still feels like a dog. Each of the prin­ci­pals involve is served by an ani­mal famil­iar who helps them in the Great Game: Open­ers and Closers spar­ring to speed up or delay the world’s end when the stars are right.

8. Play the name game.

Who’s who? Zelazny packs a ton of ref­er­ences and nods into the text of A Night in the Lone­some Octo­ber, some eas­i­er to dis­cern than oth­ers. The Count, The Great Detec­tive and his Com­pan­ion, The Good Doc­tor. Read­ers are still argu­ing about who is who.

9. Literary references:

Zelazny’s ref­er­ences go beyond sim­ply pack­ing the book with mon­sters. There are lit­er­ary fig­ures, his­tor­i­cal fig­ures, and more. The title comes from an Edgar Allan Poe poem. Lovecraft’s Elder Gods and Dream­lands exist side by side with ref­er­ences to Vir­ginia Woolf, Ambrose Bierce, and Robert Cham­bers (among oth­ers that cer­tain­ly escape me). Maybe those will jump out at me this Octo­ber.

10. I discover something new every time I reread it.

Maybe it’s a func­tion of read­ing the book a chap­ter a night rather than bing­ing on it over a day or two, but every time a reread A Night in the Lone­some Octo­ber, some new line or plot point jumps out at me.

This Octo­ber, if the stars are right, give it a chance.

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