Just this morning I finished The Science of Women in Horror: The Special Effects, Stunts, and True Stories Behind Your Favorite Fright Films by Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence. This was an impulse check-out over the weekend, mainly because I found the title perplexing. Something like “Science of Star Trek” or “Science of Cryptids,” I get. But the Science (?) of Women in Horror? Anyway, it was available through hoopla, so I checked it out.
This book is an inch deep and five miles wide. It strives for organization, but meanders through horror tropes that include women and occasionally tethers those tropes to some science aspect. Okay, usually the science is sociology and occasionally it’s just true crime. There are also odd little sidebars with science or movie facts. The interviews are okay; I wish they would have been longer.
Deal Me In
8♦️: “Egotism, or, The Bosom Serpent” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Dale at Mirror with Clouds inspired me to add a few Hawthorne stories to my Deal Me In list this year. Not that I needed much prompting. I haven’t read much Hawthorne, but I’ve found that I generally enjoy him. He’s an author I’m glad I came to later in life, because I think he might have bored me if I had read him in high school. (Somehow, I dodged The Scarlet Letter throughout my education…)
I’m a pretty literal reader, which means, if you’re going to spring allegory on me, you better have a good surface story too. Roderick Elliston has a serpent in his bosom, the vestige of some wrong-doing. It’s a physical thing for Elliston and, furthermore, he can see the serpents carried in the hearts of others. He goes through a period of telling people about their own serpents. This does not make him popular. (And reminds me a little of Cather’s “Lou, the Prophet.”) Serpents in the bosom? This is allegory. We all have evil in us and we do not like having someone around to call us out on it. But Hawthorne makes this concept potentially literal, a horror concept. Doesn’t Elliston look a litte green, like the underbelly of a snake? Can’t you see the snake writhing in his chest? Doesn’t Elliston hiss? Hawthorne reels me in before he preaches to me.
Reading Challenge Check-In
Goal: 10 Books by 12/14/21
✅ Read The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson.
Goal: Abstain from acquiring books; read at least 21 books from my shelves.
Progress: 1 book acquired (sort of); 2/21+
❌ I started a couple books from my own shelves, but didn’t finish any in February. I also pre-ordered David Copperfield’s History of Magic. I couldn’t resist… I am weak when it comes to peeking into Copperfield’s magic collection.
Goal: Read 6 books from 6 categories.
✅ After The House on the Borderland, I read Hodgson’s The Ghost Pirates, a book featuring a body of water.
Goal: Read Herbert’s 6 Dune books by October.
Progress: Finished Dune, working on Dune Messiah (still), and worked out a daily reading schedule for all the books. Kinda-sorta on schedule.
Goal: Read at least 30% nonfiction.
Progress: Currently at 33% because I didn’t read much last month.
Goal: Deal Me In each week and Cather Reading Project each month.
Progress: On track.
I should finish Dune Messiah this week. Maybe The Coney Island Fakir too. And some short stories.