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Old 09-29-2012, 01:58 PM   #1
WT Sharpe
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October 2012 MobileRead Book Club Vote

October 2012 Mobile Read Book Club Vote

Help us choose a book as the October 2012 eBook for the Mobile Read Book Club. The poll will be open for 4 days, followed by a 3 day run-off poll between the two* most popular choices. The vote this month will be hidden.


We will start the discussion thread for this book on October 20th. Select from the following Official Choices with three nominations each:

Carmilla by J. Sheridan LeFanu
The Patricia Clark Memorial Library: ePub / Mobi
Spoiler:
Here's a description by an Amazon user:

"I live in your warm life and you shall die -die, sweetly die- into mine."

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's "Carmilla" is among the greatest and most influential horror stories ever told. It's a wonder that it hasn't received the mainstream acclaim and notoriety of Bram Stoker's masterpiece Dracula. The tale of a female vampire insinuating herself into a family's midst as a welcomed guest while preying upon their daughter is as timeless as any. I know what you're thinking: she's just a female version of Dracula, right? Well here's the thing about that: Carmilla was published in 1872 and predated her much more famous brother in undeath by a good 25 years. Stoker himself acknowledged the story as a primary influence on his work. So it is Dracula who owes his very existence to the queen vamp. And to this day, the novella remains a compelling read with it's deliberate pacing, first-person narration (also not unlike "Dracula"), and creative subtle horror.

One of my favorite aspects of vampire mythology is the predator who walks among us and feeds upon us in our sleep. Carmilla is the best example of this. The character devises a strategy which allows her to enter the homes of well-to-do families as an invited and welcomed guest due to circumstances which appear to be beyond her control. Using her wit beauty and charm, she becomes as a member of the family and is able to cover her tracks by playing the weak and helpless frightened little girl with odd habits which are easy to overlook. Then she slowly drains her victim night after night, savoring each feeding as one would a sexual affair while supplementing her appetite with the blood of village girls before resting in her grave and returning to her locked room before anyone is aware she has gone. Carmilla's apparent passion for her preferred victims is More then a little lesbian in it's insinuations. She intentionally seeks out beautiful young girls like her and throws herself into a deep and intimate friendship with an intensity that often alarms the object of her affection. While there is no blatant sexual inference made by the author, the innuendo is unmistakable. After all, these sorts of vampire stories are often meant to be somewhat sensual in nature and for their time were about as close as one could get to sexualized material. It's hard to picture somebody wrapping their mouth around your neck without feeling a little twinge of something at the thought. And with two women (or men) involved it's downright scandalous.

While female vampires are typically portrayed as oversexed and domineering, Carmilla stands out as a character whose greatest strength is as an active and vivacious conversationalist and a very girlish intelligent but creature capable of thinking on her feet and beating her prey to the punch. In one rather impressive passage Carmilla is greeted by a girl whom she visited and attempted to prey upon as a young child, she very quickly realizes the danger of recognition and turns the subject around by claiming happily that she once had a dream as a young girl where the same situation unfolded. This places the pressure on the victim, makes the predator seem as innocent as the prey, and gives a rather romantic and adventurous token of a shared dream between the girls to make it seem as though they were destined to meet. This is just brilliant writing. A vampire whose key attribute is her intelligence is a rare thing these days. And while I'm on the subject, the only thing more terrifying then being visited in the night as a child by a girl who vanished when the room was breached would be encountering that exact same girl -completely unchanged- as an adult. Creepy. Another fascinating little twist is that vampires in this story are only able to give their true name or else an anagrammatical pseudonym. Thus Carmilla is known by different names to different people, but all are derived from the same letters. Mircalla was her birth (and death) name, and Marcilla another alias. This is another aspect of the story that has influenced vampire lore to this day. You may be surprised at how many vampire names you read and hear are anagrams once you are aware of this.

To my knowledge, Le Fanu's masterpiece has yet to be fully captured in another medium, but the character has become a standard of vampire mythology regardless. My favorite of the many adaptations is Hammer Studio's The Vampire Lovers, where the story was highly sexualized and the character was transformed into a more intimidating and aggressive figure. It's a loose adaptation, but it's also the best. Two inferior sequels followed. An even looser adaption was Spanish grindhouse classic The Blood Spattered Bride which transformed the story into an exploitative battle of the sexes with mixed results. Carmilla has also been featured in comic books video games and anime, referenced on television, and has inspired unofficial literary and film sequels to her story. Not too shabby for a character only classic horror buffs recognize. But as with all great literary works, nothing ever fully captures the mood and grace of the story in it's purest form.

"Carmilla" is a rare tale of a vampire capable of making anybody love her, but a slave to her own obsessions. Such pleasure she takes from befriending her victims and becoming part of their lives
that she doesn't even seem to care that such habits repeated over multiple households in the same vicinity will inevitably lead to her demise. Perhaps she is just bored and starved for attention and human interaction. Her true motives for her unusual habits are never revealed; simply left to the reader to decide for themself. And while it may have been overshadowed by higher-profile contributions to the genre that were themselves inspired by this work, "Carmilla" stands tall as one of the giants among the many works of vampire fiction well over 130 years after it was published. It is available both as a stand-alone novella and as part of many short story collections including The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories, which no vampire fanatic can live without. However you get it, if you claim to be a follower of the undead you must possess this story.


Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin
Inkmesh
Spoiler:
Description: “A novel that will delight fans of both Stephen King and Mark Twain . . . darkly romantic, chilling and rousing by turns . . . a thundering success.”—Roger Zelazny “An adventure into the heart of darkness that transcends even the most inventive vampire novels . . . Fevre Dream runs red with original, high adventure.”— Los Angeles Herald Examiner “Stands alongside Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire as a revolutionary work.”— Rocky Mountain News “Engaging and meaningful.”— The Washington Post Book World From the Paperback edition. When struggling riverboat captain Abner Marsh receives an offer of partnership from a wealthy aristocrat, he suspects something’s amiss. But when he meets the hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York, he is certain. For York doesn’t care that the icy winter of 1857 has wiped out all but one of Marsh’s dilapidated fleet. Nor does he care that he won’t earn back his investment in a decade. York has his own reasons for wanting to traverse the powerful Mississippi. And they are to be none of Marsh’s concern—no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious his actions may prove. Marsh meant to turn down York’s offer. It was too full of secrets that spelled danger. But the promise of both gold and a grand new boat that could make history crushed his resolve—coupled with the terrible force of York’s mesmerizing gaze. Not until the maiden voyage of his new sidewheeler Fevre Dream would Marsh realize he had joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare...and mankind’s most impossible dream. Here is the spellbinding tale of a vampire’s quest to unite his race with humanity, of a garrulous riverman’s dream of immortality, and of the undying legends of the steamboat era and a majestic, ancient river. From the Trade Paperback edition. (from Amazon.com)


The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
The Patricia Clark Memorial Library: BBeB/LRF Books / IMP Books / Mobi / ePub (ePub is in Complete Works version)
Spoiler:
issybird's description: One of literature's most gripping ghost stories depicts the sinister transformation of 2 innocent children into flagrant liars and hypocrites. Elegantly told tale of unspoken horror and psychological terror creates what few stories in literature have been able to do —a complete feeling of dread and uncertainty.

Patricia's description: First published in 1898. A governess has sole responsibility for two children. Strange things happen and an atmosphere of menace builds up. Either this is a ghost story or the governess is mad. Decide for yourself.


The Complete Complete Ghost Stories by M.R. James
The Patricia Clark Memorial Library: Mobi
Spoiler:
fantasyfan's description: He was a great--perhaps the greatest--master of the macabre. His stories have been described in a review from The New Yorker as follows:

"If M. R. James is remembered now, and honored beyond the bounds of his university, it is not because of his scholarly deeds but precisely because of his talent for applying the very highest calibre of jolt. All of his stories have now been freshly gathered in “Collected Ghost Stories” (Oxford), edited by Darryl Jones. We also get a compendium of James’s reflections on the art that he practiced. Our response to ghost stories, Virginia Woolf argued, “is a refined and spiritualized essence of fear.” Most of James’s heroes are like James. Dons, obsessive bibliophiles, and bachelors. James summons unholy terror from the very texts and objects that concern him. Not for him the mad gothic landscape. The stories were written, so to speak, in front of a mirror, by a man hoping to drown the tiny, shivering thrills of the chronic bookworm with the low snarl of a more universal emotion, that of dread. Despite the titles of James’s books, only rarely does he deal in the mere emanation. What he fears most is surface contact. What truly provoked him, and what filtered into his stories, was not so much misogyny as a more basic, mortal panic at gazing into the face of the unknown. . . . A.E. Housman used poetry to touch on loves that he had lost or never dared to enact; M. R. James used ghost stories to explore fears of which he could not otherwise speak."

I would agree with that assessment but would add that I am reminded very much of the inner psychological horror of Sheridan Le Fanu--but without the Gothic context of the Irish writer.


Carrie by Stephen King
Inkmesh
Spoiler:
Description: Why read Carrie ? Stephen King himself has said that he finds his early work "raw," and Brian De Palma's movie was so successful that we feel as if we have read the novel even if we never have. The simple answer is that this is a very scary story, one that works as well, if not better, on the page as it does on the screen. Carrie White, bullied by cruel teenagers at school and her religious nut of a mother at home, gradually discovers that she has telekinetic powers, powers that will eventually be turned on her tormentors. King has a way of getting under the skin of his readers by creating an utterly believable world that throbs with menace before finally exploding. He builds the tension in this early work by piecing together extracts from newspaper reports, journals, and scientific papers, as well as more traditional first- and third-person narrative in order to reveal what lurks beneath the surface of Chamberlain, Maine. News item from the Westover (ME) weekly Enterprise, August 19, 1966: "Rain of Stones Reported: It was reliably reported by several persons that a rain of stones fell from a clear blue sky on Carlin Street in the town of Chamberlain on August 17th." Although the supernatural pyrotechnics are handled with King's customary aplomb, it is the carefully drawn portrait of the little horrors of small towns, high schools, and adolescent sexuality that give this novel its power and assures its place in the King canon. --Simon Leake "Eerie and haunting sheer terror!" -- Publishers Weekly "Gory and horrifying ...you can't put it down." -- Chicago Tribune "Guaranteed to chill you." -- The New York Times (from Amazon.com)


Grave Robbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary) by Jeff Strand
Inkmesh
Spoiler:
Description: If you're desperate for money, searching for a little adventure, and aren't the most responsible person in the world, you can end up doing some outrageous things. Which is how Andrew Mayhem, an extremely married father of two, ends up accepting $20,000 to find a key...a key buried with a body in a shallow grave. When the body turns out to not only be still alive, but armed and dangerous, he realizes that he should have held out for more money. His simple evening of morally questionable manual labor becomes a bizarre game of wits and courage played with an unseen killer with a twisted sense of humor. It's a game that will bring him to a group of filmmakers known as Ghoulish Delights, who are hiding a secret that will test every last bit of Andrew's nerve to discover. And it's impossible to find a babysitter. (from CyberRead)


The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
Kobo / Amazon UK (This title is not available for customers from: United States)
Spoiler:
Book Description:
Publication Date: September 4, 2008
Frank, no ordinary sixteen-year-old, lives with his father outsIde a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank's mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric's escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother's inevitable return - an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly.Iain Banks' celebrated first novel is a work of extraordinary originality, imagination and horrifying compulsion: horrifying, because it enters a mind whose realities are not our own, whose values of life and death are alien to our society; and compulsive, because the humour and compassion of that mind reach out to us all. (from Amazon)


The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
Inkmesh
Spoiler:
Description: “A brilliantly original thriller, a love story, a witty treatise on male (and female) urges, even an existential musing on what it is to be human. Get one for yourself and one for the Twilight fan in your life.” —James Medd, The Word (UK) “Space should be cleared for this violent, sexy thriller . . . The answer to Twilight that adults have been waiting for.” —Courtney Jones, Booklist “Yes, there are vampires here . . . But don’t give this book to Twilight groupies; the frank tone, dark wit, and elegant, sophisticated language will likely do them in. . . . smart, original, and completely absorbing. Highly recommended.” —*Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (Starred review) “The best books are blurb defying; they're far too potent for a flimsy net of adjectives ever to capture them. I could say that The Last Werewolf is smart, thrilling, funny, moving, beautifully written, and a joy to read, and this would all be true. But it would also be a woeful understatement of what Glen Duncan has accomplished with his extraordinary novel. The only useful thing I can offer you is a simple admonishment. Stop reading my words, and start reading his. Trust me: you’ll be happy you did.” —Scott Smith, author of The Ruins “A magnificent novel. A brutal, indignant, lunatic howl. A sexy, blood-spattered page-turner, beautifully crafted and full of genuine suspense, that tears the thorax out of the horror genre to create something that stands rapturous and majestic and entirely on its own.” —Nick Cave From the Hardcover edition. Then she opened her mouth to scream—and recognised me. It was what I’d been waiting for. She froze. She looked into my eyes. She said, “It’s you.” Meet Jake. A bit on the elderly side (he turns 201 in March), but you’d never suspect it. Nonstop sex and exercise will do that for you—and a diet with lots of animal protein. Jake is a werewolf, and after the unfortunate and violent death of his one contemporary, he is now the last of his species. Although he is physically healthy, Jake is deeply distraught and lonely. Jake’s depression has carried him to the point where he is actually contemplating suicide—even if it means terminating a legend thousands of years old. It would seem to be easy enough for him to end everything. But for very different reasons there are two dangerous groups pursuing him who will stop at nothing to keep him alive. Here is a powerful, definitive new version of the werewolf legend—mesmerising and incredibly sexy. In Jake, Glen Duncan has given us a werewolf for the twenty-first century—a man whose deeds can only be described as monstrous but who is in some magical way deeply human. One of the most original, audacious, and terrifying novels in years. From the Hardcover edition. (from [/B]Amazon.com[B])


We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Inkmesh search
Spoiler:
From Amazon:

Visitors call seldom at Blackwood House. Taking tea at the scene of a multiple poisoning, with a suspected murderess as one's host, is a perilous business. For a start, the talk tends to turn to arsenic. "It happened in this very room, and we still have our dinner in here every night," explains Uncle Julian, continually rehearsing the details of the fatal family meal. "My sister made these this morning," says Merricat, politely proffering a plate of rum cakes, fresh from the poisoner's kitchen. We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson's 1962 novel, is full of a macabre and sinister humor, and Merricat herself, its amiable narrator, is one of the great unhinged heroines of literature. "What place would be better for us than this?" she asks, of the neat, secluded realm she shares with her uncle and with her beloved older sister, Constance. "Who wants us, outside? The world is full of terrible people." Merricat has developed an idiosyncratic system of rules and protective magic, burying talismanic objects beneath the family estate, nailing them to trees, ritually revisiting them. She has made "a powerful taut web which never loosened, but held fast to guard us" against the distrust and hostility of neighboring villagers.

Or so she believes. But at last the magic fails. A stranger arrives--cousin Charles, with his eye on the Blackwood fortune. He disturbs the sisters' careful habits, installing himself at the head of the family table, unearthing Merricat's treasures, talking privately to Constance about "normal lives" and "boy friends." Unable to drive him away by either polite or occult means, Merricat adopts more desperate methods. The result is crisis and tragedy, the revelation of a terrible secret, the convergence of the villagers upon the house, and a spectacular unleashing of collective spite.

The sisters are propelled further into seclusion and solipsism, abandoning "time and the orderly pattern of our old days" in favor of an ever-narrowing circuit of ritual and shadow. They have themselves become talismans, to be alternately demonized and propitiated, darkly, with gifts. Jackson's novel emerges less as a study in eccentricity and more--like some of her other fictions--as a powerful critique of the anxious, ruthless processes involved in the maintenance of normality itself. "Poor strangers," says Merricat contentedly at last, studying trespassers from the darkness behind the barricaded Blackwood windows. "They have so much to be afraid of." --Sarah Waters


Summer of Night by Dan Simmons
Inkmesh
Spoiler:
Description: This masterfully crafted horror classic, featuring a brand-new introduction by Dan Simmons, will bring you to the edge of your seat, hair standing on end and blood freezing in your veins It's the summer of 1960 and in the small town of Elm Haven, Illinois, five twelve-year-old boys are forging the powerful bonds that a lifetime of change will not break. From sunset bike rides to shaded hiding places in the woods, the boys' days are marked by all of the secrets and silences of an idyllic middle-childhood. But amid the sundrenched cornfields their loyalty will be pitilessly tested. When a long-silent bell peals in the middle of the night, the townsfolk know it marks the end of their carefree days. From the depths of the Old Central School, a hulking fortress tinged with the mahogany scent of coffins, an invisible evil is rising. Strange and horrifying events begin to overtake everyday life, spreading terror through the once idyllic town. Determined to exorcize this ancient plague, Mike, Duane, Dale, Harlen, and Kevin must wage a war of blood against an arcane abomination who owns the night... (from Kobo)




The fine print:
*Should the first vote produce a 3-way or more tie for first place, or 2-way or more tie for second, the second poll will have more than two choices.
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