Edgar Allan Poe declared “nevermore” in “The Raven” while Stephen King’s “Carrie,” “Salem’s Lot,” “The Shining,” and “Pet Semetary” scared us to death. Anne Rice introduced the world to Lestat and let us venture in on an interview with a fictional vampire. Ray Bradbury wrote about the burning of books. George Orwell discussed life on an animal farm and what it would be like living in the future in the year 1984. Hunter S. Thompson exposed fear and loathing in Las Vegas.
Poe scripted the best stories dealing with one’s descent into madness. Staring into the abyss, Poe was able to teeter on the brink, somewhat. “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Black Cat,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Fall of the House of Usher” — not to mention his peculiar poems including “Annabel Lee.”
Mr. King delivered book nerds body bags of demented but character-driven short stories and extravagant novels of large page count proportions. He truly is one of the masters of horror. King has also had quite a successful track record with television mini-series adaptations and movies. Two most memorable adaptations would be “Maximum Overdrive” starring Emilio Estevez (Charlie Sheen’s brother) and killer trucks with an unforgettable AC/DC soundtrack and “It.”
Thanks to the queen of goth Anne Rice, New Orleans became the North American setting for vampiric bliss as above-ground cemeteries, plantations and the swamp became a vampire’s playground, fictionally speaking, of course. Not only did Rice romanticize being undead/immortal, she redefined the genre. A Rice bloodsucker is one cool, hip cat — ready to pounce, but obsessed with telling its tale.
So many great books and authors of past literary masterpieces but so little time. The timeless classics are in jeopardy of being extinct and/or not read by today’s generation or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe, just maybe, the e-readers of today can appreciate the writers of yesterday that paved the way for the current authorship in the ranks of the bestsellers lists. Of course there are many a genre of a good read but for keeping it simple sake I will concentrate on the horror/mystery/sci-fi and somewhat potpourri/mish-mash genres.
Before Brad Pitt put up his dukes in the movie version of “Fight Club,” Chuck Palahniuk created the nihilistic/anti-consumerism/single-serving characters beloved by all “the first rule of fight club” enthusiasts. Sure, Christian “Batman” Bale portrayed the epitome of an “American Psycho” in the film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ gritty splatter-punk cult fave. But the book, is still better.
One better not forget Stoker, Shelly, Pierce and Dante — when discussing creepy mysterious tales of fate. “Dracula,” “Frankenstein,” “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” “Inferno,” or the Sherlock Holmes franchise — pretty big names in the world of the printed word. What about Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” or Dostoevsky’s tome “Crime and Punishment?” The aforementioned titles are just as influential as Gaston Leroux’s “Phantom of the Opera” or an Agatha Christie suspense spun yarn. Macabre-ly speaking, H.P. Lovecraft, sure knew how to put pen to paper, am I right?
Sci-fi-wise, many notable authors, I shall name drop. The author of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” he’s pretty good, that Arthur C. Clarke guy. As well as Douglas Adams, the writer responsible for “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and Issac Asimov. And lastly but not least, H.G. Wells served as an inspiration to the introduction of irate and hostile aliens from another world to a paranoid nation in a radio dramatized hoax perpetrated by the citizen Kane-y Orson Welles. Wells, the fictional book writer not the film auteur and silver screen star, also wrote “The Invisible Man” and “The Time Machine,” both of which have been made into many movies over the years.
A good writer can transport you to a new world, a far away place or another dimension — a good book is the gateway. Today, we read books on screens, which is eerily just like off the pages from books written many, many years ago. If that’s the case, in the not-so-distant future, will we be living like today’s books suggest? Will our youth fight to the death in a televised game like in “The Hunger Games?” Or will our youth attend wizard school and fight off the forces of evil with wizardry and magic like in “Harry Potter?” Or will our female youth be torn and attracted to both vampire and werewolf males like Bella in the “Twilght” saga? Or will civilization be nothing more than a zombie-plagued wasteland with the dead walking amongst the living?