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From the Desk of Duncan Smith: A Less Scary Genre

Post by Duncan Smith
Posted September 26, 2013 in NoveList Plus, NoveList Select, Readers' Advisory News

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The articles in the October 2013 issue of RA News discuss how many readers view the horror genre -- as something to be read once a year (around Halloween) or as something to fear. I just want to say that I'm in the "afraid of horror" camp. If you are like me, then you should read this issue of RA News from front to back! 

Jessica Zellers, in "Horror Then and Now," points out doppelgangers for several horror classics proving that the themes of this genre have staying power. Seeing The Historian in her article reminded me that I should really go back and read the original Dracula. 

Lesley James' "The Many Flavors of 'Scary'" is a wonderful short course not only in why people enjoy horror, but a quick tour of why many of us read at all. 

Lauren Havens points out that today's horror novels are not the ones your mother read. And vampires and werewolves who are also romantic heroes is not the only change. Like the Mummy, horror is not staying locked up. It is appearing as a theme or element in more and more genres -- think Sookie Stackhouse for example. 

Finally, John Charles gives some sage advice for any of us who are working with horror readers -- especially those readers like me who are definitely scaredy cats when it comes to this genre. 

In his book An Aesthetics of Junk Fiction, Thomas J. Roberts divides genre readers up into several groups. He argues that some readers are exclusivists. These readers will only read one genre. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the allergics. These readers will not read a particular genre at all. What this issue of RA News has done for me is move me from being allergic to horror to at least being an occasional reader.