Richard Chizmar &
Robert Morrish, editors,
October Dreams:
A Celebration of Halloween

(Cemetery Dance, 2000;
Roc, 2002)

It's more than a celebration of a fun, beloved season. It's an all-out gala marking that festive time of year when leaves turn, the air crisps and people young and old find excuses to dress up in outlandish finery.

October Dreams is not your typical short-story collection, either. While the editors have gathered together an impressive list of literary contributors, the authors haven't just supplied short fiction for the book. Many entries in this satisfyingly thick tome are remembrances of the writers' own childhoods, episodes that stand out in their memories as exceptional Halloween moments.

The line between candor and fabrication may blur at times, but the subtle blend of fact and fiction works admirably well. This is easily one of the best horror anthologies I've read in some time -- in part, it's true, because it's not all horror. Paula Guran also provides a remarkably comprehensive history of Halloween.

October Dreams features the writing of Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, Poppy Z. Brite, Rick Hautala, Steve Rasnic Tem, Elizabeth Engstrom, Thomas Ligotti, Gary A. Braunbeck, Thomas F. Monteleone, Hugh B. Cave, Simon Clark, Christopher Golden, Ray Bradbury, Jack Ketchum, Alan M. Clark, Gahan Wilson, Paula Guran, John Shirley, Tim Piccirilli, Jack Cady, David B. Silva, Robert Morrish, William F. Nolan, Michael Cadnum, Richard Laymon, Douglas Clegg, Douglas E. Winter, Stanley Wiater, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Lewis Shiner, Yvonne Navarro, Tim Lebbon, Kim Newman, F. Paul Wilson, Owl Goingback, Dennis Etchison, Stephen Mark Rainey, Charles L. Grant, Kelly Laymon, Dominick Cancilla, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Michael Marshall Smith, Wayne Allen Sallee, Ramsey Campbell, Ed Gorman, Stefan Dziemianowicz and Peter Crowther.

What, you need more reasons? C'mon, Halloween approaches! Pick up a copy already!

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 11 October 2002

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