One of the perks of teaching is all the time we get off. For my money, it’s not the long summer break that is the best—usually because I spend my summers working—but Christmas Break, which stretches on for two stately weeks. It’s the ideal amount of time to decompress after the long Fall semester.
Next to that, however, is Spring Break, which at my little school lasts for a gloriously overstuffed eleven days, if you include the weekends (it’s seven workdays in total). I still contend that Easter should get its full due and, a la a Southern European and/or Latin American country, get a full two weeks.
Nevertheless, the time off gives me a bit more time to relax and reflect (although I’ve been promised quite a few chores from my parents, who I am visiting for a bit)—and to read. When it comes to books, I have the same issue as I do at buffets: my eyes are bigger than my stomach (or, in this case, my capacity to read everything). I always bring too many books with me on any trip, and am lucky to crack even one of them. I also overindulge in written junk food, like reading various articles and blog posts online.
Further, my parents’ house, like my own, is full of books. So I often find myself thumbing through their collection while neglecting my own Babel-esque stack of half-read tomes.
Such has been the case this Spring Break. My own stack of reading sits forlornly to my right, probably feeling (if books can feel) a tad unnecessary. Instead, I’ve been reading through a short story collection, 11 Great Horror Stories, edited by Betty M. Owen. It’s a collection my mother picked up from a Scholastic book sale when she was still in school (this particular printing, the fourth, was published in March 1970, though the original copyright date is 1969), and it’s held up remarkably well for a paperback.
The collection itself is not all that horrific. Several of the stories are only tangentially related, at best, to the horror genre; some of them, like Poe’s “The Oblong Box,” are more properly mysteries. The collection does open with H.P. Lovecraft’s magisterial “The Dunwich Horror,” which is a must-read, although I skipped over it on this reading because it’s nearly sixty-five pages long.
For a detailed synopsis of all eleven stories, GoodReads.com reviewer Williwaw has written an excellent and useful summary of the collection, without giving away any of the fun and macabre twists.
For our purposes today, I’m recommending one of the better stories from the collection, Bram Stoker‘s (of Dracula fame) “The Judge’s House,” first published 5 December 1891.
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