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October Dreams
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The most enjoyable horror anthology of the year, this jumbo goody-sack disguised as a book is stuffed with Halloween-themed fiction and nonfiction edited by the founder/editor of Cemetery Dance (Chizmar) and the editor of the respected but defunct nonfiction horror mag The Scream Factory (Morrish). The book contains 55 entries (not counting original artwork), including nearly two dozen stories (half original), a novella reprint, about 30 original essays on "My Favorite Halloween Memory," a new poem by Ray Bradbury and three original essays on, respectively, the history, literature and cinema of Halloween. The list of contributors gathers just about every important writer in the field (other than King and Barker): Dean Koontz, Hugh B. Cave, Douglas Clegg, Richard Laymon, Poppy Z. Brite, Dennis Etchison, F. Paul Wilson, Ed Gorman, Peter Crowther, John Shirley, Douglas E. Winter, Thomas Ligotti, Ramsey Campbell and Peter Straub (with the novella, "Pork Pie Hat") are just a few. The insightful essays are by Paula Guran of e-newsletter Dark Echo fame ("A Short History of Halloween"), author Gary A. Braunbeck ("`First of All, It Was October...' An Overview of Halloween Films") and critic/anthologist Stefan Dziemianowicz ("Trick-or-Read"). The fiction is uniformly good, sometimes superb. The most seductive aspect of this book, however, is the Halloween memories, often potent snippets of childhood epiphanies (Elizabeth Engstrom remembers being abandoned, and growing up, one Halloween night in a junkyard filled with rats; Douglas Clegg recalls seeing, at age four, a witch fly across the face of the moon) that will bring back to every reader the autumnal magic of All Hallow's Eve. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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