I’m very excited about our upcoming Read To The People program occurring on Friday, October 14 through noon on Saturday, October 15 at Main Library in Oakland. You can get all of the particulars here. I signed up for the 3:00 AM graveyard shift, and the theme for that slot features horror. Now, what does one read to an audience of library diehards at 3:00 AM? How about Robert E. Howard! Wait, you’re saying, isn’t he that “Conan” writer you’re always talking about? Yes, but Howard also wrote some fine horror stories, and I intend to read one.
I’ll be reading from The Horror Stories Of Robert E. Howard, part of the amazing collection of Howard trade paperbacks published by Ballantine Books. Depending on how much time I have and how long it takes to read, I’d like “The Horror from the Mound,” a tale set in Howard’s beloved Texas and set in the 1920’s (somewhere around the time it was written). The Bran Mak Morn tale “Worms of the Earth” also graces this collection, and would be a fun one to share, but I think it is a bit too long for my allotted twenty minutes.
As a contemporary and friend of H. P. Lovecraft, Howard and he shared many story ideas, and although their writing styles differ pretty radically, they also shared a certain sensibility when it came to horror. For both of them horror emanated from the alien, from forbidden things man was not meant to know. Their troubled characters cross boundaries, ignore warnings, and meddle in the affairs of elder beings best left to slumber and dream of aeons when they once ruled the worlds of mankind.
So I will read “The Horror from the Mound” at 3:00 AM on Saturday morning, October 15 in the hopes that it will arouse a bit of healthy fear in the (hopefully) large crowd of library diehards.
This all begs the question, if you had twenty minutes to read a horror story aloud, which one would you pick?