Winter Kills

studying

The holidays have passed (finally), the days of binge eating and over indulgence have necessarily waned. We’ve moved inexorably into the dull days of winter, the short, dissipating days of rain or snow, or just watery, cold sunlight, drifting up out of the mist of morning and disappearing with no fanfare over a too early horizon. These early days of a new year have already seen the loss of some of our greatest heroes: the shape changing, ever tantalizing and always trend setting David Bowie; the baritoned, subtlety of Alan Rickman; the campfire classic strum of Glenn Frey. The darkness of these deaths, marked jabs at the architecture of popular culture, brings to mind our own mortality and the fragility of life in general. We reach for comfort, for distraction from those who might entertain us still. Yet we continue to slide into the dark, inevitably choosing to terrorize ourselves with mystery and horror, with the fantastic and the thrillingly sublime. Perhaps we just want to remind ourselves we still live–the racing pulse and sweaty palms of fear a palpable proof of life. What novels of suspense and anguish would you choose as an accompaniment to the depths of a dark season? Here are some of our suggestions:

 

The Turn of the Screw

The classic tale of suspense and dread set in the perfect dreary landscape: the English countryside!


Lord Jim

From the author of arguably the darkest of classic novels, Heart of Darkness, this lesser known but equally exquisite exploration of the damage of guilt on the psyche is sure to draw the four walls of your room a little closer.


Winter’s Bone

Deft, concise, tense–the Southern worlds of Daniel Woodrell are peeled back and laid bare in this carefully etched demonstration of the depravity of human desire.


Silence of the Lambs

Everyone loves the movie for Jodi Foster’s bravery and Anthony Hopkins’ lip-smacking creepiness, but the book explores deeper levels of darkness still, providing a sustained chill even after you’ve thrown another log on the fire.


The Hunger

Just to bring it back around to Bowie, who made this lovely novel famous in the movie version in 1983, drown your depression in this scintillating tale of one woman’s thirst for immortality.


Matt Scudder novels

Lawrence Block’s guilt-ridden, alcoholic ex-cop Matthew Scudder defines the genre of gritty suspense and the fragility and often futility of life. Try When The Sacred Ginmill Closes, the point in Scudder’s long trajectory when his haunted past is no longer suppressed with bourbon.

 


Anything from Andrew Vachss

Any of the long list of Vachss novels will take the reader down a path with no reasonable return. The way, upon turning to flee, may appear the same at first, but the trees encroach, casting a shadow even the brightest torch light will never illumine.

 

 

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