This time of year is always a perfect time to read Ray Bradbury. Just do it already. Nuzzle into the comforting confines of your chair with hot beverage of choice and kick those feet up as outside temperatures dip into cool-but-not-too-cool territory. If I had to pick one writer that perfectly encapsulates “fall” or “Halloween,” it’s Ray Bradbury. Shame he’s no longer with us.

Not only was the man one heck of a writer but he loved libraries. He told the New York Times in a 2009 interview, “Libraries raised me. I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.” Bradbury even wrote his acclaimed 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451 on a rented typewriter from the library.

Of course I could go on about Bradbury’s popular works: The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, etc. I choose, though, to talk about one which may be well known to you in name only. And that’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Jim Nightshade. Will Halloway. Two precocious 13-year-old boys in early 20th century middle America, Illinois to be exact, and in October. The carnival comes to town led by Mr. Dark, a sinister and malevolent being able to grant each of the townspeople their heart’s desire which, in exchange, bounds themselves to Dark and the traveling troupe. The boys, aided by Will’s father who’s also the town librarian Charles Halloway, must battle against both the manipulations of Dark and their own wishes. Jim, for example, wants to be older. Mr. Halloway, at age 54, feels he’s too old to have fun and play with his son. The novel is allegorically about good vs. evil. And couple such a theme with Bradbury’s trademark hypnotic prose and you have the makings of story that soars.

And while the technical and special effects of Disney’s 1983 adaptation of the novel are quite dated, it’s still worth a viewing this Halloween. Stars the always excellent Jason Robards as Charles Halloway and Jonathan Pryce as Mr. Dark. (Pryce in particular is frightening!).

You can check out our copy. And it’s also available through Camellia Net on audiobook.

Popular culture has watered down Bram Stoker’s original concept for the vampire Dracula.

He hocks cereal on Saturday morning television. He counts numbers on Sesame Street. To Mel Brooks, he’s “dead, and loving it.” Stephanie Meyer’s Edward, in the Twilight Saga, bears little resemblance to the undead creature envisioned by Stoker, the one that clambered over windowsills to feast at the necks of hapless maidens.

Critical interpretations of Dracula (1897) range from psychoanalytical to an attack on female sexuality. Indeed, there’s something of everything for the literary theorist to analyze in Dracula. But, at its heart, it remains a horror story, one that involves one of the most frightening supernatural entities ever created on page.

Yes, you will recognize the main characters and their traits. Dracula’s dupe Harker, the vampire hunter Van Helsing, the virginal Mina Murray, the wanton Lucy, etc. And while it’s probably difficult to come to Stoker’s novel without your own preconceived notions on the nature of these characters, it’s best to leave them behind once you crack the book’s spine.

Stoker’s Dracula is not the dashing romantic hero imagined by countless Hollywood pictures. He’s a force of nature, a malevolent evil being, the last of his kind.

Humans are his meat.

Think Jaws in a cape.

Old Reads That Are Good: The Boys from Cape Coalwood

September 4, 2014

In 1957, Homer Hickam Jr. was a sore spot for his father. He wasn’t interested in football, like his older brother. He wasn’t interested coal mining, like his father. He wanted to build rockets. Rocket Boys (1998) is your quintessential coming-of-age story, a memoir written by Hickam Jr. about growing up in a rural West […]

Read the full article →

Historical Greenville Photos Are Coming to a Computer Near You

August 28, 2014

Our Library recently received some wonderful news from the Alabama Public Library Service: A $3,200 grant we submitted to purchase a high-speed digital photo scanner has been approved! The funds will allow us to process and digitally archive hundreds of historical photos of Greenville and Butler County and make them available to the public via […]

Read the full article →