Archetypes of Exorcism

From First Thoughts

Ray Russell enjoys the distinction and curse of being a horror writer’s horror writer. Though he helped rescue baroque gothic tales from Lovecraftian tendrils with his more Hemingway­esque renderings, he achieved nothing higher than cult status. Better-known figures such as ­Stephen King and ­Guillermo del Toro tout him, and his short story “Sardonicus,” a minor classic, received a film adaptation for which he wrote the screenplay. Continue Reading »

Chicken Soup for the Soulless

From First Thoughts

Buzzy Jackson is dismayed by “inspirational” books. Not so much because they exist, but because she “never encountered a single one that spoke directly to those of us with a secular outlook.” “Where was the motivating quote of the day for nonbelievers?” she asks. What she wanted was a Chicken Soup for the Soulless, depressing as that sounds on its face, for that one-fifth of Americans who claim no religious affiliation. She wanted a source of hope and comfort for “the atheists, the skeptics, the agnostics, and the ‘spiritual-but-not-religious’ among us.” Yet, on going to the bookstore, she found a void. If Chicken Soup for the Soulless didn’t exist, would it be necessary to invent it? Yes, apparently. Continue Reading »