Monday, September 22, 2008

OCT/NOV 2008: Porachista Khakpour; Dark Views; Ringwood Manor; The Haunting; Shirley Jackson; The Thing; Haunted Bookshop

8 PM, Fri. Oct 10

Khakpour builds her luminously intelligent debut around the travails of an Iranian-American family caught in the feverish and paranoid currents immediately after 9/11. Darius Adam and his wife, Laleh (who, much to Darius's disgust, Americanizes her name to Lala), flee revolutionary Iran for the alien territory of Southern California, settling in an apartment complex with the allegorically enticing name of Eden Gardens. Khakpour's first novel, Sons and Other Flammable Objects was published in September 2007 to great critical acclaim. It was a New York Times Editor's Choice and was included on the Chicago Tribune's 2007 Fall's Best list. It won the 77th annual California Book Award prize in First Fiction. She has been longlisted for the 2008 Dylan Thomas Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards for young writers. Her writing has been compared to that of Zadie Smith (by NPR) and Phillip Roth (by Paper Magazine).

"The characters burst from the page in fiery exchanges, while their chaotic inner lives are conveyed with witty precision." The New Yorker. FREE! With complimentary wine.
8 PM, Fri. Oct 17

Photography Exhibition
I met this gentleman in the shop this past July. He's a burly guy with a pony tail, a goatee, and a sleeve of ink that runs down his left arm. From what I can gather, he breaks into abandoned, frequently forbidden places -- asylums, orphanages, jails, castles -- and photographs what he finds. His trespassing takes him all over the world and often involves hiking through nettles, scaling walls crenelated with broken glass, and paddling up to the water-facing and, hence, unguarded sides of various properties in a long blood-red kayak, the bow of which is emblazoned with a stenciled skull. Fifty of his photos will be on display, along with various fearsome things filched from the locations: straitjackets, winding sheets, wheelchairs, morgue trays, shock treatment tables.
10 AM, Sun. Oct 18
Field Trip

Seated in northern New Jersey is a beautiful, rolling estate known as Ringwood Manor. Its reputation as a "haunted house" is well earned. Hans Holzer, the "grandfather of ghost hunting", visited the Manor years back with a psychic medium in tow, ultimately declaring it the most frightening place in NJ. Edward Cayce, one of America's most famous male psychics, fondly nicknamed “the sleeping prophet” because of his renowned trance readings, held seances there.

Behind the Manor pond is the grave where the original owner General Erskine, a Geographer and Surveyor-General for General George Washington during the Revolutionary War, is buried. At dusk General Erskine can apparently be seen sitting on his headstone gazing across the pond. The ghost of a housemaid is believed to haunt the small third floor bedroom in which she was beaten to death. It is also said there is an unmarked grave filled with the remains of French soldiers who fought with Rochambeau during the Revolutionary War. After dark, the dead come to the Manor lake to walk along the shore. Sometimes, you can hear soft, sad voices speaking in French.

The Raconteur Motorcycle Club meets at the shop and proceeds en masse to a destination of literary or cinematic significance. The Club was profiled in The New York Times and recently featured in a travel book, Novel Destinations: Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West, published by National Geographic. An article on the Club, written by acclaimed author Robert Kaplow (Me & Orson Welles), will be included in the October edition of New Jersey Monthly. FREE!

8 PM, Thurs. Oct 23
Directed by Robert Wise from a story by Shirley Jackson
Film Screening

Certain to remain one of the greatest haunted-house movies ever made, Robert Wise's The Haunting (1963) is antithetical to all the gory horror films of subsequent decades, because its considerable frights remain implicitly rooted in the viewer's sensitivity to abject fear. A classic spook-fest based on Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House , the film begins with a prologue that concisely establishes the dark history of Hill House, a massive New England mansion that will play host to four daring guests determined to investigate--and hopefully debunk--the legacy of death and ghostly possession that has given the mansion its terrifying reputation. Like Jack Clayton's 1961 chiller, The Innocents, The Haunting knows the value of planting the seeds of terror in the mind, as opposed to letting them blossom graphically on the screen. What you don't see is infinitely more frightening than what you do, and with nary a severed head or bloody corpse in sight, The Haunting is guaranteed to chill you to the bone.

8 PM, Fri. Oct 24
World Premiere!
Written by Maire Martello
A Staged Reading Featuring Jane Hardy
Shirley Jackson, an American author, has powerfully influenced such notable horror and fantasy writers as Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. Her novel The Haunting of Hill House, which many writers, including King, believe to be the best horror novel of the twentieth century, is a contemporary updating of the classic ghost story. Jackson, who dedicated herself to rejecting her mother's sense of propriety, drank, smoked and fed to excess. She also dabbled in magic and voodoo, and was often described as a New England witch. She kept eleven black cats and believed she had caused the accident of an enemy by making a wax image of him with a broken leg. By the end, a tangle of physical and mental ailments made her feel unable to venture out into her own town of Bennington, Vermont. One hot August night in 1965, a 48 year old Jackson, frozen with paranoia, went to sleep. She never awoke. This play explores her destructive and mysterious life.

8 PM, Thurs. Oct 30
Directed by John Carpenter
Man is the Warmest Place to Hide!
Film Screening

In sharp contrast to the The Haunting’s conceit of unseen horror, The Thing is a grotesque exercise (thanks to FX whiz Rob Bottin, fresh off The Howling) in how to terrify even the most jaded viewer. A loose remake of Howard Hawks' 1951 sci-fi Cold War allegory, Carpenter's Thing isn't concerned with messages; it's just a terrifying meditation on paranoia and subzero dread as a group of scientists at a South Pole outpost (led by Kurt Russell) is infiltrated by an alien that assumes the bodies of its victims in very messy ways. Which member of the crew is the alien? The crew doesn’t know, and neither does the audience until the creature begins one of its stomach churning transformations. In the aforementioned Robert Wise classic we have creaking doors, cranky caretakers, and a house that was “born bad,” in The Thing we have a head dipped in spare-rib sauce skittering about on spider legs. But despite its many gross-outs, no moment in the movie is more unsettling than watching cuddly Quaker Oatmeal pitchman Wilford Brimley go insane. Though ebulliently resurrected as a cult favorite, The Thing failed at the box office during its initial run. Many factors have been attributed to the poor opening, including the concurrent release of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, a slightly more optimistic view of alien visitation. Carpenter is frankly surprised by the film's latter-day esteem. “When The Thing was released,” he says, “it was one of the most hated movies of all time.” Time to set the record straight. FREE! w/complimentary wine.

7 - 11 PM, WEDS. OCT 31
W/B-Horror Star Marvin Schwartz
Guaranteed to scare you Lit-less!

What goes on after a bookstore closes for the night? Come witness the death of Halpin Frayser from Ambrose Bierce's horror story of the same name; see Kafka's Gregor Samsa turn into a clacking black bug as Dr. Moreau’s hybrid manimals scrabble and yowl; observe Lovecraft's ghouls eat parts of their own body as the tragic Prince of Denmark addresses the exhumed skull of his dead court jester and Victor Hugo’s hideous Gwynplaine grins grotesquely; participate in the chilling Swiss Alps séance from Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain as a very dead Poe recites The Raven and Mary Shelley's monster is jolted into consciousness. Your guide for the night is B-horror star Marvin Schwartz, last seen as the king of the undead in Midnight Mass, scripted by famed vampire scribe F. Paul Wilson. Gallery of Horrors! Cabinet of Curiosities! Chilling Live Music by the Phantom Pianist. Admission: $5 @ the door.