At the Library: Feel a more sophisticated horror

At the Library: Feel a more sophisticated horror

I dislike horror films. But a couple of Christmases ago, a blockbuster horror movie was so tenacious in its marketing that I suggested we go and see it. It looked so terrifying, I thought it might be a hilarious, rollercoaster-style experience. My husband, a 260-pound firefighter, said gravely that he would not be going to the cinema with me, because he was afraid he might “scream like a little girl.”

While strolling through the internet the other night, I came across an interview with Joanna Lumley discussing her obsession with poetry. She read “The Listeners” by Walter De La Mare. I’ve gone back to this poem several times over the past few of days, fascinated by its creepiness. Unlike the cheap thrills of a Hollywood horror movie, it gently plucks at our darkest fears with expert fingers. It’s a delicious experience.

BBC Radio ran a series of short ghost stories by Walter De La Mare, read by excellent narrators such as Richard E. Grant. They are mostly half an hour long, and available on YouTube, so I galloped through “The Riddle,” “All Hallows,” “Crewe” and “The Almond Tree.” His writing has a cinematic quality and clarity, which reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.”

The stories are inconclusive and enigmatic, leaving us off-balance, filled with questions answered only by our imaginations. This is deliberate: it’s all about the experience, not neat resolutions. He doesn’t make you jump, he unnerves you — a more sophisticated sensation.

I’m worried that no one reads him any more. I had quite a job tracking him down in the catalog, and I hope that after reading this, you will throng to Rhode Island libraries and demand him. Because, I think, as summer begins to slip away and autumn begins to creep around our shoulders, it’s not the bludgeoning violence of a horror movie that we crave, but the age-old pleasure of a really great ghost story, told by a master of storytelling.

Top-requested books■1. “The Perfect Couple” Elin Hilderbrand■2. “The President is Missing” by Bill Clinton & James Patterson■3. “All We Ever Wanted” by Emily Giffin■4. “Past Tense” by Lee Child■5. “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover■6. “The Other Woman” by Daniel Silva■7. “The Summer Wives” by Beatriz Williams■8. “Clock Dance” by Anne Tyler■9. “Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty■10. “Dark Sacred Night” by Michael Connelly

Top-requested movies■1. “Book Club”■2. “Avengers: Infinity War”■3. “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”■4. “Oceans 8”■5. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”■6. “Deadpool 2”■7. “Solo: A Star Wars Story”■8. “Life of the Party”■9. “Incredibles 2”■10. “The Leisure Seeker”

Top billingFor All Ages■MONDAY –– The library is closed for Labor Day.■TUESDAY –– 5:30-7:30, Knit & Crochet Club – Bring your project, work on a project with others, or swap yarn and ideas with fellow yarnies; 6-7:45 p.m., Quilters Corner – Bring your current project and join us for a casual and crafty get-together in the Makerspace; 6:30-7:45 p.m., Getting Started: An Educational Series for Alzheimer’s Caregivers (Part 3) – This free workshop provides you with the basic information you need to care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Preregistration is required for this event.■WEDNESDAY –– 9:15-9:45 a.m., Homeschooler’s Parent/Child Book Club (Ages 7-10) – A great opportunity for homeschoolers to learn and grow together! This week and next, we’ll be reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Clearly. Online pre-registration is required; 9:15-9:45 a.m., Homeschooler’s Parent/Child Book Club (Ages 11+) – This week and next, or 11+ group will be reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. Online pre-registration is required; 1-3 p.m., Wirework Wednesday – Stop by the Makerspace and learn to craft with wire; 4:30-7:30 p.m., Shoreline Robotics Practice – For teens interested in STEM and Robotics.■THURSDAY –– 3:30-4:30 p.m., Teen Poetry Circle – There will be time to read and write original poems at this program in the auditorium. Snacks, prompts, and snaps all around; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Chess Club – All ages and experience levels are welcome, no sign-up required.■FRIDAY –– 10:15-11:15 a.m., Stories Sign & Craft: Back to School – Children’s will learn some basic signs to help communicate their needs, and participate in a short crafting activity; 3-5 p.m., Teen Seed Bombs – Want to make a fun craft that will help spread beautiful wild flowers when you leave? Learn about guerilla gardening! All seeds and dirt provided; 4-5:45 p.m., Shoreline Robotics Practice – For teens interested in STEM and Robotics.■SATURDAY –– 9 a.m.-12 p.m., URI Master Gardener’s Kiosk – Bring your gardening questions, and/or a sample of soil to be tested; 10-11:30 a.m., Champion Tree Tour – This walking tour of Wilcox Park will showcase those trees that appear on the RI Big Tree Registry; 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Make & Take Crafts – Drop in at any time to create with other children; 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m., Adult Writers Workshop – A group-led prose writing workshop.

Jules Belanger is a reference librarian at the Westerly Library.


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