My Bedroom Used to Be the Embalming Room: The Haunting of Hill House (Part 3)

Welcome back to Reading the Weird, in which we get girl cooties all over weird fiction, cosmic horror, and Lovecraftiana—from its historical roots through its most recent branches.

This week, we continue with Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, first published in 1959. Today we’re covering Chapter 2. Spoilers ahead.

[“Perhaps someone had once hoped to lighten the air of the blue room in Hill House with a dainty wallpaper…”]

Series: Reading the Weird

Join Us For Trivia Night! Presents: Nerd Trivia for Nerds

Join us on Wednesday November 11th from 7-9pm EDT for a night of nerdy trivia! is hosting our first ever trivia night, and we want you to be a part of it. We’ll be asking general nerd questions, covering everything from Dune to Disney, so it’s time to show off your expertise and put all those hours of Lord of the Rings marathons to good use—not, of course, that they aren’t useful otherwise. We are always in full support of your LOTR rewatches.

We’ll be joined by some special guests, including Sarah Gailey, Christopher Paolini, P. Djèlí Clark, A.K. Larkwood, and Mark Oshiro! 

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“Oh, Frak” — Avoiding the Censors the SFF Way

Every culture has its own set of taboos surrounding bodily functions, religion, and naming things. In Anglophone cultures, our taboos generally involve waste excretion, particular body parts, sexual acts, and Christian deities. But we can still talk about these things (with varying degrees of comfort) by replacing them with non-taboo words, or we can “soften” them to non-taboo forms by changing something about the word itself. This column will unavoidably include cusswords, though I will try to keep them to a minimum…

[What’s more satisfying: frak or frell? And why?]

9 Complicated Female Narrators Who Will Surprise You

The debate around what it means to call a female character “unlikable” best crystallized in a 2013 interview in which novelist Claire Messud confronted the interviewer’s point about not wanting to be friends with her grim protagonist Nora: “For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert? Would you want to be friends with Mickey Sabbath? Saleem Sinai? Hamlet? Krapp? Oedipus?”

The women in these nine books aren’t here to make friends. Their ethics are compartmentalized, their relationships transactional. They destroy towns and lives with a twitch of the finger. They grapple with trauma without sugarcoating it. And not only are they compelling, but their existence is a reassurance and a recognition—they are, in the words of the words of Attack Surface’s protagonist Masha Maximow, “the secret, seething, silent majority.”

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That Random Guy In the Batman Costume Could Be Michael Keaton

If your first Batman is always your one true Batman, Michael Keaton is that Bat for a lot of us. On Jimmy Kimmel Live last night, Keaton neither confirmed nor denied that he might appear in the upcoming The Flash as Batman. “We’re having discussions,” was all he would say, joking with Kimmel that “all 127” Batmans (Batsmen?) would appear. Keaton also correctly identified himself as the best Batman.

But does he ever slip into something a little less comfortable, you know, wear the Batsuit around the house? Put on Prince’s Batman soundtrack and do a little Bat-dance?

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Growing Up in Narnia: The Pevensies as Young Adults in The Horse and His Boy

Last week marked the 70th anniversary of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and the first anniversary of this column! Many thanks to everyone for creating the wonderful and interesting community that’s been building around the comments here over the last year.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tells us in the final chapter that our main characters—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy—grew to be adults in Narnia, and lived their lives as kings and queens. This all takes place in the space of a few paragraphs, and though it’s referred to often enough in other books, the “Golden Age of Narnia” mostly unfolds between the stories recounted in the books, not within them.

Except in The Horse and His Boy, where we see the siblings (save Peter) as royal adults in Narnia. It’s a fun and inventive bit, giving us a little flavor for what we missed of the larger stories through our former heroes’ generous cameos in this tale.

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Series: The Great C.S. Lewis Reread

Lovecraft Country: Happy Endings, Discomfort, and Investigating White Privilege

Having just finished the season finale of Lovecraft Country on HBO, I found myself underwhelmed by the last installment (and only the last installment). I should start by saying that Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel of the same name is one of my favorite books ever; certainly the best book I read in the decade in which it was published. And despite that high bar, almost without fail, Misha Green’s TV adaptation has been the novel’s superior in many ways—it takes the source material and adds additional nuance, thoughtfulness, and a gut-punch humanity to the book’s relatively dispassionate remove. I can only surmise that, in addition to Misha Green’s (and her cast and crew’s) incredible talent, some of the reason for this brilliance on top of brilliance is that the series was created, written, and directed by a a largely Black creative team and Matt Ruff, though extremely talented and insightful, is a White man.

But this last episode hasn’t sat well with me, and I have been looking both at why that might be, and also at why I might be wrong about it. Spoilers for both Green’s show and Ruff’s novel follow.

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