I see a lot of reading lists offered by readers and writers around Halloween time, which is great, but three quarters of them have different variations of the same works. It’s hard to avoid Stephen King, simply because there are so many terrific short stories you might choose. On the other hand, you also get a tsunami of H. P. Lovecraft, which, for my money, is akin to a fist full of Ambien. To each his own, I suppose. Very often the lists are packed with exciting contemporary horror writers reframing and reinvigorating the scene—Laird Barron, Paul Tremblay, Caitlin Kiernan, etc. You get the picture. These are the go-to writers and yet they’re well known by devotees of the field and widely read. All well and good.
But I remember that on Halloween, when my brother and I went trick-or-treating down the mean streets of West Islip, we never counted our night a success unless we’d managed to reach some distant, eerie, tree lined street we’d never seen or heard of before.