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October 31, 2007

CAAF: 5x5 Books For A Not-So-Spooky Halloween by Gavin Grant

Of course, not everyone who sees a haunted house wishes to enter. With some less ghoulish recommendations, here is writer Gavin Grant, who is the founder with Kelly Link of Small Beer Press. Gavin's list, you'll note, is 100 percent ghost-and-goblin-free. Or is it?

1. Liquor, Prime, and Soul Kitchen by Poppy Z. Brite. Brite's series of sort-of-mysteries set in New Orleans make a wonderful break from horror novels. Beginning with Liquor, she tells the story of two young cooks who, inspired by their own prodigious drinking, decide to start a restaurant where every dish will feature liquor of some sort. Great characters, great city, great fun.

2. Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson. This one's a perennial favorite recommendation and should help keep you from noticing the Halloween ghouls. Half the readers in the country seem to have worked in a bookshop at some point or other which will make the start of this brilliant graphic novel easily recognizable. But the real genius here is that the book collects a comic written over a decade so that none of the characters follows the paths you might expect.

3. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Slightly darker, but not in a ghosts'n'goblins manner is this novel by Diaz, a hilarious, tragic, immersive smashing together of many cultures. Oscar and Junior are college roommates who shouldn't get on with each other, and often don't. It's brutal and fantastic.

4. Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan. OK, this one might be just right for the holiday (although I'd argue it's right for any holiday). Lanagan's collections are mind-boggling things. Her first, Black Juice, won an amazing amount of awards. Published as a young adult book, Red Spikes is her third collection (after White Time) and contains enough timeless tales of terror (sorry!) to keep you up all night.

5. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. Paul Farmer's a hard-working hero who has spent his life battling against poor health conditions all over the world. You could do worse than reading these five books from the library and sending $50 to Partners in Health.

Posted October 31, 2007 12:30 AM

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