Fall Season Brings To Mind These Three Books
Fall is here again, and thoughts come to mind regarding books that have a fall setting. These are books that once they have been read, they stick with you. The books that bring this to mind are:
The Dead Zone by Steven King
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Edgar Allen Poe and his Collected Works
These books are classics that are not only books but have been made into movies too. Let us see why they are so popular and so unforgettable.
The Dead Zone
This novel by Stephen King was written in 1979. There was a movie made from this novel in 1983, and that is how I found out about the novel. The Dead Zone became a television series in 2002 starring Anthony Michael Hall on the USA network.
Horror movies and books scare me a little bit, so I don’t see or read many of them, but this one is a little different than a gory book it Is more of a story of a man and how events lead him to a different destiny than the one he had hoped for.
You feel a compassion and connection with this character. He is a man who is a teacher and has a girlfriend named Sarah who he wants to marry. His dreams are shattered when he is gets into a car accident and is in a coma for four years. When he comes out of his coma, he finds that by touching a person he can see what will happen in their future. When he begins to have psychic visions of seeing that his doctor’s mother is not dead but alive, and that his physical therapists house is burning he becomes famous.
Johnny just want to get on with his life and be a teacher, but the school believes he is too much a distraction which leads him to be a tutor.
The novel lets us feel just what Johnny is going through. A man who thought his future was going to be as he mapped out only to find that life has thrown him a curve ball.
Johnny is a character that the reader will identify with. What would one do if they found they had a psychic ability, how do you try to lead a normal life, and what are your options?
The girlfriend of Johnny’s who is the love of his life and who weaves through the novel. Johnny’s life was upturned by his coma, but if effected not only his life, but hers too. She finds herself conflicted by Johnny’s coma. She wanted to wait for him, but as the years have gone by she wonders if he will ever be able to come out of it. She ends up marrying another man and having kids. When she sees he has come out of the coma she knows she has a life she can not walk away from, but she can’t help wondering what her life with Johnny would have been like had circumstances beyond her control intervened.
This character is introduced early in the book as a door to door bible salesman with a mean streak. Later he is a politician running for President. He has fooled almost everyone except for Johnny. Gregg and his evil plots once he is President has Johnny in a dilemma of what he should do to prevent him from carrying out his plans.
This book is not really what you would call a horror book. It is more of a book that has a character that you are drawn to. You see his world and all his challenges. You leave the book wishing Johnny had gotten all the things he dreamed of, but in life, it is out of our hands.
It is easy to see why this book continues to bring in readers and causes those that read the book want to read it again.
You know a book is good when it transcends beyond the page, and into the world of video. In 1982 a movie was made based on the novel it was entitled The Dead Zone. It starred Christopher Walken as Johnny, Brooke Adams as Sarah, and Martine Sheen as Greg Stillson. The movie has a feeling of loneliness and sadness, with the leads of Christopher Walken and Brooke Adams giving heart felt performances as a couple who thought they were meant to spend a lifetime together until his special power showed them otherwise.
The Dead Zone also became a television series in 2002. It was on the USA Network and had great success with 6.4 million viewers the best premiere USA network had until the record was broken in 2004 with the show 4400. The show starred Anthony Michael Hall as Johnny Smith and Sarah was played by Nicole de Boer. The show made some changes from the novel and the movie, but audiences tuned in for six seasons. The show brought that same feel of intensity, loneliness, and how to handle a power you didn’t ask for, and Johnny realizing his true purpose in life.
Edgar Allen Poe The Complete Tales and Poems
Edgar Allen Poe fits this time of year because his work has that scary, intense, vibe that fits perfectly with the Halloween season of fall. Edgar Allen Poe loved to write, and he did so till his death. He didn’t find success in his lifetime. Edgar’s life was one of tragedy his parents died when Edgar was a young boy, he was adopted by a wealthy merchant and his wife, but Edgar had trouble in school with debts and drinking. Mr. Allan, the merchant, was a wealthy man but he didn’t give much of his money to Edgar when he was in college. Edgar drank and had gambling debts which led to his leaving school after less than a year.
Edgar joined the army because he could find no other way to support himself. He was eighteen years old. Once he joined, he was successful and filled out a form to be accepted to West Point. The application was signed by Mr. Allan, but once again he refused to give any money to Edgar. Edgar didn’t try to succeed there, and it was thought he didn’t do his duties just so that he could be released.
Poe decided to try his hand at writing, and he got a job as an editor when he won a writing contest. Poe brought the reader circulation up in big numbers. Poe left the paper because he felt his salary was too low. Poe began writing and found publication, but unfortunately, he received no money from it. He joined another publication as an editor, but the business folded up. Poe’s wife died and he suffered because of her death. He started to turn things around he tried to stop drinking, and he found love with a childhood sweetheart and they were planning to be married.
Poe was in Philadelphia and planned to go to New York by train, but somehow ended up in Baltimore. He was found semi-conscious and wearing someone else’s clothes. It is thought he might have died of rabies among other theories.
Edgar Allen Poe wrote such memorable stories, and these are among his best.
The Fall of the House of Usher
This is a short story and a gothic novel. We are with the narrator and see all the things he sees and feels. He is going to visit his friend, and we start to learn all about him as the narrator does too. It seems the narrator doesn’t know his friend as well as he thought he did. Poe lets us soak in the imagery and feel emotions as we try to figure out just what is going on.
This story became a movie in 1960 called House of Usher starring Vincent Price.
The Tell-Tale Heart
The narrator murders an old man and it appears he has gotten away with it. It is his guilt that gets him in the end. It is a scary Gothic story that will grip you.
The Mask of the Red Death
A rich nobleman and his friends are hiding out in a castle to escape from a disease that is ravishing the town. They think they are safe till a stranger appears and then death has a way of finding them. It is a short story, but a good one.
Vincent Price once more appeared in an Edgar Allan Poe movie, when the move The Mask of the Red Death was released in 1964.
Poe also wrote poetry, and this is one of his best. It is in the Gothic genre. The writer has lost his love Lenore and it is hard for him to deal with. All the while a raven repeats “Nevermore” just to emphasize the fact that his love will never return. It is a haunting and beautiful poem.
The Raven inspired the name of the football team the Baltimore Ravens.
The Pit and the Pendulum
A man is imprisoned during the Spanish Inquisition and we never really find out why. He is in a dark room and finds there is a pit there. Worse than that there is a pendulum swinging around too. You can feel the fear of the prisoner and wonder if he can find his way out of this deadly place.
Three movies were made from the book The Pit and the Pendulum they were:
The Pit and the Pendulum in 1935 starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi
The Pit and the Pendulum in 1961 starring Vincent Price
The Pit and the Pendulum in 1964 a French film starring Maurice Ronet
The Black Cat
Once again Poe has created the narrator character and, in this story, alcohol has gotten the best of him. It has made him do things he would normally not do which leads him to be cruel to his cat and later to another cat he finds. He also ends up doing an unintentional thing to his wife. All these events cause the narrator to lose his mind. It is a creepy, but engrossing tale.
Several movies were made from this book.
The Black Cat made in 1934 starred Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.
The Black Cat made in 1941 starred Bela Lugosi and Basil Rathbone.
Edgar Allan Poe loved to write, and he always believed in his abilities and felt he should have received more money for his works. He would be very proud if he were around today to see how his legacy endures, and how not only in the fall, but in all seasons his books still entertain.
In Cold Blood
This book was released in 1966. Truman Capote was working at the New Yorker and was offered a choice between two stories to cover. One was to follow a cleaning lady around Manhattan. The other story was about the Clutter family and Truman thought that this one would be easier to handle.
The story is based on reality. The book tells the story of Herb Clutter, his wife Bonnie, and their two kids Nancy, and Kenyon. They were murdered in November of 1959 by two criminals named Dick Hickock and Perry Smith.
Truman went the town of Holcomb the gather information taking with him his childhood friend Harper Lee. He ended up taking more than 8,000 pages of research.
The book reads just like a novel, and Truman draws the reader in right away describing the small town and how no one would have heard of the name of it if hadn’t been for the murder of the Clutter family. Truman then begins to paint the picture of the family and how they were a very important part of the town and well liked by all its citizens. We also get a look at the villains of the book learning about their personalities and how they got to be they way they were.
The book will have you turning pages because you get invested in the Clutter family and can’t believe that they could be killed in such a heartless fashion. We also turn the page following the killers as they make their way out of town on their way to Mexico. Hoping that the detective Al Dewey can work fast and get the men responsible.
He was 48 years old a successful rancher who employed a large group of farm hands. He lived in a large home, he was married and had four children. He was well liked by the town members and was a devout Methodist. He was a loving father who could be strict, and he was concerned about his daughter Nancy who was dating a Catholic boy named Bobby. He was also concerned about his wife Nancy and her nervousness. She was rendered to her room at times and it was up to Herbert to cook the meals. He was a healthy man, and he ran his business well. A Japanese lady who was friends with Herb stated to him that nothing scares him. “Just nothing scares you, “she said, commenting upon a generally recognized quality of Mr. Clutter’s: a fearless self-assurance that set him apart, and while it created respect, also limited the affections of others a little. “I can’t imagine you afraid. No matter what happened, you’d talk your way out of it.”
Bonnie was 45 years old. She had studied to be a nurse, but soon found out that she was sickened by it. She later regretted not have completed the course to prove that she could be successful at something. She met Herb, the college roommate of her older brother Glenn. It seems with the birth of each of her kids Bonnie became more depressed. She had some good days, but they were few and far between. Some of Bonnie’s family has said that Truman did not get this right and Bonnie wasn’t the way she was portrayed in the novel. In one part of the book a friend of Bonnie’s hearing her cry goes into her room. Bonnie tells her “Wilma, I’ve been listening to you, Wilma. All of you. Laughing. Having a good time. I’m missing out on everything. The best years, the children-everything. A little while, and even Kenyon will be grown up-a man. And how will they remember me a ghost, Wilma.”
Hopefully her family was right, and she didn’t have the depression that kept her divided from her family, and unable to enjoy her life or her family the way she deserved to.
Nancy was 16 years old. She sounded like a dynamo, a chip off the ole block her dad. She liked mentoring young girls teaching them how to cook or to sew, she helped to take care of the house, she loved animals, she was a straight A student, a leader in the 4-H program and the Young Methodist League. She was good horseback rider, she played the clarinet and piano, and was an annual winner at the county fair. She was dating a boy named Bobby, but her father disapproved because Bobby was a Catholic. Nancy enjoyed dating Bobby but didn’t want to have her father’s disapproval. She told her friend, “I just want to be his daughter and do as he wishes.” It is a tragedy that a girl so kind and smart and loving was killed in this senseless way.
Kenyon was 15 years old. He was good at carpentry. He was six feet tall and lanky. He wore glasses. He liked to hunt, he loved to invent things, and like Nancy his sister, he was good in school. He also played on the school basketball team. Nancy was like her dad, but Kenyon was more like his mother. He was sensitive and a bit reserved. People thought he was a bit stand-offish, according to the book In Cold Blood, “Oh Kenyon. It’s just that he lives in a world of his own.”
Dick was 28 years old at the time of the murder. Dick parents were farmworkers. He was popular in school and a good student. He wanted to go to college, but his parents couldn’t afford it. He became an auto mechanic. He married and had three kids. His marriage ended after he had an affair. He then married his mistress, but that marriage failed too. Dick’s life took a turn for the worst when he started to write bum checks and ended up in jail. It was while he was in jail that he met a man who used to work for Herb Clutter. He told him there was a safe in the Clutter house that had $10,000 in it. It was then that he and Perry Smith decided to go to Kansas and rob the Clutter’s. Hickock was arrested along with Smith. They were found guilty of murder and hanged in 1965. Hickock insisted that he didn’t do any of the killings and that Smith did it.
Perry was 31 at the time of the murder. His parents were rodeo performers. It was a rough up bringing for Perry his father was abusive to all members of his family, and Perry’s mother left the father and took her kids with her. Perry’s mom was an alcoholic and she died when Perry was 13. He was taken to an orphanage until he went back to live with his father. Perry was in juvenile homes and joined a gang where he got involved in petty crimes.
Perry met Hickock when the both were in a Kansas prison. It was there that they conspired to rob the Clutter’s.
Perry wasn’t very well educated but he loved art, literature and music. Too bad he couldn’t have used the talents he had to pursue that venue instead of a life of crime.
Two movies were made from the book.
The first movie was entitled In Cold Blood ,and it starred Robert Blake it was made in 1967. It was one of the first Hollywood Realism movies.
The second movie was Capote made in 2005. It starred Phillip Seymour Hoffman and shows how Truman Capote wound up writing the book by going to the town of Holcomb and interviewing not only friends and family members of the murdered Clutters, but the killers themselves.
In Cold Blood is haunting, in that, just as we get to know the people of the book, and want to know more, we realize that they are soon to have their final day on earth. The book has it all suspense, emotion, and great writing. We wonder how two people could kill people that were just being a family and living a normal life. The book gives the reader a glimpse into the world of good and evil, and how they collided that fall day in November.
I am sure there are many more books of fall that one can think of, but these are the books that always come to mind during this fall time of the year. They are classics and will endure forever.