Friday, May 30, 2008

About the October Bookworms Carnival

I will be hosting the October Bookworms Carnival here at Becky's Book Reviews. Why am I telling you now? Well, I have come to appreciate hosts that give participants ample preparation time. My theme is the literary gothic. My inspiration was this incredible web site. It provides an author index and a title index. The author link will take you to the page of most popular authors. But the sidebar will reveal that you can search/browse alphabetically. Just because an author appears doesn't mean that every work by that author is gothic...far from it. But at the bottom of each page, they list the gothic elements of that author's bibliography. For the record, your choice doesn't have to come from this list found on the web site. To give you some idea of what I'm looking for...

What makes a work Gothic is a combination of at least some of these elements:

  • a castle, ruined or intact, haunted or not,
  • ruined buildings which are sinister or which arouse a pleasing melancholy,
  • dungeons, underground passages, crypts, and catacombs which, in modern houses, become spooky basements or attics,
  • labyrinths, dark corridors, and winding stairs,
  • shadows, a beam of moonlight in the blackness, a flickering candle, or the only source of light failing (a candle blown out or an electric failure),
  • extreme landscapes, like rugged mountains, thick forests, or icy wastes, and extreme weather,
  • omens and ancestral curses,
  • magic, supernatural manifestations, or the suggestion of the supernatural,
  • a passion-driven, wilful villain-hero or villain,
  • a curious heroine with a tendency to faint and a need to be rescued–frequently,
  • a hero whose true identity is revealed by the end of the novel,
  • horrifying (or terrifying) events or the threat of such happenings.

The Gothic creates feelings of gloom, mystery, and suspense and tends to the dramatic and the sensational, like incest, diabolism, and nameless terrors. Most of us immediately recognize the Gothic (even if we don't know the name) when we encounter it in novels, poetry, plays, movies, and TV series. For some of us--and I include myself, the prospect of safely experiencing dread or horror is thrilling and enjoyable.

Elements of the Gothic have made their way into mainstream writing. They are found in Sir Walter Scott's novels, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights and in Romantic poetry like Samuel Coleridge's "Christabel," Lord Byron's "The Giaour," and John Keats's "The Eve of St. Agnes." A tendency to the macabre and bizarre which appears in writers like William Faulkner, Truman Capote, and Flannery O'Connor has been called Southern Gothic.

I would prefer participants to limit their focus on "literary" or "classic" gothic pieces of literature (poetry, short stories, novellas, novels). (Published before 1960) But I won't exclude your entry if you focus on more modern gothic literature.

I would encourage you to browse the Literary Gothic site between now and September so you can plan your reading accordingly. There are plenty of novels, short stories, poems, and novellas to choose from. And many are e-texts. (Though you should be able to find many at Amazon or your local library.)

Here are just a few examples:

  • Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey
  • Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights
  • Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre
  • Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  • Mary Braddon's Lady Audley's Secret
  • Samuel Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner
  • Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White
  • Wilkie Collins' The Haunted Hotel
  • Maria Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent
  • Elizabeth Gaskell's Gothic Tales
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper"
  • Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow
  • Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle
  • H.P. Lovecraft...
  • Matthew Lewis' The Castle Spectre
  • Matthew Lewis' The Monk
  • Edgar Allen Poe...
  • John Polidori's The Vampyre
  • Thomas Peacock's Nightmare Abbey
  • Ann Radcliffe's The Italian
  • Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho
  • Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market
  • William Shakespeare's Hamlet
  • William Shakespeare's Macbeth
  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
  • Robert Louis Stevenson's The Body Snatcher
  • Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula
  • Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto
Submissions are due October 10th. Email laney_po at yahoo dot com

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comments:

Mrs S 2:19 AM  

Thanks for the advanced warning! I'm going to be reading Wuthering Heights next week but I was planning to read Jane Eyre sometime this year so I'll save that for the carnival.

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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