Volume II Number 2
October 27, 1995
From the Editor
A Grave Issue
It's Halloween, almost, and yet we've hardly had any monster-horror-scary
books or videos to review since we started (see the Spooky Books round
up for a listing of what we have covered), which leaves me writing
an editorial to help justify the seasonal graphics.
Resorting to an editorial to keep Peter happy by giving him another
place to put spooky pictures might seem like a cheap trick (it is a
cheap trick), but I think the dearth of appropriate reviewed material
also reflects a few things about the occasion. People complain about the
commercialization of Christmas and Easter, but Halloween isn't far behind as a victim of the market-place. Mass-produced horror
for kids in paperbacks and on TV is so prevalent that I'm not sure there's much of a place left
for, well, not art, I guess, but just something less factory made.
I don't want to sound too nostalgic here; in my life, Halloween has
ranked just after New Year's as the biggest consistent let-down of the
social year. Never as scary or as fun as it's supposed to be. Still,
there's been an even more important loss for Halloween than
commercialization in my time. Of course Halloween too has its origins in
religion -- both Christian and Pagan -- but those traces are thin on the
ground, and I'm not mourning the true meaning of All Saints Eve, or the
whatever it was the Celtic New Year was. No, what made Halloween special was that it was pretty much the only surviving community ritual.
You didn't have to go to the same church, or the same school; you
just had live within a few blocks of one another, and your neighbour's
kids would dress up, come into your home, and threaten you until you gave them food. Isn't that great? How quaint, how trusting, how provincial. . . .
It still happens, of course, but more and more, Halloween is coming
off the streets and into private parties, or theme nights at the school.
I've never seen evidence that in an average neighbourhood it's really
more dangerous for children out there than it was twenty years ago. I
think it's just that more often these days our neighbours are strangers,
and so it feels safer to keep kids in.
Well, bah, humbug. I'm a grown-up now, and I own the scariest-looking
house on the block. Any kid with the guts to knock on my door gets a
chocolate bar. Any kid with the nerve to try to do something improper to
my lawn ornaments gets a dose from the garden hose. Then they can come
back for a chocolate bar. And when the fun is over, I'm going to light a
fire, curl up in an arm-chair, and re-read "The Monkey's Paw" as I listen
to what I hope are the limbs of the cottonwood scratching over our
shingles. . . .
If you'd like to sound off like a curmudgeon on a topic even only
peripherally related to CM yourself, or if you have any comments or complaints, as always, just send e-mail to the address
beneath my name.
-- Duncan Thornton, Editor
Copyright © 1995 the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is
maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
The Manitoba Library Association
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