Father(s) & Daughter(s): A “Love” and “Horror” Story!

Friday, September 14th, 2012

“My dad, the horror novelist Peter Straub[*], likes to make fun of me for being too ‘soft’ in my fiction,” novelist Emma Straub told us during the “Q&A” portion of her book reading/signing at Powell’s “City of Books” on Burnside this past Tuesday.  “But, when I got to the middle of this one, I just had to call him!”

EMMA (excited):  “Hey dad, guess what?  I just KILLED some people!”
HER FATHER (patiently): “Emma, did you KILL them … or did they just DIE?”
EMMA (mock-chastened): “No … they just died … ”

[*] She also referred to him as “the best horror novelist in the WORLD!” — as a sort of “I’m obviously his daughter!” joke to the audience — though, truth be told, the number of “peer-level” authors who ALSO labor in the horror “genre” (or, rather: “mode,” if you like) who are AS widely-read can probably be counted on two (2) hands.

Y’know: to look at that comment from the “opposite” vantage point, fucking RAMSEY CAMPBELL had to work in a BORDER’S BOOKSTORE, for a patch, there, fer cryin’ out loud!  (True enough, he seemed game for the task — as opposed to people he knew personally, who were, um, “horrified” he’d have to go to such lengths to make ends meet — and, as an added bonus he got this book out of the experience:)

Meanwhile: her father [it’s pronounced “StrOWb,” not “StrAWb,” I learned from Ms. Emma] had to — had to, I tell you! — write some “yet again,” well-thought-out piece in either Cemetery Gates or Rue Morgue or some such (I’ve looked for it on the Internet, but can’t find it right this second) addressing the perennial “But … why do you write HORROR fiction?” question.  As though people still need to ask it.

His take (paraphrasing, here) was basically: “Well … where do you think horror GOES?  Like … AWAY, or something?  Over … THERE, or something?”  (O.k., so I’m “paraphrasing” though my own take on what it means to have to address this — so SUE me!)

MEANWHILE: The Hollywood Theater screened Suspiria some months back, and, since I’ve never seen a Dario Argento film, I was like “Shit … I gotta go!”

So I show up — to a 7:00 screening on a Tuesday, and the thing is SOLD OUT!  The guy who announces the film is clearly an enthusiast/aficionado of horror film, because he’s all like: “Yeah, I really wanted to get a good, newly-struck 35mm print of Suspiria to show, and, finally, we got it!  Thanks so much for coming!”

BUT: They pitched it as part of the “GRINDHOUSE” (a.k.a., “Show up just to snicker!”) series, which means that, while the screening did, in fact, sell out — they had to add another one, at 10 p.m., at non-matinee ($7) pricing, on a TUESDAY NIGHT, no less, to meet the demand — I had to sit there with (practically) nothing but smug bastards (of either gender) who, beers in hand, would sit there and patiently wait for something “incongruous” or (semi-)”dated” to LAUGH at!

Shit!  Who the fuck are you people, anyway?  Fargo‘s not a comedy (to name another example of the schadenfraude, “I-look-down-on-you” belly laughter inciter I’ve had to endure watching a film through-and-around) any more than Vertigo is, okay?

I mean … where do ya’all get all the free fuckin’ time/mental space/disposable income to squander like this, anyway?

ANYWAYS: I really liked Suspiria, a lot, from what I could experience around-&-beneath the sniggers of others (it’s sorta like being back in high school, proverbially-speaking, sticking up for the subject of mass derision, even inwardly, truth be told!).  So, to end this report on a somewhat-positive and oddly-parallel note, here’s a bit of an interview from Asia Argento, from the much-lamented-by-me, no-longer-in-print index magazine, which has tons of cool shit on-line, and you should check it out, you’d learn a bunch (like I have … so far!):

BRUCE LABRUCE: So how exactly is your family perceived in Italy?
ASIA ARGENTO: People are very suspicious of us. They wonder what sort of life we lead, what kind of monsters we are — as if we were the Addams family. But to be honest, we don’t even think about it. I mean, my father writes scripts for me where I have to do all these radical things, but what can I say? I’m very happy to work with him. I’m a big fan. Maybe I don’t understand why he has to rape me. But my mother had to deal with similar issues — my father always killed her.
BRUCE: I didn’t know she’d acted in his movies too.
ASIA: She was in lots of them. For instance, she was the lead in Deep Red. She wrote Suspiria, which is basically the story of her grandmother, my great-grandmother.
BRUCE: So where do you think your father’s obsession with killing women in his movies comes from?
ASIA: His mother, of course. It’s a theme that comes back again and again — the mother as killer, the mother as monster. But I think his own explanation is the simplest and nicest — he kills women because they’re more beautiful to kill. They scream better, they move better, and they understand pain better.
BRUCE: It’s just an aesthetic.
ASIA: For him it’s an aesthetic. For me there are other dimensions.

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