The Creepiest Books From Chicago Authors
By Maggie Hellwig in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 30, 2012 4:35PM
In lieu of the pumpkin carving parties, zombies and cartoon characters wandering the streets, and the pounds of direful fake spiders lining shelves at Jewels across the city, Chicagoist has opted to recommend some books that might deliver shivers directly to your spine. Instead of triggering your gag reflex upon the mention of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, or focusing on some horrifying scenes from Wright's Invisible Man or Native Son, we've devised a list to complete the creepy section of your mental library. In other words, here are some books written by Chicago authors to aggravate your heart rate.
In 1957, Edward Gorey made his readers feel a little uneasy with his book The Doubtful Guest. While this small illustrated book is for ages 5 and up, his sardonic pictures are enough to make any adult feel anxious. In The Doubtful Guest, a creature resembling the conglomeration of a skunk and a possum, sporting a scarf and tennis shoes, arrives at a Victorian household. In his curious melancholy, this fellow overstays his welcome for a good 17 years. Gorey's rhyming prose and eerie visuals might make you feel apprehensive or cowardly, but it most certainly will give you the creeps.
Ray Bradbury is the sci-fi, horror, and fantasy author best known for the dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 or the imaginative tales of The Illustrated Man. Something Wicked This Way Comes was Bradbury's fourth novel. Published in 1962, this book is one of the spookiest in his repertoire. A traveling carnival arrives at a small Midwestern town (modeled after Bradbury's hometown of Waukegan). The two adolescent main characters, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway, find themselves in the presence of the carnival's ring-leader, the villainous Mr. Dark. Dark threatens the independence of the townspeople, attempting to lure them into slavery with false promises. Albeit that the obvious struggle between good and evil could land this novel on an array of book lists, the unsettling subject matter makes Something Wicked downright disturbing.
While Philip K. Dick spent most of his life in California, the well-known sci-fi author was born in Chicago in 1928. A Scanner Darkly was one of Dick's later novels, published in 1977. One might not think this novel to be scary in the haunted house sense of the word, but it is perhaps one of the most unnerving novels written by a Chicago author. Bob Arctor, an undercover narcotics officer, is a guinea pig in the futuristic drug culture of Orange County. Bearing witness to devastating circumstances, the reader is left acutely disturbed by drug trips, death, and hidden scandal of epic proportion. While you may not have nightmares about this one, your hairs are certain to stand on end.
The roots of Halloween have very little to do with the presence of Satan, however the creepiness rating of the author has landed The Satanic Bible on our list. Anton Szandor LaVey was born Howard Stanton Levey in Chicago in 1930 and published the collections of essays and rituals in 1969. A large amount of the details in LaVey's biography are uncertain, or under debate, but it is quite conclusive that he was intrigued by the supernatural as he was well-versed in philosophy. His motivation for editing the book stemmed from strong beliefs in Social Darwinism and reverence for individuals such as Ayn Rand and Friedrich Nietzsche. Surprisingly, it's not necessarily the topic, nor the philosophy behind it, that has us biting our nails; it's any picture of LaVey that you can find on a Google image search—especially the ones with snakes—that have us freaked out.