Saturday, April 13, 2024

Eight personal stories that use horror as a lens

Richard Scott Larson is a queer writer and critic. His debut memoir is The Long Hallway.

Born and raised in the outer suburbs of St. Louis, he studied literature and film criticism at Hunter College in Manhattan and earned his MFA from New York University in Paris. He has received fellowships from MacDowell and the New York Foundation for the Arts, and his work has also been supported by residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, Paragraph Workspace for Writers, La Porte Peinte, and the Willa Cather Foundation.

At Electric Lit he tagged eight "books that helped [him] understand how writing about horror can be a way of writing about ourselves." One title on the list:
Night Mother: A Personal and Cultural History of The Exorcist by Marlena Williams

Night Mother offers exactly what its subtitle suggests, as this memoir-in-essays serves up a blend of memoir, criticism, and reported history regarding the original production and reception of The Exorcist in popular culture as Marlena Williams explores complex ideas regarding faith, family, sexuality, womanhood, and grief. “The Exorcist, when you really get down to it,” Williams writes, “is just a story about a mother and a daughter.” The personal obsession at the book’s core is her relationship with her own mother before and after the latter’s death from cancer, as well as how the two women’s powerful responses to William Friedkin’s iconic film connected and bonded them forever. Horror works here as a shared experience and collective memory giving voice to distinct fears and preoccupations, and the film functions now for Williams as a family heirloom of sorts, a site of reckoning with the past as she forges a future without her mother to guide her.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue