Carla's Haunted Claradox

Carla's Haunted Claradox

Carla and Clara. Bluestocking. Bookworm. Writer. Virginian. Mountain dweller. NetGalley reviewer. Librarian of The Dollop podcast.

0.5 Stars
Review: Ghostland: No Man's Land
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places - Colin Dickey Lily Dale: The True Story of the Town that Talks to the Dead - Christine Wicker

  I was quite excited to spend my monthly Audible credit on this book; what a fascinating idea--reframing American history by examining our relationship with our landmark haunted locales.


I, unfortunately, have returned it to Audible.


Each house is well-chosen: the Lemp mansion, for example, as a haunted touchstone in American history and culture...

and then debunked as an actual, or at least a full as-known haunting by the author. Chapter after chapter.


I hung on through the underlayer of smugness until the author stated repeatedly that Spiritualism didn't last, it was dead, it was no longer a thriving practice in the United States. Then I stopped reading. Why? I had reached the intolerable level of poor scholarship and research. There is an entire town of Spiritualists who live and work as such, in plain sight, and have done so for years: Lily Dale. Both a documentary and a book are available about Lily Dale, New York, and both are easy to find:


Lily Dale: The Town That Talks to the Dead * Christine Wicker


HBO Documentaries: No One Dies in Lily Dale


Side note: The author was also treated well by the Lemp Mansion's hosts, taken on their Haunted Tour, and given the choice room--one that is on the tour because it is reported to exhibit so much phenomena. His entire account of his Lemp tour and stay was mocking, in my opinion, disdainful of staff, location's history, and even his fellow tour group members! I feel as if I have been subjected to a history book written by a hipster: "Look, we're supposed to be enjoying this. OMG, all these people are really enjoying this! I cannot wait 'til I return to my cocktail and typewriter." Combined with the shoddy research, and some debunking claims without citations, this book is disappointedly unprofessional.


Also posted at The Dollop: American History Podcast

Blatty, Kinderman, Merrin, Karras, and Regan
The Exorcist - William Peter Blatty Legion - William Peter Blatty

William Peter Blatty, one of the few authors to create a before and after in the American cultural psyche, died yesterday at the age of 89. The Exorcist and its companion novel, Legion, are not given enough credit for being not just horror novels, then movies, but also mirrors held up to human nature--as seen in this passage from The Exorcist.



The very best horror serves this or similar purposes: grotesqueries or terrors as mirrors. The Exorcist and Legion made us face our fears of bad things happening to good people, of the looks of innocence masking evil, and of our inner sanctums, our homes, not being safe after we lock the doors at night.


Thanks, Mr. Blatty. Rest.

Reblogged Image
The Exorcist - William Peter Blatty

Fascinating idea in this dialogue from The Exorcist, between Father Karras and Father Merrin: the idea of needing to love ourselves to accept that we could be loved by God. Self-esteem as a spiritual act. Daring to believe we could be lovable, loved, set apart. That's a dangerous, risky, frightening act of love. It brings the idea of fierceness and bravery to both love and spirituality.

Reblogged from Carla's Haunted Claradox
So this happened.
So this happened.
In Rough Country: Essays and Reviews - Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates retweeted me. Twice. I need a lie-down.

5 Stars
Review: Peaceful Neighbor
Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers - Michael G. Long

Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers * Michael G. Long

I received an ARC copy of this ebook from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have always loved and appreciated Fred Rogers as a gentle soul, who wanted us to love each other and treat each other with kindness and compassion. Everything I learned only made me appreciate him more--and this book, opening my eyes to his Christianity-based politics, was the icing on the cake.


Even as a child, I knew Rogers' inclusion of Francois Clemmons, the African-American police officer as a Mister Rogers' Neighborhood went against the social grain. From this book, I learned Clemmons was the first African-American with a regular role on a children's television series, joining before Northern Calloway (David), Matt Robinson (Gordon), and Loretta Long (Susan) on Sesame Street. I also learned Clemmons' hiring was a deliberate--loving, but deliberate--act, especially the wading pool scenes with him. Those shared soaking scenes were in direct protest to segregated swimming pools, and violent responses to integrated pools.


Mister Rogers resisted pressure from certain cast members to be more visibly and aggressively political, because they felt his responsibility was to his children and family audience; his neighborhood needed to be a quiet, safe place of learning, the one place in their lives where protests were not taking place, where no one was shouting, and where no one was making frightening ultimatums. Michael Long's book touched me, as a child of the '70's, in so many ways. This book would make a nice addendum to high school and college courses covering 1960's and 1970's cultural and social history. Highly recommended.


interview with Clemmons on NPR StoryCorps

my original post

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
4.5 Stars
Depraved Heart: Kay Scarpetta no. 23
Depraved Heart: A Scarpetta Novel (Kay Scarpetta) - Patricia Cornwell Chaos: A Scarpetta Novel (Kay Scarpetta Mysteries) - Patricia Cornwell

 I am enjoying the arc of Kay's realizing first that Lucy is perhaps not just a sociopath, but also may be a dangerous sociopath; and Kay's exploration of how badly she spoiled Lucy and indulged Lucy's narcissism.


Kay has avoided fully acknowledging these glaring dangers with the belief that Lucy is, when it comes to her loved ones, a weapon pointing outwards from their wagon circle. But now, Kay is facing the fact that isn't true.


She has also avoided facing head-on the fact that Lucy's ravens have and will come to roost. Every selfish, dangerous thing she has done, every emotionally or physically violent act, every careless relationship...and every time Kay has fixed it all for her (special treatment in the Quantico dorms, for example)... consequences are and have been coming due all along.



coming this autumn: no. 24, Chaos

Stand by the King, Stand by Your Brother
The Shawshank Redemption - Stephen King The Body - Robin A.H. Waterfield, Stephen King The Shining - Stephen King

When I received the incredible opportunity to meet Stephen King, I pondered for days beforehand about what to tell him, what I wanted to share with this man who had shared so much with me through his words.

And then I knew.

But If I were to get the words out in the moment, it had to be a just-us.


My husband went first. Then I stepped forward and King's eyes smiled into mine and held them. I leaned forward, the distance balanced between no one can overhear/this is special and I'm a crazy stalker who is going to bite off your nose. His eyes told me he understood. And then I told him.


I told him that "The Body", the novella that became Stand by Me, helped me, with every reread, with my delayed and complicated grief from my little brother's death. In the obvious ways at first, but, finally, as I aged--


through Chris, as he cried about wanting to go somewhere where no one knew him and start over (unable to shoulder my identity as the Older Bereaved Sister, wanting to drop it)


and as Chris, in the quoted scene below, tells Gordie that he is stuck in his grief, stuck thinking the wrong brother died, stuck in his anger, and that he has some writing to do.

King had looked down while I was explaining, to carefully sign my first edition of The Shining. When I got to that last specific bit, he finished, dropped the pen, and met my eyes again. His eyes were damp.


"I am so very glad," he said, "and so, so very grateful you were able to tell me."


We looked silently at each other for another moment. He slid me my book, and said, "What was his name?"




He nodded as a man does when he mentally puts something in his pocket. "Eric."




The movie came out when I was in high school, still in the middle of it, still trying to figure out the answer to the question about how many siblings I had. The truth--one but he died? Way to bum everyone out, Morticia. None? Betrayal. Just being tasked with that (tasking myself with it) ramped up the grief-anger. Perfect timing. This movie owns a piece of my heart, and I don't want it back.


Gordie: Fuck writing, I don't want to be a writer. It's stupid. It's a stupid waste of time.
Chris: That's your dad talking.
Gordie: Bullshit.
Chris: Bull true. I know how your dad feels about you. He doesn't give a shit about you. Denny was the one he cared about and don't try to tell me different. You're just a kid, Gordie.
Gordie: Oh, gee! Thanks, Dad.
Chris: Wish the hell I was your dad. You wouldn't be goin' around talkin' about takin' these stupid shop courses if I was. It's like God gave you something, man, all those stories you can make up. And He said, "This is what we got for ya, kid. Try not to lose it." Kids lose everything unless there's someone there to look out for them. And if your parents are too fucked up to do it, then maybe I should.




Thank you, sweet, loving Naomi King, for sharing so much of your father with the rest of us weird motley fools and discontents. Please accept this story as a token of gratitude from one Constant Reader, who is a better and healthier person for it.



Happy National Book Lovers' Day
Happy National Book Lovers' Day
American Primitive - Mary Oliver


The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Well, damn. This is how you know a classic's a classic. Because that author can reach their hand through their words into the future and grab a truth that hasn't happened yet, and reach through with their other hand and grab you, and say "here, see, stop and digest this with your eyes, chew it with your soul."
Case in point: Doesn't this sound like Trump? Makes me as sorrowful for him as I am afraid.


If he needs a million acres to make him feel rich, seems to me he needs it 'cause he feels awful poor inside hisself, and if he's poor in hisself, there ain't no million acres gonna make him feel rich, an' maybe he's disappointed that nothin' he can do 'll make him feel rich.

― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

So much cruel noise
The Hunger Games - Suzanne  Collins 1984 - George Orwell Lord of the Flies - William Golding Delirium - Lauren Oliver

Election years feel like dystopian novels come to life. This one is The Hunger Games, 1984, Lord of the Flies, and Delirium (love is seen as a dangerous contagion, life is regulated and monitored by the government) shaken and stirred, all mixed together and clamoring louder louder louder.

The low meanness it is encouraging between commonfolk tastes like warm pennies, shock of copper on the tongue, and sounds like the clamor of pots and pans tumbling to the floor in the middle of a silent night clanging into the silence again and again.

So much cruel noise
The Hunger Games - Suzanne  Collins 1984 - George Orwell Lord of the Flies - William Golding Delirium - Lauren Oliver

Election years feel like dystopian novels come to life. This one is The Hunger Games, 1984, Lord of the Flies, and Delirium (love is seen as a dangerous contagion, life is regulated and monitored by the government) shaken and stirred, all mixed together and clamoring louder louder louder.

The low meanness it is encouraging between commonfolk tastes like warm pennies, shock of copper on the tongue, and sounds like the clamor of pots and pans tumbling to the floor in the middle of a silent night clanging into the silence again and again.

Recent entries on (with books, of course, so many suggested books)
On Witchcraft - Cotton Mather DEAD PEOPLE POSING: The Mystery Behind Dead Photographs (FULL EDITION: Photographs explained) - Alexander Coil Saddle the Wild Wind: The Saga of Squirrel Tooth Alice and Texas Billy Thompson - Laurence E. Gesell The Run of His Life : The People versus O. J. Simpson - Jeffrey Toobin Another City, Not My Own - Dominick Dunne The Museum of Hoaxes - Alex Boese

Podcast Episode 156: The Marblehead Smallpox Riot: Smallpox Blankie, or Why Are My Neighbors Bumpy?


Podcast Episode 147: The Greenbrier Ghost: Meatless Mondays are Murder!, or Ghosts Make My Head Spin:

true story of the only known legal case where a ghost testified about her own murder


followup entry: Postmortem Photography: includes a premortem photography story about my great-grandfather


Podcast Episode 145: Squirrel Tooth Alice: No pithy Bullwinkle title because there are vintage nudes, yes sir you are welcome


Podcast Episode 126: RA Cunningham and Tambo: Nickels in the Dime Museum, or How to Buy Other People for Fun and Profit!


and, Resources: American Crime Story (and a personal fable, boogeyman and all): relates back to several episodes and ties them all together:


All of entries has the mp3 of the corresponding podcast episode embedded in the beginning of the blog entry, so you can easily listen as well as read. Also, all of the entries have many, many more suggested books to read than I have highlighted here. Because it's me.


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The Bridge At Chappaquiddick - Jack Olsen
The Dike Bridge, ugly and primitive and unrailed and unmarked, twelve feet wide and some seventy-five feet long, had been in place for twenty years, and no one had ever driven off it.
Time groupthink control secrets perfect little town ugly underneath nice and safe nice and safe
Pines - Blake Crouch The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer - Jennifer Lynch The Lottery and Other Stories - Shirley Jackson

Currently halfway through the first novel in Blake Crouch's series. It's Twin Peaks (and Blue Velvet, a perfect white picket fence with a severed ear at its base) crashing into The Lottery overcome by another wave filled with your every agoraphobic fear fed by that small town out in the middle of nowhere.


Road trip. You are forced to stop in for gas, the only business for miles seems to be the gas station-combo-momandpop diner. The next exits with any recognizable franchises are either miles ahead or behind. The lady behind the counter seems nice enough, and the now-silent customer-companions are watching you with only curiosity...but it suddenly deeply bothers you that it is only you and them for miles and miles, only you, and them, and the humming fluorescent lamps over the slices of the pie of the day...the humming and the blinking...hum and blink and stare...


Series order:

  1. Pines
  2. Wayward
  3. The Last Town
End of Watch (Bill Hodges #3)
End of Watch: A Novel (The Bill Hodges Trilogy) - Stephen King

The end of Stephen King's trilogy will be published June 7, 2016, and can be preordered now.


series order:

1. Mr. Mercedes

2. Finders Keepers

3. End of Watch

The Complete Poems - Maxine Kumin, Anne Sexton

Damn it, Anne Sexton, now look what you made me do. I should be resting, but I poemed all over myself instead. All your fault. (Thank you.)

Browsing the Shelves

currently reading

Progress: 202/615pages
Progress: 112/732pages
Progress: 12%
Anno Dracula: The Bloody Red Baron (Anno Dracula 2) - Kim Newman
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King
The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version - Pheme Perkins, Carol A. Newsom, Marc Zvi Brettler, Michael D. Coogan, Anonymous
Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why - Bart D. Ehrman