1. 9 contemporary horror stories you can read right now

    6. The Sloan Men, by David Nickle (2007)

    "Nickle’s disturbing take on a Meet the Parents scenario unfolds more gradually than most stories in the genre, as narrator Judith becomes unsettled during an increasingly strange conversation with her boyfriend’s mother:”

    Mrs. Sloan had only three fingers on her left hand, but when she drummed them against the countertop, the tiny polished bones at the end of the fourth and fifth stumps clattered like fingernails. If Judith hadn’t been looking, she wouldn’t have noticed anything strange about Mrs. Sloan’s hand.

    "Tell me how you met Herman," said Mrs. Sloan. She turned away from Judith as she spoke, to look out the kitchen window where Herman and his father were getting into Mr. Sloan’s black pickup truck. Seeing Herman and Mr. Sloan together was a welcome distraction for Judith. She was afraid Herman’s stepmother would catch her staring at the hand. Judith didn’t know how she would explain that with any grace: Things are off to a bad enough start as it is.


  2. Bram Stoker gets a lot of credit for kicking off vampire literature with Dracula, but Sheridan Le Fanu beat him to the punch a full 25 years later with the gothic tale Carmilla. The story follows the relationship between two young girls, and modern readers are likely to figure out the so-called “twist” long before it’s revealed — but Le Fanu’s prose is reliably gorgeous, and the story’s lesbian undertones are surprisingly overt for a story of its era.

    9 classic horror stories you can read right now


  3. I’ve made up stuff that’s turned out to be real, that’s the spooky part.
    — Tom Clancy, who passed away today at age 66

  4. This Sunday is the birthday of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, the English mathematician and writer whose most famous works include Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandThrough the Looking-Glass, and The Hunting of the Snark. Such works featured Carroll’s specialty: coining blends and nonce words. Here are some of our favorites:
    1. Boojum
      The boojum is “a particularly dangerous variety of ‘snark,’” an imaginary creature of Carroll’s invention. The word boojum has inspired the naming of everything from “a species of tree… native to Baja California, Mexico” (found in 1922 by plant explorer Godfrey Sykes, who proclaimed, “It must be a boojum!”); to a supersonic cruise missile that “was determined to be too ambitious a project… and was canceled in 1951”; to “a geometric pattern sometimes observed on the surface of superfluid helium-3,” as named by physicist David Mermin in 1976.
      Example: But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day, / If your Snark be a Boojum!  For then / You will softly and suddenly vanish away, / And never be met with again!” — Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark, 1876
    2. Chortle
      To chortle means “to exclaim exultingly, with a noisy chuckle.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), Carroll coined the word as a blend of chuckle and snort.
      Example: ”He chortled in his joy.” —Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, 1871
    3. Frabjous 
      Frabjous means “great, wonderful, fabulous,” and is a blend of either fabulous and joyous, or fair and joyous. “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” cries the narrator of The Jabberwocky upon learning that the Jabberwock has been slain.
      Example: “‘O frabjous day!’ rejoiced Emma Dean, using her bath towel as a scarf and performing a weird dance about the room.” — Jessie Graham Flower, Grace Harlowe’s Return to Overton Campus, 1915

  5. The unkempt Shaggy of Scooby-Doo fame has a rather proper real name — Norville Rogers. 

    22 fictional characters whose names you don’t know 

    (via Mental_Floss)


  6. I sometimes get up at night when I can’t sleep and walk down into my library and open one of my books and read a paragraph and say, ‘My God, did I write that?’

    Ray Bradbury, whom The New York Times calls ”the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream,” died Wednesday at age 91.

    Here, his most affecting quotes


  7. Obama’s summer reading picks

    This year’s POTUS holiday library — a selection of six books, some purchased at the local book store Bunch of Grapes — favors fiction, and eschews the great American biographies that presidents often conspicuously fancy.

    Here’s a closer look at what these books may say about our chief executive.