Today at the LA Review of Books, five authors tell us what books or stories scare them the most. To get you started, here’s the book that scared Susan Straight:
The scariest stories I ever read were in Alfred Hitchcock’s collections for young readers — and what the heck were they doing, publishing “The Birds” for kids like me? I was seven when someone gave me this book; the stories terrified me, and I read them over and over. I learned to be afraid of crows (which are everywhere in Southern California), with their beaks like black ice picks that could pierce my skull. I learned to fear men after reading “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper,” which gave me nightmares about walking at night, about alleys, and about fog. I learned that rich people might hunt, trap, and kill (in elaborate and tortuous fashion) poorer people in “The Most Dangerous Game,” and subsequently feared anyone dressed in safari clothing or hats (even Marlon Perkins who hosted the television show “Wild Kingdom”). And worst of all, I became terrified of bathtubs. Hitchcock’s stories often featured men who died underwater after being secretly poisoned, or women who were yanked up by their feet and drowned. We had no shower at my house, and my four siblings and I all took baths. I kept my eye on everyone. My siblings and parents thought I was nuts. I still have that book. The cover is still eerie. And I still read the stories, now and then, and eye the crows warily when they nest in the palm trees along my sidewalk.
What’s the scariest story you ever read? Tell us, and check out what our other authors had to say.