A Scary Novel…That’s Clean?

I suppose it’s expecting too much that a worldly author would write a novel not drenched in worldliness. I enjoy a scary story. And, it is October, you know. I went in search of a good horror novel and found one written in the late 1970’s which was supposed to be particularly spooky. I gave it one evening and got about 70 pages in. The potential was there, but you had to wade through some vile scenes. I’m not talking about an occasional profane word (I was marking those out as I went along with a black pen). I’m talking about graphic sensuality that made the whole story not worth it. So I tore the book in two and tossed it in the dumpster, never learning how the tale ended. Nor do I plan to even attempt another book by that author. Had he left out a few offensive, unnecessary paragraphs, he might have made me a new fan for life. We’ll never know.

Every October I read aloud to the kids Washington Irving’s classic, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” and we’re in the middle of that right now. There is a passage where Irving describes Katrina as wearing a petticoat so short that it actually showed off her (gasp!) foot and ankle–and that’s about as risque as the story gets. As this month’s literary project, the kids and I are set to all read Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” another enduring classic in which I do not expect to find passages in need of excising (and which even has a moral lesson to teach).

Most of my reading is work-related, but it is disappointing to step into the waters of modern fiction and find them so foul as to be repulsive. Recommendations, anyone?