Victor LaValle

The author of The Devil in Silver picks three haunting favorites.



In his debut short story collection, Slapboxing with Jesus, Victor LaValle mined his childhood in 1980s Queens to craft twelve interconnected tales that evoked the best of Junot Díaz. His most recent novel, The Devil in Silver, finds a seemingly sane man teaming up with a handful of his fellow inmates to vanquish the monster that stalks a mental institution's halls. As Halloween fast approaches, LaValle points us this week to "three books that will haunt you."


Books by Victor LaValle



We Have Always Lived in the Castle

By Shirley Jackson


"This short, unnerving novel tells the story of Constance, Merricat, and Uncle Julian, the last surviving members of a once powerful family. The rest of the clan was poisoned at dinner one night, and Constance was arrested for the crime. This story is a masterpiece of atmosphere and a stunning psychological portrait. You can read it in a day; it'll stay with you for a lifetime."



A Personal Matter

By Kenzaburo Oe


"Bird is a young Japanese man who dreams of traveling to Africa. But when his wife gives birth to a child with a brain defect Bird's life is thrown into chaos. The doctors suggest letting the child die rather than live as a "monster." Bird goes through a test of his soul as he tries to find the inner strength to choose his damaged child over the pressures and conventions of 1960's Japan."



Books of Blood

By Clive Barker


"I first read this collection of wild, brutal, fantastic horror stories when I was young. I couldn't believe one person could come up with so much outrageous material. I also couldn't believe someone would publish it! And yet, what makes these stories so good is not only the horror but the dark humor, the psychological insight, and the deft feel for language that Barker displays."

April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.