By Andrew Kachaturian
8:31 PM PDT, October 20, 2011
The unsuspecting public may not realize that the library is home to many restless spirits. Ghostly apparitions and foul aberrations are held at bay within the binding of many well-rumored tomes of lore.
Resting on the shelf beside many normal, everyday books, you will find stories of the macabre, volumes of forbidden knowledge, and ghastly tales of things that lurk beyond our knowledge. The very brave — or the very foolish — may explore these and many more at the Newport Beach Public Library.
Take for instance, "The Collected Writings of Ambrose Bierce." Bierce was a prolific writer of the late 1800s and early 1900s, but disappeared without a trace sometime after 1913. Perhaps his ghostly imaginings brought him in contact with a reality beyond our own? Be your own judge and read haunting tales such as "The Middle Toe of the Right Foot," "Present at a Hanging," and many more.
The "Collected Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe" and "Poetry and Tales" both offer dozens of frightening stories and prose by perhaps the most renowned writer of American horror. Poe scripted such haunting classics as "The Premature Burial," "The Tell-Tale Heart," The Masque of the Red Death, "The Oblong Box," "The Raven" and so many more.
But, what happened to the man behind the stories? Poe was found wandering the streets of Baltimore, delirious, and wearing clothing not his own. Despite being taken to a hospital, he never become coherent and died just a few days later. What could have happened to Poe? We may never know.
With "Tales, The Dunwich Horror and Others," and "The Haunter of the Dark, and Other Tales of Horror," H.P. Lovecraft offers dozens of terrifying tales and is perhaps the most prolific author of American horror outside of Edgar Allen Poe.
"The Call of Cthulhu" is perhaps Lovecraft's most lasting story of undeniable cosmic horror — an entity born not of this Earth, waiting to awaken and swallow humanity. Other stories such as "The Dunwich Horror," "The Picture in the House," "The Hound," "The Statement of Randolph Carter," and "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" will bewilder, amaze, and terrify you.
Lovecraft's writing depicts a reality beyond our own, of which a mere glimpse will petrify you. Did Lovecraft actually see into another world? The reader will have to decide — though, it may be of some importance to note that it is said the Lovecraft's body is not truly buried beneath his own tombstone.
The library is haunted by other classic writers of horror as well. "The Selected Writings of Washington Irving" contains "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle" — two American classics, filled with a dreamlike imagination and lingering atmosphere.
Richly embedded in German folklore and American Revolutionary War history, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is commonly seen as a clever dupe of interloper Ichabod Crane. But, perhaps Irving knew more than it seems. Why else might he be buried in Sleepy Hollow cemetery?
In "Hawthorne Tales and Sketches," American author Nathaniel Hawthorn's "Young Goodman Brown" tells the story of a 17th century man's errand through the Salem wilderness and his encounters there. It is a dark tale of deceiving appearances, witchcraft, and the loss of faith, filled with a rich symbolism.
"Victorian Ghost Stories" edited by Michael Cox and R.A. Gilbert contains the writing of many famous authors such as Charles Dickens, Henry James, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Rudyard Kipling. Classic tales such as Stevenson's "The Body Snatcher" are surrounded by lesser known but equally haunting stories such as Algernon Blackwood's "Kit-bag" and Elizabeth Gaskell's "The Old Nurse's Story."
Unearth these, and many other ghostly tales at the Newport Beach Public Library … if you dare.
Please note that the Central Library is closed through Oct. 30 due to construction. The branch will reopen at 9 a.m. Oct. 31.
CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at http://www.newportbeachlibrary.org. For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, please contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.