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Books news: scary stories, more Hillerman, another mystery departure

October 27, 2008 |  4:07 pm


Scary stories, the short-short version: If you haven't been listening to "Weekend America," you've missed the short stories it has been broadcasting for Halloween. Pressed for time? Never fear -- the stories all under 30 seconds.

For a longer scary interlude, don't miss Salon's interview with Stephen King. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of his book "The Stand," the online magazine talks to the author, who ruminates on the afterlife, saying that it's "whatever you think you're going to get."

I think of the brain as this great, big, crenelated library with many rooms, billions and billions of books, rooms without number, but at the very end of all those rooms, there's a little tiny box that says "pull lever in case of emergency,"  because that's the door out, and when you go out, you get pretty much what you expected, because some chemical in your brain is programmed to give you that particular dream at the very end. If you're expecting [H.P. Lovecraft's] Yogg Sothoth, there he'll be, along with the 900 blind fiddlers, or whatever it is.

Tony Hillerman died Sunday at the age of 83. In a 1988 story on his work in the L.A. Times, Charles Champlin wrote:

In Hillerman's beautifully constructed plots, the ancient beliefs sometimes seem to have a bearing on present dastardly events, and they certainly color the thought processes of his policemen. But in the end, the crimes are very much from time present, as real and ugly as corpses and never falling back on the mystical to explain the inexplicable.

Hillerman wasn't the only mystery writer to pass away this weekend. Elaine Flinn -- who wrote the Molly Doyle series, most recently, "Deadly Vintage" -- had cancer that had metastasized. Sarah Weinman remembers her.

Patricia Highsmith, whose suspenseful Ripley books have been reissued as a box set, died back in 1995; 13 years earlier, she had talked to British interviewer Melvyn Bragg about Tom Ripley -- the clip about Ripley's sexuality is after the jump.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo of spooky Legos by Dirk Loop via Flickr