#LitChat: A Monster’s Sticky Books by Candy Korman

We all have memorable books, so-called sticky books whose stories stay with us long after the reading ends. Candy Korman is here to share the books that have lingered with her, and why she doesn’t reread them. We’re swapping guest posts, so make sure to also read Monster Mash-Ups and the Case of Edgar Allan Poe. Though I tend to be a re-reader, I can see the merit of letting the magic spell cast by the first reading of a book linger.

Official Bio: Candy is a professional writer, amateur Argentine Tango dancer and cat-lover living in New York City. She writes mystery novels and short stories in addition to her series of literary novellas inspired by horror classics–Candy’s Monsters. The fourth book in the series is THE STRANGE CASE OF DR HYDE AND HER FRIENDS. It’s a contemporary, romantic suspense novella inspired by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Candy Korman


A Monster’s Sticky Books

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

My father reread The Great Gatsby every few years, which amounted to a lot of times! He enjoyed it the way someone else might visit an old friend. I rarely reread a book. And I’ve become reluctant to reread the works of literature that touch me most deeply because some great books are “sticky.” They adhere to a time and place in the reader’s life and, although the reader changes, the books don’t.

 

I can easily point to cherished reading experiences, books that changed me, inspired me or simply confirmed that–whatever else happened–I would be a writer. But with a few notable exceptions, when I’ve tried to recapture my original enthusiasm, I’ve come away disappointed. Either the book was simply perfect for me at a particular moment in time, for reasons that are no longer relevant, or I discover that the book’s magic spell has broken.

 

An eye in the sky.

 

It’s not that I don’t think about those magical works of literature; it’s not that I don’t feel their influence all the time; it’s just that I chose to leave the magic spell alone. I don’t kiss the prince for fear that this time he’ll become a frog.

 

Here are a few of those particularly sticky books that return to me without rereading, in distorted bits and pieces, with great and grateful pleasure, like a half remembered hit song from my childhood.

 

The first “grown-up” mystery I read was Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie. I was about ten and I loved the mysterious setting in ancient Egypt and the supernatural presence. I’m afraid that it would strike me as silly, if I picked it up today. Would that diminish the debt I feel to Christie? Not really, but why not let the little girl memory of discovery remain unedited in my imagination?

 

Not long after that first brush with the grand dame of British mystery, I went through a serious Daphne du Maurier phase. I recall the impact of Rebecca and especially, My Cousin Rachel. I can picture myself with a copy of Kiss Me Again Stranger from the school library. I read The Birds out loud with friends at a sleepover party. We scared the living daylights out of ourselves! I think I can risk reading that one again and not disturbing the shiver I still feel at the memory of my friend’s brother stomping down the basement stairs to scare us.

 

My college friends–some of them are a happy ongoing presence in my life–were/are fantasy and science fiction readers. I read a lot of great books under their influence. I remember reading Ursula Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness in my grim and tiny first solo apartment.

 

Abandoned Building and Old Couch

 

It was a terrible place, so bad I broke the lease and moved out in six months. The distant and strange world in Le Quin’s masterpiece was comforting the way an old blues song offers solace. I can’t reread it any more than I want to revisit that horrible apartment, but I still think about her character development all these years later.

 

In recent years I’ve read virtually all the mysteries written by Ruth Rendell (AKA Barbara Vine), P.D. James, Collin Dexter, Tony Hillerman, Tom Robb Smith, Stieg Larsson, Donna Leon and many other fabulous mystery writers. This is something that I share with my mother. Again, I’m not running back to reread a mystery. There are so many new ones worth reading. While the characters in Barbara Vine’s Brimstone Wedding might visit me, I don’t go back to them. I just give the book to my friends–sharing the experience.

 

The genesis of my Candy’s Monsters series was realizing that I’d seen many, many Frankenstein and Dracula movies without having read the books. I’d read some Poe as a kid. But Vincent Price on TV dominated my memories of Poe’s Gothic tales, as much, if not more than, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi’s images had become my original Frankenstein and Dracula.

 

Gothic Building

 

Reading Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, and Edgar Allan Poe, was enlightening, startling, and inspiring! So doing a fourth MONSTER–based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was natural. Again, I set aside my preconceived notions, the images from “Creature Features” on TV and all the other incarnations of Jekyll & Hyde, read the original and then began to write my own story.

 

The characters in my fiction read. The protagonist in Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet reads The Picture of Dorian Gray and feels its influence as she wonders about the man living in the next apartment. The good doctor in my Strange Case has a Kindle loaded with science fiction. She’s reading on a subway platform when…. —No I’m not going to give that away. I think that what a character chooses to read can be a wonderful, if slightly indirect, communication between the writer and the reader. If I were to create a character based on my father, he’d reread The Great Gatsby again and again and again…

 

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What are some of the most memorable books you’ve read? What scenes and characters are forever burned into your memory?

 

You can connect with Candy Korman and her social media sites via her Candy Monster’s website and blog.

 

 

Photo Credit: All Seeing Eye

 

Photo Credit: Old Couch 

 

Photo Credit: The Storm is Coming

 

Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2016

Author: JeriWB Guest

If you would like to write a guest post on a writing or literature related topic, please contact me. Aim for 800 words and be keyword specific.

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29 Comments

  1. It’s great to host Candy. Her books have been one of my most pleasant (or should I say horrifying) new discoveries since I started this blog. I highly encourage everyone to enjoy her monster stories!

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  2. I have had a few books that I reread, finding something new based on where I am in my life when I read them. At the same time, there are books I will never read again, because they were a part of my life I would rather have as a memory. The person I was then is far removed from the person I am now.

    We (my wife and I) have spent much of our lives removing and keeping the ever growing piles of clutter at bay. Part of that clutter tends to be books we have read and will never look back upon again. This means many books go to the goodwill and the Salvation Army as we clean out old pieces of our lives.

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    • Oh yes… the book clutter. I never saw my piles and shelves and cases and tables of books as clutter until a Feng Shui person told me otherwise. I’ve pared the collection down — a lot — and the Kindle helps, but there are some book covers I still want to see. I bet there are “saved” books you’re not opening again, but just the cover (or the title) is enough to stir memories.

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      • Candy, the print books I’m most attached to are the ones I wrote tons of marginalia in during college. I’ll admit to being somewhat of a re-reader. It’s like eating my favorite chocolate over and over. Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath is one of my favorites to re-visit, but I actually have quite a long list of ones I plan to read again. I’ve always liked being able to pick up on new things, and it’s always a bit fascinating that a new version of myself will be reading the same book. The reader and the text interact in fabulous ways.

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  3. I have always loved books. I could never handle reading the scary ones though. I could watch a scary movie because I could choose not to look at certain scenes. Books are not like that. I have been a Kindle owner since the first ones hit the market. I love having a lot of different books so that I can read whatever I happen to be in the mood for. I still have some paper books, but a lot less now. That whole clutter thing was an issue. LOL 🙂 I will say that I used to reread books when I was younger, but only the best parts. Never the entire book. Don’t reread them now at all. Hmm…..

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    • Rereading the best parts.
      What a great strategy! There are a few books I may try that with.

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  4. There is always the books that I return to. Like your father they are our comfort books and we relish in reliving the story. Great post. 🙂

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    • My dad says that rereading Gatsby is like going to a museum to visit a favorite masterpiece and see different things in it while experiencing the comfort of visiting an old friend. There is some real comfort in that.

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  5. The one book above all others that is burned into my memory is American Pastoral by Philip Roth. I pretty much never re-read anything so I’m not likely to pick it up again. A movie version was recently released but it came and went before I got to see it, probably a sign that it wasn’t very good.

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  6. I much enjoyed this guest post,Candy and Jeri… Good selection of books… I still remember `Rebecca´… I chose it in a student version for my writing section in the First Certificate Cambridge Examination, when I was at High School…
    It is true that many books Can have a powerful effect on us, and that the feelings might remain Remain unchanged, despite the times and other changing circumstances.
    Sending best wishes. Aquileana 🌟

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  7. I don’t often reread books simply because there are so many new ones I want to read. But I have occasionally reread a book. Rather than breaking the magic, I’ve connected with the book in a different way because of changed circumstances in my life and a different perspective.

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  8. “Last night i dreamt i went to manderley again. . .” “Call me Ishmael.” Yup, I’m guilty of rereading almost obsessively!

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  9. So interesting! Well now I want to read The Great Gatsby again 😉 I hadn’t heard the term “sticky books” before but like the sound of it.. it’s books like To Kill a Mockingbird for me.

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  10. Sticky books!! I like the expression as it reminds me of sticky friends, some of whom you would like to avoid! I have been attached to two books and would like to read certain parts again and again but watching favorite movies is more fun. I have seen my girls reading some books again and I always scoffed at their habit…when there is so much new…why read the same but I have now understood the reasons.

    I have donated most of my real books and now prefer Kindle, just for convenience sake.

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  11. Just recently I started to re-read Michael Connelly’s first mysteries. I “discovered” him before he became famous. He’s one of my favorite authors and I don’t often find other writers I like as much. I’ve not been disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading “Black Echo,” his first book.

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  12. **He enjoyed it the way someone else might visit an old friend**

    O’, I love it described like that!

    I call these particular authors “my hot fudge sundae authors.”

    I keep going back because they taste good, sweet, and YES, the characters are my old, dear friends.

    Great interview, girls!!

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  13. Stories that create vivid images in my mind’s eye are the stories that stay with me. The more detail the better.

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  14. Afraid I don’t read fiction, so almost all my books are non-fiction and reference books that I definitely refer time and time again. My husband loves to watch the same movies and musicals over and over. I rarely want to watch something again once I’ve seen it. Except Rainman. There’s something about that story that has captivated me.

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  15. I LOVE reading and there are many books that earned a place in my reread collection. But when I read your question about the most memorable book and characters one book immediately popped into my mind – Shawshank Redemption. It’s also one of the very few books that I can say the movie is also a keeper.

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  16. I am a serial re-reader and I love re-reading my favourite books over and over again when the mood strikes me. However, I can relate to this post still because there are some books that I refuse to touch for fear that I will ruin my thoughts and feelings about it. For example, when I was in high school there were so many young adult books that really touched me and stayed with me for so long but I am scared that if I re-read them now I will not have the same feelings as I am older and more skeptical of things.

    Thank you for sharing this post. It was a very relatable read.

    Emily | http://www.emilytrinh.com/theres-monster-bed/

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  17. Thanks, Candy and Jeri, for another great post. I’m not one to reread books either. It’s so true that books impact based on moments in time; what is going on in our life. A few books that impacted me in my older years are The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon; A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving; and I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb. The Dick and Jane books taught me to read, and my first love for reading came from reading anything Sidney Sheldon.

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  18. For me, it was Terry Brooks Landover novel, Magic Kingdom: For Sale, Sold! I reread that book so many times, and it inspired me along the track I’m on now.

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  19. I’m like your dad and have multiple books that I re-read. Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift From the Sea, all Raymond Chandler’s works, Dick Francis…I could go on and on. It’s like sitting with a friend again. Sometimes I re-read, like Chandler, because I love how he describes a character concisely but thoroughly. It helps me do the same.

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    • I also re-read Gift From The Sea every summer, RoseMary. Nice to meet someone else who also treasures Lindbergh’s words. Cheers! 🙂

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  20. Rereading is living a journey again and again.Like behind every favorite song, there is an untold story same way it goes for books 🙂

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  21. I reread everything. I have my favorites, Frankenstein, Dracula, then I go to The Old Man and the Sea, and my all time favorite Moby-Dick.
    When I reread old books, it gives me more ideas for my writings.

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  22. I love that saying ‘sticky books’. I love how you weave these historic fictional characters into your stories, Candy. That is so creative! Of course, I love when a character has a favorite novel and it is referenced throughout a story. Same with movies where characters quote famous works.
    I re-read Pride & Prejudice. The magic hasn’t changed. I re-read to Kill a Mockingbird. I don’t reread as often as every year though. It’s after several years have passed and I miss those characters and long for them. Besides, I tend to forget details of a character or story so it’s like reading it for the first time all over again. Oh, dear. I think that’s called early alzheimer’s.

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  23. I’ve had that experience before, when I’ve loved a book, then gone back to it later, only to feel like it had changed. I guess it was I who had done the changing. Edgar Allan Poe is one of the exceptions for me. I never get tired of his stories!

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