Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Guest Post by Mother Horror

Mother Horror 

I think as readers, especially voracious readers, we all understand that concept we often talk about where we come to the table with totally different worldviews, upbringings, values, morals, experiences, etc and all of that ‘baggage’, if you will, is with us when we read a story.
Nobody holds a book in their hand with a clean slate in their mind. Because our minds our filled with US and we step inside the pages of a story as ourselves, the writers--their brains are full of THEM as well as all the people they are creating and giving flesh to--so a book is a bunch of people, real and imagined, coming together to experience *something*--whatever that might be. The reader and the writer are going on a journey.

It’s profoundly intimate, really and that’s how I read all the books I read. I gather up everything that makes me, who I am and I knock on the cover of a book and the book opens itself to me--the author takes my hand and brings me inside and I travel through the pages experiencing it as only I can experience it.

This is why when Curtis asked me if I wanted to write a guest blog post about coming of age books and movies, I was like “HELL YES!”
I have a lot to say on this subject so I hope you’re in the mood for a *tale* as only Mother Horror can tell it, gather ‘round children.

Recently, I read the book Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon for the first time. I make that distinction, “for the first time” because it’s crazy to me that Boy’s Life has been standing around since the 90s waiting for me to hear about it so I can read it! I was a sophomore in high school at that time and it pains me to know that I could have experienced that book at a very important time in my life and I probably would have loved the snot out of that book and have read it a dozen times already. As fate would have it, I read it for the first time this year, at 41 years of age but I don’t think anything was lacking for me. I read it with the same youthful heart I had when I was 16 because it’s the same damn heart I have now.
I feel like nothing has changed and I’m sure many of us feel the same way. It doesn’t matter how many birthdays you keep having, you’re still the same goofball, weirdo now as you were then, right? Right.

Boy’s Life has become my new favorite book. What was my old favorite book, you might ask? Well, I’ll tell you, it was Stephen King’s IT. Still my favorite *horror* book of course. Is it surprising to you that I chose an author new to me over an author I have loved since I was 13 years old? Well consider the stories: Both of them have that coming of age aspect to them, don’t they? But if you want to read about the Loser’s Club again and again, you’ll have to contend with Pennywise. I’ve confronted him three times over my lifetime and I had to work up the nerve each time to do it. Boy’s Life you can read over and over again and you don’t have the burden of Pennywise. Ha!
What is it about these stories with childhood nostalgia that’s so damn endearing? I laid in my bed and I thought about all my favorite coming of age tales like The Summer of Night by Dan Simmons, The Body by Stephen King and the movie adaptation, Stand By Me. I thought of the wildly popular Stranger Things, which reminded me of older shows and movies like it: The Goonies, E.T. and the Sandlot.

It reminded me also of one of my favorite TV shows that I used to watch with my parents called The Wonder Years. Do you remember that show? Fred Savage? That was my parents’ generation on the screen and the family went through stuff that really got my parents all nostalgic for their childhoods. What about My So-Called Life? Oh man, I used to live and die by that show. I hated missing a single episode. Claire Danes played Angela Chase, a teenager just trying to survive high school. She had a crush on Jordan Catalano, this total burnout stoner guy who secretly makes out with her in the boiler room but won’t publically be her boyfriend. A best friend named Rayanne who was so annoying, yet awesome at the same time. I was jealous of her boldness and individuality but also like strangely put off by her as well. Anyways, it was the best show ever. 

I think the most magical thing about these coming of age stories is that we can relate. We might all have a difficult time relating to one another in all the different stages of life we find ourselves in NOW, like our contexts are all so different, but one thing we ALL have in common is that we were all kids once. We all know what it’s like to have parents, to go through puberty, to feel awkward, to have to perform at school, to be scared of the dark, to be disciplined, to be rebellious, to be bullied or pressured, ride a bike for the first time, get a crush on someone, hurt ourselves, fight for ourselves, taste alcohol or smoke, think about death, curse our siblings, I mean, all of these things have varying degrees of importance in our lives and we went through it differently, but go through it we did! All of us! And when a writer digs deep into those childhood memories and brings us into a story where we can respond with our own childhood stories--it’s magical. It puts light in our eyes. Our hearts swell, our tears pour out...something *happens*.

The most influential thing humans do is tell stories to each other. We tell stories through music, through film and through books. We tell our own stories as well as the stories that live insides us that need to be told, the stories we make up. It’s amazing how when you see Elliott risking his life for this alien he found, you know how that feels. When you hear Gordie Lachance cry about his older brother that died and say, “It should have been me” you know how that feels. 

When you hear that freckled face, Hamilton say, “You’re killing me Smalls.” you laugh, because you know how that feels. The rock fight against the bullies and the Loser’s Club, you’ve been there--you know. Riding a bike named Rocket that helps you escape danger, you’ve been there--you know. That first kiss at the school dance or not being asked to dance at all while you watch all your friends slow dancing--you feel that. Saturday detention. You feel that. Parents blaming you for something you didn’t do. Been there.
It’s all the story of us and that what we love about Coming of Age stories...they’re the stories of us.

Allison Reynolds : When you grow up, your heart dies.
John : So, who cares?

Allison Reynolds : I care. __The Breakfast Club 


  1. English, lady. I'm from Germany and I do a better job with it than you do.

    1. It's precious that you decided to post as an anonymous user.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thanks so much for this article. I love all the same books, and for all the same reasons. Books were the place where, as a loner-weirdo-outsider, I had company. Writers and readers must be, in general, my people, because the good writers catch those moments, that coming of age, and set them down on the page. And the readers who respond to them are my fellow travelers, so the night isn’t always quite so dark and lonely.

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