Thursday, July 15, 2021

film notes | fear street and the mall bookstore

 This week and last, Friday night's have been devoted to  devouring each new installment of Netflix's trilogy built around RL Stine's Fear Street series--an excellent watch and full of all sorts of nostalgia--90's life in the first and the 70's in the second--including great music and nods to other pop and horror culture centerpieces like Scream and Carrie.. I was really only familiar with Stine from the Goosbumps paperbacks I had to run interference on when I worked in the library -- kids would literally fight over them to read the few scraggly well-loved paperbacks.  Fear Street, their older, more teen-oriented cousins, were only familiar to me in passing, having debuted around the time I was in highschool, but then again, was already well into more adult horror. I do remember them occupying the same Waldenbook's shelves that housed one young adult horror author I did seek out in those days--Christopher Pike (and always had to purchase myself , since the Cherry Valley Public Library didn't carry the newest things (and if they did, they were hard to get). Unlike Fear Street, most of Pike's late 80's books, with a few of exceptions, were stand-alones--not even always supernatural in their plot lines. One of my favorite involved a spring break trip to Mexico gone wrong. Another, a girl who survives a house fire by hiding in a shower and then has to solve her own attempted murder while everyone think's she's already dead. Another, where an actual dead girl has to solve her own murder. 

It was a delight to see Fear Street open with a scene set in a B. Dalton's filled with YA horror.  The Waldenbooks at the mall was set at the far end and tucked in a corner upstairs and opposite the movie theatres.  It was one of two bookstores--the other a Krochs & Brentanos at the other end, known more for their selection of more serious titles (I once bought a thick paperback of Gone With the Wind for my junior year term paper.  Later, a tea rose fabric-covered blank book I used as my North Carolina diary. .  It would be years before Barnes & Noble opened up in Rockford  (though it is now actually located adjacent to the same mall--a stone's throw from where you would have been able to buy the latest Bop or Tiger Beat in the late 80s'.  Years before Borders would come and go. Since the mall was ultimately a hangout with shopping opps, Waldenbooks had an entire section in it's small space devoted to teen novels.  And a huge selection of teen horror like Fear Street and Christopher Pike.  As that opening scene attests, books were cheap then--but I still had to save up money I earned doing chores to get my fix.  While my aunt kept me on a steady diet of passed off adult horror, and the library helped a little,  I was mostly on my own for these do they were some of the first books I ever paid my own money for and obviously setting in place an expensive habit.  I kept them for years until I passed them off to a younger cousin to make room for more "serious" books I was collecting in college. 

And of course, thus beginning a history of bookstore love that, in the internet age,, has become less common.  Now, I either get my books at the library on order them on the web.    Outside of a couple used and indie bookstores I like to stop in when in the right neighborhood, I'm in them less and less.  In the early aughts, I spent a lot of time collecting remaindered hardcovers from the basement of the Borders on Michigan Ave. I would head over to the Barnes & Noble to browse and work on stuff in the cafe, but their poetry selection was pretty uninspiring. (With my bookshelves precariously full, I eventually banned myself from buying novels and just get them through the library. ) Mostly, I sometimes feel like I miss and lose out on how much used to come my way serendipitously in those bargain I know what I want and go looking for it and my collecting is more focused.  There is only so much room and so many things to read. 

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