My Corpse as a Capsule: 5 books to put in my casket

What’s news for horror writer Paul D. Dail?

Not much new news to report this week.  Finished a draft of a story I’m submitting for an anthology, looking at an old short story that I’m considering self-publishing, and starting back into the next novel.  I know, vague much on the specifics?  I will say that the short story I’m considering self-publishing deals with a young man’s unhealthy obsession with flies.

To see my complete listing of available works at Amazon (also available at Barnes and Noble), please click here.

What does the future hold?

Next Friday, I’ll be posting short reviews of short stories.  Two in particular actually.  Well, kind of.  The first will be a review of CW LaSart’s collection of shorts, Ad Nauseum, and the second will be Axel Howerton’s Living Dead at Zigfreidt and Roy.

But without further ado…

As I’m writing this post, I can’t help but think of the movie “Poltergeist,” specifically the scene at the end (SPOILER ALERT in case you actually haven’t seen “Poltergeist”) where the caskets are popping out of the ground.

I can just see myself in one of those caskets, my grinning, desiccated corpse being tossed out of the casket.  Except in my hands I’m holding books.  Five of them to be specific (I know, a difficult task when you’re body is falling apart, but I’ve got ‘em).

Anyway, this post was inspired by TESSpecFic group mate Marie Loughin’s post, Books I Want to be Buried With.  To set this up, I’ll quote from Marie’s post (but check it out in its entirety when you get a chance):

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not against e-books. Guilt rides me every time I buy a print book, so these days I try to restrict paper purchases to novels I want to keep forever (and books that aren’t available as e-books or cost more as e-books than print). But even as I transition into a completely digital existence, I have this niggling concern that the great works of modern literature will be lost when civilization crumbles and the cloud evaporates into oblivion.

Therefore I feel it’s imperative to select some favorite novels to be buried with. That way, books found when I am exhumed by future archeologists need not be lost forever.

And that’s what distinguishes this from a list of my favorite books (or from my post, My Own Works Cited List: 10 books that have inspired me)

Although one of the books I’ve chosen is from that list.  It also is one of the same books Marie picked.  I think that’s okay, though.  When those future alien archaeologists exhume our bodies, maybe seeing more than one of us with this book will really get them to read it (note that I’ve transmogrified this meme to insinuate that there won’t be humans left to find my collection, but rather aliens).

So NOW without further ado…

1- Fahrenheit 451: Ray Bradbury.

This was the first one to come to mind for me when I read about Marie’s premise, and I was pleased to see she had it as well.  I talked about it at my Works Cited post, but for the sake of this post, I think it will be interesting for future generations to see how prophetic Bradbury might have been (and in my opinion, looking at today’s society, how much he already got right).

Will we lose books entirely, banned not by the government but rather by the citizens in an attempt at Uber-Political Correctness?  Will we lose sight of the little things in life, the flowers and raindrops? Or even the bigger things, our own interconnectedness with those who are supposed to be closest to us?

And will I ever have a room composed entirely of surrounding full-wall interactive television screens?  Okay, so maybe that would be pretty cool 🙂

Speaking of cautionary tales…

2- 1984: George Orwell.

I think Orwell should’ve pushed the date a little farther into the future for the title of this book.  Do I think we’re there yet?  Not quite, although I think the Patriot Act was a step in the direction Orwell was hinting toward.  I think we still have our eyes open enough, but with more and more electronic distractions and the seemingly increasing lack of short term memory in our citizenry (especially where politics is concerned), I don’t imagine it will be long until we have at least a Ministry of Truth to change the past if it doesn’t match with our present state.

3- The Holy Bible: The Christian God… or some guys’ interpretation thereof

Whether or not I agree that this book contains all the truths of the universe, I think it has to be included for those future alien archaeologists.  After all, aren’t we all fascinated by past (and in some cases present) cultures’ deities?  In school we learn about Greek mythology and the various Greek and Roman gods. And aren’t some of them cool?  Then there are native culture gods, goddesses and spirits.  And have you ever looked into Hinduism?  They have millions of gods.

But back to the Bible, when it comes to a study of our civilization, there’s no doubt that this book was a cornerstone in our foundation.  It’s interesting to wonder if the future will give us any solid proof one way or the other as to its validity.  And even though I’m not much of a practicing Christian, I can’t deny the influence it had on my own upbringing.

Plus, if they have any records of who I am (or rather was), they’ll be a little confused that I chose to include it.

Speaking of who I am…

4- The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe: Edgar Allan Poe

Okay, I know I kind of cheated on this, but I do own a book that is the complete collection.  It’s just one book, so it counts.  And it’s my blog post.

Anyway, Poe wasn’t my first horror influence, but he definitely is one of them.  In fact, if you read my novel, The Imaginings, there is a whole section that is a not-so-subtle homage if you’re a fan of Poe to his fears of being buried alive (right off the top of my head, I can think of at least three stories that deal with this fear).

However, beyond his influence on me personally, it can’t be denied that he is a huge influence on many horror writers.  But his impact also reaches into thrillers, mysteries and even poetry.

Finally…

5- Either Misery or On Writing: Stephen King

This choice is obviously another personal one for people (or aliens) to understand a little more about this corpse popping up with a bunch of books in his hands.  To be a horror writer is to lead an interesting life to say the least.  And Stephen King captures that in both of these books.

Originally I intended to put in Misery because it’s just a great story with the only monster being a real person (some of the scariest of them all).  And not just any person, but a fan.  Misery isn’t my favorite King book, but the plight of Paul Sheldon, both in his decisions as a writer previous to meeting Annie Wilkes and then after, combined with the book-within-a-book motif really give the layperson an idea of what it is to be a writer.

Then I thought about On Writing, his nonfiction memoir/writing advice book.  This is a great one that tells the real (or as close to reality as memory allows) story of this master of horror.  For the casual reader, there is the same folksy conversational tone we expect from King, full of humor and real life horror, and for the avid writer, the second half of the book is full of practical advice.

I guess if I had to choose between the two, it would probably be On Writing.

But you’ll just have to dig me up some day to find out for sure.

What do I want from you?

Any comments on my choices?

If you aren’t a blogger and don’t end up doing a similar post, what might you pick?

As always, links to your sites are welcome.

Besides Marie, a couple other writers I know who posted on this topic with their own choices are Jonathan D. Allen and Ken Preston.

Finally, don’t forget to check back next Friday for my review of Ad Nauseum and Living Dead at Zigfreidt and Roy.

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28 responses to “My Corpse as a Capsule: 5 books to put in my casket

  1. Interesting what you wrote about the Bible–never thought of it that way. In some ways I consider it a work of fiction. And there is no way I will ever find out otherwise…unless they crack open the archives under the Vatican (ha) to the public.
    And Poe was my first horror guy.
    We read Masque of the Red Death in third grade (!) and I was GONE. I terrified my poor younger sister and wrote my first screenplay based on the book. It was not received well. And I did not know what pores were so instead of being covered with blood that leaked from their pores–the victims had red headbands and scarves hanging from their necks…Dracula influence I’m sure.
    Great post–I like these and should probably do one also.

    • Hey Penelope, thanks for the comments. Yeah, I definitely think the Bible should be in there. I refer to it frequently (and quite delicately) in my classes, telling my students that regardless of personal faith, it is a book that has influenced our society.

      Masque of the Red Death in 3rd grade, eh? Yikes. Love your use of headbands and scarves. I meant to mention this, but I teach Cask of Amontillado every year (speaking of a premature burial story). Of course, they’re not 3rd graders 🙂

      And yes, I think you should do one, as well. I was thinking this could be another good round-robin for our group.

  2. These are interesting choices. I think the Bible’s a must whether you’re a believer or not, simply because it’s so fundamental to the development of Western Civilisation. Poe – oh yes, one of my first literary loves.

    I’d have a hard, if not impossible, time choosing my own five. There are just so many fabulous books out there that should be preserved forever. I’d be torn between my instinctive choices, all of which are established classics, and other books which are perhaps rather less popular, and are therefore more in need of preservation.

    • Hey Mari,

      Yes, five was difficult. As I think has been mentioned elsewhere, there are plenty of others I could choose, but thought I’d try to nail it down to five. And good point about some of the lesser known books. I’ve seen these at the other posts I mention. In my opinion, those are books that will definitely go on my TBR list. If someone considers them good enough to take to the grave, they must be worth something.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Hope you have a good weekend.

  3. The Bible! Of course! I’m now smacking my head and saying “Doh!”

    (When you revise your will to include your book list, keep in mind that there’s probably room for more than 5 books in there. I only included 5 in my list because I didn’t want the post to get too long.)

    • Thanks, Marie. With any luck, there won’t even be room for my body because there will be so many books 🙂

      Actually, I liked putting it at five. And already my post was probably too long, even only doing that many. Maybe I could put in a short addendum with more books (just without my reasoning).

  4. Pingback: The #TESSpecFic Weekly (With Special Guest): | Shaggin the Muse

  5. This was too hard, but I gave it a shot anyway. The Stand, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Frankenstein, The Time Machine. I know you chose Orwell and Bradbury, but I swear I would have picked those as well!

    • Yeah, just coming up with five is tricky. And no sweat on the repetition. Just because I picked them doesn’t mean you can’t have them in your casket as well 🙂

      I finally read The Time Machine for the first time (no pun intended 🙂 ) last year and really enjoyed it. Yet another one with some prognosticating going on that would be interesting to see. Of course, doesn’t he go something like 2000 years into the future? That’s when it really got crazy. Still, I’d love to know. Yet another reason I hope for some sort of afterlife… because I hope that sort of knowledge will be one of the perks.

      Thanks for your comment and your choices.

  6. Nope, we didn’t pick any of the same (mine will be mostly children’s lit), but I love some of your choices. I still get creeped out when I read the Fall of the House of Usher. I haven’t read 1984 since about 1994, which mean’s I’m long overdue for a reread. And of course the Bible. I’ve done a lot of questioning and digging into its veracity and I’m personally convinced, but you’re right. Believer or not, it HAS been a tremendous influencing factor our history (though the Ministry of Truth is doing an excellent job modifying our text books).

    • Hey Michelle,

      Thanks for stopping by. And what an interesting concept. I think there is room for almost another whole post on which children’s lit books I would preserve (after all, we can’t necessarily have future children reading 1984, right? We’ll need to save some books for them, too). Hmm. I’ll have to think on that one. And look forward to seeing your post.

      Hope you have a good weekend.

  7. I glad to hear you picked the Bible, I would choose that as well. It is one of the most influential books in the history of the world, regardless of your beliefs. Well said. I would add Life of Pi by Yann Martel to that list. Absolutely nuts of over that book. I rather think my corpse would continue to enjoy reading it as well, down there in the complete darkness. Maybe cockroaches can read. Maybe they can see in the dark.

    • Hey Erik, thanks for your comments. I actually am a big fan Life of Pi. Actually I met Yann at a reading in Austin two years ago. Nice guy. That one actually made it into my Works Cited post as well as my Seven Spiritual Symptoms post from a couple weeks ago. I’m pretty sure I’ll find room for that one too.

      Guess we better get buried with nightlights, eh? For the cockroaches if nothing else. Eww 🙂

  8. On Writing is a wonderful, wonderful book.

    The title of this post has a lovely, lyrical, and darkly whimsical ring to it. I like it. I don’t have much to add, except that I really want to read your short story about a young man’s obsession with flies!

    • Thanks, Aniko. Glad you liked the title. You shouldn’t add any more here because you should do a post like this. I’d be curious to see your five.

      And I’ll keep you posted on the fly story. I hope it’s good. It’s actually an oldie that I wrote back in college. I might as well have just rewritten it for all the editing it’s taken 🙂

      • I should pick up this theme in my blog, you’re right. Perhaps in a couple of weeks, I’ll do just that. 🙂 Oh, old stories can be such surprises, most of all to the writer!

        Have a great evening!

  9. I’m late to the party this week, but here is my list:

    1. Poe tops my list. My favorite poem within his complete works is The Raven.

    2. The Old Man And The Sea by the great Hemingway.

    3. Of Mice And Men by Steinbeck.

    4. 1984 by George Orwell.

    5. Physics Of The Impossible; A Scientific Exploration Into The World Of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, And Time Travel by Michio Kaku. Okay, so shoot me! I love Physics.

    The Bible is not on my list. I use it as a reference book for horror only. Being dead, it would serve no purpose. However, I could dabble into a little time travel thought from Mr. Kaku and perhaps leave the time I’m in. Hmmn. The other four books, I could read over and over again for sheer joy!

    Interesting selection of books from everyone.

    Blaze

    • Some good selections here, Blaze. I teach “Of Mice and Men” to my freshmen and love it. For such a short book, it is packed with amazing writerly things (even though the students are often angry at me when we get to the end. I just have to remind them that life doesn’t always include happy endings, and that this particular ending was set up from the very beginning).

      Physics of the Impossible sounds interesting. And I love the title. I would again reference Fahrenheit 451. Most of the technology he talks about would’ve been considered science fiction when it was released, but these days, it’s more like science fact.

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope your week started out well.

  10. You made the right call between “Misery” and “On Writing.” While King has been my Poe-like inspiration and influence, his treatise on the craft “On Writing” humanized the process and offered an actual insight into the writer that can only be intuited through reading his books.

    As for my “5”?
    1. “Howl of a Thousand Winds” by Morris Workman (yeah, I know, a shameless post-death plug of my own book, but I figure it will hold up a lot better than a business card in the breast pocket of my darkest suit. Besides, the aim of most writers is for their work to outlive them…to have my work read by green-skinned, large-headed, big-eyed alien anthropologists? Bonus!)
    2. “The Stand” by Stephen King. Shows the best and worst of our humanity.
    3. “The AP Stylebook” by Associated Press. I consider this to be the antithesis of the Bible, the incarnation of evil political correctness and close-mindedness, and the best explanation of our demise as a species.
    4. “Fun With Dick and Jane” by William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp. Just in case the alien anthropologists are having trouble decoding our language. Also, “See Spot run. Run, Spot, run!” is probably the first and most inflential action thriller read by nearly every American writer.
    5. “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy. I never actually read it, and I don’t expect the aliens to read it, but it will look as impressive in my coffin as it does on my bookshelf.
    5.

    • Morris, these are awesome responses. Or at least your explanations for your responses, especially number 4 🙂

      Yes, I should probably put a copy of my own novel in there with me somewhere. What good would a business card do anyway?

      And after reading your #5, I’m going to be sure that my copy (similarly unread) of “The Philosophy of Nietzsche” makes it in as well.

      Thanks for the comments.

  11. Great list, Paul. I think you met Marie’s proposition better than I did, in my post. Looking far enough into the future I do wonder hat people would make of the Bible, and if society was falling apart would they take it as their bible and use it in reconstructing society? Hmm, an interesting germ of an idea for a novel there, maybe?
    Misery, as I have said many times before to anybody who will listen, is a fantastic book. If anybody reading this has only seen the film, well, forget that, just go out and read the book, OK?
    I think your list might be the first one where I have read every book on it (including On Writing). I was a Christian for a few years in my twenties and early thirties, and during that time I read the Bible from cover to cover at least three times. Not sure what I think about certain aspects of Christianity now, but my first ever manuscript (which will remain forever unpublished) was all about faith and doubt amidst the end of the world.
    Anyway, I’m babbling. This was great, exchanging book lists like this. Anybody else getting involved? 🙂

    • Ken, thanks for the comments. And hopefully a few will visit your blog to see your choices as well. Yes, it sounds like you do have an interesting idea for a novel there. Maybe you can combine it with what I’m guessing is the content of your never-to-be-published first manuscript. Needless to say, you’ve piqued my curiosity.

      And all this talk means I’ll have to re-read Misery. I gave it to my stepdaughter for Christmas as a little bit of an easier King to get through (her first book by him was IT. A pretty impressive undertaking).

      Thanks again.

  12. Wow, this really gets the old gray matter churning! My all time favorite book is Hemingway’s ‘A Moveable Feast’, so that’s in there. ‘The Great Gatsby’ is next. Hmmmm. For horror, something like ‘Boy’s Life’ by Robert McCammon. Then maybe ‘Snow in August’ by Pete Hammil. I might round it out with ‘Miracle in Seville’ by James Michener. I’d be very happy with that list. 🙂

    • Hey Hunter, thanks for the comments. And some interesting choices here. I read ‘Boy’s Life’ a couple of years ago. Definitely enjoyed it, but not as much as some of his earlier work (which I can only assume you’ve read as well). I’d be curious what it was about that one for you that ranked it above the others. And I’m not familiar with your last two choices, but I will put them on the list (and maybe in my coffin as well 🙂 )

      Thanks again, and thanks for tweeting this post to your followers.

  13. Hi Paul! I’d have to go with “on Writing” as well. But my personal fave would be “Wolf’s Hour” by Robert McCammon. Gotta tell you though, the image of you popping out of a casket five gruesome fingers deep with books would be quite the spectacle.

    • Hey Joe, thanks for stopping by. I was just discussing McCammon with Hunter. I actually haven’t read Wolf’s Hour, but I remember seeing it around and about when I was younger (I think that’s one of his older ones, right?).

      And yeah, wouldn’t that be funny to see a skeleton pop out with books? It would make a great PSA for reading, I think.

      Thanks again for your comments. Hope you’re having a good week.

      • Hey Paul, you’re welcome! “Wolf’s Hour” is what got me into werewolves & the concept of the ‘beast within’ in the first place. I won’t give anything away, but it’s set in WW2…and it’s a great f’n novel lol

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