All Hallows Read

by M.J. Hearle

Halloween is upon us. Soon pumpkins will be carved, spooky costumes donned, and vast quantities of candy consumed by children everywhere. Well, not everywhere. Here in Australia we don’t celebrate Halloween. Sure, there might be a few cardboard skeletons sticky-taped half-heartedly to window panes, one or two jack o’ lanterns lighting verandahs, maybe even a handful of trick or treaters out and about on the night itself, but largely Halloween passes unremarked by the Australian public. Much to this particular author’s disappointment.

You see, I love Halloween. Or would love Halloween if given the chance. Dressing up like a monster and stuffing yourself senseless with chocolate is right up my alley. Unfortunately, I’ve only ever been able to enjoy such thrills vicariously through American movies and television shows. We’ve appropriated so much from the US it seems cruel that this particular cultural touchstone has been left behind. You can take back your Justin Bieber, Nike Airs and Kardashians (please take back the Kardashians) but feel free to show us how to carve pumpkins and bob for apples.

Why haven’t I tried to start a pro-Aussie Halloween movement myself? Trust me, Welcome Reader, I have. I even bought a costume online one year (Freddy Krueger – replete with mask, stripy sweater, and menacing plastic finger blades). However, trying to spark interest amongst my friends has proved impossible. Lots of noncommittal responses, bemused shrugs and raised eyebrows. It seems costume parties do not impress Aussies. We’re far too reserved to cavort about in fancy dress. Unless it’s a sports game, in which face-paint and outlandish attire is de rigueur.

Maybe it’s the heat? Unlike the US and UK, where Halloween is accompanied by falling leaves and chilly temperatures, October is usually the start of the summer season in Australia (we only have two seasons in this corner of the world – bloody cold or bloody hot.) Putting on elaborate costuming is counterintuitive when all you want to do is wear as little clothing as possible. It’s hard to feel scary when you’re sweaty.

So, while I have yet been able to enjoy All Hallows Eve I do fully intend to celebrate All Hallows Read. What is All Hallows Read? Let my mate, Neil, explain:

Pretty cool concept, huh? I might not be able to dress up on October 31st but I certainly can buy a couple of scary books to pass out. I’m thinking Stephen King’s The Shining for older readers, and either The Thief of Always by Clive Barker or The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman for younger readers.  If you have any other suggestions feel free to comment below.

And if anybody is having a Halloween Party in the Inner-city Sydney area there’s a lonely old Freddy Krueger who’d love to make an appearance.

M. J.