I can remember attending story hour at the Magnolia branch library when I was a kid, just as thousands of children still do each year at libraries all over the city. I’ve never stopped loving stories, but as I grew older they stopped having a storytime for me. So I started one myself, and every other week for the past four years, at the Central Branch of The Seattle Public Library, grownups have gathered to enjoy a story time that is a little different from most. On the first and third Monday of each month during the lunch hour, Seattle Public Library hosts Thrilling Tales: A Storytime for Adults. Unlike the children’s stories being shared next door, in our storytime listeners are transported to the scene of the crime or deep into the Twilight Zone with twisted tales of murder and mirth, intrigue and imagination written by masters of suspense. Sometimes it feels like sitting around the campfire, and sometimes it is like mystery radio theater on a dark, lonely road. Come join us: stories start at 12:05, and are done by 12:45 or so. Bring your lunch, or your knitting, or just yourself for an pleasant escape from the everyday. After all, when was the last time someone read you a story? Remember how good that was? It still is.
Here are the stories you’ll be hearing in the year ahead:
Jan 5: A Trader’s Lot, by Twist Phelan. As a hurricane closes in on the gulf, a frantic trader on Wall Street prays that it will be the perfect storm for his falling fortunes.
February 2: The Lie, by T.C. Boyle. Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive! Also A Souvenir from Hell, by Etgar Keret. “There’s this village in Uzbekistan that was built right smack at the mouth of Hell…”
March 2: Making Amends, by Jeffery Deaver. Inspired by the popular TV show My Name is Earl, Jamie Feldon feels it is time to make things right with the world. The world feels otherwise.
April 6: The Old Man, by Daphne du Maurier. The author of The Birds twists a tale of a strange family’s dark doings down by the lake. Also, Thus I Refute Beelzy, by John Collier. Simon’s father says that he’s too old for make-believe. Oh really?
April 20: Reasons Unknown, by Stanley Ellin. Economic recession, tightening budgets, corporate downsizing, and who’ll pay in the end? Middle manager Morrison knows who.
May 4: The Small Assassin, by Ray Bradbury. In the old days, mothers often died in childbirth, but with advances in modern medicine, now a murderous infant must be more resourceful.
May 18: Plan 19, by Jack Ritchie. Fred and Hector have cooked up eighteen plans for their big prison break, but it takes Big Duke to add that one missing ingredient: success. Also The Gun, by Ann Carol.
June 1: Dying Room Only, by Richard Matheson. On a hot desert highway, a last-chance café becomes just that for an unsuspecting couple.
June 15: Family, by Dan Leone. The prodigal son returns home to find no fatted calf, but an unexpected girl in a bathtub.
July 6: The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson. If you know the ending to this infamous classic shocker, please keep it to yourself! Also Jack The Ripper, by Shirley Jackson.
July 20: Butch Minds the Baby, by Damon Runyon. In a classic yarn by the inimitable Brooklyn raconteur, matters grow complicated when a safecracker can’t get a babysitter on the night of the big heist.
August 3: Game, by Herbert Kastle. This taut mid-century noir asks, will it be roadside romance, or road-kill? Also The Dispatching of George Ferris, by Bill Pronzini. Murder is no laughing matter, except when it is.
August 17: Of Missing Persons, by Jack Finney. Need to get away from it all? There’s a top secret travel agency that has just the ticket. Also Revival Meeting, by Dannie Plachta.
Sept. 21: The Silver Protector, by Ellis Parker Butler. Edgar develops a fool-proof method for foiling burglars, and he should know: he’s the biggest fool of all. Also Caught in the Act, by Bill Pronzini. How do you catch a thief who won’t steal anything?
Oct. 5: The Highboy, by Alison Lurie. People die, but their things live on, and some possessions are more earthly than others. Also Dead Women’s Things, by Kathy Chwedyk
Oct. 19: The Wrong Grave, by Kelly Link. Young Miles digs up his sweetheart to retrieve the poems he had buried with her, in this charming, offbeat ghost story.
Oct 26: Slowly, Slowly in the Wind, by Patricia Highsmith. Remember that house you were scared to visit on Hallowe’en? Mean old man Skipperton’s place is worse, and wait ‘til you see his yard decorations!
Nov. 2: Man from the South, by Roald Dahl. Just a friendly wager between two gentlemen, but somehow it got, well – out of hand. Also The Story About a Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God, by Etgar Keret.
Nov. 16: Hunters in the Snow, by Tobias Wolff. Three friends go into the woods on a dark Winter’s day, but only two will return.
December 7: The Sadness of Detail, by Jonathan Carroll. A woman learns the unexpected subject of her idle sketches: God. Also In The Cards, by John Collier. If you could predict the future, would it really make a difference?
December 21: Back for Christmas, by John Collier. Ah, Homicide: the gift that keeps on giving. Also The Leaf Sweeper, by Muriel Spark. The sole member of the Society for the Abolition of Christmas finds his holiday spirit at last.
Jan. 4, 2010: Mr. Idd, by H.R.F. Keating. What would you call a man who seems to do all the things you secretly wish you could? Also The Innocent One, by Ed McBain. Poor Miguel, slaving away in the sun while his wife reclines in the shade …alone?
Feb 1, 2010: The Man Who Was the God of Love, by Ruth Rendell. Their marriage is blissfully happy, but then Helen learns that her husband is not the man she married. Also, Romance Lingers, Adventures Lives, by John Collier. Oh, what a little moonlight can do!
March 1, 2010: A Good Head for Murder, by Charles Runyon. Lost on a dark road in a strange country, and – wait: what’s that up ahead? No! It can’t be! Also, more terror on a lonely road in We’ll Look After You, by Robin Klein