Friday, July 13, 2007

Christopher Pike

Last time Mark I went to Dallas to visit Mandy and Victor, the three of us got into a conversation about what we used to read as kids. I couldn't really remember a whole lot, except for when I was in elementary school I used to read all the Little House on the Prairie books, and even had a little box set (damn, I wish I still had that!).

But I couldn't really remember a whole lot of what I read in junior high, until Mandy reminded me that I used to read all those Christopher Pike books, which I had totally forgotten about. Christopher Pike is a young adult fiction factory, and everything he wrote was horror, and always involved a mysterious "accident," and generally a group of kids receiving some kind of retribution through a mysterious stranger picking them off one by one, or otherwise terrorizing them somehow. At some point a horrible secret would be revealed, there would be much betrayal and bloodshed, and usually one person was left standing. His books were populated with beautiful protagonists, and I had a massive crush on more than one Christopher Pike stud. The main character in Chain Letter, in fact, which was my favorite book, specifically walked around a lot in his underwear (because he sleepwalked, and this was a detail the author always pointed out). I also really loved the Final Friends series of books; there were three of them, with subtitles like The Party, The Dance, The Graduation.

I seem to remember I Know What You Did Last Summer being based on a novel by Christopher Pike, but upon my research, I discovered it was written by Lois Duncan, whom I was also a big fan of, and who had her own none too shabby cottage industry of trashy teenage horror fiction (including Killing Mr. Griffin, which was the inspiration for the crappy Kevin Williamson movie Teaching Mrs. Tingle).

Anyway, I just discovered a couple of days ago that here at camp there is a "library," and I never knew about it before because it's settled among the cabins on one side of the hill, and during girls camp, boys aren't allowed in those areas. But as I was perusing its shelves today, I came upon a gold mine of Christopher Pike novels. Almost all of them were there, all with the original hand-drawn covers I remember from junior high, and I was immediately transported back to that time, spending hours in class and in my room, devouring those books. Some of them I read over and over again, and everytime a new one came out, I got myself to the bookstore as quickly as possible to buy it. This afternoon, I must have spent 30 minutes just pouring over the covers, savoring each detail and remembering them so vividly. I'm sort of tempted to grab one (um, like Chain Letter) and read it again (I'm sure I could get through most of it in one sitting), just to see how much of the actual content I actually remember.


Fox said...

I love those covers! A scavenger hunt movie would be cool. Like "Midnight Madness" but heavier on the "madness".

The Fire Next Time said...

I tried to find more covers, but almost all the covers I could find on the internet were from later versions of the books, and they no longer had those cool, colorful, drawn covers I remember so fondly. These were just about the only ones I could find.

bryan h. said...

I think I had grown out of young adult fiction by the time Christopher Pike was big, but in grade school I thought "The View From The Cherry Tree" was the greatest thriller ever written.

The book was about a grade-school child who witnesses the murder of his elderly neighbor. In the dramatic climax defends himself by throwing a poisonous tarantula at the murderer (while they are in a house that is on fire).

Even now, over 20 years later, that still sounds to me like a pretty appealing story.

Chipmunk Fart said...

This is a late, late comment, but WOW - those Christopher Pike covers! I remember staying up all night finishing those books because I could not put them down.

MEMORIES, it feel so spooky. I am tempted to read one again.