I stumbled over this NYT article today while taking a break from writing up a new short story. Goosebumps books were some of the first I owned, and certainly the first I collected, a longass time ago, in the third grade. They accumulated on the bookshelf above my bed and in my locker at school. They were the kind of dorky commodity that both entertained and could actually get you social credit. I remember an argument between me and another kid, a somewhat popular kid, regarding who owned the most individual copies. At the time it seemed that this was actually worth arguing about.
Last October, while visiting my parents' house, I climbed stairs to my old bedroom and dug out all my old Goosebumps books. The covers were gaudier than I remembered, the books themselves were thinner, and when I cracked a few I realized that the stories were much goofier. As girlfriend Sarah Rodenberg points out, "Only RL Stine can make a story about an evil sponge and have people buy it."
(I think she may be out of touch with the realities of publishing.)
I drove the books back to my apartment, and when I got home, I sat around with a beer trying to put them into order. They stacked up, kids' novels with gremlins and grinning wooden dummes on their fronts, and I was astounded and a little ashamed to have an almost unbroken run of the first 35 books. I tucked them into a cardboard box and donated them to a benefit auction for the literary journal Flyway, of which I am the fiction edtior. The goal was to raise enough money to finance our next issue, and we raised more than three thousand dollars. My Goosebumps novels pulled in fifteen bucks.
. . .
Sarah says, "Welcome to Camp Nightmare was my favorite. You think it's all normal and then you realize that THEY ARE ON ANOTHER PLANET. At the very end. Out of nowhere and for no reason."
Whatever your feelings about the Goosebumps series, you can probably at least agree that RL Stine is one strange-looking man.
. . .
I have no idea what this is about, but I'm impressed that somebody bothered making it.
. . .
After a nearly year-long hiatus, I am coming back to review Cat Four, Mulder.
Notice the goatee.
Watch for an update after this weekend.