Super-Fan Jon Kitley’s Delightful Memoir is a Bloody (Good) Valentine to Fright Fandom and Creature Feature Culture
A love letter to falling in love and staying in love for keeps, Jon Kitley’s book is part memoir, part philosophical essay, part recruitment pamphlet, and part historical document about the restorative power of embracing your passion. In Mr. Kitley’s case, the passion comes from the myth, legend, and lore of the horror story.
In a very egalitarian and pop-culture way, Kitley attempts to show how he was given a hobby, a passion, and even a moral center through the power of mythical storytelling. Imagine the late Harvey Pekar focusing his working-class poetry on a lifetime of watching horror films and you’ll have an idea of the funny and heartwarming style of Kitley’s writing.
As the title suggests, we get a tour through five decades of pop culture and the horror fan subculture. The journey is framed by Kitley’s; we are there for his earliest connections to monsters and then through the formative experiences that made a hobby into a passion, to become a creator and storyteller himself. Since 1998, Kitley has been the owner and operator of Kitley’s Krypt, one of the longest-running horror websites on the web, as well as contributing articles for horror magazines like HorrorHound.
However, there is a parallel story that runs alongside the historical and philosophical path, and that is of a man who goes through a personal and emotional journey that has him find love, family, and friends. Upon closer review, it is apparent that the two love stories are inseparable from each other.
DISCOVER THE HORROR is a great travelogue through a time long before pop culture was given any serious consideration, and before there was any cachet to being a geek, and before the internet made it easy for misfits to connect and unite. But what makes this so much fun to read is that Kitley is able to evoke the thrill and excitement of the early days of fandom and fan conventions by inserting himself, his family and his friends into the fabric. After 50 years, Kitley hasn’t lost any of his youthful energy around the horror genre and his stories crackle with his excitement about the community he immersed himself in, wholeheartedly.
What really separates this book from other examinations of pop culture is the high priority that Kitley puts on human interaction, the need for community, and a spirit of inclusion. Even though it is quite apparent that Kitley is very much a collector and curator of horror culture, it is even more apparent that none of that treasure collecting matters if the end result isn’t a loving connection with others and sharing it with others-even passing the torch to new and curious viewers.
“DISCOVER THE HORROR is a great travelogue through a time long before pop culture was given any serious consideration, and before there was any cachet to being a geek, and before the internet made it easy for misfits to connect and unite.”
By the title alone, DISCOVER THE HORROR, welcomes you and entreats you to join along with Kitley and his fellow horror fanatics. He knows that no good journey is done alone and that the greatest joy in finding treasure is sharing it with those you love.
You can order DISCOVER THE HORROR Here: