Bookish Halloween Costumes

Hey, where’s the pork pie hat?

Once again, it is time for Halloweenie, and last minute costumes are being assembled. Why not dress up as your favorite literary character? I’d love to say this idea came to me out of the clear orange and black sky, but again, ABE led the way with their take on literary costumes. Some of their suggestions left me cold–as in, I have no idea what the book in question is about, let alone want to create a costume from a character. They suggest some of the usual suspects–Wizard of Oz types, Tom Sawyer, Ahab (must carry long harpoon) but most are original and offbeat. I’d never think of  being a character from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Universe, specifically because I’ve never bothered exploring the outer limits of the book. They suggest wearing a bathrobe and look confused. Hmm. I do like the idea of going as a giant ham, like Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, even if she was in a school pageant, with nothing to do with All Hallow’s Eve. Consider dressing as the psycho ‘nurse’ in Misery with some torture device in your hands, says ABE. I’d go one better–why not the nurse from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? Uh, what did she wear, again? Besides sadism on her sleeve? They have another Stephen King novel– It. Gee, how original, a sociopathic clown–never see them on Halloween, duh. Hey–I have the perfect Cujo–my dog Louie–and he doesn’t need a special costume, his teeth says it all. I’m really  into the futuristic fireman from Fahrenheit  451. The ABE article suggested lugging a stack of books around.  Better yet–go as a bookseller, you could attach either a ladder to your body with books at the top or be covered in store and book dust with a huge cardboard box attached at the hip. And that stack of books.

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective is a nice thought. Although I’d rather see Lord Peter Wimsey, monocle and all, or if two guys are going to a party together–Spenser and Hawk. Spenser should just look Bostonian, and Hawk be bald and mean. I’d go as Nancy Drew, but her main accessory was a roadster, and they guzzle gas, so she’s out. Thinking of juvenile books–Cherry Ames–another nurse possibility. But a nicer one.

Besides characters, a popular idea for costumes–the authors themselves–Poe comes to mind immediately. A huge black bird perching on a shoulder, add a close

Maybe a spaniel accessory isn’t necessary–those curls would make a person question, which one is the real dog?

kissing cousin (best for this if you go as a couple–of incestuous relatives), empty liquor bottles and you’ve one instant classic horror writer. Who doesn’t love seeing a good Jane Austin, or Elizabeth Barrett Browning? To make sure people guess who the heck it is your supposed to be, carry a quill pen, and in Austin’s case, wear one of those goofy mop caps. For

If going as Poe and his 13 year old wife, you may want to rethink, and bring a daughter–no–that would be really icky.

Browning, scrawl ‘How Do I Love Thee’, across a page and carry a stuffed spaniel. And instead of that tired old Shakespeare costume–why not dress as Frances Bacon pretending to be Shakespeare? Wouldn’t that blow the literati’s minds! My dream costume is Mother Goose. Puffy sides and all. I’d have been her long ago, if only I could sew. There you go–Betsy Ross–forget the flag part, attach a spindle or spinning wheel to your leg. Speaking of Mother Goose–Humpty Dumpty could be a fantastic costume–if you have revolving faces. Like the mayor in ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’–one side of Humpty’s face is happy go lucky hard boiled–the other side cracked and peeling.

Ohhhh, I love ABE’s Gulliver’s costume idea–period dress, but with a kick–tiny toy soldiers attached to the clothing with string. What other twisted play on characters can I pick out of the pages? If you want to be really obscure–honor The Great Gatsby–become the green light at the end of the dock. The big symbol of Gatsby’s dreams, unattainable aspirations. Let’s see how one could convey this. Paint neon green all over face, body etc, and construct a little wood

Nothing’s more attractive than a fussy cap.

thingy extending from the waist? Nah, that’s a terrible idea. The dock would hit every object in view. Too dangerous. The House of the Seven Gables! What a fantastic costume that could be–one huge building with seven things protruding! Again, somewhat bulky, but everyone could see you coming from miles around. Here’s an easy costume idea, and one that I pretty much embody every morning–the locked up crazy wife in Jane Eyre.  Throw on everyday worn, distressed outfits, don’t brush or comb your hair, let it stand up on end all tatted and matted and frizzy, wear no makeup, or moisturizer, and try to manage a full household plus work, and voila, the personification of madness.

Oh oh! Just thought of a cool one–Miss Danvers in Rebecca! Remember her? Severe repressed lesbian obsessed with the dead Rebecca? Her housekeeper’s uniform should be easy to emulate, and as an accessory, a bic lighter, if one can’t deal with flaming candle holders. No one will let you near curtains. Curtains! Shower curtain! Wear only a shower curtain–with slashes through it. Nudity may cause a ruckus, but at least the public will never see the real guts and gore one would have, if stabbed repeatedly by Norman Bates. Just as the audience never sees it in the film.  (Honestly, I’ve not read  Psycho, so the shower scene may technically not be a literary costume.)

What about non-fiction? That extinct genre, the encyclopedia? Pages and pages of unending uninteresting obscure data on Pogo Pogo’s climate and population

This Halloween’s hot costume.

glued to a sweat suit should do the trick. Thinking of book-like costumes–I’d love to see a costume try to represent the little egg man book in The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. It’s the skinny little legs that may be difficult. But why not Morris Lessmore himself? A pork pie hat and your’e done. If people are stumped as to who you are,  claim your’e Buster Keaton, classic genius silent screen star. (An aside–people are desperately trying to come up with ways to create a costume of  ‘binders full of women.’ I say–get a bunch of girlfriends together–one on each end hold up a large foam core piece, the front with giant letters proclaiming, Mitt Romney’s Binder Full of Women.)  Off again to book costumes–The Gutenberg Bible–all illuminated text and scrolled gold lettering. Now that would be  a sight to see.

Naturally, biographies would essentially be the same as going as a regular character, unfortunately. Still, some have cool appeal.  A bio of Houdini–struggle into a straightjacket and chains and pray someone releases you after the party is over. Benjamin Franklin is a particular favorite founding father of mine–but mix it up a bit–instead of the kite–maybe

Very clever costume design.

a lighting bolt stuck in the head would be a nice touch. Teddy bear-flip that around. Go as a bear, and carry a small sized President Roosevelt. How about the duo from Inherit The Wind? The play dramatizing the Scopes trial about evolution, disgustingly still a volatile subject for certain neanderthals living in pockets across America. For Williams Jennings Bryant–attach multiple bars of silver with velcro on his personage, for Clarence Darrow, little monkeys around his neck and ankles would be cute.

The last idea is the easiest. Judge Crater. For those unfamiliar with the name–you’re in the majority. He was some judge that disappeared off the face of the universe, without a trace, a hair, fingerprint, wisp of skin flakes. This one’s for those who have no interest in attending a Halloween party held by a acquaintance

Vanishing act.

or they’ve been invited to two on the same night, and need to choose. Tell one host you were at the party till the last monster mash, he couldn’t see you, since you were Judge Crater. My last twist on this idea–if a party is enticing, but you like the idea of the disappearing act–go as legendary union boss, Jimmie Hoffa A cardboard cement mixer wrapped around your body would cause a stir, or, take a huge piece of foam-core, faux paint it as cement, add a $15 dollars a car full day sign, and go as a parking lot. Or! take all the leftovers in the fridge, add some cardboard towel rolls, tissues, etc, basically throw your trash and garbage over clothes covered in Elmer’s glue—you’re a land fill. The last idea–again with cardboard or foam-core, construct a furnace complete with handled door, that remains open, with crepe paper flames and some body part, hanging out. These are all possible resting places for our long lost buddy, and legitimate costumes.

I fear I’ve strayed from strictly literature inspired disguises, still, I hope some come to fruition. Nothing I’d like better than photos of some of these things sent to me for

He’s possibly someone’s garage floor.

viewing. And think of what an entrance you could make, as a land fill or a cracked Humpty! Ah, I can picture the garbage bags being hastily thrown over one to  squelch the stench, and frying pans laying in wait, for the other. I do love Halloweenie so.