Life and life only per Mr. Dylan
One of the books I like to dip into now and then is a collection of short essays by horror and suspense writers called HORROR edited by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman. I'm in there, too, but I never reread my stuff because, like Seinfeld, I'm trying to set a record for not-puking.
The authors gathered here talk about books that they like especially. One of the more interesting is David Bischoff's take on House of Flesh by Bruno Fischer, in which Bischoff speculates on Gold Medal Gothic.
Another particularly involving one is by Elizabeth Massie on Thomas Tryon's HARVEST HOME. In setting up her take on the novel she writes an interesting paragraph about one of our basic emotionional needs. This is a perfect way to discuss a book about a small town:
"By sheer virtue of being cast in our own bodies at birth, we are destined to live lives of isolation and alienation. With few exceptions, we spend our remaining years in an attempt to leap or crawl from ourselves into some collective better, emotionally and physically. There is a hard-wired need in most people to seek out and to belong to a communal whole. Not necessarily a need to go as far back as the bicameral mind, bt an urge to find a group with whom we have things in common, with whom we feel most often comfortable, a group that accepts us for the unique oddities that we are."