1. Buy all the bow ties and black-rimmed eyeglasses in your city to ensure you’re the only person at your party wearing this season’s hottest literary Halloween costume: Lookout author Ben Miller.
2. Prepare condescending remarks to sling at guests who come dressed as monsters, aliens, cowboys, etc. This is a literary party, not a genre party, thank you very much.
3. Gather up every book by Poe, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, etc. that you have in your home. In the largest, most open area of the house—probably the space where the dance floor would be if this were a less awesome party—arrange the books into a pentangle and place a single red candle at each of its points. What happens from there is up to you. Use your imagination!
4. Prepare a cask of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous Turkey Cocktail Turkey Cocktail (did you think I was going to say “Amontillado”?—please, this is not a high school party), which involves one large turkey and a gallon of vermouth. This is both delicious and a good way to prime yourself for Thanksgiving. If guests bring their own potations, confiscate them immediately and dump it all in the cask of Turkey Cocktail. If guests refuse either to relinquish their beverages or drink your marvelous preparation, direct them to the Pentangle, where their fate awaits them.
5. Play the Ghostbusters theme song by the one and only Ray Parker Jr. on repeat all night. No literary connection here, but this is not optional. And I mean it: all night.
6. If you’re feeling frisky you can project some of these creepy animated videos of dead poets reading their work on the walls of the Pentangle Room. My personal favorites are “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep“ by Mary Elizabeth Frye and William Blake’s “London.” For the best effect, adjust the volume so the dead poet’s voice is just barely audible over Mr. Parker’s. You could also use this clip of renowned character actor Rip Torn attacking Norman Mailer with a hammer or simply plaster your walls with pictures of Harry Crews.
7. If you’re looking for games to play with your guests, you can always try the classic “William Tell” game—just be more careful than
William S. Burroughs so your brother doesn’t have to bribe police officers to get you out of jail. Or, you know, there’s always charades.
8. So you’ve got drinks, music, games, a sweet costume, and now all you need is food. I recommend these delectable brown butter buckwheat pancakes inspired by “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” I realize it’s not the most traditional party food, but this isn’t a traditional party, and, let’s be honest, I can’t be the only person who’s ever been out and thought This shindig could use more pancakes.
Feel free to tinker with these suggestion—improvise, go with your gut (just remember the Ghostbusters theme is a must). Now get out there and show ‘em how the literati do Halloween.