6 Halloween Costumes Ideas Based on Short Stories

Halloween is just around the corner, and so is Electric Literature’s inaugural fundraiser and costume party, the Genre Ball. Whether you’re trick-or-treating with your kids or joining us on Friday, October 23 at Ace Hotel New York, here are six costume ideas, illustrated by Sara Lautman, based on stories published in Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading. (Tickets for the Genre Ball are still available and can be purchased here.)

For Karen Russell’s “The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis” (Issue No. 40) — A Creepy Child Scarecrow

“The scarecrow boy was my same height, five foot five. He had pale glass eyes and a molded wax or plastic face; under his faded brown shirt his “skin” was machine-sewn sackcloth, straw stuffed. So: He had a scarecrow’s body but a boy’s head. I took a step forward and punched his torso, which was solid as a bale of hay; I half expected a scream to roll out of his mouth. I looked down — I was standing on a snarl of his guts. Would a scarecrow’s organs look like this? I wondered. Like birds’ nests. A grass kidney, a flammable heart. Now I understood Mondo’s earlier wail — when the scarecrow didn’t cry out, I wanted to scream for him.”

Eric Mutis Scarecrow

For Kelly Link’s “Stone Animals” (Issue No. 142) — Overrun by Rabbits

“She had had a feeling. It had been a feeling like déjà vu, or being drunk, or falling in love. Like teaching. She had imagined an audience of rabbits out on the lawn, watching her dinner party. A classroom of rabbits, watching a documentary. Rabbit television. Her skin had felt electric.”

Overrun by Rabits

For Heather O’Neill’s “Swan Lake for Beginners” (Issue No. 176) — Rudolf Nureyev Clones (Group Costume)

“Exasperated, the scientists decided to make one group of young clones dance like Nureyev by force. These young boys had to endure eight hours of training a day. The dance instructors humiliated and hit the boys when they messed up their steps. The callous teachers threatened to murder their dogs if they didn’t execute their pirouettes perfectly. They wouldn’t let them eat unless they managed a grand jeté. Half-starved Nureyevs would crouch in the corner, massaging their aching legs and whimpering unhappily. So joyless was this group that they barely resembled boys anymore.”

Ballerina Clones

For Diane Cook’s “Man V. Nature” (Issue No. 125) — Shipwrecked Businessman (Group Costume)

“Looking back, it’s clear they’d been fevered by exposure, buoyed by assumptions, not to mention drunk, when they decided to abandon said thirty-foot pleasure craft — the one thing Phil had held on to in the divorce, with its comfortable sleeping cabin and mini-fridge still stocked with two dozen beers — to jump into the cramped rubber lifeboat. They’d cheered, certain they could navigate it to a shore Ross insisted was there. “We’ll be walking on the beach in an hour. I just know it,” he’d said. They’d sat straight-backed and high-kneed like kings on tricycles; they rowed like ecstatics.”

Shipwrecked yuppies

For Angela Carter’s “The Lady of the House of Love” (Issue No. 158) — A Vampire Bride and Her Cyclist Boy Toy (Couple’s Costume)

“The old lady unlocked the door, which swung back on melodramatically creaking hinges, and fussily took charge of his bicycle, in spite of his protests. He felt a certain involuntary sinking of the heart to see his beautiful two-wheeled symbol of rationality vanish into the dark entrails of the mansion, to, no doubt, some damp outhouse where they would not oil it or check its tires. But, in for a penny, in for a pound — in his youth and strength and blond beauty, in the invisible, even unacknowledged pentacle of his virginity, the young man stepped over the threshold of Nosferatu’s castle and did not shiver in the blast of cold air, as from the mouth of a grave, that emanated from the lightless, cavernous interior.”

Vampire Bride and Cyclist

For Sharma Shield’s “The Bottomless Pit” (Issue No. 143) — A Dog Named “Mother”

“Greg wanted to cradle the dog for a moment. Not in any weird, sexual way, he told himself. Just to feel her warmth, anything’s warmth, curled against him. Mother yipped in protest as he grabbed her collar and pulled her to his chest.”

Dog Mom
Genreball invitation


Sara Lautman is an illustrator, editor, and cartoonist. Her drawings have been published in Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, The Believer, The Pitchfork Review, Jezebel, The Los Angeles Review of Books and elsewhere. The Ultimate Laugh, her next collection, will be published by Tinto Press this coming year. Her other books are available from Birdcage Bottom Books. She is on instagram and twitter. saralautman.com


About the Author

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