Monday 30 November 2009

It's incredible how much variety the contemporary horror genre contains. Here are recent single-author collections I've been reading, all as different from each other as can be:

Twentieth-Century Ghosts by Joe Hill: Matheson/Bradbury style tales of unease, boyhood and sentiment, with one notable exception. The sort of horror that is humanist, psychologically-driven rather than alienated and driven by visions of darkness and fits well into a subset of a largely mainstream literary diet.

Mr. Gaunt and other uneasy encounters by John Langan: Strong character studies, a collection that ranges from nods to antiquarian and pulp horror to strongly contemporary and original ideas.

The Imago Sequence
by Laird Barron: Dense, sometimes overwhelming prose achieves strategic vagueness through a rich patina of detail. Visions of cosmic horror overwhelming quotidian reality and residing within it at the same time; tough, capable protagonists who wind up falling prey.

Sesqua Valley and other haunts by WH Pugmire: Lovecraftian fiction written from the inside; as from the perspective of those weird Whateleys or the fishy folk at Innsmouth or rather their equivalents in Pugmire's own creation, Sesqua Valley. Poetic, sensual, somewhat decadent, stresses the aesthetics of the weird.

It's an intriguing study in variety, and while I'm more drawn to the Barron and Pugmire collections, they all have their points of merit.

Of course the horror shelves in Indian bookstores are still dominated by Stephen King and Dean Koontz, which may go some way to explaining why there isn't much of a home-grown English-language horror genre.


priya said...

good work JP uhm...i guess u hve chewed up every horror piece 4m store...really nice i liked ur spirit of going through same genre of books 4 a period of time and more than of 4-5 books at a stretch..Keep up!!

banzai cat said...

huh. the barron stuff sounds like stories by ramsey campbell. must get around to reading his collection to see.

did you like hill's collection?

JP said...

Well, Barron is considerably more badass, and explicit in his embrace of the implications of his horrific vision (Campbell I feel often gets ashamed of the really rather wonderfully horrific idea he has premised a story on and after a while tries to soft-pedal it out of a sense of remorse!) but I'll have to re-read some of Campbell's short fiction to really assess if there is a similarity.

I liked Hill's collection MUCH more than his novel (my comments anent which can be perused here:
, and it is in fact a very varied and immensely well crafted collection but it is largely not quite what I look for in horror.