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Grimscribe: his lives and works Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The eponymous first-person narrator of this chilling collection assumes many different guises in spinning his eerie tales, but the voice in each of the 12 stories remains the same, a voice "always speaking of terrible secrets." Witness, participant, victim, Grimscribe is, above all, our guide through a landscape at once relentlessly dark and luminously revealing, where a "brood of dark forms" push "through the fog" and "dark bricks that bulge like tumors" appear "on the facades of houses." Prisoners of this bleak but fascinating world include a mild-mannered village schoolteacher sent in "Flowers of the Abyss" to discover the awful truth behind a house in which an entire family perished horribly; in "The Cocoons" we encounter a man trapped in a unique doctor/patient relationship who finds the treatment infinitely more agonizing than the disease; instead of the three Rs, the young boy in "Miss Plarr" receives from his tutor a few lessons in "the sound of something that stings the air." Stylishly wrought in the best tradition of the American gothic and wonderfully reminiscent of Poe and Hawthorne, these scary stories transcend their genre. and command respect. Ligotti wrote Songs of a Dead Dreamer.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

High-style horror stories in a classic literary mode, in expressiveness not far from the American masters, Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. Ligotti (Songs of a Dead Dreamer, 1990) writes out of what seems an all-embracing depression, making him willing to go into wipeout areas time and again and ask a lot both of himself and his readers. His narrators seldom effect any change; they simply observe a superbly described inner state, then leave, hungover. In ``The Last Feast of Harlequin,'' a professor obsessed with clowns locates a clown festival in the midwestern town of Mirocaw. He goes to observe and join the townsfolk in their festival, perhaps wearing his clown suit. But the festival is not meant for him. In fact, it is two festivals, one within the other, the inner one being a cruel festival of freaks who are detested and beaten by members of the larger clown festival. He joins the freaks and follows them out of town and down a hole in the earth wherein they have borne their frigid Winter Queen. In a cavernous earthen hall, the freaks begin turning into huge worms, and he flees up the black wormhole by which he entered. In ``The Glamour,'' the narrator enters a weird boarded-up movie house to find himself in a sparse audience surrounded by purple lights and seated amid hairy threads that bind all to their seats as they watch a cobweb screen on which is shown grisly purple organs being operated on. He leaves before he can be imprisoned by the floating and crawling hairs. In ``The Night School,'' he enters a dark, weird schoolground where strange figures stand around misshapen metal drums in firelight; then he goes into the hideously rotting school for a bizarre class in ``measurement of cloacal forces. Time as a flow of sewage. The excrement of space, scatology of creation...'' He leaves, finding the moon ``coated with a luminous mold, floating...in the great sewers of the night.'' Thirteen tales out of a maggoty delirium. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Jove (October 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0515114715
  • ISBN-13: 978-0515114713
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,187,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Anthrope on May 25, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I am so happy to see this book available for Kindle.

Over the last couple of years, Subterranean Press has been publishing revised and definitive editions of Thomas Ligotti's major short story collections. The print books are beautiful to behold, finely crafted tomes that also showcase Aeron Alfrey's breath-taking artwork. For those of us who already know Ligotti's work, buying these books was a no-brainer.

The print books are also expensive short-run limited editions; they cost $40 - $75 each when first released, more now when you find them on the secondary market. While an absolute treat for existing fans, they are not likely to bring many new readers to Ligotti's dark world.

And what a world it is... Ligotti is often compared to H.P. Lovecraft, although their prose is very far apart in style and content. What they have in common is a view of an indifferent universe, and the meaninglessness of human existence. Ligotti's stories often seem like beautifully horrifying fugue states of indeterminate reality. The insubstantiality of everyday life is brought into laser-sharp focus, casting doubts on just about everything, including the nature of the universe itself.

The reason I think Ligotti's work is so effective and evocative is that he really means it. David Soyka reviewed the printed version of Grimscribe: His Lives and Works over on The SF Site, and he said this: "My sense is that Ligotti isn't kidding, he's not indulging in Lovecratian convention for the sake of paying tribute to the form, that he's not an otherwise cheery normal guy who likes to write scary depressing stuff for laughs.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tim Vermeulen on May 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
As much as I love the limited edition Ligotti hardcovers Subterranean is currently reprinting, it's even better they are (I'm assuming with Ligotti's permission) making them available in a more affordable form. Ligotti is one of the truly underrated contemporary American authors, on par with Polish surrealist Andrej Zulawski in crafting emotionally apocalyptic otherworlds. Recently, Ligotti has gone back to do painstaking revisions of his work for what he considers the "definitive" editions of his stories, and this is the second volume in the series (with the first, Songs Of A Dead Dreamer, and third, Noctuary, soon to be Kindled).

As for the stories themselves - they mostly concern bizarre loners, tortured artists, and esoteric researchers (sometimes all three at once), falling into a world of cosmic terror and urban decay rendered delicately (and quite beautifully) in dense prose-poems. Some standouts here include Ligotti's thematic (but for the most part not derivative) homages to H.P. Lovecraft, "Nethescurial" and the oft-reprinted "The Last Feast of Harlequin", as well as the haunting cob(?)web-strewn cinema hell found in "The Glamour" and "The Shadow At The Bottom Of The World"'s primordial cauldron of horrors bubbling beneath a thin patina of small town charm.

I hope the digital rerelease of the Subterranean editions gives Ligotti the recognition he so richly deserves. He's the missing link between Stephen King and more contemporary macabre experimentalists like Joseph S. Pulver, Michael Cisco, and Chomu Press founder Quentin S. Crisp; he's Lovecraft without the noxious race/sex/classism; he's a hallucinogenic postmodern philosopher who chose short horror stories to deliver his universal theory of dread. And now he's available for $7 on your eReader, so get on it!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 31, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Told in a first person narative, a fictional diary of sorts, GRIMSCRIBE (His Lives and Works) is one eerie read. I quote the inner sleeve "Grimscribe is the faceless scientist of nightmare: an addict of the paranormal who relates his awesome adventures with the denizens of a shadow world that is at once half-mad and inescapably ours." This book delivers us into the heart of horror, unrelenting and bleak in aura, Lovecraftian style. Although there are many similarities between old H.P. and Ligotti, I oblige myself in mentioning that Ligotti does have an infectious prose that sinks just as deep as the Cthulu Mythos. Ligotti laces his pages with such an intense dose of "unsettlingness" that the stories stick to your gut long after you've read them. Nightmare inducing, intellectually disturbing, a carnival for the absurd. This one is a must for anyone who enjoys getting a severe case of the creeps.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Salmonson on December 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This intricately woven work is stylistically old-fashioned, like the Decadence of the 1890s, but is not lacking for something modern. Ligotti is conceivably the best living horror writer and transcends all the kitsch and cornpone notions of what is scary in a horror story, revealing that what really frightens us is stuff that is so beautiful in its bent wickedness that we just might not be able to resist killing ourselves just to be next to it for one final startled breath.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kris on August 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As others have noted, Grimscribe is perhaps the best of Thomas Ligotti's collections. Each of the three parts brings out different aspects of the author's own dark philosophy. But even viewed simply as a collection of horror stories, Grimcribe can sit proudly next to Poe and Lovecraft.
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