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Teatro Grottesco Paperback – March 9, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A generous serving of Edgar Allan Poe, a dash of Franz Kafka, a smidgen of Robert Aickman: These comprise the components in the cauldron of creativity of Thomas Ligotti.  . . . His descriptive powers are mesmerizing."  —Hellnotes

From the Back Cover

Thomas Ligotti is one of the most original and remarkable figures in horror literature since H. P. Lovecraft. In Teatro Grottesco Ligotti follows the literary tradition that began with Edgar Allan Poe: portraying characters that are outside of anything that might be called normal life, depicting strange locales far off the beaten track, and rendering a grim vision of human existence as a perpetual nightmare. Just by entering his unique world where odd little towns and dark sectors are peopled with clowns, manikins and hideous puppets, and where tormented individuals and blackly comical eccentrics play out their doom, is to risk your own vision of the world.

'Quite unlike anything else being published … One of the most unique voices in the field … His imagery is breathtaking' – Science Fiction Chronicle

'(Ligotti uses) restrained, lyrical prose and subtly disturbing images that Poe himself might well have admired' – USA Today


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Virgin Books (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753513749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753513743
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Impressed enough by the Ligotti work I've seen in anthologies devoted to following up on H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, I bought this anthology.

Is Ligotti a Lovecraftian writer? Well, based on this collection - and I have no idea how representative it is - yes and no. There are no explicit Lovecraftian allusions in this collection - no references to the forbidden books, nightmare locations, and mysterious entities created by Lovecraft and those adding to the Mythos. Yet, the pre-eminent, most important aspect of Lovecraft's work, "cosmic horror", the "infinite terror and dreariness" of existence, as one story here puts it, is shared by Ligotti.

Yet, that horror is expressed in vaguer and more general terms than in Lovecraft. In one of his stories, the horrific revelation is one of man's hidden evolutionary past, miscegenation in a family's past, the existence of alien races. The revelation at the end of a Ligotti story is rarely so specific.

And their prose differs. The scientific references in a Lovecraft story are not here. The technological trappings of a Lovecraft story frequently link it to its time of composition. Ligotti's stories are noticeably lacking in any specific technological reference. An "audiotape" is the most time specific reference there is. Otherwise, they could be set almost anytime during the 20th century. Ligotti's prose reminded me more of Lovecraft's idol, Poe, than Lovecraft. Always told in the first person, they frequently deal with odd psychological states and fixations. The notion of the alternate self, the doppelganger as pioneered by Poe in his "William Wilson", also shows up a lot.
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Format: Paperback
I am a relative newcomer to Thomas Ligotti, but I love his work. Evocative and cerebral, his stories conjure feelings of dread and surreal alienation. I think this is why H. P. Lovecraft is so often mentioned in connection with Ligotti; their styles are vastly different, but work the same empty and dimly-lit back alleys of our emotional cores.

I believe this is the only Ligotti book currently in print, and it is only the second I have read (after "The Shadow at the Bottom of the World"). Like a lot of short story collections, some stories appear in more than one book, and there are indeed a few in here that were included in "...Shadow...", but "Teatro Grottesco" is still well worth the cover price.

A few of the stories take place in a shared setting, near the foreboding border of a country controlled by an omnipresent company. Far from cyberpunk sci-fi, these stories have a rich old-fashioned tinge, and are some of my favorites.

If you tend to be attracted to things dark and offbeat, you owe it to yourself to check out Thomas Ligotti.
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Format: Paperback
I've always been drawn to strange things, and this includes books. One day I was at the local bookstore, and saw Teatro Grottesco on a display. I'm always wary of books that appear strange, as I'm usually disappointed. This time however, I can say without a doubt it has been the best book purchase I have ever made.

Every story in this book, for me, was an absolute delight. Not a single story has failed to give me the unsettling and atmospheric quality I seek. Maybe you are looking for the same, maybe you aren't.

In Ligotti's tales, I have found a disturbing familiarity, and perhaps this is why I keep going back over and over. Although not all may appreciate this brilliant body of work, there exist those that will find themselves deeply affected by these tales.

For the price, you cannot beat this book. If you are a lover of strange tales, and if you are anything like me, you may find yourself re-reading it when you have new books staring at you from your bookshelf.
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Teatro Grottesco is Thomas Ligotti's fifth collection, containing tales written throughout his career. Almost all of Ligotti's fiction is an attack on the same lines, a slander against just about everything in our world. Still, Ligotti is not an author content to repeat himself; his various stories approach his thematic mission in their own way. It's honestly debatable whether this is a horror collection at all, at least in the traditional sense. Monsters are almost wholly absent, and the suffering and violence present here is almost never the point of the stories and often takes place in the periphery if it's shown at all. But this is certainly a Ligotti collection, in many ways the fulfillment of the promise, the broadening of the vision, displayed in Songs of a Dead Dreamer. Teatro Grottesco is the author at the height of his powers, filling the reader with both awe and dread as the collection goes on.

Ligotti's name is rarely mentioned without Lovecraft's also coming up in the conversation. The comparison is apt, but where Lovecraft strove to render humanity irrelevant when compared to the vastness of the cosmos and time, Ligotti seeks to attack us as individuals. Lovecraft's ancient vistas and sunken cities are here replaced by industrial districts and offices, slums and small towns, corner cafes and backroom art exhibits. Ligotti's work is precision targeted, built to attack and not bothering to sustain itself once its point is conveyed. The work in this collection is inimical and difficult to grasp, half-created oddities rendered seductive by flowing prose and immaculately stained atmospheres.

The opening story, Purity, perhaps best displays the almost unfinished nature of much of Ligotti's work.
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