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Customer Discussions > Horror forum

literary horror


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Showing 1-25 of 129 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 4, 2009 3:54:13 PM PST
Matt M. says:
I just started a topic in the science fiction community to look for recommendations in literary sci-fi, and that got me thinking as to whether or not there are some good literary horror books out there. I know that this sort of thing exists. I would count The House of Leaves (even though I didn't care much for it) and The Exorcist as part of this genre/subgenre, but I'm sort of at a loss as to other books to include. What does everyone else think?

Posted on Dec 8, 2009 9:18:02 AM PST
PD Allen says:
Of course Lovecraft & Poe are the classics. As are Brams Stoker & Mary Shelley. Henry James wrote some great psychological ghost stories.

For modern fiction there are a number of authors we could debate. Stephen King certainly has some novels that deserve the title literary horror. Robert McCammon comes readily to mind, as does Bentley Little. Jonathan Carroll has written some books that could be classified as literary horror.

I would rank China Mieville's Perdido Street Station high on this list. It certainly has it's horrific moments.

I hope that my own books (such as Blood Moon; Tales of the Yoopernatural) will make it into this list someday.

Posted on Dec 8, 2009 10:12:50 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jun 14, 2010 9:35:13 PM PDT
GG says:
let's hear it for the ladies! Joyce Carol Oates and Lisa Tuttle and Kathe Koja (before they turned to YA fiction) have goosebumped my flesh like few others. and Elizabeth Gaskell is overlooked. try 'A Dark Night's Work' and 'The Grey Woman'. for Tuttle: 'A Nest of Nightmares'. for Koja, 'The Cipher'. for JCO, well, everyone's going to have his or her own favorite. they're (mostly) all brilliant. and deliciously morbid.

love the 'craft, but let's not forget the always underrated Clark Ashton Smith and W. H. Hodgson.

Harlan Ellison's 'Deathbird Stories'. if 'The Whimper of Whipped Dogs' isn't among the most skin-crawling (and best written) stories you've ever read, i will graciously refund your admission price. and then there's 'Basilisk'. and 'Paingod'. and ...

R. Chetwynd-Hayes - beloved of anthology filmmakers, ignored by all others.

Lafcadio Hearn's 'Kwaidan' - a wonderful literary horror one-off.

i find Paul Auster's 'New York Trilogy' truly horrific. esp. 'City of Ghosts'.

never thought of Carroll as a horror author, though i would defend 'Land of Laughs' as a contender.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2009 10:42:52 AM PST
PD Allen says:
Definitely, let's not forget Smith and Hodgson. I was trying to think of both in my earlier message, particularly Hodgson. But their names were not forthcoming. Thanks.

I agree about Carroll, he's more of a speculative fiction author, or arguably a forerunner of the New Weird. He is rather unclassifiable.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2009 11:12:57 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 8, 2009 11:46:20 AM PST
GG says:
"New Weird" - i like it! was never quite sure what to call the authors who straddle spec. fic and genre fic. who else qualifies? Lethem? Coover? or are the NW writers more grounded in the fantastic, like Ligotti and Barker? Ballard, maybe? Etchison?

i definitely need to investigate Miéville. he sounds like a trip!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2009 12:00:55 PM PST
PD Allen says:
You've got to read Mieville's Perdido Street Station. It's a true original.

Lethem, Ligotti and Ballard are all considered as precursors to the New Weird. Considering it's just a label, I'm sure you could extend it to them.

Some of the prominent New Weird authors, other than China Mieville, are M. John Harrison, J.K. Bishop, Michael Moorcock, Steph Swainson, Jeff Vandermeer, Jay Lake, Hal Duncan. There are many others.

Posted on Dec 8, 2009 12:04:00 PM PST
As far as Ellison goes, I think that I HAVE NO MOUTH AND I MUST SCREAM, while obviously sci-fi, can be considered crossover horror, and I also think it's a real literary achievement.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2009 12:06:46 PM PST
Matt M. says:
I've read Perdido Street Station, and honestly, I didn't find it all that literary. It kind of started out that way, but by the halfway point, it just turns into a creature feature. With everything Miéville had been setting up, I'd expected that the slake moths would just be one of many plots going on at once, but once the cocoons hatched, they took over the story completely. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with a good old-fashioned monster hunt, but it's hard to make it literary.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2009 12:26:37 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 8, 2009 12:27:23 PM PST
PD Allen says:
I disagree. There were a number of plot lines continued throughout the novel, the story of the birdman and why his wings were sawed off is a major theme that is given the final note in the work. There's also the underground paper, and the kidnapping and defilement of the insectile girlfriend, to name a few. Certainly, the slake moths were a major plotline, and they were closely tied to many of the other plot lines. But I found a lot more here than just a monster hunt.

In any case, who says a monster hunt can't be literary? What about Frankenstein & Dracula. You could say those books were just monster hunts.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 7, 2010 9:01:37 AM PST
J.T. Cummins says:
Henry James.
----
J.T. Cummins, author of The Jitters: In a hostile mountain wilderness, a pack of monstrous woodland creatures pursue the survivors of a private plane crash and the stranded air rescue team sent to save them. The Jitters is written by J.T. Cummins who is the author of the mystery/thrillers Cobblestones and Weaker Sex which was co-written with Douglas Nabors who was a producer on the Emmy-award winning television series MONK. J.T. is also known as the writer and director of the cult horror movie classic "The Boneyard," as well as the indie features "Dark:30," and "Harbinger." A former special effects artist J.T.'s effects work is on display in such films as John Carpenter's "The Thing," Paul Schrader's "Cat People," Michael Laughlin's "Strange Invaders," Wolfgang Petersen's "Enemy Mine," and Sean Cunnigham's "House."

Posted on Feb 8, 2010 11:00:09 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 8, 2010 11:00:44 AM PST
Cornboy says:
Shirley Jackson, a literary genius who can spook your wig off...
Peter Straub, his "A Dark Matter" is a return to Big Literary Horror
Stewart O'Nan..."A Prayer for the Dying" is an all-time classic, along with October Country

Scott Nicholson
The Red Church
Burial To Follow
Coming March 1:THE SKULL RING
Haunted Computer Books

Posted on Jun 3, 2010 1:47:53 AM PDT
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Posted on Jun 3, 2010 8:35:33 PM PDT
http://www.theauthorsspeak.com/

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2010 1:24:26 PM PDT
I'm a Miéville fan. Loved The Scar especially. He has a new one out this fall called Kraken.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2010 4:13:16 PM PDT
Ramsey Campbell comes to mind as one of the great stylists. Scott Nicholson also mentioned Peter Straub (Ghost Story and Shadowland in particular), and others that I'd include in the short story field would be Dennis Etchinson, Reggie Oliver and Thomas Ligotti

Willie Meikle
Author of The Valley, Island Life

Posted on Jun 9, 2010 11:49:48 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Oct 29, 2011 10:08:36 AM PDT]

Posted on Jun 11, 2010 7:08:22 PM PDT
Michaelbrent says:
Stephen King's Gunslinger series and The Dark Tower by King and Straub definitely belong in this category.

"What do you do when you wake up one morning and everyone - literally EVERYONE - you know is suddenly trying to kill you? You RUN."
- Michaelbrent Collings
Author of Run

Posted on Jun 11, 2010 11:23:35 PM PDT
A lot of favorites of mine have been mentioned already... Thomas Ligotti, Dennis Etchison, JG Ballard, Shirley Jackson and Ramsay Campbell.
Karl Edward Wagner is another.
A lot of newer stuff I read, especially in novel form, seems to be thinly veiled screenplays... Jack Ketchum reads that way to me, even though I enjoy reading his books.

John Collier is lesser known these days... he's not out and out horror... a lot of his stuff has a dark humor to it... kind of like a malevolent Guy de Maupassant.

Posted on Jun 14, 2010 3:41:32 PM PDT
David Skeele says:
A lot of ghost novels tend more toward the literary, since their thrills are usually more internal and psychological. TURN OF THE SCREW would be a great example, as would Richard Adams' THE GIRL ON A SWING. Some of you write supernatural fiction, and I'm curious whether you've had trouble with horror editors who can't understand why your body count is so low. In "Literary Horror," especially when it concerns ghosts, character development and an atmosphere of slowly mounting dread are much more important than drenching everything in buckets of blood.

Posted on Jun 14, 2010 3:45:34 PM PDT
Matt M. says:
Curious if anyone here has read Justin Cronin's The Passage yet. I've read in a few places that it manages to be fairly literary while still having a pretty unabashedly horrific setting.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2010 4:18:43 PM PDT
David Skeele says:
Absolutely true what you've read. Cronin has a background in literary fiction, and the prose here is clean and beautiful, the characters clearly and vividly sketched. Even characters he is planning to kill off quickly get absorbing backstories, and though those backstories sometimes represent detours from the main plot, they're so well done I never minded. I'd recommend this book heartily.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2010 9:40:35 PM PDT
GG says:
Collier is a great suggestion. chanced upon his collection 'Of Demons and Darkness' earlier this year, and i came away quite impressed.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2010 9:49:43 PM PDT
The Historian The Historian
is great--really shows that genre doesn't have to be junk.

Posted on Jun 15, 2010 12:20:19 AM PDT
Nick Jones says:
However, "The Historian" is rather long-winded, and might not hold a lot of people's attention. Written in the epistolary style, which was popular in the 19th Century ("Dracula", for example), you're reading the first person narrative of the heroine, who often is reading the first person narrative of her father's writings, and sometimes reading her father's reading of someone else's first person narrative.
I'm not saying that the novel is bad, I'm just saying that it can become tiresome, occasionally. But I much preferred her second, non-horror, novel, The Swan Thieves: A Novel. I foresee, that if she continues to produce this high a level of literature, that Kostova could be a Nobel winner in the next 10-20 years.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2010 9:26:08 AM PDT
Matt M. says:
I actually tried reading The Historian back when it came out, but I found it very slow going. I became curious as to whether it was even worth the 600-plus-page slog, so I read a spoiler-filled review. Upon finding out what it was all building to, I decided it was not worth it after all and promptly returned it to the library. I suppose I didn't entirely give the book a fair shake, but I actually feel pretty much okay about it.
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Discussion in:  Horror forum
Participants:  69
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Initial post:  Dec 4, 2009
Latest post:  Oct 11, 2014

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