Monday, June 4, 2012

Come Out, Ye Gifted Kings and Queens

I don't know if this is the first time I've done this or not, and I don't currently feel like checking the archives, but anyhow, so, like, in about four months it will be October, and every October, including, for reasons that escape me, this coming iteration, I write about horror fiction every day for the entire month, all posts falling under the The Kind of Face You Slash title. I've been doing this for four years now, and while I have the structure and general approach down, it can be a struggle to find enough material to write about for 31 days straight. Now I fully understand this is not because there is any kind of paucity of horror literature available, but one person -- me, in this scenario -- can only learn about so much of it, and anything I can do to ease that burden will, you know...ease my burden.

So I'm asking: any recommendations? I already know some writers I'm planning to cover, like Graham Joyce, Gaston Leroux, Seabury Quinn, Quentin S. Crisp, and Walter De La Mare, so you needn't bother recommending them. I also try to not repeat authors, although sometimes I feel it's necessary, and have done it on more than one occasion. But if you click on that link (and honestly I don't know if that links to every Kind of Face You Slash post I've ever written, but it should show most of them) and at least scroll through, you should have some idea of what I've already gone over. But even of those authors already touched on, if you know of a particular story by one of them that you really think I should check out, don't hesitate to tell me about it. I'd already written about Ramsey Campbell on at least two other occasions when a reader recommended I check out Campbell's story "The Companion," which I did, and which was awesome, and which I wrote about, so good was it. So don't let the concept of "ground well covered" stop you.

Mainly, though, I'm looking for fringe stuff. By which I don't, or don't necessarily, mean horror writers who wallow to varying degrees of childishness in sex and violence, but stuff that has been unfairly overlooked, or, better yet, forgotten. Even if you think I might know a particular book or author, tell me anyway, because I might not, or might not know too much about it, or whatever. Just recommend away. Recommend like the wind. Below in the comments, please, if you will. Thanks.


Bryce Wilson said...

If you're planning doing any novels, Zone One was somewhat self consciencely literary but it had some killer passages.

Also I would kind of love to get your take on John Dies At The End. You'll be right in time for This Book Is Full Of Spiders.

Peter Nellhaus said...

There's probably more to discover in the writings of Edogawa Rampo. He's probably better known through movies based on his work, rather than the work itself.

bill r. said...

Bryce - That's an idea. The JOHN DIES AT THE END one, I mean. I've heard some stuff about the Whitehead novel that has me wary.

Peter - I did Rampo the first year, but he might be worth revisiting. I haven't really connected to himi thus far, though.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if these count, but two of the most haunting things I've read this year weren't horror literature proper:

- "Beyond the Pale" (the short story by William Trevor)

- The 40 pages or so of oral/folk tradition dealing with ghosts and supernatural encounters in Appalachia found here:

Those really creeped the shit out of me. I expected folksy yarn-spinnin' and got a full-blown case of the willies instead.

Will Errickson said...

Horror fiction? Never heard of it. Is it any good???

bill r. said...

Anonymous - Trevor is interesting. I haven't read much by him, but even in the little I've read he's flirted with the genre. Mildly, maybe, but still. I'll see if I have that story.

Will - I have no idea. Why do you think I'm doing this?

Jose Cruz said...

For your consideration, sir. Some of these I think you'll love. Others you may very well dislike. At any rate, I'm curious as to your thoughts nonetheless.

(Yes, most of these are short stories. That's just how I roll. And yes, I take calls to arms like this way too seriously.)

“The Death of Halpin Frayser” by Ambrose Bierce

“The Yellow Sign” by Robert W. Chambers

“Death to the Easter Bunny” by Alan Ryan, The Campfire Collection

“Mad House” and “The Distributor” by Richard Matheson

The Collection by Bentley Little

Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber

“There’s a Long, Long Trail A-Winding” by Russell Kirk

“The Room in the Tower” by E. F. Benson

“W.S.” by L. P. Hartley

“The House of Horror” by Seabury Quinn

“Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back” and “Night They Missed the Horror Show” by Joe R. Lansdale

“Feminine Endings” by Neil Gaiman

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

“Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” and “Black Bargain” by Robert Bloch

“Skin” and “The Landlady” by Roald Dahl

bill r. said...

Thank you, Jose. I've read the Matheson and Lansdale stories, the Leiber and Levin novels (though another Levin novel is a possibility), and I've written up several of the others at various times, though I'll keep the stories in mind. I'll keep my eye out for Benson, Hartley, Ryan, and etc.

But Bentley Little and I don't get along too well.

John said...

Any short story by L. P. Hartley gets my vote, but I think "Podolo" may be the most overtly creepy thing he wrote. De La Mare is a great choice, too, a top-notch short story writer with some good horror stories to his name. Still looking out for "Mr Kemp" and "The Recluse" among others of his, myself.

John said...

Couple others I'd throw in:

"The Stone Ship"--William Hope Hodgson

"The Clock"--William Fryer Harvey

"The Sea Was Wet as Wet Could Be"--Gahan Wilson

"The Idol with Hands of Clay"--Frederick Treves

All these appear in the book Gahan Wilson's Favorite Tales of Horror. (Everything else in there is worth a look, too, as I recall.)

bill r. said...

That's two votes for L. P. Hartley. I'd say that gets him through the door.

I read that Wilson story, years ago. I remember thinking it was excellent.

Will Errickson said...

Wow, that Wilson paperback looks great. Didn't even know of its existence.

In all seriousness, Bill, have you read Michael McDowell? He really is one of my new "old" favorites. He'd be in the opposite direction from where you might be headed - that is, he is no way a writer of "literary horror." All his books were '80s Avon paperback originals.

Few other recommendations:

Finishing Touches by Thomas Tessier
The Cipher by Kathe Koja
Let's Go Play at the Adams' by Mendal Johnson
Progeny of the Adder by Les Whitten

bill r. said...

I'm looking for all kinds of horror, and would like to get in some more 80s-type stuff. I have read McDowell -- only GILDED NEEDLES, but I liked it and want to read more. The time I'll have to give over to novels for this whole thing is obviously going to be more limited, but if I can manage it I would like to cover McDowell. He's a big name from that era that I've never even mentioned in passing.

As for the rest, I was kicking around the idea of Koja, but I'm more interested in the Mendal Johnson, if only because it's Johnson's only novel, and basically forgotten.

I don't know about the Whitten, but I'm heading over the Amazon right now.

Will Errickson said...

I recently read Johnson's book, and was so mixed on it I couldn't post a review. I wasn't sure at all what he was saying - and he was saying *something* besides the actual text. A political allegory, if what I've read about him is true. I preferred Ketchum's The Girl Next Door.

bill r. said...

I don't like Ketchum at all, so I'm curious to see the same story told by someone else. Even so...political allegory? Eeeeesh....

Bryce Wilson said...

Another horror novel would be Harbor, which is flawed and has one plot element that would have ruined any other book for me, but also has some truly unsettling and effective moments.

frobbert said...

top of my head:

Jessica Amanda Salmonson - Anthony Shriek
Mark Morris - Toady
Robert A. Heinlein - The Unpleasant Profession Of Jonathan Hoag
Albert Sánchez Piñol - Cold Skin
Jerzy Kosinski - The Painted Bird
Daniel H. Gower - The Orpheus Process
G.K. Chesterton - The Man Who Was Thursday
Robert Silverberg - The Book Of Skulls
Kathe Koja - The Cipher
Kathe Koja - Bad Brains
Kathe Koja - Skin
Kathe Koja - Strange Angels

Short stories:
Harlan Ellison - The Whimper Of Whipped Dogs
Villy Sorensen - Child's Play
Belcampo - The Great Happening
Jonathan Carroll - Friend's Best Man
Poppy Z. Brite - Calcutta, Lord Of Nerves

Assorted short stories by Joyce Carol Oates and Paul Bowles

Will Errickson said...

"Calcutta, Lord of Nerves"... man, now that's a horror story. Shit is beautiful. Oh, and "Child's Play"! Man, do I love me some creepy kids. Good call, frobbert.

Bill, Girl is the only Ketchum I've ever read and I... well, I can't say I loved it, but I felt it was real and true and honest, except for a tiny misstep - literally so! - at the end. I'll probably read more Ketchum but I don't really care about him much at all as a horror writer.