My sink full of dirty dishes and un-swept floors will tell you that there’s sure not much else in my life (friends and family aside); but even still I haven’t been seeing much of them lately. I’ve been holed up writing, and although that work isn’t ready to share yet, I’ve been doing a heap of reading too – namely revisiting some old faves and rediscovering new ones.
I had a fun time with Kelley Armstrong’s Led Astray, her short story collection which is a smattering of everything otherworldly and a nice selection of some of her work, including selections from her novels and Bitten series.
I finally tracked down a copy of Stephen King’s Danse Macabre courtesy my local independent bookstore. I had a copy of his original 1983 edition, and sadly lost it through various moves (purging gone wrong, you might say). So I was thrilled with the nice folks at the bookshop sent me a text saying my 2010 edition was in, and of course I spent too many late nights ripping through it.
So much is good with that book, it’s hard to put your finger on it. It’s a sleeper hit among writing circles, hidden behind his classic On Writing (the premier guide for how to fucking write). But Danse Macabre tells you how to craft a story, which is a different thing entirely, and is a great resource for those ohwowIforgotaboutthis books and movies that great freaking horror is made from.
For me, what’s great about Danse is it gets me to think about familiar texts in a different light, checking out old faves again and again, and looking for that nugget of truth that all good horror is based on.
Just check out my copy (the empty sections are where I ran out of stickies, and yes, the inside is now heavily marked up, but that’s how I like it).
Finally, the latest addition to my bookpile is H.P. Lovecraft’s Eldrich Tales – this was a stop everything and pull out the credit card, I’m having a book emergency purchase. It was like seeing god in a commercial bookstore. I nearly died.
What’s the big deal and Eldrich Tales?
It’s a collection of otherworldly short stories that could not be more different than Kelley Armstrong, but in a really good way. Lovecraft is the classic dead white male writer (1890 – 1937), and his work is definitely in this genre (some might consider his prose dry); but he’s also one of the founding father of American horror.
Most of his work was professionally published in the 1920s and remains in print today.
His work is poetic, and dark, and twisted, and completely beautiful. He helped bring a dark edge to fantasy and sci fi, and although his stories can be considered high literature (at least according to me), they were published in pulp magazines, and brought horror to the masses.
And that, you gotta love him for.
My parting gift to you – here’s an excerpt of ‘Despair’
Oer the midnight moorlands crying,
Thro’ the cypress forests sighing,
In the night-wind madly flying,
Hellish forms with streaming hair;
In the barren branches creaking,
By the stagnant swamp-pools speaking,
Past the shore-cliffs ever shrieking;
Damn’d daemons of despair.
H.P. Lovecraft, Despair