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Teatro Grottesco

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  3,892 ratings  ·  404 reviews
Thomas Ligotti is often cited as the most curious and remarkable figure in horror literature since H. P. Lovecraft. His work is noted by critics for its display of an exceptionally grotesque imagination and accomplished prose style. In his stories, Ligotti has followed a literary tradition that began with Edgar Allan Poe, portraying characters that are outside of anything ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published July 10th 2008 by Virgin Books (first published 2006)
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Slave to the Pages Hi there, I looked - High and low for a e book version. Eventually ordered through Book Depository. Sitting there awaiting to read on my shelf - looki…moreHi there, I looked - High and low for a e book version. Eventually ordered through Book Depository. Sitting there awaiting to read on my shelf - looking forward to the dread. (less)

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Bill Kerwin

Ligotti is usually classified as a "horror" writer, but this label is much too limiting. Ligotti embodies the eccentricity and loneliness of Poe (minus the romantic sentimentality), the bleak existential inner landscape of Kafka, the lunatic small-town atmosphere of Bruno Schulz and the mordant epigrammatic nihilism of Cioran.

Ligotti is a profoundly disturbing writer, an unclassifiable talent right up there with such unique voices as Borges, Calvino and Lem.
Industrious Nihilism

Look not here for meaning. But, upon finding any, do try to restrain your enthusiasm. The meaning of these stories is that there is no meaning. Our instinct is to fight against this, to supply explanations or additions to Ligotti’s prose. We are prone to create meaning out of thin air, as it were. But with Ligotti, don’t. Meaning doesn’t exist ‘out there’. And what’s ‘in here’ is totally arbitrary, including, of course, the absence of meaning. One suspects a limitation with t
mark monday
Nov 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
"His trembling words also invoked an epistimology of 'hope and horror', of exposing once and for all the true nature of this 'great gray ritual of existence' and plunging headlong into an 'enlightenment of inanity'..."
- "In a Foreign Town, In a Foreign Land"

reading the collected tales in Thomas' Ligotti's Teatro Grottesco over the course of a rainy, gray day and the rest of a chilly, glum weekend was an interesting experience. it certainly helped to create a gray, glum, and introspective mood, l
Feb 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was able to pick up a hardcover edition published by Mythos Books. This first edition originally sold for $35.00.

Some of the stories here are amazingly good. Others are just kind of good. All are interesting and well written. Mr. Ligotti's command of the language is awe inspiring.

The reason for only four stars is due to the "sameness" I felt in some of the stories. They took me to somewhere that I had been taken to previously with in this book.

To be sure there are some exceptional examples o
Jack Tripper
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was the collection that made me a Ligotti fan for life. While I'd already owned and read his previous collections -- and for the most part enjoyed them -- it wasn't until I cracked Teatro Grottesco open in 2008 that something unlocked in my brain, allowing me to become fully absorbed in his nightmarish worldview and disorienting prose, both here and when re-reading his earlier collections.

Ligotti had definitely evolved a lot as a writer by this period (mid-90s to early-2000s). Mostly gone i
Ligotti gets compared to those other masters of the horror short Poe and Lovecraft and he obviously loves their tales of deranged minds, half glimpsed horrors, and nihilism. The opening line of “The Clown Puppet” seems a wonderful parody of a Lovecraft opening. Ligotti’s true muses are actually Bruno Shultz and Thomas Bernhard. Fans of those writers should run not walk to the store/library to snatch up Ligotti before he vanishes into out of print limbo. Using Bernhard’s repetition and comic dis ...more
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chained-books
For reasons unknown to me (or hidden from me? Once can never be sure.) this past year or so has been chock full of existentialist texts. From philosophical surveys to plays to role-playing supplements to novels to novels that were later turned into movies, I seem to be crawling my way up a mountain of stark realizations, worrisome revelations brought forth by prophets of . . . not gloom per-se, at least not in the sense of utter nihilism and hopelessness, but soothsayers of "facing that which yo ...more
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
Dec 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthologies, horror
To be honest, I have no clear idea what to say about this book. It isn't easy to read even if it's not very long. As soon as I started reading it, I realized this won't be one of those anthologies to breeze through. It demands your full attention and, let's be honest, your patience. So I decided not to mark this as 'currently reading' to avoid pressure and to take my time with it one or two stories at a time. It worked well for me.

The thing is, I can't say I loved it. There is nothing to love (e
May 17, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The biggest red flag you can ever throw, I think, is to compare someone's writing to another, more prominent writer's. It's more likely to make me suspicious or impatient than anything else; really, is the best thing you can say about Thomas Ligotti's collection of short horror stories "Teatro Grottesco" that his narrative reminds you of Lovecraft's style? Since when is that a selling point? If I wanted to read Lovecraft, I'd read Lovecraft.

I'm not saying you can't do worse than this sleepy litt
May 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bizarro, 2012
Bizarre, dark and delicious with eau de Lovecraft generously splashed at all the right pulse points. The stories are neatly subdivided and labelled to give a gentle steer: ‘Derangements’, Deformations’ and ‘the Damaged and the Diseased’, just in case I (e.g. the reader) don’t get it. Helping hand appreciated, but not necessary. The delineation of stories based on theme and structure is practically pock-marked.

‘Derangements’ is a powerhouse of the uniquely bizarre: unspecified locales, structure
October Spooky Read #1!

“I’ve even come to believe that the world itself, by its very nature, is unendurable. It’s only our responses to this fact that deviate: mine being predominantly a response of passive terror approaching absolute panic; yours being predominantly a response of gruesome obsession that you fear you might act upon.”

Thomas Ligotti is one of those authors I kept meaning to read, as his reputation as a writer of wonderfully creepy stories is impossible to ignore: it is no small
Oct 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
This collection of thirteen tales can be labelled horror, but not in the conventional sense: these reflect an existential horror, in which enigmatic and superficially placid individuals—all suffering from Q-balls interfering with the orderly functioning processes of the mind—find themselves lost and stranded within unfamiliar and nightmarish settings that unfold like the dreams of a rachitic madman. The everyday world in which Ligotti's stories take place—this cramped existence itself—is never l ...more
Ben Winch
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Now this really isn't bad. Dude can write, and though he's clearly dangerously in thrall to Thomas Bernhard, the substance of his writing is so different from that of the misanthropic Austrian that all is forgiven. At first I'll admit I was unsure, but at some point I accepted his vision - which to my knowledge is unique - and my consciousness of the slightly derivative prose-style all but vanished behind my appreciation of the world it creates. Here's a fairly typical (for Ligotti) decription o ...more
Richard Derus
Nov 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a solid four-star read. I do not have the faintest idea how to review it, though, because spoilers (in the case of horror fiction) really consist of telling readers what to expect to feel or think about the stories. it is...if you've read my other reviews, and you find that you agree with me at least 70% of the time, this collection is very much worth your money and your eyeblinks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported L
Lucy Banks
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the weirdest, most unsettling books I've ever read. Very enjoyable.

I'd been pre-warned that Ligotti was something of an anomaly in the world of writing - an author who created strange, horrifying and sometimes incomprehensible stories...all eerily positioned in the everyday, the mundane and the wholly relatable.

Reading through this collection of short stories, it was immediately apparent that I wasn't in for an easy ride, which I welcome from time to time (it's nice to be challenged!). T
About a year ago, I made a commitment to read all the H. P. Lovecraft I could find. Finding it all was easy. You can get the entire short stories and poetry, including some essays, all in one volume for your Amazon Kindle for something like ninety-nine cents. Reading it wasn't that difficult either. If you've never read Lovecraft, or even if you have and loved it, I would highly recommend that you read a short story then go over to The H. P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast and listen to the correspon ...more
Adam Light
Teatro Grottesco was the first short story collection I read by Ligotti. I must say that I am glad I read it, but happy to unmire myself from the unrelenting, bleak nightmare land of his visions.
Was it a good read? Yes.
Was it all I that it was hyped up to be? Not in my opinion.
I did find many of the stories particularly delightful (The Red Tower, Gas Station Carnivals and Purity) but after several dips in the hopelesness of the collection, I found that it all became a bit repetitive.
A couple of
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to S̶e̶a̶n̶ by: Jack Tripper
Thomas Ligotti’s distinctive style maintains an intriguing continuity throughout much of this collection, with varying degrees of success in the choice of narrative vehicle, each of which runs on similar fuel: a stoic acceptance of the futility inherent in everything (excepting for a slight ambivalence toward the art that in turn acknowledges said futility). Having not read Ligotti before nor read about his influences, I was most curious to experience his style firsthand. Rather unexpectedly I d ...more
Nate D
Apr 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: artists who burn their work and disappear
Recommended to Nate D by: carnies and fortune-tellers
It's entirely unsurprising to learn that Thomas Ligotti is from Detroit. His storytelling is suffused in a certain distinctly post-industrial sense of destruction and despair. This context is especially prevalent in the neighborhood descriptions of opening tour-de-force "Purity" which shoves several disquieting philosophical principles through a slalom of screwed-up events, ranging from explicit action to entirely sub-narrative suggestions. All told in the conversational voice of an eerily unfaz ...more
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The litmus test of any form of writing is how vividly believable it is. Thomas Ligotti passes in terrifyingly flying colors. It might be safe to say that not since Nathanial Hawthorne penned the likes of “The Birthmark” and "Rappaccini’s Daughter” has anyone delved so deeply into the essential horror of the human condition. But whereas Hawthorne concerned himself with man at odds with nature thereby inevitably dooming himself, Ligotti concerns himself with nature in all its aspects inevitably at ...more
This is some of the worst writing I've read in a long time. I was only able to stomach the first five stories in this collection before surrendering to the obvious - this man writes like an amateur 14-year-old who is getting a C-minus in English.

First, the stories aren't very imaginative, they are underdeveloped, and unresolved. The writer repeats himself for no discernible reason, repeats descriptions unnecessarily, shows zero sense of rhythm in his prose, uses endless adjectives, uses word com
Tim Pendry
Sep 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone Strong
Thomas Ligotti's work has been hard to find in the UK. When I picked up this edition (published by Virgin in 2008 from the 2006 US hardback), I feared that it would be another general anthology largely duplicating the only other available text - The Shadow At The Bottom Of The World.

Of course, there are very many overlaps (most notably Purity, The Red Tower, The Bungalow House, Severini and Teatro Grottesco itself) but the two books are complementary and not competitive. Why? The 'Shadow' (to b
Murray Ewing
Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Teatro Grottesco makes far less use of the explicitly supernatural, even the explicitly horrific, than earlier Ligotti collections. It’s divided into three sections: ‘Derangements’, ‘Deformations’ (three Kafkan tales about the nefarious practices of the Quine Organisation), and ‘The Damned and the Diseased’ (about mostly failed and small-time artists). The writing style is often deliberately small-minded and finicky, even long-winded in its repeated use of certain descriptive phrases like, ‘the ...more
Douglas Hackle
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition



Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On Reading Thomas Ligotti: A Confession

over a space of many months, I poured over .... no, agonized over ... the words of this cold, aloof misanthrope. It did not lighten my feelings about the world in the slightest. But in a strange, difficult to elucidate manner, it made me feel better about myself.

There have been points in life when your humble reviewer has been called "negative", "pessimistic", "dark", "emotionally stunted", "lacking in affection". Sometime in my late teen years, I even star
Ben Loory
Dec 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing

sometimes i come upon books or stories that make me question the nature of reality; that make me wonder about the possibility of other realms of existence, other ways of seeing or living or being, etc. but reading ligotti, i often get the sense that not only do these things absolutely exist, but that ligotti is speaking to me-- directly to me personally-- from that other realm, through the medium of this book, this story, as though taunting me to step forward and enter that place with him. it is
Paul  Perry
This is a difficult book to rate. As my earlier updates suggest, I started of very much liking it (although 'liking' may not be the right word, given the thoroughly unsettling nature of the stories). The opening story was utterly superb, and the quality continued through the next couple of sections - the book is broken into short collections of themed stories, the tales in each related to a greater or lesser extent - but, toward the end, I was beginning to find a sameness to the writing rather w ...more
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kafka on steroids. I didn't like this book as much as I thought I would because, although I love Kafka, I've moved on in how I think fiction should address the nihilistic worldview. I'm in the Harlan Ellison camp where the best stories have flesh and blood characters that we actually care about. The stories were weird and somewhat disturbing but never creepy or scary. The atmosphere is more absurdist than horror. Ligotti is definitely unique in his fictional translation of the ultimate meaningle ...more
Oct 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 l
"And no matter what I say cannot resist or betray it. No one could do so because there is no one here. There is only this body, this shadow, this darkness."

I remember picking this one up several years ago, and reading the first story Purity, and putting it down for reasons I can't really describe without feeling a bit ashamed...

Obviously, I did't get it; I wasn't ready, and I had better things to do like picking up "better" books... and by "better" I mean the ones that could be interesting to me
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Gothic Literature: 1: Derangements 23 6 Sep 29, 2020 01:11PM  
Gothic Literature: 3: The Damaged and the Diseased 6 7 Sep 15, 2020 04:20PM  
Gothic Literature: 2: Deformations 10 5 Sep 11, 2020 02:23PM  
Gothic Literature: 0: intro: Teatro Grottesco by Ligotti 8 9 Aug 28, 2020 04:34AM  
Literary Horror: June 2014 Read: Teatro Grottesco by Thomas Ligotti 69 66 Jun 28, 2014 11:09AM  

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Thomas Ligotti is a contemporary American horror author and reclusive literary cult figure. His writings, while unique in style, have been noted as major continuations of several literary genres—most prominently Lovecraftian horror—and have overall been described as works of "philosophical horror", often written as philosophical novels with a "darker" undertone which is similar to gothic fiction. ...more

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