The New Weird discussion

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Discoveries in the New Weird.

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message 1: by Steven (new)

Steven | 91 comments Mod
What is everyone reading these days?


message 2: by Mirvan. (new)

Mirvan. Ereon (mirvanereon) | 9 comments There are a lot of very good Filipino authors who made really spectacular speculative and weird fiction...

Dean Alfar
Ian Casocot
and Eros Atalia... They are so great... you would know more about our unique Philippine mythology...

And not sounding vain, I think I am the weirdest writer I know... my writings were never been published but my potential publisher said my style of writing and my themes have never been published in thephilippines


message 3: by Indraroop (new)

Indraroop Just discovered Robert Shearman. Not traditional New Weird but eerily unsettling and different.

Remember Why You Fear Me is the specific book I read.


message 4: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 27, 2014 02:05PM) (new)

Thomas Ligotti and some other not so weird books.
Would Bret Easton Ellis qualify? I never was a big fan of American Psycho, but Glamorama and The Informers are awesome.

Chuck Palahniuk should also be in there I think.


message 5: by Chrystal (last edited Dec 13, 2014 09:23PM) (new)

Chrystal Hays | 9 comments I'm a huge fan of the new weird...but did not really have a word for it until recently. They all make me feel a certain way, and it seems like "the new weird" is summing up what makes us feel that way.
I mainly came in to add Searcy's books, because last night I realized they are defintely in this category. I had encountered them as "horror" but they are not quite that...I keep hoping he will write more.
Ordinary Horror and Last Things are the titles, and I read Last Things first, and recommend it first.


message 6: by Chrystal (new)

Chrystal Hays | 9 comments I would not put all of Stephen King here, but one short story, The Finger, resonates to me as "new weird".

Anyone else read it?


message 7: by Dan (new)

Dan I presume you mean "The Moving Finger" collected in Stephen King's Nightmares & Dreamscapes (1993). I can see why you would want to classify it as New Weird. The concept of a finger poking its way out of a drain in an apartment bathroom sink and wanting to harm the protagonist is almost weird enough to classify it as being in that genre.

But then the story's emphasis shifts. The finger can't be killed; it will reemerge to be a threat; and then the finger starts to terrorize victims. This plot moves the story squarely into the horror camp. The story's main purpose is to build suspense by scaring the reader into fearing for its protagonist's life from some terror. That's a definition of horror, not New Weird.


message 8: by Chrystal (last edited Dec 17, 2014 08:48PM) (new)

Chrystal Hays | 9 comments Okay, good point. I think the weird feel of the beginning is what really stuck with me...the ordinary being perfectly ordinary except for one glaring exception.
It's been a while since I read it. I did not even remember the title!


message 9: by Dan (last edited Dec 18, 2014 04:03AM) (new)

Dan That said, Stephen King has published in the magazine best known for printing New Weird stories: Weird Tales. I have the issue, in fact, number 301 from the Summer of 1991. Stephen King's short story "It Grows on You" was published on pages 65-71 and collected in Nightmares and Dreamscapes (1993) as well. I understand there is a 1973 version of the story and a radically altered 1993 version, and that the earlier one is generally considered superior. Not sure which of the two versions is published in Weird Tales.

Anyway, the line between New Weird and Horror is a thin one. Lovecraft, a quintessential Weird author, often has his work classified as Horror. In fact, he himself classified it as such. So, it seems a bit academic for me to try to make distinctions few others would bother to attempt.


message 10: by Chrystal (new)

Chrystal Hays | 9 comments I think it's great to make academic distinctions...I was hoping this forum could be more in-depth than many of the articles and discussions I have found, in fact.

I really enjoyed "Watson's Boy" by Brian Evenson, in which one sort of fears for the protagonist, who is a little bit of an anti-hero, yet not with any empathetic connection...while at the same time trying to figure out wth is going on. This has led me to novels by Evenson, but so far, they are feeling like straight SF.


message 11: by Dan (last edited Dec 21, 2014 09:24AM) (new)

Dan Comparing the Weird Tales version of "It Grows on You", a reprint, I believe, of the 1973 story, to a later version, and then to the final 1993 version (starts on page 102) that appeared in King's short story collection, it's clear the 1993 version was thoroughly rewritten for style's sake, but not in a way that changes the plot of the story. The 1993 version is only a slight improvement in my opinion on the earlier two.

On the surface, and on first reading, the story (any of the three versions) may seem of questionable merit. It reads more like background for a novel than a complete short story. Little of interest happens for a long time, and what does happen fails to result in negative consequences for anyone. The story is also hard to follow unless you are paying close attention. It skips around a lot in time, the only clue for the transitions being the names referred to. But I have read it three times this week, twice in the oldest version, and it has grown on me.

I have not heard of Brian Evenson before. Thank you for mentioning him. I will try to read one of his works soon.

One New Weird author I have been meaning to look into but have not yet found the time is Ramsey Campbell. He is still writing prolifically and his work appears to be well regarded among New Weird writers, making him something of a writer's writer.


message 12: by Alice (last edited Mar 07, 2015 04:05AM) (new)

Alice Cox (armpitcannon) | 1 comments I've never heard of New Weird before but reading the description made me realise that it's exactly the kind of books I look for (but often find hard to find). Regarding a kind of horror awareness of (post)modernity, a book I'm reading right now called 'Everything Must Go' by La JohnJoseph fits the description, I think. It's very heavily surreal but it blends incredible darkness with absurdity and pop culture references in such a way that I think it would perhaps fit the description of New Weird. Perhaps it's more Bizarro. Also, would House of Leaves be more Horror, or New Weird? Anyone here read it? I hope I'm not misunderstanding what New Weird is - sorry if I am!


message 13: by Dan (last edited Mar 07, 2015 10:08AM) (new)

Dan I have not read either of these works, but I just read about them since you mention them. The definition of New Weird is disputed. I can't speak as a final authority on what the boundaries of the genre are, but from what I read of the works you mention, I would not classify them as New Weird.

New Weird, to my understanding, must incorporate some element of the fantastic. The events of the New Weird story can't possibly actually happen in real life because something magic, or beyond our current scientific understanding, happens in the story. This sets New Weird firmly in the realm of genre fiction rather than mainstream fiction. The fiction pieces you name seem to me to belong to mainstream fiction, some absurdist subgenre perhaps (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absurdis...). Absurd is not Weird.

To sum up, the line separating New Weird from fiction is that some speculative element of fantasy needs to be in the New Weird story. That is a fairly easy division line to draw. What distinguishes a New Weird tale from Horror, Science Fiction, or Fantasy is more difficult.

For me, the distinction between New Weird and Horror is that Horror's main goal is to either scare you, gross you out, or thrill you (a la Stephen King's Firestarter or Dead Zone). New Weird can have these Horror elements too, but not as a primary goal or purpose for telling the story. New Weird's primary goal is more to unsettle you in a way that is hopefully original, or has a twist, and thus gets you thinking. New Weird, therefore, is more often literary, i.e., more artfully written by masters of writing craft. This is a fuzzy distinction to draw, I concede, but I know the difference between Horror and New Weird when I read it.

The distinction between New Weird and Fantasy, particularly Dark Fantasy and Urban Fantasy, is even blurrier in my opinion. It's a subtle shift in emphasis that distinguishes the two. Jim Butcher's Dresden series and Patricia Briggs Mercy novels are near the boundaries, but both I think of as being firmly on the fantasy side because their primary purpose is to create suspense and thrill, not get the reader thinking all that much, and not to push boundaries of reality. Stories that are firmly set out of the real world and in their own fantasy worlds are not New Weird. New Weird stories are set closer to our world, with just a twist of the fantastic, not gobs of it with its own set of internally consistent rules as in these two series.

I hope that clarifies rather than muddies the water. Please bear in mind some New Weird aficionados would disagree with me on a point here and there.

***Edit: Upon reading more about House of Leaves, I realized it has been widely classified as New Weird. I won't disagree since the house, apparently, is haunted.


message 14: by Chrystal (last edited Mar 07, 2015 10:18AM) (new)

Chrystal Hays | 9 comments I agree 100% on House of Leaves. I strongly recommend it. (Some of the author's other work, however, I found unreadable. He's very experimental with prose)

I will look for Everything Must Go!

Magical Realism could shift into New Weird, too. Elements of 100 Years of Solitude had a New Weird Feel about them, as I recall, although it has been many years since I read it. But something like Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale, although clearly magical realism / fantasy, does not fit because it simply is not dark enough, imho.


message 15: by Dan (last edited Apr 26, 2015 05:43PM) (new)

Dan I have created an extensive list of New Weird works. If you know some others that unarguably belong to the genre, please add to the list. Now to begin reading some of these treasures! https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/8...

I do see I accidentally overlapped a smaller list. Wonder if there is some way we can merge our lists?


message 16: by Meran (new)

Meran | 1 comments I was surprised to see no Lucius Shepard on it.


message 17: by Dan (new)

Dan I agree. Some of Shepard's work definitely belongs. The beauty of lists is that anyone can add entrees.


message 18: by Peter (new)

Peter (jimmyshelter) | 2 comments I'm currently reading Gears of the City, the sequel to Thunderer by Felix Gilman.

I'm loving it, but it has a completely different feel from the first book. Where the first book sometimes felt like epic fantasy, which got (new) weirder while progressing, Gears of the City is weird from the beginning, but also more claustrophobic.

I'm a bit afraid of the ending: will Gilman explain enough? Often with these weird books if everything is explained the magic is just gone, but on the other end, if not enough of the mystery is explained, it can feel if your reading time is wasted.


message 19: by Aaron (new)

Aaron (alazif) | 1 comments An excellent writer in the New Weird field is Scott Nicolay. His collection Ana Kai Tangata is a fantastic collection, and he has some wonderful novellas. You can find his author page here:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show...


message 20: by Chrystal (new)

Chrystal Hays | 9 comments Peter, sometimes I prefer the unexplained....it really is neither weird nor magic if it is explained...it's just science or fantasy then.

Thanks, Aaron! Will have to check him out. That title might have put me off, because some collections have turned out not to be in English. =)


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