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so ask already!!! > Literary/genre-transcending horror?

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message 1: by Krok Zero (new)

Krok Zero | 7 comments I got one for you, hive-mind...

Something I've been wondering about for a while is if there is a body of work out there of horror fiction by strong literary writers with interesting prose styles. I don't necessarily have anything against Stephen King, but he doesn't do enough with language to really excite me. I tried some Peter Straub, but he hews pretty close to the King model.

With most genre fiction you can identify certain writers who transcend the genre. Sci-fi has many of these, but one example would be William Gibson; an example in crime fiction would be James Ellroy. Basically I'm looking for the horror equivalent of those guys, if such a writer exists. Books that are first and foremost excellent literary works, but that also exist within the horror genre and deal with everything implied by that genre. Do they exist? I love Shirley Jackson, whose stuff is sometimes categorized as horror but who is mostly just a brilliant writer; maybe something along her lines? My preference here is for 20th/21st century stuff, so no H.P. Lovecraft suggestions please. Oh, and I do own a copy of Dan Simmons' The Terror, which probably fits what I am talking about, so don't suggest that because I will get to it later this year probably. Sorry if this is too vague!


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Hmm, people seem to freak out about how great Let the Right One In is, but it is in translation - don't know if that disqualifies it. IKEA horror about vampires. His next book, about zombies, called Handling the Undead wasn't as well received.

I can think of a fair amount of Gothic that's more literary minded, but I'm assuming you mean horror, with the scares and blood. Boogity boogity.


message 3: by Krok Zero (new)

Krok Zero | 7 comments Ceridwen wrote: "Hmm, people seem to freak out about how great Let the Right One In is, but it is in translation - don't know if that disqualifies it. IKEA horror about vampires. His next book, about ..."

Yeah, I've seen both film versions of that and love 'em both. I do kinda have a mental block about lit in translation, though.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Fair enough. It's hard to judge prose in translation.


message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul Krok Zero:

I'm not sure how recent the Straub is you've read, but in the last ten plus years or so he has certainly not hewn to the King model, with A DARK MATTER being the most recent example (in my opinon).

My suggestions for lit/horror are Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves, Toby Barlow's Sharp Teeth, and for short fiction, Laird Barron's collections, Imago Sequence and Occultation.

Lastly, if anyone is looking for contemporary lit horror, the shirley jackson awards aims to bring notice to such works. Check out www.shirleyjacksonawards.org


message 6: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
extra points to paul for not plugging, even though some of the stories in his excellent collection could be considered "horror"

In the Mean Time

there is also this: Ordinary Horror which promised to be a horror novel in the vein of henry james - dark and subtle, and if you didn't "get it", you were a terrible reader; fat,dumb, and lazy. well. i read it twice. and i didn't get it. true, i was young, but i think i was smarter then than i am now. someone else read this and tell me what it was all about.


message 7: by Steve (new)

Steve Lowe (steve_lowe) | 4 comments Joe Hill's work has been referred to as "literary horror" (whatever that really is supposed to mean) and his most recent novel Horns is outstanding. And it you pre-order the paperback version right now, you can get a hand-doodled bookplate from him.


message 8: by jen (new)

jen (marshmallow) I love that you asked this, because I'll be looking forward to getting some recs from it as well.. I find books like that to be woefully few and far between. As for what I can offer:

- Justin Cronin's The Passage immediately springs to mind.

- So long as Dan Simmons is on the table, his follow-up to The Terror, called Drood is also quite good so far, though it didn't grab me quite as thoroughly as The Terror, which I pretty well devoured over a span of days. And his earlier Summer of Night is a pretty spectacular work of horror. I'm not sure it transcends the genre, but even those first books have at least a more-interesting-than-usual style of prose. I've probably read that book at least a dozen times since it came out in '92.

- Graham Joyce would maybe be another author to investigate. However, despite discovering him in the horror section (back when bookstores still had them), I hesitate to place him that close to the genre. He's more literary that just toes at horror/the supernatural, than a horror author that toes at literary.


message 9: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) Angela Carter might work.


message 10: by Paul (new)

Paul Ordinary Horror is very cool.

A long, lost lit-horror novel I read that blew me away recently was Stephen Gregory's The Cormorant.


message 11: by Krok Zero (new)

Krok Zero | 7 comments Hmm... Graham Joyce, Stephen Gregory and David Searcy sound like interesting options. Thanks.


message 12: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
Paul wrote: "Ordinary Horror is very cool.

A long, lost lit-horror novel I read that blew me away recently was Stephen Gregory's The Cormorant."


are you going to explain it to me, though?? in seeecret?


message 13: by Paul (new)

Paul sorry, I'm sneaking away from parent/teacher conferences and only throwing out titles instead of descriptions. How's this?

I had written this on my blog last summer about the Comorant:

"First published in 1986, it’s the story of a young suburban family (mom, dad, baby boy) inheriting a cabin in the wilds of Wales, along with the eccentric uncle’s pet bird, a cormorant. They must care for the bird or they don’t keep the home. Dark, funny, weird, and ultimately, horrific, this is a book too smart, and simultaneously too subtle and too over-the-top to be published today, sadly. A sly and powerful statement on suburban ennui, parenthood, and what it means to be civilized. Certainly a book worth tracking down."


message 14: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
that is perfect!! i didn't even have to scold you!


message 15: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
(oh, i meant can you explain ordinary horror to me via PM because i am too stupid to "get" it)


at your leisure, of course...


message 16: by Paul (new)

Paul ah, right. Heh. Well, it's been years since I read that book, and yeah, ambiguous as heck, but I read it as it being more about the creeping horror of suburbia more than anything else.


message 17: by karen, future RA queen (last edited Feb 24, 2011 12:28PM) (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
dan simmons has another new title that is classified as horror Carrion Comfort. i have not read this one, but on the strength of the terror i can vouch for his level of writing. he is fairly slow-paced, but in an engrossing way, not in a way that bogs the reader down. there is a lot of detail, but it all contributes to fleshing out the story; it never feels padded.


you may also want to check out books from millipede press, which i think is defunct, but two that i liked from them were The Other and The Tenant. the other is the one they made the movie of - with the creepy kid. the tenant is the one polanski made the movie of with all the confusion and drama. the latter is a more psychological kind of horror - i don't know if that is what you want or if you literally just want like monsters -rarrr.

also Fyodor Sologub if you can find him. dark russian madness-horror. very good, but largely out of print.


message 18: by Krok Zero (new)

Krok Zero | 7 comments Did Millipede Press become Centipede Press? Because that is a press that now exists, and is the first google hit when you search Millipede Press. It does look like they have some stuff that might fit the bill.

I am open to both psychological horror and overt monster stuff.


message 19: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
sortof - but now, as far as i know, they are only making really high-end editions of their list - like $80 art editions. i asked oriana a couple of months ago - she has worked for them before - she might know more...


message 20: by Paul (new)

Paul Millipede is an offshoot of Centipede.


message 21: by Mariel (new)

Mariel (fuchsiagroan) The Cipher and Skin
Koja's writing has its own style that is hard to describe. Intense, graphic and emotional.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle and other Shirley Jacksons for your creepy horror about how scary people can be.


message 22: by Christy (new)

Christy (christymtidwell) | 149 comments Dan Simmons' Carrion Comfort is actually not new, but a new edition was released recently. It's about twenty years old, I think, and in my opinion nowhere near as good as The Terror or Drood.


message 23: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine | 455 comments Murakami Ryu is a nontraditional sort of horror writer. I haven't read the book but the Audition is a cool horror movie and I feel like the book would be more literary. A lot of his work (including the stuff I've read) is more urban literary stuff, but some of it is definitely horror.

There is also a book by Jenn Ashworth called A Kind of Intimacy which is technically actually mystery but in reality I think is closer to horror, but it's more psychological horror and it's really well written.

On the other hand neither of these are stephen king vampires are chasing me kind of horror cause I don't like that. They are more toned down charles manson is living next store kind of horror, and actually on that note you might like Gillian Flynn who's more of a post horror what happens next kind of author especially Dark Places


message 24: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
Christy wrote: "Dan Simmons' Carrion Comfort is actually not new, but a new edition was released recently. It's about twenty years old, I think, and in my opinion nowhere near as good as The Terror or Drood."

d'oh!! i am a bad bookseller!


message 25: by Joel (new)

Joel (joelevard) | 15 comments karen wrote: "Christy wrote: "Dan Simmons' Carrion Comfort is actually not new, but a new edition was released recently. It's about twenty years old, I think, and in my opinion nowhere near as good as The Terro..."

i was just going to come in and chide you for that! oh well. i still think you are a good bookseller.


message 26: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
it was "new to me", and i am just that arrogant....


message 27: by Natalie (last edited Feb 26, 2011 09:36AM) (new)

Natalie (nkmeyers) | 10 comments If you don't want the "same old thing" then you might want to try Cody Goodfellow. His Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars has some very frightening, yet readerly contemporary horror stories.

A novel length work of his is Perfect Union . The structure and the concept is quite literary, the voice and the action sometimes verge on pure B movie horror but the rest makes up for it!

David Agronoff, says in his review that:

"Goodfellow spins a mind bogglingly insane tale of body horror that manages to dip it's fingers in uncomfortable gore while invoking laughter and deep thought about issues of personal freedom.

Who knew a book where a woman bites the heads of fetuses and throws them at people could also explore the failings of communism. An intelligent socio-political dark bizarro masterpiece and one of the most original horror novels in years."



message 28: by Deb (new)

Deb (debs913) On Stephen King--I classify his work in two tiers--the really good stuff and then the mortgage payment stuff. My favorite King's include Duma Key (about a man who suffers a life changing accident), The Stand (post apocalyptic adventure), Needful Things (the whole idea of corrupting people with things they WANT is so cool).

Also, what about Something Wicked This Way Comes and a few other Ray Bradbury books? He is a master.


message 29: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine | 455 comments I second bradbury


message 30: by Kathrina (new)

Kathrina | 50 comments I'm seconding karen's earlier endorsement of The Other, and I also would recommend The Collector and The Magus, neither of them bloody or graphic, but psychologically twisted and riveting. (OK, I haven't read Magus yet, but you can count on good writing, regardless.)


message 31: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
i have it!! i have just finished Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism, and then i remembered this thread!! this book is very very good. it is a fairly slow-paced horror story, but slow paced with character development and satisfying backstory, not with nonsense and distracting obfuscation. it is atmospheric and creepy, definitely literary, and there are several scenes that i thought were spooky. i kept having to force myself not to read ahead, but let the story tell itself at its own pace - sometimes with horror, you just want the payoff, you know?? but this one is best read sloooowly, to let it unravel at its own pace. good stuff.


message 32: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine | 455 comments karen wrote: "i have it!! i have just finished Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism, and then i remembered this thread!! this book is very very good. it is a fairly slow-paced horror story, but s..."

want.


message 33: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
friday.


message 34: by Paul (new)

Paul Can't wait for this book.


message 35: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
wait, you don't have a copy yet?? i feel even more fortunate now!


message 36: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine | 455 comments yay it will be a trade.


message 37: by Crowinator (last edited Mar 30, 2011 03:07PM) (new)

Crowinator | 1 comments Just joined the group and saw this thread. I second Joe Hill -- he's my favorite adult horror writer His collection 20th Century Ghostsshows quite a bit of range.

Also, if you're open to reading YA, Rick Yancey's The Monstrumologist and The Curse of the Wendigo definitely transcend the genre (both as horror and YA, I think).

ETA: Sorry, guys, you can tell that I've been trying to learn how to do the same links as you and messed up a few times. I think I got it right this last time!


message 38: by James (new)

James (jamespage) | 5 comments I'd check out anything by Brian Evenson

Some others that come to mind:
The Ruins, stylish and genuinely scary. Transcends its seemingly absurd premise.
Dogs of God Appalachian mountain folk with a twist of horror.
Canaan's Tongue Creepy and beautifully written. Kind of a Faulkner/Deadwood/Poe mashup.

Also liked House of Leaves and The Magus.


message 39: by James (new)

James (jamespage) | 5 comments Cold Skin Kind of like "The Terror" crossed with Robinson Crusoe. Disturbing sex scenes to boot.

Already Dead This series is great -more noir than horror, but it's about vampires so maybe it counts. Stephen King says something along the lines that Charlie Huston is one of the best prose stylists of his generation, and in my opinion it's one of his more accurate hyperbolic blurbs.

Lunar Park Psychological/ metafictional horror with a good dose of humour.


message 40: by Kandy (new)

Kandy Crenshaw (kanzedac) Two of my favorites are Fear by L. Ron Hubbard and Blood Crazy by Simon Clark.
I've added many books from this thread to my reading list. Thanks for the leads!


message 41: by Jason (last edited Apr 02, 2011 08:02PM) (new)

Jason | 8 comments The Searcy underwhelmed me, but I'll second the recs for Gillian Flynn, Scott Smith, and Laird Barron.

Glen Hirshberg writes some fantastic short fiction (see, e.g., The Two Sams), and his one novel (The Snowman's Children) is pretty strong.

Stewart O'Nan's The Night Country is more traditionally horror, 'though I think A Prayer for the Dying is horrific, and fantastic.


message 42: by Paul (new)

Paul I'm all with Mike's recs. Particularly the Barron and O'Nan.

Plus anything written by Liz Hand.


message 43: by Boozy (new)

Boozy | 1 comments What about House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski? Its a bit of psychological horror although not in the traditional sense. I personally loved the book although i've had quite a few friends that became bothered to the point that they refused to finish it.


message 44: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
this might interest you:

http://monsterlibrarian.com/horrorboo...


message 45: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
did you end up trying any of these suggestions? (not from the lust i just posted, i mean in general...)


message 46: by Axolotl (new)

Axolotl | 3 comments Um...this is an old thread but is it dead?

Quentin S. Crisp easily transcends horror and the weird (though his stories are plentifully weird). Try his novel Remember You're a One-Ball! and story collection All God's Angels, Beware!.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (erinpaperbackstash) Michael McDowell writes with a literary style and his stories can be unique. Something like The Elementals. Some of his stuff is out of print so cheap in ebook form right now


message 48: by Mir (new)

Mir | 189 comments There's also the recent-ish Horrorstör.


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