August 5th, 2005


(no subject)

I went to the used book store today, and passed over the racks of uniform fantasy, to gaze glumly at the shelves of horror novels, and thought "Crud, I don't know any of these people." I mean, I've read everything Stephen King's written, and enough Dean Koontz that I really don't need to read any more, and Clive Barker's stuff for kids is fabulous, but his work for adults is so complicated and laborious that I cannot follow it for beans. And Straub, I suspect, is a genius, but he's tough going--I practically needed sherpas and a yak to scale "Shadowland." (Now, I loved the Talisman dearly, but I suspect King did a lot of the heavy lifting in the readibility department.) And Anne Rice, of whom the less said the better, has apparently written a whole bunch of books in the period since I stopped caring.

And that's all the horror writers I know. I gazed aimlessly across the shelves--there's enough V.C. Andrews that you could tie 'em to somebody's feet and send them to sleep with the fishes. Hmm, think I saw a movie about that once. There was incest and arsenic or something. There's a bunch of single books by names I don't recognize. There is something by the guy who did Goosebumps. Meh. I pull books out at random, read the backs, and they tell me nothing much useful, except that apparently Stephen King will give a nice jacket quote to practically anybody.

It took me a long time to find high points of fantasy. My entire adolescence, for example. It's like wading through a dung heap, really--you're in a vast sea of crap, looking for the brilliant carapaces of scarabs wandering by the edges. For every China Mieville, there's a dozen Piers Anthony. I assume that horror as a genre is no different.

So, O readers! Recommend me some good horror, I beg of you! (You came through so well with mystery and science writing, I figure what the heck.) I enjoyed Caleb Carr and Thomas Harris, but my great love was the stuff with supernatural and fantasy overtones, to no surprise. (But nothing with vampires, I beg. So very bored of vampires. Also, anything with werewolves would have to hold up to brutal unromanticism.) And here's the thing--it doesn't have to be great. It doesn't have to be literature. It can be the sort of book you hide under the table from your spouse in shame. I am a great fan of readibility. I did read quite a lot of Koontz, and I devour the Harry Potter books like everybody else. I am perfectly willing to read fun crap. I want entertainment, not ephiphany. This book does not need to change my life. I am not hoping for a horror version of "Perdido Street Station" (although I'd love one, of course.) Readable and captivating for an hour or two is all I ask.