Such an enjoyable collection. Taff here presents a multitude of stories in different styles (1st person, 3rd person, epistolary format, surreal, urban, terrifying, humorous, psychologically astute, mythic, monstrous, smooth and scrofulous, &c.), but each one is unmistakably branded with Taff's voice, which is poetic and surgically precise by turns.
This collection shows the work of a great writer who could do any genre or non-genre justice-- but thankfully for those who like their stories dark, no sugar please-- he's done enough horror stories to put out a literate blast of a book like Little Deaths.
by Orrin Grey
A recent discovery and pleasure. Stories that are fun to read because they are intelligent and well-crafted, in a style that effortlessly flows through your brain such that, by the time you finish the book, you feel like it was only five minutes long from opening to closing, and you're left wishing there were 700 more pages so it could feel like a 10-minute read, at least.
Ah, Michael Bailey. Non-Linear Horror novelist. This book is a mind-trip, a page-trip, a sentence-trip, an idea-trip, a map without directions, quantum-built terrors that, more like a brutal painting or soundscape, than a narrative that mandates its one way ahead, hums dark tunes in your ear from everywhere at once. Hard to tell the voices speaking to you from the echoes of voices shouting to themselves just a chapter away. Truly frightening and original.
1. The Stooges
3. Raw Power
4. I Got A Right, Sick of You, I Got Nothing, and all those other amazing bootlegged recordings that sadly never made it to a proper album (I forgot Open Up and Bleed!)
Literate and fun and immensely interesting discourse on classical music in the modern era. I discovered quite a few great composers I didn't know about after reading it (though Mahler is still Der Mann, as far as I am concerned).
I discovered at least 3 bands that are now among my top favorites, just because of this book with naked Japanese hippies riding motorcyle-gang style across the backroads of Nippon. Then again, is that surprising, really? That may be the best book cover of all time (After Chiral Mad). Incidentally, the three bands I'm thinkin' of are: The Flower Travellin' Band; Blues Creation; and Speed, Glue, & Shinki. Check them out if you are interested in psych-rock/gritty vaguely bluesy stoner/just weird music or albums with Amazing titles such as "BLIND BABY HAS ITS MOTHER'S EYES" and "HEAVIER THAN A DEATH IN THE FAMILY". Krist I wish I'd thought of those.
No need to say anything here as it is already such a well-established classic and I'm probably the last to read it. But I was sad when it ended. The characters and the world of London that Moore and Campbell created were so alive and fascinating. Almost Pynchonesque. Only probably better, less noodling about. Pynchon doesn't make me sad-- more like sorry for myself that I can't write like that.
Holy Hell are these three books AMAZING. I had read Naked Lunch and liked it, but Burroughs is far more brilliant in each of these three books, which are fairly indescribable (I don't know, maybe Cronenberg could film them somehow, but barring that...). This word gets thrown around a lot by people with Master's Degrees, but seriously the writing here is VISIONARY. Man it is VISIONSCARY even. If you don't like this you probably think Coldplay is pretty good, or that Arctic Monkeys is a cool name for a band. Or that they are a band. DRONING IS NOT SONGWRITING!!
I don't like anything by Bukowski except this book. But I love this book. It is one of the most poignant, painful, funny and sad stories of growing up without love or anywhere to belong. It is filthy and heartbreaking. The sections describing the narrator's severe, humilating acne condition and treatment sessions are among the greatest writing ever.
I think I said something like this before, but Holy Hell this book is AMAZING. Bleak. Imaginative. Zazzy. The language so vivid and living and how can anything this colorful be so dark, dark, dark?
Awesome noir novel where a man is put in charge of catching himself. Hard to put down, fast pacing, nice structure. Sounds like I'm talking about a race horse.
I could've listed like 20 Simenon novels alone here. He is like Camus, except far more insightful, objective, funny, and unrelenting. Dirty Snow is particularly amazing but it was hard to pick one (So he's on here twice). He is well-known for his tight, very simple style, but so many of his sentences stand out for me as perfect, as stuff I wish I had thought of. Very precise and elegant. Like this from Dirty Snow: "Everywhere during the day reigned a painfully raw, almost frozen light, since the windows were high and wide, and the stairs and halls were painted white, so that the snow outside glared throughout the building."
This guy was a great, underappreciated writer. The story is incredibly, wonderfully moody, set in an apartment building that is about to be demolished, with most of the tenants having moved out and all sorts of weird evil things happening. Then there's all this interesting backstory about a genealogist. Pretty involved and well-plotted with distinctly drawn characters that could easily have become stereotypes in a lesser author's hands. Hard to put down.
Glad I happened to find this author. New York Review Books (who also publishes Simenon) has some great titles. Very quirky book about an odd girl (A Veterinarian's daughter) who turns out to have some unusual powers. Humorous, grotesque, touching, real good.
My favorite of all his novels so far. He is a wonderful writer, but sometimes he almost overdoes the realism, the minute descriptions of what someone's raised eyebrow meant or tone of voice. Almost trying too hard to ensure his fantastic story is set in a believable world. But for me it all comes together in this book. Characters I cared for, a creepy backstory, people goin' nanners, spooky woods, father-daughter problems, &c.
Another noir classic. Perfect plotting, dialogue and character development. Made into poor movie versions.
Another read from my 2012 noir period. One of the best such novels.
by Mario De Sa-Carneiro
Wonderfully idiosyncratic writer whose works are essentially all about teetering into madness (or starting there and teetering into some postmadness state almost impossible to describe). So, good stuff. De Sa-Carneiro was Portugese. After reading this I wonder now if Ligotti didn't call the professor in his brilliant story "The Night School" The Portugese as a tribute to this explorer of unexplorable darkness.
Unique graphic novel. A character study that could be terribly dull but is riveting, and visually & emotionally gorgeous. You know how Mad Men sounds boring on paper? Like that kind of good.
Sugar-Honey-Iced-Tea, what can I say about Malpertuis that hasn't been said before? Probably volumes. I have never read a book this thoroughly fun, mysterious, bizarre...well I have I'm sure, but this is one of them. The twist, when it comes is both brilliant and comic, while managing to sustain a nightmare mood. Thank you Vandermeers for introducing me to this author through your superb anthology The Weird.
I put a link to Amazon here, but you can get it for free at Gutenberg I think, or another ebook site. Anyway, I thought this would just be goofy, pre-new age esoterica/conspiracy theories. But in fact it is sui generis, hilarious and thought-provoking, full of Sugar-Honey-Iced-Tea and flaming truth in equal dosages.
No explanation necessary! If there were a God, it would probably be Lemmy. Ah, then all the right people would finally go to hell.
A near-perfect book. The film is surprisngly faithful, actually. But naturally this is better.
A perfect book. I cannot imagine better writing or storytelling. The greatest work of post-apocalyptic fiction, genre-defying and loaded with all the raw hurt and agonizing love and hope you can possibly take without breaking into uneven shards.
Another brilliant noir. Involves some surreal episodes skillfully woven into the "real world" plot. Another anti-hero from Thompson. You root for him. He's short. Has fake teeth. Kills people. He likes a girl with a false leg. What's not to perversely love? If you can't identify with a guy like that, you probably care about what The New Yorker claims is culturally valuable. I hate that obnoxious title. You know when politicians say "The American People" want this or that? And you're like, WHO exactly are "The American People"? Because I'm an American Person and I don't want anything close to that thing you just said those people want? Well, that's what it's like with The New Yorker. I am a New Yorker and even my shadow has nothing in common with the shadows of the people who run that thing. So stop including me in your stupid brand name!
A perfect book. Stunning, heartbreaking, merciless. Beautiful and cold.
This is one of the greatest novels ever written period, never mind greatest horror or transgressive trip or whatever. After the pages are all closed up again it's hard to shake that terror off, not like a bad memory but rather a dark forboding about the moral stability of your very being. Selby could easily be considered a horror author (just check out The Room, which I found boring but is pretty much splatter and gore all the way through). Harrowing is a good word for The Demon. I was freaked out for weeks.
I went on a Ballard kick after my Noir kick. A few of Ballard's novels are so beautiful, visionary, clinical and imaginative that they are their own genre. It is hard to pick one but I think I enjoyed The Crystal World the most. How anyone can make you feel like you understand the alien emotions and obsessions expressed throughout the book is a real marvel.
A nice surprising find. Reminded me a good deal of Ballard, but had its own thing going on. Secluded lighthouse; early 20th century setting; violent Lovecraftian fishy-people; sex with said fishy types. Unsettling and lovely all at once. I don't think I'm giving anything away by saying that it ends with a period.
Another nice surprise find for me this year. Crisp is the real deal. Has his own voice, and a very weird lens on the world. Strong narratives matched by lines both delicate and insightful. The opening tale, "The Mermaid" is easily one of the best short stories I've read in some time.
Quite a pessimistic masterpiece. A 19th Century poem about melancholia and how much life sucks. How much does it suck? So much that, when the narrator asks one of the miserable bastards he meets during his midnight ramblings why anyone bothers to go on living in this hell called the mind, the guy answers:
"Take a watch. Erase the signs and figures of the circling hours, detach the hands, remove the dial-face; the works procceed until run down; although bereft of purpose, void of use, still go."
I know, right?! If you can't identify with that, you probably read a lot of memoirs.