In the list of what I would consider excellent stories the last feast of harlequin, dr locrian s asylum vastarien the spectacles in the drawer The Shadow at the Bottom of the World, nethescurial the bungalow house The others are good, too, but these were my favorites.
Very highly recommended if you read Lovecraft,you will appreciate this one very much.
I had trouble getting this collection and instead read the collections that contained these stories originally Songs of a Dead Dreamer, Grimscribe, Noctuary, and Teatro Grottesco I m adding this collection to my books read for the completion of a reading list I m that kind of nerd.
Reading Ligotti for the first time has been one of the remarkable reading pleasures of this year I can only state that rereading his work will be another.
Ligotti is one of the downright strangest writers I ve encountered, but at his best, he legitimately is one of the all time greats of literary horror His prose has a hypnotic quality that cannot be compared to anyone else I m aware of Plot is minimal but used to good effect at times , while an atmosphere of gloomy dread reigns supreme, and a dark undercurrent of pessimism flows beneath decaying cityscapes and dust choked towns At times his writing degenerates into gibberish, but even his failed experiments such as Dr Voke and Mr Veech and The Red Tower in this volume are unique This book is a sort of sampler platter of Ligotti s work, containing a few rather meh stories, but most of them fall in the good to outstanding range Indeed, the high quality stories than make up for the rather dull likes of The Mystics of Muelenburg and The Shadow at the Bottom of the World The magnificent Last Feast of Harlequin , the terrifying Nethescurial , and the enigmatically ultra disturbing Purity are simply among the best horror stories ever written The Spectacles in the Drawer and The Cocoons are perhaps the most conventional tales, yet both grow creepier and fascinating in the mind the I think about them Finally we have the all but unclassifiable Vastarien , The Bungalow House , and my personal favorite, Dr Locrian s Asylum , the reading of which is like being put into a trance and sent to some bizarre alternate dimension Weird fiction that is truly weird, and, though not very accessible to the average pop fiction reader, will still be being talked about when death worshiping clown maggots devour all trends.
Earlier this year I had a chance to read two of the most recent projects by horror writer Thomas Ligotti contemporary corporate novella My Work Is Not Yet Done and his nonfiction primer on pessimistic philosophies, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race and found both of them to be excellent, really dark and unique stuff that appealed to me as a non fan of this genre So I thought I d take a chance and read up on a bunch of his short fiction too Ligotti has never actually written a single novel in the thirty years he s been publishing, confining himself exclusively to the short story format , and ended up picking just the first three books to become available through my local library system his very first book, Songs of a Dead Dreamer covering pieces from the late 1980s , his newest book, The Spectral Link featuring stories just from the 2010s , and the best of collection The Shadow at the Bottom of the World featuring a curated selection of pieces from the beginning of his career up to 2005.
Unfortunately, though, the disappointing news is that these stories for the most part aren t nearly as good as the two full length books I had read before, and in fact most of them are surprisingly dated to a specific time and place even just a couple of decades after their original publication that specific time and place being the emo goth scene of the early 1990s, the same people who back in the day were obsessive fans of Neil Gaiman s Sandman and the music of Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Dead Can Dance and others As a former industrial kid back in college, I had a sort of tangential relationship to this community, so I don t exactly fault them their pop culture loves my favorite band of those years, Skinny Puppy, was upon hindsight not much than an emo goth caught on a bad day but even then, and especially now, my tolerance is short for all the endless descriptions of lit candles and flowing curtains and masquerade masks and skinny pale dudes pondering the universe A huge amount of Ligotti s work features exactly this, much of it written in the style of someone explaining a dream and we all know how much fun it is to sit and listen to someone describe one of their dreams and that really surprised me, given Ligotti s reputation as a writer s writer and the horror author all the other horror authors wished they were, especially disappointing after reading his Work and Conspiracy and seeing what he s capable of as a clear eyed author of non sentimental, coldly chilling looks at the black depths inside the human soul As his reputation suggests, the best pieces in his oeuvre always tend to be when he s doing pastiches of HP Lovecraft, the main thing he s known for among casual fans of the horror genre unfortunately, though, my recommendation today is to pick your way through these pieces to find those best ones, not necessarily to plow through it all indiscriminately and expect it to be great, as his diehard fans claim A recommendation today, but a cautious one.
Something of a best of collection, I think I ve read all of these stories before but I would recommend just about any of them.
I have to say I was overjoyed when the creator of the popular and critically acclaimed TV show True Detective cited as an influence various masters of the weird tale, such as Thomas Ligotti That brought these writers a well deserved exposure to a mass audience.
I suggest this book for those who might want to read Ligotti s fiction This book is a best of kind of book Most of the stories here appeared previously in other anthologies.
These are well written stories of metaphysical horror Behind appearances lie a disturbing reality.
The contents Foreword by Douglas AndersonIntroduction Horror Stories A Nightmare Scenario by Thomas LigottiThe Last Feast of HarlequinDr Voke and Mr VeechAlice s Last AdventureVastarienDr Locrian s AsylumThe Mystics of MuelenburgThe Spectacles in the DrawerThe Strange Design of Master RignoloThe Shadow at the Bottom of the WorldNethescurialThe CocoonsThe TsalalThe Bungalow HouseTeatro GrotesscoThe Red TowerPurity
Very atmospheric all around A very nice story.
February 7 The Strange Design of Master Rignolo I have no doubt that it is not the intention of the author, but I always think of this story as a reversed Pickman s Model by H P Lovecraft Says something about my way of thinking how I try to make sense of things, I am sure A strange appearance of a face in a landscape turns out to have a very real if su real connection with the genius artist, Master Rignolo.
Ligotti s eerie sense of atmosphere bizarre images combined with his unique imagination is here demonstrated in full I d rate it a perfect tale if not for the ending, which to me is somewhat of a let down A rare experience to have with a Ligotti story.
More reviews coming Ligotti creates my favourite kind of horror a vague, alien menace that is omnipotent, incomprehensible, and intrudes on the normal functioning of the world This sort of completely overwhelming force establishes a great sense of nihilistic dread.
Still, as good as Ligotti is at creating this force, his characters are mostly vague, shadowy, and not very interesting Add to that the lack of plot in most of the stories, and you re left with a very effective evil that doesn t have much to do.
Ligotti creates great setpieces, and some of the stories are incredible I just wish other times he would do something with the horror he creates rather than just have it sit there, brooding.
A Longtime Lovecraft Devotee, Who Has Extended The Weird Tale To The Next Level Via The Likes Of Borges And Burroughs, Thomas Ligotti Is Usually Published As Part Of A General Anthology Of Horror Writers But Now Ligotti Has Pulled Together A Collection Of His Favorite Fiction, Both Old And New, Representing His Best And Most Characteristic WorksThomas Ligotti S Stories Are Perhaps Best Described As Dark Magical Realism Many Of His Stories Center On The Distorted Perspective Of A Frequently Doomed Narrator The Title Story, The Shadow at the Bottom of the World, Reimagines A Kind Of Bradbury Like Small Town That Encounters The Appearance Of A Kind Of Existential Darkness, Written With A Sharp Imagery Like That Of William S Burroughs In Story After Story In This Collection, Ligotti Does Not Merely Present His Readers With Isolated Incidents Of Supernatural Horror He Challenges Them To Confront Nightmares That Are Entwined In The Very Fabric Of Life ItselfQUOTES The Best New American Writer Of Weird Fiction To Appear In Years The Washington Post Ligotti Is Wonderfully original He Has A New Vision Of A Dark And Special Kind, A Vision That No One Had Before Him Interzone Aficianados Of The Macabre Consider Ligotti One Of The Finest Writers In The Field The Sunday Times Thomas Ligotti Is An Absolute Master Of Supernatural Horror And Weird Fiction, And A True original He Pursues His Unique Vision With Admirable Honesty And Rigorousness And Conveys It In Prose As Powerfully Evocative As Any Writer In The Field I D Say He Might Just Be A Genius Ramsey Campbell Britain S Most Respected Living Horror Writer, According To The Oxford Companion ToEnglish Literature Brilliant stuff The selection in The Shadow at the Bottom of the World may be a little uneven in terms of quality but is still an excellent sampling of the motifs, themes, and styles of Ligotti s work My favorites Content wise, I d have to say The Cocoons and Dr Locrian s Asylum the form award goes to Teatro Grottesco and the two stories that really made my jaw drop are The Red Tower and The Tsalal Its a shame that getting a hold of a copy will cost you a kidney, but I m tempted to argue that it would be worth it.