“Ligotti’s work seems to exist in its own reality, at a tangent to our own.”
Thomas Ligotti’s debut collection, Songs of a Dead Dreamer, and his second, Grimscribe, permanently inscribed a new name in the pantheon of horror fiction. Influenced by the strange terrors of Lovecraft and Poe and by the brutal absurdity of Kafka, Ligotti eschews cheap, gory thrills for his own brand of horror, which shocks at the deepest, existential, levels.
Ligotti’s stories take on decaying cities and lurid dreamscapes in a style ranging from rich, ornamental prose to cold, clinical detachment. His raw and experimental work lays bare the unimportance of our world and the sickening madness of the human condition. Like the greatest writers of cosmic horror, Ligotti bends reality until it cracks, opening fissures through which he invites us to gaze on the unsettling darkness of the abyss below.
Why We’re Excited About This Book: Thomas Ligotti’s stories are some of the most distinct and acclaimed in horror fiction, but few fans probably expected this: a Penguin Classics edition of his first two collections, introduced by Jeff VanderMeer.
Ligotti’s short stories (he has stated he is incapable or unwilling to write a full novel) are as surreal as they are horrifying… but some of the imagery and ideas are very horrifying indeed. There’s an almost gleeful lack of interest in such commercial elements as plot and dénouement–these are stories primarily of atmosphere and the darkness within them is never resolved. Ligotti’s work seems to exist in its own reality, at a tangent to our own. His world is one of nameless towns, strange rituals, lifelike puppets and characters confronting the fact they might be little more than puppets themselves.
Not all of Ligotti’s work has been easily available for the casual buyer; with this new release Penguin will hopefully give Ligotti’s rich and original work the attention it deserves.
“A story about horror and why it might be important, Dead Leaves is another triumph for Barker.”
To Scott, Paul and Mark, horror films are everything.
The year is 1983, the boom of the video revolution, and Scott Bradley is seventeen, unemployed and on the dole. Drifting through life, he and his friends love nothing more than to sit around drinking, talking about girls, and watching horror movies.
But things are about to change.
As the ‘video nasty’ media storm descends, their desire to find a copy of the ultimate horror film – The Evil Dead – is going to lead them to the most significant days of their young lives. As the law tightens and their way of life comes under threat from all quarters, they come to learn what truly matters to them – and what doesn’t.
A heartfelt story of friendship, loyalty and youthful rebellion, Dead Leaves is a darkly funny and brutally honest depiction of aimless life in a Midland town, and perfectly captures the impact those first few years of video had on a generation.
Why We’re Excited About This Book:
Andrew David Barker’s The Electric, a novel about a haunted cinema, won much acclaim last year and he’s following it up with the equally impressive Dead Leaves.
Dead Leaves is a novella set in Derby in the early years of the 1980s. Scott, Paul and Mark have left school and seem to have few choices in life except for the dole or a dead end job. Horror films provide welcome escapism, but in the midst of the 80s ‘video nasty’ craze such films are not easy to come by. Particularly a film none of them have ever seen, but are all desperate to watch: The Evil Dead. Dead Leaves tells the story of their quest to obtain a VHS of The Evil Dead and the strains it puts on their friendships and families.
Less a horror story and more a story about horror and why it might be important, Dead Leaves is another triumph for Barker. Comparisons to The Electric are bound to be made, but if anything Dead Leaves is the stronger and more focussed work. Highly recommended.