Underlinings (#61)

Nick Mamatas interviewed, on Lovecraft:

As I argued in the Los Angeles Review of Books a couple of years ago, Lovecraft is wrongly considered a bad writer because he’s actually a difficult writer. He engages in polyphony, using the modes of everything from learned rhetoric to personal letters and newspaper reports to build a case for the verisimilitude of his creations. Lovecraft’s bad reputation as a writer comes largely from his epigones, who ape his style without understanding choices, or from people who really haven’t read him closely. Complaining about his prose is like complaining that a modern filmmaker made a film in black and white instead of color — it’s a choice with a purpose, not an accident or an artifact of incompetence. …

Ligotti in The New Yorker

An erratic overview, with an off-beam title. This — for instance — is absolutely not getting it: “… the essential quality to truly terrify: an aspect of the unreal.”

This, though, is getting it:

Ligotti’s stories, which have been reissued in a new Penguin Classics volume that brings together the books “Songs of a Dead Dreamer” and “Grimscribe,” are fugues of the creeping unknown. They often begin with a moment of banality: a visit to a new town, an academic’s research project, the tearing down of an old building. His narrators are fairly nondescript, if occasionally a tad morose. But they are all sensitive to or attracted by a slight bend in reality. Something leaks through into the known world, and the protagonist, often already on the edge of sanity, is doomed by the encounter with whatever it is — say, the spectre of a demolished house that seems to exist in a liminal place between wintry nights and the realm of the dead.

Horror is about nothing at all except reality. Unreality is for everything else.

Mainstreamed Nightmares

Ligotti becomes the story in The Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Ligotti’s stories are light on action and heavy on dread. Their motifs include puppets, harlequins, dying towns, deranged loners and the notion that humanity is an aberration spat out by a chaotic void. “There’s an inevitability about his fiction—of decay, rot, horror, the slow and unavoidable descent into darkness—that I find irresistible,” said Livia Llewellyn, a Shirley Jackson Award-nominated writer who contributed a story to “The Grimscribe’s Puppets,” an anthology tribute to Mr. Ligotti edited by Mr. Pulver. According to the scholar and critic S.T. Joshi, Mr. Ligotti is one of the premier writers of so-called weird fiction over the past 50 years. But Mr. Joshi isn’t convinced of the author’s appeal beyond the genre. “Without a thorough familiarity with [Messrs. Poe and Lovecraft], some readers may not ‘get’ what Ligotti’s tales are about, or come away with an incomplete understanding of them,” he said. Others, such as Mr. VanderMeer, said Mr. Ligotti has transcended Mr. Lovecraft’s shadow.