CONTINUATION FROM HERE OF MY REVIEW OF THE ‘SONGS OF A DEAD DREAMER’ SECTION OF THIS BOOK.”
“You can just forget everything you thought you knew about yourselves and everything else in the universe. You know nothing. You are nothing. And the choices you have for dealing with this reality are to go insane or kill yourselves. How about them apples?” as quoted by Thomas Ligotti in one of his many interviews.
Penguin Classics 2015
Foreword by Jeff VanderMeer
My previous reviews of Thomas Ligotti
And of Jeff VanderMeer
And of Penguin Classics
A Ligotti story a day lets the Doctor stay.
When I make my real-time review of this collection’s GRIMSCRIBE section, my comments will be found in the thought stream below….
31 responses to “*”
GRIMSCRIBE: HIS LIFE AND WORKS
THE VOICE OF THE DAMNED
THE LAST FEAST OF HARLEQUIN
I have only just started re-reading this celebrated story and my review of it will follow below in due course.
Meanwhile, I confirm that over the years, at the back of my mind, I have thought that the paintings of Joan Miro are highly fitting as backdrop to Ligotti’s fiction. But I can’t see anywhere that a connection with this story has previously been mentioned, including its location of Mirocaw. For example, with the help of today’s internet, I have found a Joan Miro orientated website HERE that is headed ‘Tears of the Clown: Harlequin Carnival’. Potentially fascinating, I’d say.
The link immediately above now seems to have expired. Here is an archive version of it:
Following on from above….
“To me the title of Clown has always carried connotations of a noble sort. I was an adroit jester, strangely enough, and had always taken pride in the skills I worked so diligently to develop.”
A page-turning novelette that – in contrast to the last read story, the amorphous Vastarien – has a compelling linear plot and a strong dose of that Lovecraftian touch which imbues all Ligotti fiction. But Ligotti is, for me, this plot’s “festival within a festival”, the Ligotti within the Lovecraft (not the other way about), the Conqueror Worm bubbling at the centre of Azathoth – and note the ‘thoth’ there, echoing the namesake of the earlier Dr. Thoss as a new character here.
The protagonist narrator builds up a picture of Mirocaw as a “distortion of perspective” brilliantly echoing earlier Ligottian towns, this one with its just-before-but-muddled-with-Christmas festival or feast that turns out to have its stronger if, paradoxically, more pallid or effete-with-the-lethargy-of-a-festival within it. It is mooted at one point that the outer festival was started to mitigate the inner festival.
The description of the various natures of clowns and jesters is unforgettable. And there is much else to which I can’t do justice here. Indeed, it is a wonderfully atmospheric plot, one that evokes the concept of “holiday suicides”, and it is also one complete with a Kubrickian ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ element of the narrator as intruder in a larger group, an ingredient of many nightmares. Here, he is disguised but acting the part with – but separate from – the other effete or shuffling clowns in the inner but somehow stronger festival. I feel I am a similar intruder when entering the covers of a Ligotti book or partaking in the TLO discussion forum, except the end of this novelette tells me that it is useless for me to worry about that…
THE SPECTACLES IN THE DRAWER
“‘The Lost Grimoire of the Abbot of Tine,’ he giggled. ‘Transcribed in the language of–‘”
I giggle, too, as I realise that the earlier possible typo was no such thing but the correction of an earlier typo.
There are many angles of this book so far coming together in this work, where my imagining that I am an ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ intruder in the previous story now makes me feel that I fulfil the role of Plomb, being gulled by the sardonic narrator – who is an instrument of the freehold author? – leading to the “fabulous hoax” of the earlier ‘Masquerade TrageDIE’ story, one that features presumably the same pair of spectacles as this current work. The word ‘sardonic’ is in fact often used in this book, reminding me of possibly the most famous use of that word, i.e. to describe the Hound’s baying in that creature’s eponymous story by Lovecraft. Perhaps compare the spectacles here to the amulet there.
This is an enthralling work by Ligotti turning my attitude to this whole book into knots. Plomb is groomed into believing each endlessly revealed Chinese box or Russian Doll ‘secret’ as it emerges but without a true revelatory climax of discovering the ultimate secret of the universe. However, is Plomb being played with who in turn is playing with that player? A cat and mouse game. The narrator’s recurrent nightmare making me think, after all, that I am the narrator not the eventually authorial Plomb? How DOES one plumb a Jackson Pollock painting, let alone a Joan Miro one?
I have today discovered, on the new-fangled Internet, the following definitions of the word ‘plomb’, perhaps prefiguring, inter alia, the ‘toilet’ theme in the later ‘Teatro Grottesco’ collection that I reviewed HERE a few years ago:-
[[ 1. (n.) Polite term for human excrement in a toilet that has failed to flush for one of a variety of reasons…(see i-iv below);
2. Used to endearingly identify one’s offspring;
3. Popular word to convey moment of impact and subsequent existence of (ideally) well-shaped (circular in cross-section) and solid ‘plomb’ in a toilet;
4. Conveys the two most popular instances that ‘flash’ into the non-Creator’s mind upon detecting a plomb, (i) A BOMB!!… (ii) the precise moment it ‘plo’pped (in the water from within Creator);
4. ‘Lead’ (metal) in French;
5. (Orig.) fusion of ‘plop’ and ‘bomb’; coined in early seventies.
Reasons for non-flush and therefore plomb:
i. the Creator is still admiring its profile;
ii. the Creator forgot to flush it, simply;
iii. the Creator is still admiring its aquadynamics;
iv. Creator failed to account for extended reading or repose and hitherto subsequent resilience of plomb;
iv. the Creator has planted a deliberate ‘plomb’ for a non-Creator to stop in tracks and admire. ]]
FLOWERS OF THE ABYSS
“Everything held for a moment to allow the wandering music from the box to pass on toward some sublimely terrible destination. I tried to follow it — through the yellowish haze of the room and deep into the darkness that pressed against the walls,…”
Arguably, this story is a satire on the popular horror books of VC Andrews in the 1980s and 1990s, that started with FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC — ‘flowers’ that seem, by dint of its sequels’ titles, to have transposed themselves into the garden?
On another level, it is a serious and effective deployment of the Ligottian “madness of things” theme (without recourse to the Ligottian ‘fabulous hoax’), a madness that perhaps soon was to become the New Nonsense, with the above ‘yellowish haze’ seeping into the later Ligottian works of horror that depicted Corporate employment amid such madness and desolation. Meanwhile, I personally loved the music box in this story.
“With the darkness I saw the darkness.”
“Thus far one can see that the drama enacted is a familiar one: the stage is rigidly traditional and the performers upon it are caught up in its style. For those actors are not so much people as they are puppets from the old shows, the ones that have told the same story for centuries,…”
LETHE is a genuine antique word for oblivion from Life that, I feel, can only be Death itself, and in the title of this Ligotti work, we can descry NETHE, effectively a not-death, and then after using the whole title, ‘NETHE as CURE ALL’, we can identify a Horror without Victims by a series of NOTS, each NOT being ‘not a particular nasty thing’, itemised at length at the end of the story.
This is perhaps the premonitory or, even, prepared answer to CATHR a generation later, in which work the NOT-DEATH emerges as a form of inverse culmination of this story: a ‘NOT-BIRTH’ called anti-natalism. My interpretation, in hindsight, of a cosmic jester’s cosmic jest.
The work, like my möbius review of it, is itself a convoluted möbius of a story that evokes a certain concept — through the act of this post-Lovecraftian writing in the effective shape of a real-time narration as explicit dreamcatcher using words and describing the words that describe the story in their physical state of colour, consistency, smell etc.
That concept is of the imputed Lovecraftian Idol that is planted in various randomly synchronised shards of truth and fiction, shards of itself hidden on each of many islands called Nethescurial, needing to be remade into the gestalt of itself. It is as if this very type of process of mine in reviewing this whole Penguin Classics book is already embodied within the dream process of this separate work within it!
A symbiosis of pantheism and pandemonism as a Punch and Judy-like puppet show. And a Poesque adventure deconstructed.
My view on the word ‘ligotti’ as a synonym for ‘knots’: http://www.ligotti.net/showthread.php?t=8882
As with all my reviews, the aim is to judge matters from the pure fiction texts. I have only dabbled in TL’s many interviews etc. over the years and I have not yet read JV’s Foreword to this book. However, I have already read all TL’s previous published fiction including CATHR.
Review soon to be continued below…
THE VOICE OF THE DEMON
Where in life we do everything we can to avoid anxiety, in art we must pursue it.
— Morton Feldman
THE DREAMING IN NORTOWN
“…a precarious flirting with personal apocalypse, the striving for horrific dominion over horror itself.”
…and the great megalo-paranoiac literary work of Ligotti seems to be tapped into or tapped from that very quotation. Meanwhile, this particular story itself is like Arthur Machen’s ‘Art of Wandering’ or the mystical visions in a city from that author’s ‘Fragment of Life’ (here in Nortown, kaleidoscopes of colour). The immaculate baroque-gothic text is otherwise a sporadically laid-back, delightfully tortuous stalking of the stalked through the cafes, bars and cinemas.
A “Boschian Hell” disguised as a city, or vice versa, as one student flatmate grows concerned over the dark interests and sleepless nights of another flatmate called Quinn, and, after briefly looking at Quinn’s second-person-singular ‘spiral notebook’, he follows Quinn about Nortown in a rather similar way as the slow motion Pinteresque triangulations of what I now consider to be a seminal Ligottian work (Report on Probability A) and in a similar way as the slow paces with spaces between of the minimalist-plodding music of Morton Feldman, part of which score I show above not LOOKING minimalist at all! “The momentum of that night had all but run out.”
It is as if Quinn actually needs the narrator as a half-glimpsed stalker or companion to enable his deadpan forays into the deadbeat city night, a city of which Nortown is part, neither nor, I guess, but somewhere in between. But who is the catalyst, who the passive one, Quinn or the narrator ‘voyeur’?
And about we readers’ relationship with this book or, rather, about our distant, disconnected, arm’s length relationship with Ligotti himself since starting to read his work (in my case since 1987), this story has this to say: “…dreaming things out of him and dreaming things into him.” Or is it the other way about?
THE MYSTICS OF MUELENBURG
This classic story, containing a viscously fluid apotheosis of the Ligottan prose style, presents the constructive power of “absolute terror”. And doubt as a strengthening of belief. And seeming as more certain than being. Nonchalance and a ‘delirium of history’ wherein speaking to the dead is more instructive that talking to the living. Byron’s ‘Darkness’ recreated at the end of this story as a nostalgia was merely something to be forgotten…a counterintuitive strength to keep the world from collapsing.
Not wood waking up so much as a corpse blending with its coffin.
The work tells of Klaus Klingman, “one of the illuminati” and known, among other names, as ‘Nemo the Necromancer’, and it tells of him telling the narrator of the time of seemingly endless twilight in Muelenburg in an ineffable prose of melted oxymorons.
Forgetting is strength. Being alone makes unutterable night a pure enlightenment. And not understanding this story, as well as this whole book, I propose, is the only way of keeping our existence safe. Hence, this still on-going real-time review.
“…an ancient tree was shunned and rumors spread concerning some change in its twisted silhouette, something flaccid and rope-like about its branches…”
PS: I note that Muelenburg is shown as Muelenberg in the contents list of the Robinson GRIMSCRIBE in 1991, where I originally read this masterpiece of fluidity. I wonder which is correct? Anyone know?
With the BERG version I imagine ‘plombs’ floating as muelenbergs upon the oceans of mysticism.
IN THE SHADOW OF ANOTHER WORLD
On one level, a post-Lovecraftian vision of Bulwer-Lytton’s ‘The House and the Brain’ or Danielewski’s ‘House of Leaves’ or Poe’s various houses. About a haunting and an exorcism with spiritual crises and kaleidoscopes of colours to spice the weird plot, dense and textured with dark theosophies, and in many ways, for me, delightfully inaccessible, like the building of this book itself. Inaccessible, but something does permeate the reader involuntarily.
Like the earlier J.P.Drapeau work, this presents another version of the philosophical core of the whole book, the book as this House of Spare, transposed as the structure of all our body parts as a single body-gestalt with the metaphor of optically stained-glass apertures looking in and looking out, originally spare or antiseptic inside, a “spiritual wasteland”, with the apertures shuttered before birth, with an unknown outside, an outside eventually bearing in on the post-birth self, a birth, as if forged by the shape of the house’s turreted erection. A “ceremonious desecration”, the only defence mechanism becoming the act of showmanship, the trumped-up histrionics of some tout of mystical freak shows – to use words trumped-up by myself from the text. A “marriage of insanity and metaphysics.” Ultimately a self “bare and abandoned”, as it once began with birth’s antiseptic hopes, hopes now dashed.
There is a paragraph in this story (including six extra lines at the end of it which were not included in this paragraph by the Robinson text of the story in 1991*), a paragraph that now straddles pages 372 and 373 of the Penguin Classics book. I feel it is significant to the phenomenon that is the inferred author, whatever today’s value of my own views as represented by this my own quickfire and instinctive real-time analysis of these pure texts day by day in accordance with my own obsessive sense of the Intentional Fallacy in literature, texts re-read by myself since first reading them in 1989 and 1991 (inasmuch as the texts are assumed to be largely unchanged).
And I also feel this paragraph is significant whatever the perceived value of the author’s own such “esoteric analysis” (in the sense of that phrase as used in this paragraph), an analysis of possibly misremembered intentions upon proofreading (and editing, subtracting from or adding to) the text of this new book.
The past is its own shadow of another world here today, but presumably a longer, more tenuous shadow. A shoddy shadow, or as the above specific paragraph has it, a ‘sacred’ one?
*this example is the only time so far that I have studiously compared the two texts at length.
Although I still have a few stories left to re-read and review in the Penguin Classics collection (to re-read for the first time since 1989 and 1991 in the two Robinson collections), I thought I would make my first trial conclusion about this new double book —
Melted oxymorons: a text that is a blend of various pairs like scatological and eschatological, avant garde and traditional, Gothic and Baroque, Horror and Philosophy, Fiction and Truth, Not-Death and Not-Birth, showman-like and serious, nihilistic and subliminatory, accessible and inaccessible, inspirational and desperate, entertaining and dryly fustian, Intentional and Non-intentional…
Regarding the Intentional Fallacy literary theory itself, to the Wimsatt version of which I was introduced in 1967, I can empathise when people tell me it is important to have a biographical approach, i.e. read interviews with the author and learn about other such matters external to the pure text, before being able fully to judge that author’s work of fiction.
But when I read Ligotti’s fiction, my faith in the Intentional Fallacy is renewed. By reading the pure Ligotti text and trying to insulate it from what I know about the man himself, I am reminded that there are forces outside the author’s control that are bearing down upon or lifting up the nature of his work. After all, that very phenomenon is what the stories are written about and, in my view, what the stories are overtly instigating – successfully so.
PS: In other words, having slept on it, the whole perceived ethos of the Ligotti fiction canon so far seems to me to be essentially predicated on some form of authorial Intentional Fallacy existing, a fact that I have felt to be the case since reading the earlier ones in the 1980s.
This perhaps at least is partly true of much fiction, but I feel this consideration is central to the REAL cosmic and human terrors that transcend fiction like Ligotti’s and Lovecraft’s.
“You’ve put me in the position of having to cater to your anxiety that the world is not ruled by regularity. But it’s time you realized that nothing is bolted down, so to speak.”
Dr. Dublanc is one of those Ligottian doctors that not even an apple a day can keep away. He wakes you while you are trying to get to sleep and takes you to see a Mr. Catch who hatches insect-like creatures from the skulls of grubby tramps. The doctor took you there to cure your Asperger’s syndrome, I guess. You see, this story itself cures you from any expectations, from any hope of its gestalt of disconnected connections connecting with the rest of the book, assuming that you should read it at all with its deconstructed sloping streets, leading you to one of the tunnelback houses where corridors lead themselves to all manner of off-putting things that make you feel unsafe.
To stop yourself from catching anything from reading it, simply don’t read it. A shell of a story and one that fits no pattern. Don’t swallow it. As I have done. Don’t even read these words of mine that have hatched from the act of reading the story’s own words…
THE VOICE OF THE DREAMER
THE NIGHT SCHOOL
“Mainly these thoughts were about my desire to know something that I was sure was real about my existence before it was my time to die…”
“The lessons in measurement of cloacal forces. Time as a flow of sewage. The excrement of space, scatology of creation. The voiding of the self.”
The above two separate quotes exemplify how this story on a certain level is threaded upon one of the melted oxymorons that I have already identified above, the scatological-eschatological one.
The protagonist student, taking a short cut late at night past the school, one coat-button awry, has heard the rumour that Instructor Carniero has returned from sick leave and has resumed his strangely dual-diagramed lessons in what turns out to be an Escherine school building (one that in my own recurrent nightmares, even at my age, embodies my fear of slipping behind lessons as a student) – one that takes on the bonfire smoke and Nature’s seasonal fecal material slipping up and down its walls to where he learns the lesson is being taught on an impossibly high storey. He seeks this lesson with the strange Instructor almost desperately, the text having broached the question (without satisfactory answer) of whether there has been an ‘assignment’ set, a question asked at both the beginning and the end of that text.
This is an intensely nightmarish and effective blending of death with its prior decay of life and vice versa, blending knowledge with sewers. And I now see this 1980s work as also premonitory of the plague of massacres that has since transpired in educational establishments, a form of anti-natalism before it is too late.
It is perhaps that ultimate so-called ‘assignment’ which our protagonist manages, at least temporarily, to shake off, but not without being fed a reference, for later use, to a “native putridity” which phrase in the context of the passage where it is used (e.g. “the dark compost of those about to be born”) makes it obvious that the word ‘native’ here is just a natural synonym for ‘natal’, as it is.
The more normal of the Instructor’s diagrams being one thing, but the embellishment of other diagrams around them quite another.
“…’a true instructor must share everything, no matter how terrible or lurid it might be.'”
Correction: First published in 1991, but possibly written during the 1980s?
“I saw nothing that I have not described,…”
A man who wanders parts of a town that he has never visited before. I must have wandered this story before but I have not been able to remember reading it. I visit a cinema with purple light and cobwebs like hair, an aura and “diseased viscera imitating all the shades of sunset.” An art cinema that is a möbius avant garde film of itself, where faces and people are seen folding back on themselves to become someone else, and a new management despite its closing down tonight. The word ‘ligotti’ I have claimed means ‘knots’, and there are möbius knots in the hair, I infer? A story that is the nearest to a pointless ‘happening’ I have ever read, but one that still hangs about in the mind, sometimes couched in the most textured, the most Ligottian style you will ever likely encounter. I saw nothing that I have not described.
I still have three more stories left to review in this remarkable book. Meanwhile, I confirm I have copied each of my story reviews separately to the TLO forum threads for possible further discussion of each one, as linked from here:
http://www.ligotti.net/forumdisplay.php?f=196 (the SONGS OF A DEAD DREAMER section)
http://www.ligotti.net/forumdisplay.php?f=197 (the GRIMSCRIBE section)
THE VOICE OF THE CHILD
THE LIBRARY OF BYZANTIUM
“My earliest philosophy regarding the great priestly tribe was therefore not a simple one by any means; rather, it comprised a thick maze of propositions, a labyrinthine layering of systems in which abstract dread and a bizarre sort of indebtedness was forever confronting each other.”
If ‘The Glamour’ just presented for me the apotheosis of the Ligottian style, then I was wrong. This story, is the richest yet with intertwining sacerdotal and demonic lend-and-borrow elision and exegesis, a sort of painterly ‘Temptations of St Anthony’ allusion, elusion and illusion, with the quote above linking spectrally with the Loan of Olan that I mentioned earlier in this review. The boy or youth who stays invalid-like in his room with his own complex attempts at depiction by drawing in his drawing book (the whole story is steeped in medicines and prayers) is accustomed to Father Orne visiting his parents, but when Father Sevich arrives instead… A masterful character study by Ligotti of pure melted oxymoron, an inscrutable chalk-faced priest with an endlessly page-turning tissue-paper prayerbook whence the boy surreptitiously steals a woodcut tissue page… And there is from that point a spectral link between this boy and Sevich wherever Sevich happens to be in truth, dream or holy and unholy vision, including in the latter’s Library of Byzantium that links with VanderMeer’s tunnel as tower, tower as tunnel, and with the ambiance of parts of Area X…
But who was the revenant, whom the haunted. Who the debtor, whom the indebted. “Unmentionably ludicrous, so I will not mention it.”
Now I am myself part of the pecking-order, of the links, of the debt and non-debt, having had to mention it here.
“The hands remained thus placed for some time, as if an invisible transference of fabulously subtle powers was occurring, something being given or received.”
Comment by Ascrobius on this review: http://www.ligotti.net/showpost.php?p=118592&postcount=2
“Even late at night, when the structure of the house expressed itself with a fugue of noises, Miss Plarr augmented this decrepit music with her own slow pacing upon the stairs or outside of my door.”
With his mother bedridden with a “pseudo-illness”, this is another boy in his room sketching (or sketching after she arrived), and instead of Father Sevich, we have here, yes, her arrival, that of Miss Plarr, a hauntingly dark version of another housekeeper or governess with the initials MP, I guess, but Plarr’s role is at first uncertain as is the place uncertain where she has billeted herself in the house with her suitcase.
You know, re-reading all these stories, as I have done, in the last week or so, means that I have been spoilt with riches. If I had read this story alone without reading any of the others, I would have considered it a masterpiece, and it probably is, but I find it difficult now to see the landings from the hallways, the operatic TrageDIE from the cloying relationships in almost Scriabinesque counterpoint summoned by this and the previous story. Difficult to see the human author from the visionary conduit.
This story is not just a Turn of the Screw, but an anguished tightening, a bolting of things down for the Aspergic. Towering edifices that double as castles or crypts in comparison with a small attic. Another instructor from a Night School who needs to teach how lurid things are. That ‘stinging air’ evoking the thrashing of demons or, for me, the eventual knotting of such “long whips lashing in darkness.” Brutality and exile. The teacher and the taught, just another loan back and forth?
This writer honouring which of his readers as the heir of his visions and other “visceral practices”? I now approach the end of my review of this monumental book.
THE VOICE OF OUR NAME
The final section of this book containing just one story.
And the Nemonymous Voice finishes his review….
“…with some feverish intent.” – as the story below reminds me.
THE SHADOW AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD
It now seems appropriate that I started this review with the picture of two apples, not exactly true to this final story’s epithet of “apple red” as such, but fresh enough to eat. But now those two apples have begun to decay in real life. So what about them apples?
This story I shall take personally. But first, it is of course a celebrated masterpiece of the Horror fiction genre. Take that as read. The concept of the scarecrow standing in ground that won’t turn cold, after it has been cleared. The obnoxious growth that sprouts from the ground like a hand into it as if into a puppet. The decay of Mother Nature, with mankind as part of it, like that decay already beginning with those two apples, is described in the most effective way, and I cannot possibly do justice to it here with my own words describing such utterly mind-blowing Ligottian descriptions. Too many ripe-to-mulch quotes to quote, so I won’t quote any. The “self-murder” of Mr. Marble who seems to become the scarecrow itself or its spawn and whom I see as a darkly tutelary and premonitory extension of the author and his authorial intent, even if nobody, including this book’s author-conduit himself, can possibly fathom such intent… Well, I could go on. Suffice to say that it is the perfect climax of the book.
During the last few months, I have felt like I myself have the “texture of spoiled fruit”, and that that hand, like cancer, has come into my own scarecrow’s puppet-body. Tomorrow, suitably, I complete my course in having that ‘hand’ cauterised, at least delaying my death for a nonce – so that I can perhaps write more book reviews than I would otherwise have done! But this story reminds me that there is also much comfort in immersing myself in the decay that besets us all sooner and later, gaining an understanding of this story’s description of “a perverse reluctance, as in the instance of someone who is hesitant to have a diseased part of his own body cut away to keep the disease from spreading.”
This book is ‘a dead monument to once ancient hope’, but one that has now perhaps earned its alien imperishability, a form of marble impervious to the heat death that otherwise awaits our planet.
The review is now complete. A dreamcatching review as my personal journey through this new Penguin Classics collection. I hope it can be seen – in addition to the listed factors in my now fulfilled ‘trial conclusion’ earlier in this review – as “disclosing prophecies that no one would credit at the time.”
(The latter quoted words are from the book’s last story just reviewed. They appear in both the 1991 Robinson version and this Penguin one.)
Having slept on the above review of TSATBOTW, I realise that I forgot to mention its pareidolia, making faces and shapes from all those elements of Nature, that I have been doing with my photos over the last few years. That seems to fit perfectly with everything else I mentioned.
Also, as an aside, I wonder if Father Sevich in ‘The Library of Byzantium’ is another form of naive parental invitation toward a ‘frolicking’ similar to that of John Doe.
Finally, I shall now read for the first time Jeff VanderMeer’s Foreword to the book, expecting it to give me more food for thought…
Someone new to Ligotti literature – as most of the potential purchasers of a Penguin Classics book will be – should, I feel, encounter its strength of disturbing originality face on with the text, a revelation, an experience of reading.
That whole process of revelation is pre-empted by putting the Mars picture on the front cover (even if – or especially if – it is indeed skilfully representative of the contents).
That point disregards my personal antipathy towards the picture itself as a depiction of the gestalt of Ligotti, an antipathy which remains. But that is not an argument one can have, as it is based on sensibility and instinct.
Someone just put HERE this perfect cover on TLO:
From here: http://www.ligotti.net/showpost.php?p=118722&postcount=11
“Also an additional thanks to you Nemonymous for your intelligent reviews that are unashamedly infused with personal interpretations (which is a factor in any review whether it is admitted or not). The unique, deeply honest approach raises a scholarly assessment to a truly enjoyable and thoroughly educating companion to the already rich original text.”
Separately posted today elsewhere:
A FABULOUS HOAX OR GENUINE HORROR PROPHECY?
I have been reviewing the gestalt of my own recent revisit of ‘Songs of a Dead Dreamer’ and ‘Grimscribe’ (reprinted and possibly edited for the new Ligotti Penguin Classics collection), stories that I first read just under 30 years ago.
These works, based on my findings HERE, represent an artful blend of (a) genuine, perhaps partially unintended, prophetic warnings about factors that have since emerged in our world, couched in a beautiful original Gothic-Baroque style, and (b) a ‘fabulous hoax’ that is essentially an avant garde happening.
The question remains whether Ligotti’s numerous interviews over the years and, indeed, his Conspiracy Against The Human Race are substantively part of (a) or (b)?
My own relationship with the avant garde was shown here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/the-avant-garde-and-me/
Zeroism, I have just realised, a movement from the 1960s that I helped create, is a form of how I now see Ligotti’s canon of literature.
I intend to start reviewing the NOCTUARY collection HERE.