June: Gothic Pulp & Weird Fiction


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June: Gothic Pulp & Weird Fiction

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Editado: Jun 1, 2015, 12:23pm

These were the original suggestions:

HP Lovecraft
William Hope Hodgson
M. R. James
Hugh Walpole
Marjorie Bowen
Robert Bloch

We decided to also add New Weird and Slipstream as well so we can include:

China Mieville
Jeff Vandemeer
Kelly Link
Mark Z. Danielewski
Neil Gaiman

Jun 1, 2015, 12:25pm

I will be reading The Thing on the Doorstep and other Weird stories by H.P. Lovecraft, edited by Guillermo Del Toro for Penguin Horror Classics.

I started a Lovecraft thread over in 75 Group for anyone reading him this month. Please come by if you decide to read him.


Editado: Jun 1, 2015, 5:43pm

>2 luvamystery65: Will be reading The H.P. Lovecraft Omnibus 3: The Haunter of the Dark and Other Tales so I'll check out the Lovecraft thread. I'll also be reading The House on the Borderland.

I've just finished Granta 131: The Map is Not the Territory and it ended on a short story by China Mieville, of all people. Very apt, I thought.

Jun 1, 2015, 8:17pm

Thanks for setting up the thread, Roberta!

I'm still thinking of Authority, the sequel to Annihilation, for this month. However, I just heard that a new work of Mark Z. Danielewski, The Familiar: One Rainy Day in May, has just been published. I really liked House of Leaves and am tempted by this one. On the other hand, the fact that this is an 800-page first volume of a planned 27-volume set is somewhat daunting ....

Jun 1, 2015, 8:35pm

>4 mathgirl40: On the other hand, the fact that this is an 800-page first volume of a planned 27-volume set is somewhat daunting .... WOW!!!

I have a friend that is reading House of Leaves right now. It's a huge book too!

Jun 2, 2015, 3:43am

Good luck to everyone! :) I'll be reading My Work Is Not Yet Done by Thomas Ligotti, if my schedule permits and I stick with it. *fingers crossed*

>4 mathgirl40: & >5 luvamystery65: Did I understand it correctly? Volume 1 of a plannd 27-volume set is 800 pages?? Does he plan on writing that many pages for each volume? If so, double WOW from me, too! o.o

Jun 2, 2015, 7:58am

>5 luvamystery65: >6 saraslibrary: Yes, Danielewski's project is ambitious indeed. I'll try volume 1 at least. This NY Times article gives more information.

Jun 7, 2015, 2:16pm

I didn't think I would get a book in this month, but since new weird is okay, I find that my current read, Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, will work. It's a very fast read. I started it on Friday, I am almost done, and I am totally hooked. Before I started it, I thought it would be more science fiction than horror, but now I've changed my mind. It is definitely disquieting and quite horrific in its implications.

Jun 7, 2015, 2:28pm

>8 sturlington: Annihilation just won the Nebula Award for Best Novel!

Jun 7, 2015, 4:51pm

>9 mathgirl40: I saw that! What a great coincidence. I just finished it too. I really liked it.

Jun 7, 2015, 5:23pm

I think I'm going to have to skip this month's (mind you I'm still trying to finish Day Watch for I can't remember which month now). I don't think I've got anything to fit the bill - unless one of the Neil Gaiman's in the pile match, but even then I'm not sure I'm going to have the time, because I'm pretty sure they're big, with the others that I'm currently trying to get through.

Jun 7, 2015, 7:56pm

Halfway through The House on the Borderland - an easy read and completely nuts so far! It's quite simply written but very, very odd, and I can see how it was influential. The weirdness is creepy in itself. Wish someone had given this to me as an older child, it would have blown my mind and scared the hell out of me :D

Jun 8, 2015, 6:59am

>12 Moomin_Mama: I read that for the first time last year. What a strange little story. It's fairly short for those still looking for something to read.

Jun 8, 2015, 11:54pm

I don't know that what I'm planning to read really fits the "spirit" of weird or pulp, but I am still planning to read:
- Joyland / Stephen King

It's tagged pulp.

Editado: Jun 9, 2015, 1:56am

>7 mathgirl40: Sorry, I'm a little slow in responding, but thanks for the link. :)

>8 sturlington: That's interesting about the genre. It sounds very science fiction-y, but I've never read it. I'm glad it's a fast read. :)

>11 Peace2: No worries. :) Read what you want; when you want. And best of luck with Day Watch! :)

>12 Moomin_Mama: Maybe you could read it at night with the lights off and it'll have the same effect. ;) Anyway, I'm glad you're enjoying the book! :)

>14 LibraryCin: Joyland looks like fun. Plus it's short. Always a plus. :)

I started My Work is Not Yet Done by Thomas Ligotti at the beginning of this month (sadly, I'm only on page 8), but then I got sidetracked with life and other books--the nature of my reading habit. ;) I had never thought of certain employees and employers as having swine blood in them, but now it's stuck in my head whenever I'm at work. I wonder how I'm going to start viewing work and my coworkers after I finish this one. o.o

Jun 9, 2015, 1:04pm

I am planning on reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell in June - am hoping that would count as weird...

Jun 10, 2015, 9:27am

>16 MissPrudence: I saw that at the bookstore on Monday and it looked very interesting. Must investigate further.

Jun 10, 2015, 8:28pm

The House on the Borderland - very strange, as much a science fiction as horror (although I found the weirdness of the story extremely creepy). Very effective despite the writing, which isn't brilliant; it's very descriptive with LOTS of commas. A large part of the story is on a par with the 'Stargate' sequence from '2001: A Space Oddysey', which impressed me for being so ahead of its time, and which I find both mind-blowing and distressing. I'd describe William Hope Hodgson as a hack with extraordinary vision, based on this book. 4 stars.

>13 sturlington: It is short! I'd recommend it if anyone's still stuck for choice, it won't take long to get through.

>15 saraslibrary: I'm reading most of my horrors with the lights off, getting the most out of my reads :)

Jun 10, 2015, 9:36pm

>18 Moomin_Mama: I'm reading most of my horrors with the lights off, getting the most out of my reads :)

Love it!!!! :-)

Jun 10, 2015, 9:41pm

>18 Moomin_Mama: The House on the Borderland sounds very intriguing!

My husband gave me a copy of the new Danielewski book for my birthday. I did leave a few hints for him ... :) The 800+ pages don't look so intimidating after all. There are graphics throughout the book and there are a good number of pages containing only a few words on them.

Jun 11, 2015, 12:57pm

The Buzzard's Egg - short story by China Mieville (in Granta 131: The Map is Not the Territory):

A slave talks to the captured God that he is caring for. I thought Mieville's books were more modern in setting; this could have been set during one of our ancient civilisations, although it doesn't make it clear which one, if any. I was impressed - it was an interesting story for one so short (17 pages) and was intriguing right up till the end. I'd read more of his work based on this.

4 stars.

Jun 14, 2015, 10:36pm

Joyland / Stephen King
5 stars

In 1973, when Devin's girlfriend breaks up with him in the summer between years at university, he is crushed. He takes a job at an amusement park, Joyland, and tries to forget Wendy. A few years earlier, at Joyland, a girl was murdered and her ghost is said to still haunt the ride where she was killed. The murderer was never found. Devin makes some good friends at Joyland and one of them helps him try to figure out what happened to the murdered girl.

This one is actually pretty short for a King novel. Even so, Stephen King is so good at characters and atmosphere. Right from the start, I was pulled into Joyland. King does an amazing job describing it all and we even learn some of the carny vocabulary while we're at it! Most of the first half of the book does not actually focus on the mystery of the murdered girl, but introduces us to Joyland and the characters and gives us some background. The mystery becomes more of a focus in the second half, but I really enjoyed all of it.

Editado: Jun 15, 2015, 6:37am

>22 LibraryCin: Glad it was an enjoyable read - I just bought a copy as a birthday present for a family member.

Jun 15, 2015, 10:43am

>17 luvamystery65: luvamystery65: As an added incentive, the BBC series is on BBC America now - I'm recording the series so I can read the book first (Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, that is...)

Jun 23, 2015, 1:41am

For Weird

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children / Ransom Riggs
4 stars

Jacob's grandfather used to tell Jacob fairy tales when Jake was a kid, but he presented them as being real. His grandfather, as a (Jewish) child, was sent away from Poland at the start of WWII to a home for children on an island in Wales, where he would be safe. After his grandfather dies, due to some things he said to Jacob as he was dying, Jacob feels he must get to Wales to find this orphanage his grandfather lived at.

I really enjoyed this. I love that it was based on real old photographs and I loved that they were included in the book (a bit dark in the ebook, but I could make them out). I loved the creepiness of the old house when Jacob first comes upon it. It's not action-packed (though there's more of that at the end), but I really liked the story, overall.

Jun 23, 2015, 6:07pm

>25 LibraryCin: I did wonder if the addition of the photographs would come across as gimmicky. It's good to hear that it works and the story holds up, as I'd like to read it at some point.

Jun 23, 2015, 11:15pm

>26 Moomin_Mama: It worked well for me. I think I have seen some comments where some people didn't like it as much. I hope you enjoy it, though!

Jun 25, 2015, 6:31am

>22 LibraryCin: That one sounds great! I'll definitely add it to my wishlist. Stephen King rarely disappoints me. :)

>25 LibraryCin: Another awesome read! :) I've been wanting to read that series for a long time. And they already have a graphic novel version of it out, too. Everything seems to have a graphic novel nowadays. ;)

I'm very sloooowly getting through My Work is Not Yet Done. It's not entirely the book's fault--I've been super busy--but nothing "weird" has gone on yet. I'm about 1/3 through it, so fingers crossed something unusual happens.

Jun 25, 2015, 8:55am

>28 saraslibrary: Thomas Ligotti is also known for his extreme pessimism. Is that already coming through?

About halfway through The H.P. Lovecraft Omnibus 3: The Haunter of the Dark and Other Tales. Enjoying it hugely but stalled somewhat reading The Whisperer in Darkness, which was a decent enough story but was too long and really dragged. Everything after that is shorter and I hope to get through the second half fairly quickly. So far, so very weird :D

Jun 25, 2015, 12:52pm

>28 saraslibrary: Ooooh, a graphic novel of Miss Peregrine would be cool. But, it's pretty cool just to see the old photographs in the regular book, as well.

Jun 25, 2015, 5:56pm

>29 Moomin_Mama: Maybe because I'm a bit of a pessimist, I don't mind it so much. :D But the character just seems more paranoid than anything else. It kind of reminded me of Fight Club a bit. Maybe because of the paranoia?

So far, so very weird - That's always good to hear! :)

>30 LibraryCin: Yeah, I haven't looked at the graphic novel version yet, but I just saw it on LT. If it's done well, it should be beautiful. :)

Jun 25, 2015, 6:33pm

Sounds like you're all reading some amazing books - haven't been able to find anything suitable which is a shame because I did want to try the Miss Peregrine's book but haven't seen it available anywhere - not in local bookshop or at the library :( Will track it down at some point though.

Editado: Jun 25, 2015, 7:19pm

>32 Peace2: That is a bummer. :( This was a bit of a difficult category for me. I just lucked out by having something by Thomas Ligotti. You might still have time. :)

Jun 25, 2015, 10:44pm

>32 Peace2: Well, I'm not sure that Miss Peregrine really fit the definition of "weird" horror, but it was tagged weird (and horror, which I do agree with), so I went with it, anyway! It's too bad you haven't been able to find it. Good luck if you keep looking!

Jun 26, 2015, 2:02am

>32 Peace2: I don't know why I didn't think of this before. *facepalm* But have you thought of reading the ebook version via your library? A lot of libraries have those versions available immediately, which is nice. :) And usually you don't get fines, because the ebook becomes inoperable after the due date. Just a thought. Anyway, like LibraryCin said: good luck! :) It looks like an awesome read.

Jun 26, 2015, 7:33am

Well, I went ahead and read the sequel to Annihilation, Authority. Very weird, very creepy, different from the first book. There was one scene that made me literally gasp, it was so unexpected and terrifying. Now anxious to finish this trilogy.

Editado: Jul 24, 2015, 7:00am

>36 sturlington: Never read (or heard of) Jeff VanderMeer but I'll look out for him now. Thanks :)

PS - Just read your review of Annihilation and you had me wondering - at what point did 'Lost' break your heart? I never got past the middle of the second series myself.

Jun 30, 2015, 12:18am

Ok, not sure if it really fits the definition of weird horror, but it's tagged with both horror and weird (at least over at shelfari; I didn't check here)

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter / Seth Grahame-Smith
4 stars

This is the story of Abraham Lincoln as a vampire hunter. As a boy, when he learns both his grandfather and his mother were killed by vampires, he vows to hunt every vampire in America down and kill them. When he meets a vampire who is willing to train him, he becomes the best vampire hunter in America.

I really liked this. I will admit that I don't know American history very well, so what I know about Lincoln is only the very basics. I do suspect much of what was in the book did really happen (but I can't say for sure) – except, of course, all the stuff about vampires! I didn't find it fast-paced, as it followed him on his travels for both work and vampire-hunting, but I really enjoyed it.

Jun 30, 2015, 4:34pm

I've ALMOST finished The H.P. Lovecraft Omnibus 3: The Haunter of the Dark and Other Tales - just one story to go, which I should be done with tonight. I've only been unimpressed with one story so far (The Lurking Fear); all the rest have been excellent. I thought Lovecraft would be more subtle and esoteric and I've been quite shocked how gruesome and horrific he can be, especially considering his archaic style. I also expected the sci-fi elements to be more cosmic and less earthy. The whole mythos he creates grew on me the more I read, and I only wish I'd first read him as a teen.

Disturbing but ingenious horror, with the fear of being driven mad particularly prevalent throughout the stories. 5 stars.

Jul 1, 2015, 12:43am

>38 LibraryCin: I haven't read the book, but I did really like the movie of it. :)

>39 Moomin_Mama: I hope you can finish it. :) I never pegged H.P. Lovecraft as "gruesome and horrific." I always heard he was very wordy and "archaic," like you said, so I never tried anything by him. Hmm, maybe I should. Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the book so far.

I'm doing the last-minute finish-up of My Work Is Not Yet Done by Thomas Ligotti. I have no idea why it's taken me so long to finish such a short book. I guess I never really got into the main novella. *shrugs*

Jul 1, 2015, 7:39am

>40 saraslibrary: I wouldn't say Lovecraft's stories are an outright gore-fest, but they weren't what I was expecting - cannibalism, devil-worship, in-breeding, insanity, corruption of innocents, etc. Some of that is more alluded to than described, but many of the horrors seem to go hand-in-hand with filth, bad odours and decay. His style of expressing himself is certainly wordy and archaic, but there's something a bit depraved under the surface.

Be warned, he's also very racist, and a snob, but that somehow fits in with the world-view of the typical Lovecraftian protagonist - that anything beyond a very narrow range of experience and standards is somehow degenerate and corrupting, and to be feared.

Editado: Jul 1, 2015, 8:07pm

>41 Moomin_Mama: Yeah, I think gore in horror is a more recent thing than decades and decades ago. The things you described--cannibalism, devil-worship, in-breeding...all of it--can be pretty horrific on its own without describing every little detail. Sometimes if it's done right, leaving it up to the reader's imagination can be better than describing everything. Sometimes.

Yes, I have heard the racist and snob things about him. I also read he was a woman-hater. But I wonder how much of it is really him or what he wants to create. I had a friend who read a Stephen King book once (I can't remember which one), and she said, "He's such a bigot! All those gay slurs!" But it was just a certain character that was the bigot, not the author. Or at least that's what I tell myself when I read an author's work and am turned off by certain behaviors, opinions, language, etc--it's the character, not the author.

Oh, and, no, I still haven't finished My Work Is Not Yet Done. That title is starting to become very apt for me. :D I will finish it soon, I promise; and I'll probably still count it for June.

ETA: Speaking of which, did anyone want to start July's? I could start a new thread....

ETAA: Ta da! July's thread: https://www.librarything.com/topic/192784.

Jul 2, 2015, 5:47am

>42 saraslibrary: You are in good company, not finishing June's book - I'm struggling with the last Lovecraft story (The Shadow Out of Time). It's more a novella, and oddly enough it's more the kind of thing I initially expected from Lovecraft, ie not very good sci-fi. It might have a good twist or scare, but at the moment I'm not finding the 10-foot-tall conical slugs with heads on stalks very convincing or scary!

Jul 2, 2015, 7:54pm

>43 Moomin_Mama: Thank god I'm not the only one. :D True: it might have a good twist or scare, but slugs don't sound very scary to me. We have loads of them up here in Washington, and I find them kind of mesmerizing by how fast they move.

Jul 5, 2015, 8:17am

And I'm done! I think I've said enough on here about my enjoyment of Lovecraft, but if anyone wants my thoughts on the individual stories I've added them to my thread.

>45 Moomin_Mama: Slugs don't bother me either, although I wouldn't want to step on one with bare feet! They're pretty harmless things really, unless you're a lettuce :)

Jul 6, 2015, 2:17am

>45 Moomin_Mama: Congrats on finishing! :) You finished a day before I did. I didn't like My Work Is Not Yet Done very much. It consisted of 3 short stories; the first one being a novella by the same name as the title, and was probably my favorite out of the bunch. It was a bit weird and confusing, but made more sense by the end. The collection described itself as "strik(ing) a chord with anyone who has ever been disgruntled at work," but I didn't really feel that way, since it mainly had to do with big corporations. (I've never worked for one.) I might still try something else by Thomas Ligotti, but not right away.

Oh, yeah. Stepping on anything barefoot is... *shudders* And slugs do make gardening a bit of a problem. But we have chickens, so I'm guessing that's why I haven't seen any in ages.

Jul 14, 2015, 9:47am

>46 saraslibrary: You have chickens? Why have I only just noticed this? I love chickens :)

Jul 17, 2015, 3:20am

>47 Moomin_Mama: I probably never mentioned it before. :) They're actually my mom's (4 of them), but I help take care of them.

Jul 17, 2015, 8:04am

>48 saraslibrary: Do they have names? Any pictures? Do you have a favourite? I'm pathetic, I know, but I just love 'em!

Jul 23, 2015, 3:44am

>49 Moomin_Mama: LOL! No, you're not pathetic about loving animals. :) They're pretty awesome. I believe their names are Big Red, Little Red, Screamer, and Paulette. We had Fiona, but she somehow got out of our yard and was attacked and partially eaten by, I'm guessing, a raccoon. :( I don't have a lot of pictures on my LibraryThing account; most of them are still on my cell phone; but here are a couple: when there were 6 and one of my dog and a chicken (I'm not sure which one). I don't really have a favorite, because I still have trouble telling them apart. It's either Little Red or Big Red that likes following me around, usually trying to mooch food. But if my dogs are around, she stays with her sisters, even though my dogs are half her size.

Jul 23, 2015, 6:11am

>50 saraslibrary: I like the sound of Screamer :D

The picture of the chicks is sweet, and I see what you mean about the size difference between chicken and dog. Chickens are not silly - four-legged furry things with pointed teeth can do serious damage to a chicken, your dog is just a funny shaped fox to them!

Jul 23, 2015, 8:38pm

I'm glad this thread is still alive. :)

I didn't get very far with The Familiar: One Rainy Day in May, not because it wasn't appealing, but I got distracted with reading from my Hugo Award Voter's Packet last month. Also, I've been doing a lot of travelling, and this big heavy tome wasn't the right thing to take along. Anyhow, I will definitely continue with it eventually, and I've certainly enjoyed following this thread. I've picked up a few book bullets along the way.

Jul 24, 2015, 7:03am

>52 mathgirl40: And to think, you're only on the first of 72 planned volumes ;)

Editado: Jul 25, 2015, 3:26am

>51 Moomin_Mama: Yeah, Screamer got her name because she lets out this god-awful scream any time we try and get near her box while she's laying an egg. The first time she did it to me, I screamed in return. It seriously scared the bejesus out of me. :D

They were adorable when they were babies. :) When we did have our rooster before we had to get rid of him, I was always protecting my dogs, because he'd go after them, even though they'd never done anything to him. Without him, now the dogs tend to chase the hens, until all four get together and puff up their feathers.

>52 mathgirl40: & >53 Moomin_Mama: Oh yikes! That is some heavy reading. I forgot that's the series that plans on going on forever.... Best of luck, Paulina! :)

Jul 25, 2015, 7:49am

>53 Moomin_Mama: >54 saraslibrary:: Well, I'll try to make it through Volume 1 first before committing to the rest of the series. :) It is fun to read, though.