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The Elementals de Michael McDowell
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The Elementals (original: 1981; edição: 2014)

de Michael McDowell (Autor)

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8384826,594 (3.92)50
"The finest writer of paperback originals in America." - Stephen King "Surely one of the most terrifying novels ever written." - Poppy Z. Brite "Beyond any trace of doubt, one of the best writers of horror in this or any other country." - Peter Straub "Readers of weak constitution should beware " - Publishers Weekly "McDowell has a flair for the gruesome." - Washington Post After a bizarre and disturbing incident at the funeral of matriarch Marian Savage, the McCray and Savage families look forward to a restful and relaxing summer at Beldame, on Alabama's Gulf Coast, where three Victorian houses loom over the shimmering beach. Two of the houses are habitable, while the third is slowly and mysteriously being buried beneath an enormous dune of blindingly white sand. But though long uninhabited, the third house is not empty. Inside, something deadly lies in wait. Something that has terrified Dauphin Savage and Luker McCray since they were boys and which still haunts their nightmares. Something horrific that may be responsible for several terrible and unexplained deaths years earlier - and is now ready to kill again . . . A haunted house story unlike any other, Michael McDowell's The Elementals (1981) was one of the finest novels to come out of the horror publishing explosion of the 1970s and '80s. Though best known for his screenplays for Tim Burton's Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas, McDowell is now being rediscovered as one of the best modern horror writers and a master of Southern Gothic literature. This edition of McDowell's masterpiece of terror features a new introduction by award-winning horror author Michael Rowe. McDowell's first novel, the grisly and darkly comic The Amulet (1979), is also available from Valancourt Books.… (mais)
Membro:Amateria66
Título:The Elementals
Autores:Michael McDowell (Autor)
Informação:Valancourt Books (2014), 230 pages
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The Elementals de Michael McDowell (Author) (1981)

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Mostrando 1-5 de 48 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
The Savage family of Mobile, Alabama, have a centuries old family tradition that to say it is odd would be an understatement. Every person that is born into the Savage family has a knife presented to them at their christening. The knife goes with them for the rest of their life. When they die, their knife is stuck in the chest, and then buried in with them. The Savages, also take photographs of all of their dead before they are buried. Dauphin Savage has "a whole box of `em." we are told. Now we have been introduced to this "Southern gothic/Addams Family". The Savage and McCray families have been brought together at a funeral and we see more of this eerie world that the author has created as the latest member of the Savage family, Marian, "the meanest bitch that ever trod the streets of Mobile" is laid to rest with a hole in her heart. After Marian Savage's burial, the two families go to Beldame, which is over fifty miles away for a vacation. Beldame is the setting for the majority of the book. There are three Victorian houses that were built in 1875 by the Savage family. Two are inhabitable... one, that is often only referred to as "the third house," Sand from the dunes has piled around the structure and all but sealed most every entryway into the house...but it still contains all of its original, now rotting, furnishings. Fascinated by the dilapidated "third house" and doing her best to see in and take pictures of the dwelling, 13-year-old India McCray is the first of the two families in a long time to sense and maybe catch sight of something that is not quite right... and capture it on film. One character, Odessa, a Black servant, plays a big part in what happens to the families during their stay. She has seen more, knows more, and understands more about what plagues and dwells in the "third house" than anyone. Odessa knows, rather they admit or not that they are all afraid of the sealed-up house. She warns: "They's just some houses that got something inside `em--a spirit like. No ghosts, no such thing as dead people coming back. Dead people go to heaven, dead people go to hell. They don't hang around. Nothing like that. They's just something that's inside that house." It is that "something" that obsesses India and which becomes the focus of the story as it slowly unfolds. The story reminded me a great deal of Shirly Jackson's "Haunting of Hill House"...which I remember reading over and over...the movie never did it justice. ( )
  Carol420 | May 11, 2024 |
4.25/5 From the author who wrote the screenplay for BEETLEJUICE, McDowell died of AIDS in 1994 at the age of 49, and I mourn the fact that he wasn't able to produce more works. This book had it all. Humor? √ Mystery? √ Horror? √ Quirky characters? √ Haunted house? √ Southern Gothic? √ The element of sand as an enemy? √ Supernatural? √ I could go on. A fast, riveting read with all the spooky “elements“ one looks for in a 1980s horror. Recommend? √! ( )
  crabbyabbe | Oct 12, 2023 |
El libro me resultó atrapante y me lo terminé en un par de noches. No soy un lector asiduo del género de terror/horror (mayormente he leído Lovecraft, Poe, Bierce y Chambers), así que no lo puedo criticar como experto en el género sino como obra literaria abstrayéndome un poco del género (aunque al final voy a volver sobre ese punto).

A la reseña en sí…

El libro es muy sólido. McDowell tiene gran dominio del lenguaje y del diálogo, pero principalmente del ambiente o “setting”. El género de horror es como el mercado inmobiliario: es todo “location, location, location”. No casualmente, el setting de muchas historias de terror es una casa. En este caso, McDowell logra algo muy difícil, que es sacarnos de la idea de que lo que da miedo es la oscuridad y la penumbra y logra que nos aterre un día soleado y una casa plácida. No es un logro pequeño.

La historia no es muy larga, y creo que está bien esa longitud. Es muy difícil mantener una trama por 300 o 500 páginas en un ambiente físico muy pequeño, a menos que uno extienda la historia en el tiempo o por muchos años o generaciones. Fácilmente McDowell podría haber hecho eso y haber contado la historia de la familia Savage en Beldame a lo largo de varias generaciones, en un estilo Pynchonesco. Pero McDowell tiene algo concreto y simple para contar y lo ejecuta a la perfección. Es una historia de terror sureña, con todos los elementos que debería tener: gente transpirada bajo el sol de Alabama, fachadas (de casas y de personas) que ocultan secretos indecibles, segregación racial y degeneración social.

En este punto es donde es imposible reseñar el libro sin tener en cuenta cuándo fue publicado. Si uno lo lee en el siglo XXI, tiene que abstraerse de muchas cosas que se han convertido en lugares comunes o tropos de la cultura popular, principalmente debido a las muchas películas de terror de los 80s hacia esta época. Porque si no, el libro de McDowell parecería pecar de lugares comunes y estereotipos, cuando en realidad Los Elementales debe haber sido la inspiración más o menos directa de muchas de esas historias. Sin repetir y sin soplar, algunos elementos que están en el libro y que hoy son ya lugares comunes del terror: la sirvienta de color/nativa que tiene conocimientos o poderes sobrenaturales (sea por herencia o por atavismo cultural no explicado); la “niña especial” que puede percibir lo que los adultos no ven o se ocultan a sí mismos; la gente blanca que no entiende nada; la matrona familiar opresora; los monstruos-niños deformados; la avaricia del empresario sureño amoral y de traje blanco. Alguno más me olvido. Por eso hay que abstraerse de estos elementos y de los lugares comunes posteriores y concentrarse en la ejecución de la historia, y ahí es donde McDowell brilla.

Es muy difícil que un libro me de miedo. De los autores que he mencionado antes, y algunos más que he leído y olvidado, muy pocos me han generado más que una leve incomodidad. Uno es McDowell. Otro fue Alan Moore (vuelvo sobre este punto más tarde). En Los Elementales, McDowell va creando varias viñetas, pequeños elementos que se van sumando y aumentando el miedo que transmite la casa. En mi caso, me resultaron más inquietantes los primeros relatos de las cosas sucedidas en Beldame. Me inquietó más cuando (SPOILERS) Dauphin sueña con pasos en la habitación de arriba y abre la puerta y ve a su madre muerta, o cuando India dibuja esa mujer gorda con los niños muertos en sus manos. (END SPOILERS) Una vez que la historia va avanzando, me fueron dando menos miedo esas secuencias, quizás porque a medida que se va “descubriendo” el misterio va perdiendo su poder. Hasta la mitad de la historia, es ambiguo y no sabemos si Beldame está habitado por espíritus o por fantasmas de los clásicos. Pero a medida que la historia va diciendo explícitamente que no son fantasmas, les fui perdiendo el miedo. Hasta el final, igualmente, la duda subsiste, pero para mí al nombrarlos ya perdieron un poco de poder, y en las escenas finales ya no sentía aprehensión.

Lo que le resta un poco a la historia es (como en el 90% de las historias de terror) la estupidez de algunos personajes. A menos que sea un cuento de terror (o novelas cortas como con Lovecraft), en una novela hay que cubrir más espacio, y siempre hay que hacer un poco de malabares para explicar por qué, después de 7 u 8 capítulos en que pasan cosas que harían que cualquiera saliera corriendo, los personajes se quedan en un lugar del cual cualquier persona razonable huiría y pondría un cartel de venta. McDowell intenta sortear esto de muchas maneras: con diálogos cortados, ocultándole información al lector y a India (su proxy) y remarcando el sopor y dificultad para pensar que ataca a aquellos que visitan Beldame. Pero subsiste la duda: si Luker y Dauphin, por ejemplo, sabían todo lo que había pasado en la casa a cada uno de ellos individualmente, por qué volverían a ese lugar? Es el problema sin el cual no habría historia, y que algunos autores sortean mejor que otros. McDowell lo hace bastante bien, pero no lo logra del todo. Le habría faltado una vuelta de tuerca más a la trama que llevara a todo el mundo a volver allí obligado. Sin eso, parecen ovejas yendo al matadero, con lo que el lector (y varios de los personajes) ya saben.

Al final de la historia, no queda claro si los Elementales eran solamente eso o si su aparición estaba unida inextricablemente a la familia Savage. Desde el principio la historia nos quiere hacer creer que la familia está maldita o algo así, solo para derrumbar esa creencia después. Pero el autor logra mantener la duda hasta el final.

Es muy difícil hacer una historia de terror perfecta, porque tienen que estar todos los elementos. A ésta le doy 4 estrellas de 5, mayormente por la ambientación y el diálogo, y le bajo un poquito por la ejecución de algunas partes. No le quito puntos por los lugares comunes porque no son culpa del autor sino del paso del tiempo entre que él lo escribió y que yo lo leí. En resumen: me gustó, es entretenida y es buena literariamente. Para alguien que no es asiduo lector de terror, es una muy buena lectura porque está bien escrita y no es una obra del montón. Es ideal para leer en la playa o en el patio de una casa playera por la noche. Pero hay que limpiarse los pies para sacarse la arena antes de entrar a casa…

PD1: la mención a Alan Moore más arriba es por su historia “American Gothic” en el cómic de Swamp Thing (DC). Es posiblemente una de las historias más aterradoras que he leído en cualquier medio/formato. Búsquenlo y léanlo. Cumple perfectamente con el tipo de “Terror Sureño”, en este caso, en Louisiana.

PD2: Lean Lovecraft también. El Color que cayó del Cielo es uno de los mejores, junto con La Sombra sobre Innsmouth y algunos de sus cuentos más “sci-fi”. Tiene algunos elementos un poco racistas visto en retrospectiva, pero es parte de su época mayormente. También abunda en sus historias de Nueva Inglaterra esa obsesión por la degeneración de los linajes, cosa que está también en las historias sureñas, en este caso, en los Savage. ( )
  marsgeverson | Jan 12, 2023 |
Horror—what I kinda swallow up inside of what I call personal crisis drama—can be pretty great, and apparently the written word alone can be ‘scary’, can evoke life-and-death.

This book is also great for showing an ultimately sympathetic but decidedly non-chauvinist view of the US South, with plenty of realism and non-deceit about race and class. It also has a lot to do with the relationship between science and magic and religion, and prudent faith and prudent doubt, woven together.

And it’s great for being quite feminist: an affectionate if non-emote-y (and non-incestuous) father-daughter friendship, and just as important, a relationship between two women of very different backgrounds that did not center around dating advice.

…. And family: scary inherited family dysfunction, and other things that no human person controls.
  goosecap | Sep 30, 2022 |
I had no idea of what to expect when I picked up The Elementals. I don’t even remember where or when it was recommended to me. I certainly didn’t expect maybe the finest haunted house story I’ve read since The Haunting of Hill House (which happens to be an almost perfect novel, by the way).

The Elementals is quintessentially a southern gothic, replacing windswept moors and foggy nights with beachfront houses, unforgiving sun, weltering heat. But there’s lies, family secrets and blood and despair a-plenty nonetheless. The characters are strong and actually engaging, though maybe not fully likable, painted in bold strokes that might take a while to get used to if you’re used to more subdued depictions.

It’s also not, in fact, a ghost story, insofar as the actual supernatural element of the story refuses traditional genre classification and will resist any attempts at taming it by giving it discernable motivation, logic or cause.Rather than frustrate, however, this only acts to increase the feeling of dread and helplessness, making it actually scary at times. In that way, The Elementals also has more in common with cosmic horror, but without the sometimes overwrought cosmology of the lovecraftian tradition.

Don’t sleep on this one, probably one of the best this year so far for me. ( )
1 vote Jannes | Jun 26, 2022 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 48 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
The tone McDowell takes for The Elementals is, at first glance, anachronistically slow and courtly for its time-period, relying on creepy misdirection and a sort of black comedy of manners rather than short, sharp shocks for its overall impact. As the book continues, however, its atmosphere builds to a close, hot pitch of febrile discomfort; McDowell never sets a foot wrong, choosing each word with nasty care and maintaining a cruel distance from his protagonists throughout, which allows them to cocoon themselves within a self-defeating shell of disbelief and indifference, then watches the consequences of their inaction evolve without comment, let alone sympathy.
 

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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
McDowell, MichaelAutorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Bray, R. C.Narradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Rowe, MichaelIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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"The finest writer of paperback originals in America." - Stephen King "Surely one of the most terrifying novels ever written." - Poppy Z. Brite "Beyond any trace of doubt, one of the best writers of horror in this or any other country." - Peter Straub "Readers of weak constitution should beware " - Publishers Weekly "McDowell has a flair for the gruesome." - Washington Post After a bizarre and disturbing incident at the funeral of matriarch Marian Savage, the McCray and Savage families look forward to a restful and relaxing summer at Beldame, on Alabama's Gulf Coast, where three Victorian houses loom over the shimmering beach. Two of the houses are habitable, while the third is slowly and mysteriously being buried beneath an enormous dune of blindingly white sand. But though long uninhabited, the third house is not empty. Inside, something deadly lies in wait. Something that has terrified Dauphin Savage and Luker McCray since they were boys and which still haunts their nightmares. Something horrific that may be responsible for several terrible and unexplained deaths years earlier - and is now ready to kill again . . . A haunted house story unlike any other, Michael McDowell's The Elementals (1981) was one of the finest novels to come out of the horror publishing explosion of the 1970s and '80s. Though best known for his screenplays for Tim Burton's Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas, McDowell is now being rediscovered as one of the best modern horror writers and a master of Southern Gothic literature. This edition of McDowell's masterpiece of terror features a new introduction by award-winning horror author Michael Rowe. McDowell's first novel, the grisly and darkly comic The Amulet (1979), is also available from Valancourt Books.

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