View Full Version : Other Books

03-13-2005, 09:35 AM
I enjoy reading book recommendations, so I thought I would toss a few out there and hopefully get a few back. These are books I have read that I think Ligotti fans might enjoy.

The Secret Life of Puppets by Victoria Nelson
A philosophical look at puppets.This was endorsed by a few people from the Ligotti/yahoo group. I can't remember who, but thanks.

The Philosophy of Disenchantment by Edgar Saltus
An older book written in the late 19th Century. Deals mainly with Schopenhauer, but aslo touches on others like Leopardi and Eduard von Hartmann.

Religion and its Monsters by Timothy Beal
Entertaining survey of monsters born of religion and their intrusion into culture, from biblical chaos monsters to the winged monkeys of OZ. A nice section on Lovecraft too.

matt cardin
03-13-2005, 09:42 AM
I think I was one of the ones who recommended THE SECRET LIFE OF PUPPETS in the past. Based on its title alone I probably wouldn't have read it, but when an acquaintance recommended it to me, and when I read some descriptions and reviews and found that the book represents a sustained exploration of the Platonic/mystical spiritual impulse that has been submerged in post-Enlightenment Western culture beneath the dominant Aristotelian/objective-scientific ethos, I became interested. Then the actual book, when I bought it, turned out to be a joy, not least because it examines and marshalls evidence from a host of writers associated with the Ligottian unvierse -- Kleist, Lovecraft, Schulz, and many more. So I heartily second the recommendation of this one.

Ditto for RELIGION AND ITS MONSTERS, which I read and used in the writing of one of my final papers/projects for my religious studies M.A. Beal presents some interesting thoughts and information abut the place of the monstrous and horrific in world religion.

As for additional recommendations, a couple of years ago I read RATIONAL MYSTICISM: DISPATCHES FROM THE BORDER BETWEEN SCIENCE AND SPIRITUALITY (I think I got that subtitle right) by science writer John Horgan, and found it quite entertaining. Horgan is the same prominent science journalist who wrote THE END OF SCIENCE, in which he argued that the Enlightenment scientific project of obtaining as much objective knowledge as possible about the natural world has reached or is approaching its imminent end, since at present science has pretty much comprehensively explored everything that is not categorically excluded from being known by its methods. In RATIONAL MYSTICISM, he sets his sights on the contemporary nondual spiritual scene and traipses around the U.S. interviewing prominent philosophers, scientists, and scholars. It turns out that Horgan himself has had a lifelong personal interest in this kind of thing, having studied Zen and several other disciplines briefly, and his background is evident in the nature of his interaction with his interview subjects. Of particular interest to Ligotti fans is that Horgan interviews at least a couple of people whose books and research have influence Ligotti, including Michael Persinger, who invented the "God machine" and thereby serves as one of the pioneers of the still-in-its-infancy field of neurotheology, and Stephen Batchelor, the famous "Buddhist agnostic" whose book BUDDHISM WITHOUT BELIEFS was read and enjoyed by Tom. Regarding Persinger, you can find his God machine, which is a helmet that emits magnetic waves that has caused its wearers to sense invisible presences around them, echoed in the machine found in Tom's story "Purity," and also in his contribution to the round-robin story "Sailing into Night," published in John B. Ford's collection of collaborations, THE EVIL ENTWINES.

matt cardin
03-13-2005, 09:42 AM
Additionally, what I failed to mention above is the single quality that I loved about RATIONAL MYSTICISM more than anything else: The author undertakes his quest across America, and conducts all those interviews, with the intention of finding solace, help, validation, confirmation, or some such thing that will help him deal with a horrific metaphysical epiphany that he received while under the influence of a hallucinogen many years ago. He talks about the experience in detail, describing how after various preliminary phases of the trip, he arrived at a point where he perceived that he had retreated into the uttermost inner recesses of reality and subjectivity, arriving at the point of the Ultimate Ground, God, the Godhead, etc. And what he discovered was that he/God was a solitary, isolated, savagely unhappy Being which, in desperation at its state, had exploded outward into creation, becoming the "ten thousand things" of the phenomenal world in an attempt to escape its horrific changelessness and solitude. But then he (Horgan) also realized the implications of this idea: that the universe, including us humans, is condemned to suffer in perpetual darkness and despair, because even if we penetrate through to the source of our secret self, if we achieve "enlightenment," we discover the greatest horror of all. And the very loneliness, isolation, horror, and unhappiness that we experience as our limited individual identities is just a mere echo or shadow of that limitless unpleasantness from which we have proceeded.

This sounded like an amazingly Ligottian/Lovecraftian idea to me as I read it. Horgan is serious about the troubles his dark revelation has caused him. He directly mentions it to several of his interview subjects, including Ken Wilber and Michael Persinger, in order to get their reactions. Persinger responds with a fascinating and tantalizing little tidbit when he says his now-deceased colleague -- I hope I'm remembering this correctly -- a man named D'Aquili, once spoke of an Eastern philosophical/spiritual sect that had devoted itself to cultivating the ultimate horrific vision, the dark side of spiritual enlightenment that would show them the Ultimate's demonic face. But Persinger said D'Aquili died before naming this sect or offering any further explanation.

So this is the thematic arc that endeared Horgan's book to me more than anything else. It's truly an unhappy book at heart, and it ends on a rather bleak, unconfirmatory note.

03-13-2005, 09:51 AM
Matt said
"....a man named D'Aquili, once spoke of an Eastern philosophical/spiritual sect that had devoted itself to cultivating the ultimate horrific vision, the dark side of spiritual enlightenment that would show them the Ultimate's demonic face. But Persinger said D'Aquili died before naming this sect or offering any further explanation. "

That does sound fascinating. I will definitely give this book a look. It reminds me of the Dan Simmons novel The Song Of Kali, which I enjoyed very much. I usually shy away from books with the word "mysticism" in the title, probably due to some unprofitable time spent reading Rudolf Steiner, Madame Blavatsky, and Theosophy some years ago, but this sounds very interesting. I have read some work by Michael Persinger on the internet. His work, and neurotheology in general, is intriguing.

Thanks for recommending The Secret Life of Puppets. I also enjoyed the many references to other authors, especially Bruno Schultz. I just finished the book The Complete Fiction of Bruno Schulz which I loved. If I can find the time, I will try to contribute something to the forum on authors.

Timothy Beal has a new book coming out this May called Roadside Religion. From the description at Amazon.com it sounds like it could be an entertaining read. He and his family get in their motor home and go in search of "the sacred, the strange, and the substance of faith." They visit roadside religious attractions like The World's Largest Ten Commandments and Golgotha Fun Park. It sounds like a hoot.

03-13-2005, 09:51 AM
May I suggest "I-O" by Simon Logan. It's fiction like you've never read before. He describes it as "fetishcore" and "industrial fiction". I believe the latter description is more accurate (the first one only applies to one story). His ideas are incredibly original. Definitely a young author worth checking out.

matt cardin
03-13-2005, 09:52 AM
Bendk -- I remember your mentioning awhile back that you were reading Schulz's complete fiction. Sounds like quite a daunting task (because of the sheer density of Schulz's prose and themes), and also a deeply rewarding one. I'll be quite interested to hear what you have to say if/when you get the time to collect your thoughts and share them here.

Also, thanks for the heads up on Beal's forthcoming new book. "Hoot" definitely sounds like the correct word to describe this one. I'll look it up.

Unknown -- I couldn't agree more about Simon Logan's I-O, and I'm glad you've mentioned it here. Simon asked me if I'd be willing to review the book a couple of years ago, and I agreed to do so even though I had doubts, for reasons I honestly can't recall now, that I would enjoy it. Maybe they had something to do with the fact that I don't read a lot of science fiction anymore, and so the book's advertised hybridizing of dystopian sci-fi with horror themes just didn't appeal to me. Anyway, for whatever reason, this small collection of "industrial fiction" ended up catching me entirely off guard. I loved it, and I mean really. I-O endeared itself to me in a way that very few contemporary books manage to do. My positive review ended up finding publication online at Strange Horizons. It's still there if you want to check it out and see whether my reactions mirror yours. I already know they do at least in part, since you mentioned the incredible originality of Simon's ideas, and this raw visionary power is one of the very things I focused on in my review.

03-13-2005, 09:55 AM
if you're curious, he has some new stories being published in anthologies and full novel coming out soon. He also some stories (previously unavailable) on his website www.coldandalone.com

I chat with him on AIM every now and then. Nicest guy.

Another recommendation I MUST make is "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman. This novel reads like a movie. Don't be intimidated by it's size. I finished it within 3 days. It is that good. Involves ex convicts, the dead, Gods, talking ravens and leprechauns. One of my favorite novels ever.

03-22-2005, 12:02 PM
I definitely second Matt's recommendation of Rational Mysticism. Excellent book. Horgan's The End of Science and The Undiscovered Mind are also well worth reading.

Unknown, I'm glad you enjoyed American Gods but personally I couldn't get on with it. It just felt like Gaiman was rehashing a load of his old Sandman ideas but without any of the enthusiasm or panache.

03-22-2005, 12:39 PM
It just felt like Gaiman was rehashing a load of his old Sandman ideas but without any of the enthusiasm or panache.

I definitely understand what you mean by that

03-23-2005, 04:54 AM
A comic series that I enjoyed was Grant Morrison's The Invisibles. Anarchist chaos magician freedom fighters battling against a fascist Establishment ruled by extra-dimensional overlords. Imagine Robert Anton Wilson, Michael Moorcock and Philip K Dick rewriting The Matrix as a comic. Unfortunately, like The Matrix, the narrative veers between being a highly energised flow of mindblowing but clearly stated ideas and being complete gibberish. Also, there wasn't a regular artist on the book so the quality of the art varies quite considerably.

Still, if anyone happens to see one of the graphic novels maybe they'd like to take a quick flick through, see if they like the look of it.

03-23-2005, 11:45 AM
I'll have to keep an eye out for it

yellowish haze
03-27-2005, 04:51 AM
What about "The Golden Egg" by Tim Krabbe? This is one of the scariest books I ever read. Although one would say it is a mere psychological thriller with methaphysical elements, in my opinion it is very closely linked to the sensation of isolation that one can find in Ligotti (in "The Bungalow House" for instance). It contains one of most interesting dream passages I've read in my life.
As far as I know there were 2 adaptations, however only the first, dutch version from 1988 entitled "The Vanishing" is worth seeing (please, do not pay any attention to the movie with Sandra Bullock and Jeff Bridges being one of the worst remakes ever).

The Silent One
03-31-2005, 12:21 PM
Klarkash-Ton. Campbell. Donald Wollheim. The guy who wrote "The Great Slow Kings" (Cosmically funny), Frank Belknap Long, and old H.P.L.

yellowish haze
04-25-2005, 01:38 PM
From an interview with Ligotti:

EMA: You've also mentioned two other important literary models, Thomas Bernhard and Vladimir Nabokov. In which way did they affect your work?

TL: The work of both of these authors frequently features mentally deranged narrators who write highly stylized prose. In this sense they are part of a tradition that also includes Poe and Lovecraft. Those are the footsteps in which I often slavishly followed.

I wonder if Ligotti has read "Spider" by Patrick Mcgrath. The book is very compelling and it contains exactly what Ligotti likes: a "mentally deranged narrator who writes highly stylized prose". I remember reading the book a week before I went to the cinema to watch the adaptation. I loved both of them. I think the film (directed by David Cronenberg, in case somebody doesn't know) is worth checking as well - it has a completely different approach from the book.

Has anyone read the book? If yes, let me know what you think about it!

04-25-2005, 06:24 PM

I have read Patrick McGrath's SPIDER. I liked it a lot. I put it on one of my Amazon.com Listmania Lists. ( A Ligotti book is on both of my lists, of course). For comments, I put: A Tell-Tale Mind - because the thought narrative reminded me of Poe's classic. I think I figured out why he did it. The movie played for one day in Canton, Ohio, and I got to see it at an old art house theatre. I liked the movie too, but it is deliberately paced (slow) and one of the bleakest things I have seen on celluloid - which I didn't mind. I prefer the book though. When I heard it was being made into a film, I was more than a little surprised, as it is almost all interior monologue.

I looked for the book, because I wanted to quote a few cool passages from it, but I can't find it - typical. It's boxed up somewhere, probably in storage. I dream of a room dedicated to just books. But the good news is: while looking for SPIDER, I found a book I was looking for last week - H.P. LOVECRAFT: THE DECLINE OF THE WEST by S.T. Joshi.

David Cronenberg often chooses interesting material for his films. I can't say that he is one of my favorite directors, but his movies are not without interest. He directed NAKED LUNCH based on the book by one of TL's favorite authors William Burroughs. I didn't really care for the film, but I have only seen it once, and it was so many years ago that I might view it differently now. I still haven't read any of Burroughs' work. Cronenberg directed the movie CRASH based on the novel by J.G. Ballard. I did read that novel, and I didn't like it. Although, I have to admit, it did have a perception-altering effect on me for a time. Cronenberg's movie was as good a movie, in my opinion, as you could make from the material.

04-25-2005, 07:41 PM
any of Roald Dahl's fiction (not the child stories, though they are excellent). He is an amazing story teller.

anything by Guy de Maupassant even though he uses suicide too much as an out.

Doctor Munoz
07-18-2005, 10:29 AM
L. P. Hartley is one of my favorite writers.
He wrote quite a few horror stories, some in the ghost story tradition, but most with something extra in them. “The Travelling Grave” was considered by Robert Aickman one of the best ghost stories; actually the menacing element is not technically supernatural but it comes from the odd crab-like device from the title, a kind of “premature burial walking machine”, so to speak. Weird and grotesque.
However, my favorite story by L.P.Hartley is “Podolo” about a harrowing encounter with a source of pure evil in a barren islet near Venice.
Unfortunately, “The Travelling Grave and other stories” is out of print, and even used items seem difficult to find. I was lucky to come across one of them in Petra Bookshop, a multilingual second hand bookshop in downtown Madrid, run by a charming American lady, and an always surprising place. I always check the horror shelfs, because in the realm of weird literature everything can happen. Like (imagine) bumping into TAROVFAOGT , price 10 euros. Wouldn't it be nice?

07-18-2005, 12:33 PM
THE COLLECTED MACABRE STORIES of L. P. Hartley has just seen a second edition by Tartarus. It is not cheap (£35), but as always with Tartarus it is gorgeous... I'm happy enough to own one copy of the first edition, limited to 350 copies.

I agree, "Podolo" is one of the best in there. I also like "Per Fare L'amore", also located in Venice, and "The Pylon" cause I like them really weird and unexplained...

07-18-2005, 06:06 PM
I just finished reading Chuck Palahniuk's Stranger Than Fiction. While it isn't dark fantasy or anything, it is a highly enjoyable read. It's a collection of Palahniuk's nonfiction essays and articles. I could not put this one down. Definitely an enjoyable read

08-17-2005, 12:47 AM
It was nice to read recently that TL likes Sherlock Holmes. I also grew up watching and loving those old Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce movies. The Jeremy Brett PBS Mystery adaptations are also excellent. I have been a fan of the character for as long as I can remember. I read "The Hound of the Baskervilles" in junior high school, but it wasn't until my mid twenties that I finished all of the Conan Doyle stories. I have read quite a few pastiches too. One that might interest TLOers is "Shadows over Baker Street." From the cover: "Sherlock Holmes enters the dark, nightmare world of H.P. Lovecraft." I still haven't read all of the stories, but I have enjoyed some of them. Contributors include: Neil Gaiman, Brian Stableford, Richard Lupoff, and many others. Maybe TL will contribute a story for volume two, if there is a volume two. That could be interesting and fun.

TL's comments on Arthur Machen have piqued my interest. I have only read his most well-known stories in some anthologies. I am going to have to track down some more.

10-28-2005, 07:27 PM
I just read this book review in the new Entertainment Weekly that I got in the mail today. It sounds interesting. It got the Editor's Choice starred review and received an 'A' grade from the reviewer. I haven't read the book yet, so I'll just retype the short review.

Albert Sanchez Pinol
Horror (FSG, $20)

The disciples of early 20th-century horror writer H.P. Lovecraft are legion. Unlike most of them, however, Pinol masterfully achieves the delicate tonal balance of philosophical horror and wonder that runs throughout Lovecraft's best works. Translated from the Catalan by Cheryl Leah Morgan, Skin is both a tightly wound thriller and a fantastical horror novel. In the years after WWI, the unnamed narrator is deposited on a small island near Antarctica to serve as a weather observer for a year. There, he encounters a slightly deranged lighthouse keeper and...monsters from the sea. The rest of the novel consists of the pair's attempts to survive until the narrator's replacement arrives. Pinol's murky, one-sitting novel revels in the fear of the unknown and the possibility not of death, but of going irretrievably insane in the moments beforehand. A -Gilbert Cruz

Sounds like shades of AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS and the movie THE THING.

04-16-2009, 03:17 AM
I've been slowly rebuilding my Arkham House collection. I started in earnest a little over a year ago when my friend Maryanne was with me at a con and saw me drooling over JUMBEE AND OTHER UNCANNY TALES by Henry S. Whitehead. I had one of the two Panther pb editions but never had it return'd after loaning it to a mate fifteen years ago. I loved those stories and tried to get Jessica Salmonson to sell me a copy that she had listed at Violet Books; but she told me the book was racist and refused to sell it to me! The tales have a genuine feeling of exotic horror that I really like. Then my pal Stanley Sargent gave me a library copy of THE TRAVELLING GRAVE AND OTHER STORIES by L. P. Hartley. I used to own the book -- back in the day when I had quite a few Arkham House titles. (I sold them all when I came out as queer, lost my job and got kicked out of my parents' house -- I moved in with my grandmother and went into a three-year hibernation when I didn't work and barely left my room, and the way I bought food was to sell all my books. I'm so happy yem days are dead.) Recently I found a fairly inexpensive copy of FIRE AND SLEET AND CANDLELIGHT, a poetry anthology edited by Derleth, and it is quite wonderful. I finally went a little wild and spent $80 on a fine edition of Frank Belknap Long's THE HORROR FROM THE HILLS. I've been tainted, this past decade, by a growing critique of Belknap's work (mainly by S. T. Joshi, who finds it quite lacking), and by the picture painted of Belknap's sad final years by those who befriended him in New York. Recently, Subterranean Press re-publish'd Peter Cannon's delightful novel, THE LOVECRAFT CHRONICLES in hardcover -- and the portrait of Belknap and his wife in that novel is quite horrendous. But I used to own this short Lovecraftian novel and remember'd how much I enjoy'd it when I was a twenty-something Cthulhu kid. It's not bad at all, thus far -- I've just started chapter 2 -- and I was quite shocked to see that an idea that I thought was mine own, of a woman whose face is alter'd because of relationships with Chaugnar Faugn, have their origin in this novel -- and my own tale was but a deep-buried memory of the original tale. Centipede Press will be publishing a handsome omnibus of Belknap's weird fiction, probably next year, and I'm seriously thinking of buying it. Another Arkham House anthology that I've order'd but not yet receiv'd is NIGHT'S YAWNING PEAL (love that title), which I have never read. It includes "The Churchyard Yew," which is listed as by J. Sheridan LeFanu, but was actually written by August Derleth! He wanted to see if he could write a tale and pass it off as a newly discover'd LeFanu tale! Derleth was one weird cat.

Russell Nash
04-16-2009, 07:13 AM
Try this book, "Restless Nights" by Dino Buzzati
Restless Nights:Selected Stories by Buzzati 1983 1st Ed - eBay (item 260391665989 end time Apr-20-09 20:00:00 PDT) (http://cgi.ebay.com/Restless-Nights-Selected-Stories-by-Buzzati-1983-1st-Ed_W0QQitemZ260391665989QQcmdZViewItemQQptZAntiqua rian_Collectible?hash=item260391665989&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=66%3A2%7C65%3A10%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1318)
Ex-library copy, but cheap. I bought mine for $40. A good book from beginning to end.

Have you read "Blindness" by Saramago?

Or, "The Elephant Vanishes" by Murakami?

Or, a book with excellent macabre stories, "The Desolate Presence", by Thomas Owen.

Or simply any of the books recommended by Hopfrog, like Whitehead's, or Belknap Long's. Or "Dreams of Lovecraftian Horror" by Pugmire himself.