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“I should say that I had never spoken to either Carla or the others about my delirious episodes, with their sensations of a tropical sewer and the emergent concept of the 'nightmare of the organism.' I had never told anyone. I had thought that these episodes and the deranged concept of the nightmare of the organism were strictly a private hell, even one that was unique. Until that rainy afternoon, I had considered it only a coincidence that the artworks inspired by Severini, as well as the titles of these works, served to call up the sensations and suggestions of my delirious episodes. Then I was sent a message by Severini, through Carla, that he and I were 'sympathetic organisms' and that 'the way into the nightmare is the way out.' For some time I had dreamed of being delivered from the suffering of my delirious episodes, and from all the suggestions and sensations that went along with them - the terrible vision that exposed all living things, including myself, as no more than a fungus or a collection of bacteria, a kind of monumental slime-mold quivering across the landscape of this planet (and very likely others). Any deliverance from such a nightmare, I thought, would involve the most drastic (and esoteric) procedures, the most alien (and illicit) practices. And, ultimately, I never believed that this deliverance, or any other, was really possible. It was simply too good, or too evil, to be true - at least this is how it seemed to my mind. Yet all it took was a few words from Severini, as they reached me through Carla, and I began to dream of all kinds of possibilities. In a moment everything had changed. I now became ready to take those steps towards deliverance; in fact, not to do so seemed intolerable to me. I absolutely had to find a way out of the nightmare, it seemed, whatever procedures or practices were involved. Severini had taken those steps - I was convinced of that - and I needed to know where they had led him.”
Thomas Ligotti - “Severini”

The Literature of Creepy Clowns
Oct 13, 2016 - 12:56 PM - by Dr. Locrian

"The Literature of Creepy Clown" (Literary Hub) highlights Ligotti's "The Last Feast of Harlequin."

The apex of clowns-as-nightmare fuel in literature may well have come from the pen of Thomas Ligotti. This is not terribly shocking, given that Ligotti could write about an adorable child riding a pony on a sunny day and turn it into the stuff that chills readers’ souls and convinces them that they live in a bleak, arbitrary universe. Among the stories in his collection Grimscribe is “The Last Feat of Harlequin,” about an academic whose work involves articles with titles like “The Clown Figure in American Media.” He ventures to the town of Mirocaw, which hosts an annual festival in which clowns play a prominent role. Our narrator habitually attends such events, and regularly takes part. “To me the title of Clown has always carried connotations of a noble sort,” he writes. Throw in the involvement of an old mentor and you have the beginnings of a compelling narrative.

It’s also a narrative that, by the story’s end, curdles into something utterly terrifying. The narrator arrives in Miroclaw and discovers anonymous townspeople dressed as clowns and battered by their neighbors according to some mysterious custom. “They’re the freaks,” one of the locals tells him. “It’s their turn this year. Everyone takes their turn. Next year it might be mine. Or yours.” By the time the story reaches its climax—in a clown-filled subterranean chamber, where a terrifying ritual takes place—even readers without a pre-existing aversion to clowns may well find themselves recoiling from one the next time they see them.

Ligotti’s story taps into the kind of formalized and codified behavior associated with clowns, and then uses that to unearth something much deeper and more sinister. It’s one of the most effective horror stories in a book of effective horror stories, and it seems no coincidence that the cover of the recent Penguin Classics edition of Ligotti’s Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe features a sinister riff on the harlequin whose imagery pervades the story.
3 Replies | 5,514 Views
The Short, Nonsense Life of Your Average Clown Puppet
Oct 13, 2016 - 12:34 PM - by Dr. Locrian

Near Huntsville, Alabama?

October 27. 7pm. Salmon Library 111. Thomas Ligotti is a highly influential writer of weird fiction whose short stories deal with themes of nihilism, humanism, anti-humanism, despair, creativity, and surrealism. His poetic prose and characters descending into chaos and madness has all the flair of a Samuel Beckett play, if Beckett wrote for the Grand Guignol. He has become one of the few living authors to be honored by a Penguins Classic collection and his older collected editions are now collector's items of some value. In this talk, Doug Bolden [] will look at some of Ligotti's most powerful tales, his impact on the genre [including some of the controversy about how his nihilism may have been an uncited source for the first season of True Detective], the works (both fiction and philosophy) that have influenced Ligotti, and how to find out more of his evocative darkness. Halloween treats will be provided. Mannequins are optional.

As a bonus, after the talk, there will be a complete showing of Jacob Cooney's short horror film, "The Frolic," based on one of Ligotti's first ever short stories!

This event is free and open to all!
Click here for more information.
4 Replies | 2,820 Views
Available for Pre-Order: THE SECRET OF VENTRILOQUISM by Jon Padgett
Sep 25, 2016 - 8:50 AM - by Dr. Bantham
Available for Pre-Order: THE SECRET OF VENTRILOQUISM by Jon Padgett

"Padgett proves with his stunning debut collection to be a worthy successor to the master, Thomas Ligotti. There's no gristle, no bone, no dilly-dallying here: only pure meat whose terrors seamlessly grow into the metaphysical. This volume is jam-packed with the stuff that nightmares are made of."
- Dejan Ognjanovic, Rue Morgue Magazine

"...a voice that lodges in the reader’s mind with colossal force and intensity, marking... this book as unforgettable."
- Matt Cardin, from the Introduction

"The Secret of Ventriloquism is horror with a capital H. Some of Padgett's lines raised the hair on my neck."
-Laird Barron, author of Swift to Chase

Limited Edition Hardcover
150 copies
Cover and interior art by Dave Felton

With themes reminiscent of Shirley Jackson, Thomas Ligotti, and Bruno Shulz, but with a strikingly unique vision, Jon Padgett's The Secret of Ventriloquism heralds the arrival of a significant new literary talent. Padgett’s work explores the mystery of human suffering, the agony of personal existence, and the ghastly means by which someone might achieve salvation from both. A bullied child who seeks vengeance within a bed’s hollow box spring; a lucid dreamer haunted by an impossible house; a dummy that reveals its own anatomy in 20 simple steps; a stuttering librarian who holds the key to a mill town's unspeakable secrets; a commuter whose worldview is shattered by two words printed on a cardboard sign; an aspiring ventriloquist who spends a little too much time looking at himself in a mirror. And the presence that speaks through them all.

Introduction by Matt Cardin
The Mindfulness of Horror Practice
Murmurs of a Voice Foreknown
The Indoor Swamp
Origami Dreams
20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism
Organ Void
The Secret of Ventriloquism
Escape to Thin Mountain

Ships in October.

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