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Old 08-28-2013   #21
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

Generally I think with most writers, readers can stumble over themselves trying to find links between stories or books. Laird Barron is one of those who leaves all kind of hinted connections all over the place. I often read something and think, "Hmm, he MIGHT be saying this character is related to another character in another story... maybe some future story will explain."

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Old 08-29-2013   #22
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

M. Griffin, I was preparing this post while you posted your last response on pretty much the same topic.

*********Please beware: Potential spoilers (if you’ve not read any Barron yet) and a not too unusual amount of nerdiness ensues. You’ve been warned.*******

First of all a question:

"The Forest" and "--30--" are two stories linked by some sort of esoteric research project—never clearly defined—and the mention of (a version of?) the Japanese doctor, Toshi Ryoko and his bodyguard, Beasley, in your opinion, are these part of the "Leech" stories?

I notice 3-4 strands running through Barron’s work which, in turn, seemingly overlap, intermingle and entangle throughout. Know of anymore?
The most obvious overlap between these strands, so far observed, is between the stories "The Broadsword" and "Hand of Glory" from Occultation and Beautiful Thing..., respectively. For although none of Leech's Children overtly show their “true faces” in HoG there is an overt link to an earlier incarnation of The Broadsword Hotel, thereby linking the two strands. Old Leech and his children being taken as biblical devils seems a common enough occurrence in Barron’s universe as it stands, anyway. The Broadsword Hotel strands are starting to mutate and take on a life of their own with "Jaws of Saturn" with imagery which links it to "Vastation". "Vastation" is, however, an omnivorous meat-grinding beast that pretty much funnels everything into it (and out of it): Burroughs, Lovecraftian Old-Ones, Aleister Crowley, Old Scratch, druids, Virgil, Ovid, mound-builders, cave-painters to primordial muck and 'grab your partner round and round'.

i.
Recurring Cycles

-Children of Old Leech 'mythos' (The Croning, The Broadsword, Mysterium Tremendum, The Siphon*, The Men from Porlock)
-The Black Ram/Old Towne Legends (Catch Hell, Blackwood's Baby, Hand of Glory,...)
-Ryoko Northwest Research Team (The Forest, --30--,...) I certainly hope for more of this strand or for a crossover with Old Leech.
-The Broadsword (The Broadsword, Hand of Glory, Jaws of Saturn,...)

The rest I would classify as tales of a general though undefined/shadowy conspiracy and could very well be a part of one or more of the above “cycles” or strands. Examples of this type would be stories like “Occultation”, “Strappado”, “The Redfield Girls”, “The Lagerstatte”, possibly *"The Siphon" and most definitely the creation/destruction myth of "Vastation" which, as said, is more like something all its own.
This is fun and problematic (or is it fun because problematic?) Where does a story like “Six Six Six”--which has such strong affinity to The Light is the Darkness thematically (though it is, for Barron, a shorter work and ostensibly in the “haunted house” genre)--fit? “Six Six Six” has links to The Light is Darkness but also to the story “Hand of Glory” by virtue of not only its use of Eadweard Muybridge’s work as a pivotal device but also with the shared theme of black magic/occult rites. The use of Muybridge also links Barron to another artist deeply inspired by Muybridge, the painter Francis Bacon. Indeed, at times, Bacon’s work has popped, quite unbidden, into my head while reading some of Barron’s more ghastly descriptive scenes of mayhem. Therefore, Barron’s use of real-life artist Muybridge serves to call into question whether the stories are fictional at all; a bridge between our “real” world and the ineffable world of Barron’s “imagination”. Also, as said in my last post, in some ways, at least stylistically, “Hand of Glory” seems like a perfecting/reworking of ideas and themes pulled from the earlier novel, The Light is the Darkness.
Many of my favorite artists utilize characters (at times wildly different ones) with the same names or variations of a name, Barron is no exception in this.

ii.

Recurring Characters or names (in brackets are how many times they recur that I've noticed).

-Dr. Green (3?)
-Old Bill (3?)
-Carling (2?)
-Toshi Ryoko (2?)
-Beasley (2?)
-Randy Freeman (2)
-Welloc (2?)
-Conrad (2?)
-Dr. Phil Wary (2?)
-Arden (2?)
-Lance Pride (2)
-Miranda (2)

Last edited by Murony_Pyre; 04-02-2014 at 12:46 AM..
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Old 08-29-2013   #23
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

I think I have read the ultimate Barron tale in "The Siphon", I'm afraid. Literally a fear inducing story and here I was thinking that by reading so many horrific stories that I was inured to such a response to a work of fiction. How does he make this work? and on so many levels. As others have said: this isn't just good horror, it's just excellent writing! Surely, nothing else in Beautiful Thing or elsewhere, be it Imago or otherwise, trumps this! I don't wish to spoil this but be warned: ####'s powerful.
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Old 08-29-2013   #24
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

I originally read 'The Siphon' a couple years back in an Ellen Datlow anthology; about vampires, I think, and although I remember liking it, it didn't have the same impact on me as other stories that appeared around that time such as 'Vastation' or 'Men from Porlock'. However, now that I've finally obtained TBTTAUA, I can reread it, and give the story the attention it deserves.
-Definitely agree about Barron's genius and fear-inducing prowess; I first read 'Occultation' around one AM in the empty apartment I was house-sitting for my brother; genuinely creeped out and nervously scanning the shadows. I think the only other fiction that has ever had the same effect of inducing that kind of suffocating dread is vintage Ramsey Campbell, like 'The Companion' or 'The Hands'; brrr.
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Old 08-29-2013   #25
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

As I typed my last few messages on this subject, I was thinking maybe somebody with more spare time than me will sit down and start to diagram the connections, and others can use those references to search and clarify even more.

It looks like Murony_Pyre has made a good start of it, above. I look forward to giving this some more thought and attention soon, seeing if I can add anything.

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Old 08-29-2013   #26
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

Maybe someone should start a "Laird Barron Online" site.

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http://www.strantzas.com
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Old 08-29-2013   #27
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

Yes! Simon, you should do it. Especially since you're not going to take on that project I was trying to convince you to start.

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Old 08-30-2013   #28
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

I'm surprised that the story "More Dark" hasn't been mentioned yet, as it is of special relevance to this particular website. Laird Barron with tongue firmly planted in cheek delivers a very sly and funny story; the namesake of the new volume as it turns out, tucked away, fittingly, just at the end. Delicious.
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Old 09-20-2013   #29
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

Quote Originally Posted by Murony_Pyre View Post
-Children of Old Leech 'mythos' (The Croning, The Broadsword, Mysterium Tremendum, The Siphon*,...)
-The Black Ram/Old Towne Legends (Catch Hell, Blackwood's Baby, Hand of Glory,...)
-Toshi Ryoko Research Team (The Forest, --30--,...)
-The Broadsword (The Broadsword, Hand of Glory, Jaws of Saturn,...)
I think another to add to that list may be 'The Black Guide.' I recall reading a review of Occultation when it was first released, and the reviewer mentioned the necronomicon showing up in the titular story. But since then, I've realized it's most likely the Black Guide. Off the top of my head, stories I recall it making an appearance:

-Occultation
-Mysterium Tremendum
-The Croning

It's been a while since I've read a lot of the stories, but I'm sure it makes a cameo appearance in a few others.

As for the character of "Old Bill," I had assumed it was a nickname for the devil along with "Black Bill" and "Old Scratch." I may be wrong about that, but they are some cool nicknames, and wouldn't have the same result if he'd called him "Helli McFirepants."
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Old 09-20-2013   #30
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

I've recently started work on an essay/critique of Barron's fiction that I plan to submit to a publication. It will be fun to break down his work, as it all seems connected in a vast web.

I'd really like to see a Laird Barron tribute anthology, in the style of A Season in Carcosa and Grimscribe's Puppets, featuring many of today's best weird writers writing Barronesque tales, or stories dealing with the Old Leech mythos. I even think the perfect title for the anthology would be Children of Old Leech.

Anyone else want to see that?

Justin Steele

The Arkham Digest
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