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Old 08-26-2013   #1
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LAIRD BARRON

Thoughts? I happen to think Barron's the best horror writer in the field right now (him and Glen Hirshberg).

What do you think of him?

THE IMAGO SEQUENCE is a stellar collection.

"That's where the future development of horror fiction lies - in the next person who is almost too emotionally and psychologically damaged to live in the world but not too damaged to produce fiction."
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Old 08-27-2013   #2
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

Surprisingly, considering how well known he's been for his short work, I came to love Barron after reading his novels. I think he has a gift for making prose hardboiled neo-pulp poetry. I recently picked up his three collections, and I am pleased to realize many of his stories share a similar world and mythology (although I suspect it's more like M. John Harrison's ever-shifting Viriconium than a hard and fast, consistent alternate reality).
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Old 08-27-2013   #3
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

I didn't enjoy Occultation

at first.

Then I read The Croning, which I adored. Which got me to thinking did I give the chap a fair shake? So I went back to Occultation and read it twice through (it gets richer and richer). I now love this collection! "Mysterium Tremendum" & "--30--" being my favorite stories in it, though all of them stay with you and are affecting, discomfiting and disconcerting in variable measure. Some will creep you out so so that your bowels will decide to take their revenge on their distant relative: your throat...you will then resemble an accordion or at least feel like one.
[As a side note: There was only one other time I read a fictional work twice through and that book was Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men. Another very powerful, hopeless book of horror.]

So, I am almost finished with The Light is the Darkness, the title of which must surely refer to the "hero", Conrad, not being able to comprehend what the meaning of the "final revelation" proves to be in the end (not that I'm there yet). This book is in pulp-mode, I wouldn't say "pure pulp mode" but it is noticeably different from the prose employed, as a rule, in both "The Croning" and "Occultation" though Laird is such a tough guy---Mickey Spillane, he ain't...and I mean that in the best way possible.

Just ordered The Imago Sequence which, for those interested, is mentioned by name in The Light... It would seem that most of Mr. Barron's work resides in the same or a similar (parallel?) universe or very much could. This aspect certainly strings you along and is quite compelling.
I received The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All today and can't wait to delve in. But wait, I will, as I must find out what fails to happen at the end of this novel and then, surely, I must wait to read his earliest collection before reading the latest..surely? I miiiight be persuaded to make an exceptional case of this however...

PS. Did --30-- remind anyone else of Tarkovsky?
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Old 08-27-2013   #4
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

I second that; as is fairly obvious from my username, I have only the highest regard for Barron's work, and would unhesitatingly label him as the greatest writer of weird fiction of his generation. Something I've been wanting to bring since the last Barron post a few days prior is the importance to Barron's mythos, and indeed his oeuvre on a whole, of the theme of the Eternal Return. It's worth pointing out that Old Leech, the primary 'Old One' in the Barron mythos, is represented by the symbol of a serpent-like creature biting it's tail, i.e. the ouroboros, a visual synonymous with the above concept. In Barron's universe, Time is not linear, but is cyclical, recursive, and subject to retroactive forces; motifs of repetition and rebirth(destruction) appear again and again. The hapless protagonist of The Croning has uncovered the terrible truth at the center of his life and all reality on numerous occasions, only to be memory-wiped each time and returned to his prior ignorance; in 'Vastation' a cataclysm in the far-off future spreads backwards through time, as a result all human history is revealed to be illusionary. Another tale, 'Bulldozer', begins with the story's conclusion, and in chronicling the events leading up to the finale, gives the opening an entirely new and sinister dimension, while in 'The Imago Sequence' the clues the detective hero are given results in his being absorbed into the mystery he was hired to solve. These are just out of a plethora of examples, there being enough to write a thesis paper on (which I hope to someday do). All these examples I think point to what sets Barron's vision of cosmic horror apart; unlike the infinitely uncaring universe of Lovecraft, or the fundamentally absurd universe of Ligotti, Barron's world has an interest in humanity, a hungry interest. It is, to borrow another's phrase, a 'carnivorous universe'; it is a universe not black but crimson, red in tooth and claw', and humanity has the evolutionary misfortune to inhabit a much lower link on the food chain than we like to think. Even worse, our unseen predators are not only unknowably alien, they are at times all too 'human', as the delight Barron's creatures exhibit in taunting and torturing their prey shows. As above, so below; the same stories occur endlessly as the seasons, with hunger and cruelty the only constants throughout.
(Hopefully, this isn't just rambling, I finally got word my copy of 'The Beautiful Thing' is in at last, and it's got me all antsy in my pantsy.)
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Old 08-27-2013   #5
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

Over on Facebook, Barron posted a picture of a particular fossil, a worm or snake of some kind curled into a circle, not quite touching its own tail.

it makes me wonder how much of his stuff is fiction, which is just how I like my weird fiction.
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Old 08-27-2013   #6
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

I had the great pleasure of meeting Laird this weekend, talking to him a few times, and even sharing a reading with him, Joe Pulver and Scott Nicolay.

Laird has this interesting way of weaving little fictional/mythological tidbits into conversation, as if his stories are real, just honest reflections of our dark, devouring universe. He seems at first to be kidding, at least a little, then you realize maybe he's seeing things the rest of us aren't. And maybe he's right, and he's just doing us a favor by pretending it's all make believe.

Seriously though, he's a masterful writer and a great guy. I get more excited and motivated to read NOW by the appearance of a Laird Barron story than by the work of anyone else.

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Old 08-27-2013   #7
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

One story down in Beautiful Thing and only 8 more left! At least the other collection I haven't read, Imago, is on the way but after that...the next novel had better be market-ready pretty skorry thereafter!

Starting to see the Black Ram thread as sort of a precursor to the modern day "unveiling" of Leech, has anyone else entertained this idea? Or am I way off here and the two strains are very much distinct? I suppose it's part of the magic at work in that they very well may be and might not be related.

We love you.

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Old 08-27-2013   #8
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

Murony_Pyre, you’re in for a treat with The Imago Sequence. Some outstanding stories. “Old Virginia”, “Bulldozer”, and “Hallucigenia” were my personal favorites. The latter story has two incredible scenes (the barn horror at the beginning; later the prison). I sense a touch of "The Dunwich Horror" in this tale.

Enjoy!
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Old 08-27-2013   #9
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

An awful lot of people rate Imago Sequence higher than Occultation. I slightly prefer the latter, though "The Imago Sequence" (the story) might still be my favorite of his.

Then again, every time I say that, I start thinking of "Mysterium Tremendum" or "Blackwood's Baby" or "The Forest" or any number of others...

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Old 08-27-2013   #10
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

"Hallucigenia" is quite possibly the best horror story written in the last decade. It's just absolutely perfect on every level.
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