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Old 08-13-2015   #1
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Favorite Campbell

Am going through and rereading all my Campbell books and am always amazed by his writing style and ability to write in so many different modes. Here are some of my favorites:

Cold Print. The first couple stories are kind of weak but meant to show Campbell's earliest writing. But the later stories are some of the best Lovecraftian homages I have ever read. Surreal and cosmic horror at its finest.

Demons by Daylight. This book is to horror fiction what Night of the Living Dead is to horror film. It blew up the scene and showed the way forward. Ultra subtle, ultra eerie, and highly experimental with the narrartive form. Truly the father of modern horror literature. About every story leaves you with a feeling of dark unease.

Scared Stiff. A great collection of erotic horror. Which there is no where near enough of. A genre that is just now getting steam with writers like Livia Llewellyn and Caitlin Kiernan.
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Old 08-13-2015   #2
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Re: Favorite Campbell

I like his "Needing Ghosts" very much. I have the story in two versions. An illustrated chapbook, and it was also printed in one of his collections. I believe it was Dark Companions.
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Old 08-13-2015   #3
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Re: Favorite Campbell

From reading the collection Alone With The Horrors, "The Brood", "The Fit" and "The Chimney" are my favourites.

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Old 08-13-2015   #4
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Re: Favorite Campbell

I've read around 6 of his short story collections. Cold Print was actually the very first book of his I ever read (the Grafton Books mass market paperback edition from 1987 I believe), and one that I would still rank as my favorite of his (actually, the PS Publishing reissue of The Inhabitant of the Lake from a few years ago is very good, fascinating to read the backstory of some of those early stories). I agree that Demons by Daylight is a masterpiece as well (and speaking of PS Publishing, weren't they supposed to reissue a deluxe version of that book as well?). Height of the Scream I read last year and wasn't entirely crazy about. Dark Companions is solid, and Scared Stiff is very good as well. But I've read none of his collections post-1987. One of these days...

For his novels I've only read The Face That Must Die (liked it a lot), The Nameless (not too crazy about it, thought the central idea was underdeveloped), Obsession (okay), The Influence (enjoyable), Ancient Images (enjoyable), Midnight Sun (very good), and The Last Revelation of Gla'aki (enjoyable). I think what I'm getting at here is that I prefer Campbell's short stories to his novels.

I think my biggest problem with Campbell is that he's just too damn prolific (I have the same issue with Stephen King), and his bibliography is extremely unwieldy. I mean, he's done like what, over 30 novels and over 15 short story collections? Then when you factor in that multiple versions of his books exist for different international markets (or that he often goes back and revises his novels/stories), well...

Having said that, I've been reading a few of his books as of recent because I know I'll be seeing him in person next week at the NecronomiCon in Providence. I finished "The Influence" two days ago and last night I started "The Hungry Moon." It occurs to me that I've read most of his 1980's novels, with the exception of "The Parasite," "The Claw" and "Incarnate" (all of which I hope to read one day). I know next year I would like to tackle some of his more modern works, such as "The Grin of the Dark" (which I've heard lots of good things about), "Creatures of the Pool," "The Darkest Part of the Woods" (which I've heard Campbell describe as his most Lovecraftian novel) and "The Overnight" (as a bookseller, I'm intrigued by the idea of a horror novel set at a bookstore).

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-Colin Wilson, Religion and the Rebel
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Old 08-13-2015   #5
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Re: Favorite Campbell

Quote Originally Posted by bendk View Post
I like his "Needing Ghosts" very much. I have the story in two versions. An illustrated chapbook, and it was also printed in one of his collections. I believe it was Dark Companions.
It was in Strange Things and Stranger Places. It's not in either of the UK or US versions of Dark Companions that I've got - but maybe there have been updated editions.
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Old 08-13-2015   #6
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Re: Favorite Campbell

I think I've written it somewhere else on this site but I think that his novels
Thieving Fear, to a certain extent Ancient Images and especially Grin of the Dark really creep me out, i.e. they are incredibly effective spine-chillers - even though Campbell overuses some means of evoking dread. It seems that his protagonists constantly reassure themselves that that what they have seen/heard etc. cannot be - sometimes on every other page (it's a phenomenon that one can find in slightly different form in late(r) Ballard). Yet the above-mentioned novels work whereas I found "The Last Revelation..." in which he employed similar methods really repetetive and (thus) tiresome.
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Old 08-13-2015   #7
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Re: Favorite Campbell

Quote Originally Posted by Masonwire View Post
It seems that his protagonists constantly reassure themselves that that what they have seen/heard etc. cannot be - sometimes on every other page (it's a phenomenon that one can find in slightly different form in late(r) Ballard).
I felt that Caitlin R. Kiernan fell into this same trap in Threshold, incidentally.

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Old 08-13-2015   #8
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Re: Favorite Campbell

He is a very prolific author, I haven't read nearly enough. I've got a pile of books yet to read by RC, a lot to look forward to.

Cold Print is excellent. His youthful tales have atmosphere, don't care if they are imitation or not - they are very enjoyable! The final story The Voice of the Beach is a masterpiece. It reminds me of me of Algernon Blackwood more than Lovecraft.

The Darkest Part of the Woods is the most recent by Campbell I have read. I have to confess I found sections of the book a bit slow going at the time, I felt it could have been edited for length. But thinking back on it, it was actually well worth reading.. in the parts when things really kick off it has a real sense of dread and claustrophobia.
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Old 08-13-2015   #9
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Re: Favorite Campbell

To speak on a couple comments. I think both Campbell and KIernan are best suited to the short form. I have enjoyed none of Campbell's novels.. and early Kiernan novels are not really good.. but her The Red Tree and The Drowning Girl are masterpieces and well worth a read. The End of a Summer's Day is one of the most creepy tales I have ever read. I LOVE the Scream/Press edition of Cold Print.. its a very beautiful book.
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Old 08-14-2015   #10
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Re: Favorite Campbell

One of my favorite narrated horror stories is "The Companion" by Ramsey Campbell. Stefan Rudnicki narrates the story. Simply outstanding.

http://www.podcastunited.com/Arts/Li...amsey-Campbell

(There may be a better link, but this will get you to the story.)
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