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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #41
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

I guess I'll give him another try. I suppose part of the reason I chose not to pursue Barron's work is because of some of the things he's said regarding one of my favorite authors. I'm willing to give him another go, though.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #42
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

I wouldn't bother with anything past The Beautiful Thing that Awaits Us All.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #43
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

Sadly, I don't rate him all that highly: while I haven't read his last few books, I did read his collections The Imago Sequence and The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All as well his novel The Croning, and while I found them competent there was something about his writing style that was a bit too slick and professional for my tastes... or maybe I should say I often found the scenarios for the stories more interesting than their execution. Much of it struck me as Weird Fiction written by someone who really wasn't that weird at all. Needless to say, his public persona and online antics over the last few years hasn't exactly endeared him to me, either.

I think that Joshi may be onto something when he suggests that perhaps Barron got too big too fast, and that maybe it went to his head. I'm no mind reader, but I can't help but wonder if his heart is really into writing Weird Fiction/horror, and that he keeps doing it because it's what his fanbase expects, and that maybe he'd be more happy doing straight up noir/mystery (I see that his next book is of the "crime fiction" genre, which I think is a genre he'd probably feel more at home working in).

Still, despite my negative feelings towards him and his work, I would say that The Imago Sequence at the very least is a collection that's worth checking out, as it has a few strong stories. But I'm not sure if I can recommend the rest of his output.

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #44
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

The Barron that I've read reminds me too much of Haggard, Merritt, and similar adventure-horror writers from the early 20th century. I happen to like that strain of pulp fiction, but here my feelings are the same as with anything Lovecraftian - I'd rather just reread the original works for the nth time than read the nth variation from a contemporary author.

I have, however, come to really like More Dark over the years - I still deem it horribly catty, but I find it a lot funnier after all the spats in the last couple years.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #45
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

I think that in "The Croning" he went a bit too far with explaining exact nature and motives of his Mythos's chief antagonists, to a point where it sucked out a bit of its strangeness and mystery, and of reader's curiosity. And, I guess, it made them less terrifying, which is exact opposite of what he was going for. Somehow, their all too human evil and sadism is far less effective than the completely unknowable, truly alien natures of Lovecraft's godlike aliens. I still think his earlier short stories stellar though.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #46
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

Quote Originally Posted by Hidden X View Post
I think that in "The Croning" he went a bit too far with explaining exact nature and motives of his Mythos's chief antagonists, to a point where it sucked out a bit of its strangeness and mystery, and of reader's curiosity. And, I guess, it made them less terrifying, which is exact opposite of what he was going for. Somehow, their all too human evil and sadism is far less effective than the completely unknowable, truly alien natures of Lovecraft's godlike aliens. I still think his earlier short stories stellar though.
I tend to agree. That, too, was a problem in The Light Is the Darkness. It all comes off as a sort of David Icke-scenario where the reptilians have their sadism for fun and power.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #47
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech View Post
I suppose part of the reason I chose not to pursue Barron's work is because of some of the things he's said regarding one of my favorite authors.
When we're exploring fiction and poetry I think it's best to forget about all these dramas (although I understand those who don't want to fund genuine extremists). You can bet your old favourites didn't or wouldn't always get on swimmingly.

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #48
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

I agree with many of the critiques the Joshi makes here, but am inclined to reject the legitimacy of the project as a whole as an airing of grievances. Joshi's diagnosis of Barron's declining quality as being an excess of self-regard is not literary criticism... it's personal. If he had stuck with the technical shortcomings of Barron's work, I'd call the essay "frequently incisive". However, as it is, Joshi's pettiness (an unfortunate product, it seems, of his Lovecraftian fever prompted by the debates over HPLs legacy) ends up undercutting the strength of his critique. Now, I'm compelled to wonder whether his analysis is as thorough as it seems to be or whether my agreement is merely a case of confirmation bias.

EDIT: Also, the commentary on "More Dark" is more non-commentary. Basically, Joshi's takeaway is that Barron was being a dick. And while that may be true, it's not literary criticism, and doesn't really seem to fit one way or another into Joshi's contention that Barron is becoming more and more restricted by certain stylistic crutches (which, as I indicated above, is a view that I think has merit).
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #49
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

He has suffered from preposterous levels of overexposure, and his comments on Ligotti were obscene, but from what I have read he's an alright writer and has written some stories I liked. I just don't generally follow contemporary weird fiction any more outside of Ligotti, Oliver, Samuels and a few others. I'm sure there are plenty of other good writers of this material, but I have too much else to read and am not especially interested in 'the scene'.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #50
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Re: LAIRD BARRON

Maybe I'm just burnt out on Weird Horror, but Joshi's complaints about Barron mirror those I have about the entire genre as it now stands. Indeed, I think Joshi's oblivious to his own influence here; he pushed loose ends and ambiguity as the epitome of Weird, so I find it somewhat hypocritical for him to criticize Barron for applying these techniques in The Croning. I'm likewise not much enthused when Joshi holds up Richard Gavin and Caitlin Kiernan as Barron's superiors. Gavin's not a bad writer - he's just not a good one either; he leaves me with the same mushy impression as Barron.

Regarding More Dark, Barron's joke about Mark Samuels being murdered over a dispute about women in literature turned out to be symbolically prophetic. And from my own interactions with Ligotti here on TLO, I believe he does maintain something of a stage persona - which puts him in the company of many other artists and literary types. Barron only satirically cranked him up from an early Robert Smith to a terminal stage Marilyn Manson. Barron probably isn't the one to write it, but the Weird Fiction community seems ripe for a Confederacy of Dunces/Lucky Jim type send up. Maybe Justin Isis?
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