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Old 09-21-2015   #1
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Topic Winner WALL STREET JOURNAL FEATURE ARTICLE: "Penguin Classics to Publish Ligotti Stories"



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Horror writer Thomas Ligotti is about to enter the American literary canon.

Next month Penguin Classics will publish a volume of Mr. Ligotti’s short stories, making him one of 10 living writers, including Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo, among the hundreds the imprint has published in the U.S.

Mr. Ligotti’s oeuvre, which has the macabre flavor of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, has a fervent niche following. Last year, though, buzz surrounding the first season of HBO’s “True Detective” helped propel Mr. Ligotti’s bleak and, at times, darkly comic work to a broader audience.


Click here to read the full article, written by Michael Calia.

And follow up interview with Ligotti by Michael Calia.

Quotes by Thomas Ligotti​, Jeff Vandermeer, Livia Llewellyn​, S.T. Joshi, and our own Matt Cardin and Joe Pulver!

Featuring Ligotti portrait (above) by the incomparable Dave Felton​!

UPDATE:

A version of the Ligotti article by Michael Calia will appear in tomorrow's (Friday, September 25th) USA edition of The Wall Street Journal, on page D3 of the Arena section.

Be sure to pick up a hard copy or two!

"...the uncanny is to me the defining trait of this strange and terrible world and our strange and terrible minds." --Thomas Ligotti
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Old 09-21-2015   #2
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Re: WALL STREET JOURNAL FEATURE ARTICLE: "Penguin Classics to Publish Ligotti Stories

You beat me to the punch, Jon. I headed over here from having read the article, only to find that you posted it four minutes ago.

What an effective piece of work by Michael Calia. I think it provides a really good introduction to the person, work, and importance of Thomas Ligotti for a mainstream audience. Also, what a wonderful portrait by Dave Felton. And what a wonder to see these items being published in the WSJ (accompanying, of course, the wonder of witnessing the advent of a Penguin Classics Ligotti edition).

The accompanying interview is great, too. Tom made me chuckle aloud at one point.

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Old 09-21-2015   #3
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Re: WALL STREET JOURNAL FEATURE ARTICLE: "Penguin Classics to Publish Ligotti Stories

“Thomas Ligotti is about to enter the American literary canon.” Those ten words were predestined since the publication of the Nyctalops Trilogy, and it’s thrilling to hear them declared at last! Michael Calia greets TL not at the beginning of a great career, but at the height of one; his article and interview convey this beautifully. Thank you for posting the links, Jon . . . I can’t tell you how glad it made me to discover this thread today.
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Old 09-21-2015   #4
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Re: WALL STREET JOURNAL FEATURE ARTICLE: "Penguin Classics to Publish Ligotti Stories

And great to see your comments, Matt. Lots of good stuff here. I have to agree with Jeff VanderMeer and disagree with S.T. Joshi. I think Ligotti can be read and enjoyed without a knowledge of Lovecraft or Poe. Certainly, they contribute to a much better understanding of Ligotti's work. But his work stands fine on its own two legs.

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Old 09-22-2015   #5
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Re: WALL STREET JOURNAL FEATURE ARTICLE: "Penguin Classics to Publish Ligotti Stories

With the entering of Ligotti's work into the mainstream.. it seems to me to also herald the end of his writing. I don't believe we will see more new work from Ligotti. But we shall see the increasing commodification and commercialization of his work. Its the end of an era.
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Old 09-22-2015   #6
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Re: WALL STREET JOURNAL FEATURE ARTICLE: "Penguin Classics to Publish Ligotti Stories

Great interview, made me chuckle a few times too...

[Whenever I’ve seen someone on television demonstrating how neat it is to have a tarantula crawling on you, I think, “There is something not right about that person.”]

Great thread - thank you.

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Old 09-22-2015   #7
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Re: WALL STREET JOURNAL FEATURE ARTICLE: "Penguin Classics to Publish Ligotti Stories

Great interview as ever.

I have been reading online tutorials recently regarding how to conquer arachnophobia as I have been a slave to it my entire life. One of the suggestions was to do a sort of panic meditation each day in which you visualise with clarity the worst possible spider nightmare you can, so the normal UK house variety then seem laughably mundane.

I think they underestimated the power of my imagination because I sent myself in to a flying panic attack that choked me and gave me heart palpitations so severe I thought the thing would explode.

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Old 09-22-2015   #8
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Re: WALL STREET JOURNAL FEATURE ARTICLE: "Penguin Classics to Publish Ligotti Stories

I don't necessarily agree with Joshi's assumption about Tom's works and the breadth of appeal (or lack thereof, as alluded to) to the public at large. As has been the case in the past, I feel as though Joshi's Lovecraft-philia won't allow his mind to wander into the territory that perhaps Tom's work, in s0me ways, may have surpassed the great HPL. Not in every way, but I would suggest that, in some ways, it has. Only time will tell...

I tell you everything that is really nothing, and nothing of what is everything, do not be fooled by what I am saying. Please listen carefully and try to hear what I am not saying. ~Charles C. Finn

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Old 09-22-2015   #9
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Re: WALL STREET JOURNAL FEATURE ARTICLE: "Penguin Classics to Publish Ligotti Stories

Quote Originally Posted by Ascrobius View Post
I don't necessarily agree with Joshi's assumption about the Tom's works and the breadth of appeal (or lack thereof, as alluded to) to the public at large. As has been the case in the past, I feel as though Joshi's Lovecraft-philia won't allow his mind to wander into the territory that perhaps Tom's work, in s0me ways, may have surpassed the great HPL. Not in every way, but I would suggest that, in some ways, it has. Only time will tell...
As I'm sure you and everybody else have noticed, I, too, am quoted in the piece as expressing the opinion that Tom's audience will likely remain relatively limited due to his subject matter. I stand by that assessment, although I'll be pleased if I'm proved wrong by future history. But for what it's worth, here's the context of that comment in a longer portion of my response to Michael's questions, with the portion that appears in the published piece emphasized in boldface. (I don't think I'm breaking any written or unwritten code of journalistic source integrity by posting this, btw. If it comes to light that I am, I'll remove this post.)

"I think he will remain primarily a cult figure in popular and literary culture at large, although I don't think it's impossible that he will someday be canonized as a major American author. In fact, I think that’s likely. And anyway, what counts as mainstream status these days? Have you ever tried to talk to anybody about Lovecraft? His presence is shot all through geek culture and fantasy, sci-fi, and horror fandom, but I'm still amazed at how his name is unknown to most of the people I talk with. This is confirmed every semester when I teach a new freshman intro to literature course or American lit course. In a typical class of 20 or 30 down here in North Central Texas, maybe two or three students have heard of Lovecraft. They all know Poe, but that's because they had to read him in high school. Lovecraft is a blank, which means I get the pleasure of introducing him to them, but I'm still astonished at the general ignorance of him. Not insignificantly, this holds true among my academic colleagues as well. Just yesterday one of my colleagues, a history and government instructor, found that I know about Lovecraft, and write about him, and write supernatural horror fiction that's influenced by him. This colleague was overjoyed to find somebody else who's on the inside, and we chatted about the fact that being a Lovecraft fan is akin to being in a secret society. And this is in the age when Lovecraft has been officially canonized as an important American author! I think the same will be true of Ligotti, at least in America, partly because of the strange, fragmented, marginal status of literary culture here, and partly because of his subject matter itself. A lot of people who get familiar with his The Conspiracy against the Human Race are genuinely bothered and even angered by its horrified antinatalist take on things. His stories all come from that very same place of ontological and existential horror, and their power in conveying the real emotional sense of this to the reader is positively uncanny. I think this will be enough to ensure that his readership remains small even if he one day achieves canonical status. Lovecraft emphasized that the emotional cast required for someone to really appreciate and seek out weird supernatural horror fiction is intrinsically rare. I think that's quite true, and I think it means Ligotti's work, which exemplifies the best and most powerful strain in this subgenre, will always remain -- I want to say lurk -- on the margins of literary culture. That said, it's a real kick to witness his current mainstream moment. When I heard last year that the burst of publicity from the True Detective thing had resulted in The Conspiracy against the Human Race outselling Atlas Shrugged on Amazon for time, I just had to laugh. The Bible of antinatalism outselling the Bible of Objectivism? It’s like Alice in Wonderland. Or a Ligotti story."

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Old 09-22-2015   #10
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Re: WALL STREET JOURNAL FEATURE ARTICLE: "Penguin Classics to Publish Ligotti Stories

Quote Originally Posted by matt cardin View Post
When I heard last year that the burst of publicity from the True Detective thing had resulted in The Conspiracy against the Human Race outselling Atlas Shrugged on Amazon for time, I just had to laugh. The Bible of antinatalism outselling the Bible of Objectivism? It’s like Alice in Wonderland. Or a Ligotti story."
Ha ha! Man, I wish that quote had made the story.

For me, I think there is perhaps a greater hunger for Ligotti's work than I ever would've expected years ago, as was evidenced by the TD season 1 phenomenon. I remember being stunned at how many viewers (some friends and acquaintances) who literally responded to Ligotti's words and ideas as spoken via Rust Cohle with astonishment and admiration. They wrote/said, "I've never heard or read anything like it," or some variation of that statement. I know the feeling.

While it's true that Ligotti is not a writer for everyone, he doesn't have to be. I believe that there are thousands (probably tens of thousands; maybe more) of potential readers who have never read Tom's stories and would fall in love with them if they were alerted to their existence. The Penguin Classics volume is an incredible--almost ideal--way to introduce Ligotti's work to at least some of these potential readers. And, of course, these stories have a timeless, literary quality which transcends genre and that I believe will eventually land Ligotti's work in Norton anthologies and the like for generations to come.

"...the uncanny is to me the defining trait of this strange and terrible world and our strange and terrible minds." --Thomas Ligotti
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