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Old 04-12-2005   #1
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Horror Another 100 Best Books

HORROR ANOTHER 100 BEST BOOKS (September 9, 2005 by Carroll & Graf)

The first volume, HORROR 100 BEST BOOKS, was originally published in 1988. At that time, TL had only had one book published: SONGS OF A DEAD DREAMER in 1985 by Silver Scarab Press. The print run was so small (300 copies) that it did not garner enough attention for inclusion in this volume. Since then, Thomas Ligotti has left an indelible impression on the genre with his various works. I have no doubt that at least one of Ligotti's collections will be selected and reviewed for this new book.

HORROR 100 BEST BOOKS is an excellent reference and has provided me with some great reading material. Unlike The Modern Library's 100 Best Novels (20th Century, English language), and similar lists, the books were not voted on and arranged in 'from best to worst.' In this book, 100 of the world's top horror, science fiction, and fantasy writers and critics were asked to select a favorite horror book and write an essay about it. The books are arranged by earliest date of publication to the most recent, from Christopher Marlowe's DR. FAUSTUS (great ending) published circa 1592 to Ramsey Campbell's outstanding collection of short stories DARK FEASTS that was published in 1988. The reviews are fascinating and often very personal.

TL has been listed as a contributor to this follow-up volume, so it will be interesting to see what book he selects (any speculations?) and what he has to say about it. Also, I'm curious as to which contributor will pick a TL book and which one; my guess would be THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY, but SOADD might make it on its own, being that it is a landmark book that heralded an important new voice in horror. I assume from the title that all previous selections would be off limits, so classics like DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, etc. will not be included. The appendix in the first volume listed many books that were not selected or reviewed (sort of like honorable mention candidates) and I would guess that they would be eligible. The books selected left the definition of horror wide open. Titles as diverse as THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH by Shakespeare to THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH by Philip K. Dick.

My guesses for some probable selections would be: THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY by Thomas Ligotti, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS by Thomas Harris, FLICKER by Theodore Roszak, THE GREEN MILE by Stephen King, AMERICAN PSYCHO by Bret Easton Ellis, and HOUSE OF LEAVES by Mark Danielewski.

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Old 09-04-2005   #2
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Re: Horror Another 100 Best Books

Well, this book is less than a week away from being released. The scheduled release date is September 9, 2005. I think I will make a couple of predictions. I think TL will select the TALES OF THE CTHULHU MYTHOS published by Ballantine in the early 1970s. I'm not really going out on a limb on this one; this is the book that introduced him to Lovecraft. He recently alluded to it in his interview in Subterranean Magazine #1. This book is still eligible for inclusion because it was not picked for the first volume. Three Lovecraft books were chosen for the first book: THE OUTSIDER AND OTHERS (1939), THE LURKER AT THE THRESHOLD (w/Derleth 1945), and CRY HORROR (1959).

I think Ramsey Campbell will pick SOADD. He could pick THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY, but SOADD is a landmark book in the horror field and he did not hedge in his endorsement of this book. He put his rep on the line way back in 1985 when he stated in the introduction to the Silver Scarab edition of SONGS " It has to be one of the most important horror books of the decade."

Another book I hope gets selected is BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy. This is a western with no supernatural elements, but it definitely falls under existential horror.

Many talented writers have published some fine books in the horror field since HORROR 100 BEST BOOKS was published in 1988. It will be interesting to see what is selected. Any guesses? I thought the first book was a lot of fun to read, and I look forward to this one as well. ( I'm rooting for the authors here at TLO)
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Old 09-04-2005   #3
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Re: Horror Another 100 Best Books

Bloch's Psycho? Poe's Collected Works? Lovecraft's Dreams in the Witch-House or Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Tales? Shiel's House of Sounds? Bentley Little's The Collection? King's Nightmares and Dreamscapes? Something by Harlan Ellison? So many possibilities....

"And into his dreams he fell...and forever."
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Old 09-04-2005   #4
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Re: Horror Another 100 Best Books

I'm pleased and proud to say that I have an entry in Horror Another 100 Best Books. This is for THE COLLECTED STORIES OF ELIZABETH BOWEN.

ie. Elizabeth Bowen, not Marjorie Bowen, as some people have confused them in the past, but I'm sure nobody would confuse them here! ;-)
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Old 09-05-2005   #5
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Re: Horror Another 100 Best Books

I look forward to reading your review, des. As of now, I am completely unfamiliar with her work.

Were you considering any other books before you opted for that one?

I am curious about the selection process. Did the editors give you a list of books that had already been chosen, and therefore ineligible? Did they give you guidelines as to the definition of "Horror?" I know in the first volume the editors related a humorous anecdote about an author trying to select the nonfiction book ON THERMONUCLEAR WAR by Herman Kahn. ( I'm sure that is a truly frightening book). They said they had to specify horror fiction in their letters after that. But they also stated that they were open to books that fell outside of the genre, if an author could make a convincing case that it contained an element of horror to it. And, indeed, a few authors took them up on that, I think, in the first volume. Also, they said they would have allowed books of poetry like Baudelaire's THE FLOWERS OF EVIL. (Can anyone say IHASPFTW?)
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Old 09-05-2005   #6
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Re: Horror Another 100 Best Books

Well, I couldn't choose any that were done in the first volume. But I would have chosen the COLLECTED STORIES OF ELIZABETH BOWEN (very fat paperback in my collection) in any event. An unusual choice, perhaps, and I cannot pre-empt my essay by saying why! Her work (stories and novels) is greatly underestimated, I feel, but would be enjoyed, I guess, by Ligotti fans for its style of language and fragmented minds/realities and undercurrents. Some of her stories are overly horror (like THE DEMON LOVER) but most are not.

We were asked to give three choices of book in case of duplication, but I only gave one, feeling that nobody else would choose this.
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Old 09-05-2005   #7
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Re: Horror Another 100 Best Books

TL wrote about the musical "Sweeney Todd" and yes, "House of Leaves" is in there, Jeff VanderMeer wrote about it.

Des - I didn't know you'd contributed as well. Cheers!
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Old 09-05-2005   #8
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Re: Horror Another 100 Best Books

Thanks for the info, N/A. I remember TL mentioning that he liked the music from the musical SWEENEY TODD, but I never considered the book. I'll have to check it out. I did try to watch the video of the musical a long time ago, but I couldn't get into it. I am familiar with the story though, I read a short book about it. Trick barber chairs, pits, straight razors, and meat pies. Ghastly stuff.

Ramsey Campbell isn't even on the list of contributors; so much for my predictions.

Here is a list of the 100 contributors: (Some interesting names are on the list)

http://vanderworld.blogspot.com/2005...est-books.html
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Old 09-06-2005   #9
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Re: Horror Another 100 Best Books

There's a cool variation on SWEENEY TODD by Robert Aickman, called MARK INGESTRE : THE CUSTOMER TALE (I think...). Not my favourite Aickman, but it's quite fun to read. It's probably one of the more sexually explicit stories by Aickman: a very strange and not very appealing way of losing one's virginity...

"How he made them laugh... sometimes"
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Old 09-20-2005   #10
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Re: Horror Another 100 Best Books

I recently got my copy of this book. A few initial comments:

TL selected SWEENEY TODD by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. (as N/A was kind enough to point out earlier). Here, in keeping with my policy of copying and reprinting Ligotti's texts from other sources, I reprint TL's review in its entirety:

Just kidding! I don't think Carroll & Graf would appreciate that just yet. I will venture a small quote though:

"If it were not for tragedy, the human race would have become bored into extinction long ago. No one knows this better than the entertainers among us, who could not sell a book or a song or a seat in a theater without drawing upon the screams and tears arising out of that primal pit of twisting shadows from which every life emerges and to which every life returns."

TL starts off his essay with an appropriate quote by another one of my favorite writers. (How many favorite writers is one person allowed to have?)

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats."
-H.L. Mencken


S.T. Joshi selected THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY. It was a nice review, although he couldn't help taking a shot at "Notebook of the Night" again. Oh, well. "The Frolic" is the story that got him hooked. The same thing happened to me.

D.F. Lewis, in his fine review of THE COLLECTED STORIES OF ELIZABETH BOWEN, stated: "Elizabeth Bowen is my favorite writer of all time." Des compares her work to Charles Dickens, Marcel Proust, Ivy Compton-Burnett, and Walter De la Mare. My copy is on the way. It is a very inexpensive used book, thankfully.


I have read about 20 of the books selected. A few of those are: WAR OF THE WORLDS by H.G. Wells (has one of the great lines in literature), THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (if you want to cheat, watch the Basil Rathbone movie; it's just as good.) THE STRANGER by Albert Camus(This book seriously messed with my head in my early 20s) OUTER DARK by Cormac McCarthy (I humbly admit that Mr. McCarthy surpasses my imagination in the possibilities of realistic horror. He is the only author whose books I am, at times, afraid to read - because of the ensuing depression) FLICKER by Theodore Roszak (discussed in the Contemporary Horror thread) and THE KILLER INSIDE ME by Jim Thompson (discussed in the Film Noir thread. I think)

A few that I will probably try to read in the future, other than the ones mentioned above, are:
THE QUEEN OF SPADES by Pushkin
THE MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN SARAGOSSA by Potocki
NEW GRUB STREET by K.W. Jeter
CEMENT GARDEN by Ian McEwan
THROAT SPROCKETS by Tim Lucas
SKIN by Kathe Koja
THE GROTESQUE by Patrick McGrath
PERFUME by Patrick Suskind
THE BODY SNATCHERS by Jack Finney


While it wasn't selected as one of the top 100 books, THE WHITE HANDS AND OTHER WEIRD TALES by Mark Samuels was in the "Lists of Recommended Reading" section at the end on the book. Not bad at all.
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