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Old 26th February 2012, 08:27 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Re: The best horror prose writer

As you mentioned Joe Pulver, would one read any of his work and find good prose or should one start somewhere particular?
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Old 26th February 2012, 04:57 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Re: The best horror prose writer

I haven't read that much of Pulver (yet), but I was quite impressed with his abilities in Blood Will Have Its Season. I recently received a copy of SIN and ashes, but have not yet had a chance to get to it. Nightmare's Disciple (a novel centered around Lovecraft's Mythos) has received mixed responses, and I would say it's something to tackle later, rather than as an introduction to his work.

Here's a couple of things to look at, which may help you decide:

http://griffinwords.wordpress.com/20...h-s-pulver-jr/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_S._Pulver

I also thought "Engravings" (in Black Wings -- retitled in paperback Black Wings of Cthulhu, which rather screws the original reference out of all recognition), while not entirely successful on all fronts, is an impressive performance....
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Old 28th February 2012, 10:29 AM   #33 (permalink)
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Re: The best horror prose writer

Thanks J.D.,

What about Walter de la Mare...is there a collection of his you would recommend?
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Old 29th February 2012, 05:17 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Re: The best horror prose writer

Not to be facetious, but... for those who can afford it, I'd suggest going for the two volumes of his Short Stories: vol. 1: 1895-1926 and vol. 2 1927-1956, as these collect together all his shorter works save those written for children (which were collected in a third volume).

Otherwise, I would suggest Ding Dong Bell (1924, rev. 1936) or The Riddle and Other Stories (1925). The second has several of his most famous stories ("Seaton's Aunt", "The Tree", "Out of the Deep", "The Riddle", etc.), but the first may yet be, in its own way, a better collection, and "Strangers and Pilgrims" is far and away one of his very best tales....
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Old 7th March 2012, 09:45 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Re: The best horror prose writer

Hi, all.

For my first post at SF Chronicle I thought I'd add a couple of names to this list:

Glen Hirshberg -- I've read two of his collections American Morons and The Two Sams, and I'm currently reading his novel, The Snowman's Children. Hirshberg writes ghost stories, which perhaps tend more toward the Henry James variety than the M.R. James, though (thankfully, for me) he avoids Henry's style of writing. (The Snowman's Children, by the way, isn't a ghost story, but Hirshberg's familiarity with Gothic is intrinsic to the mood he weaves in the novel.)

John Langan -- I read his novel, The House of Windows, the year before last and enjoyed it, finding it intricate, thoughtful and literate. Last October, as part of my October/Halloween reading, I burrowed through several anthologies I own ferreting out stories by him and enjoyed all of them.

I wouldn't call either of these writers stylists in the way I'd call Thomas Ligotti a stylist, since neither emphasizes style in a similar manner, but rather they find the words and phrases that propel their stories with admirable economy. Hirshberg, in particular, is adept at the telling metaphor or simile.

I'd also second Caitlin Kiernan. I haven't read much of her work, only a couple of short stories plus two novels, but what I've read is strong, particularly The Red Tree. Her story-telling is strongly influenced by writing from the southern states -- the tradition of Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Robert Penn Warren -- which may account for some of the use of language that J. D. Worthington mentions as annoying.

Speaking of J. D. Worthington, I was glad to see him (?) mention Walter de la Mare. "Seaton's Aunt" has been a favorite since I was in my teens. Over Christmas I pulled out Ghost Stories by de la Mare and enjoyed the seven stories greatly. I think anyone who likes his work might also find themselves interested in L. P. Hartley, who was another British writer better known for his other writings who yet wrote some terrific ghost stories.

Lastly, I'd also second (or by now maybe third or fourth) Shirley Jackson, Ramsey Campbell and add Peter Straub.


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Old 7th March 2012, 09:55 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Re: The best horror prose writer

For prose I would have to go with Stephen King. He's a genius with a word processor. The way he can turn a phrase and let an idea flow so easily. Reading his work out loud just flows right off my tongue.

A close second would be Lovecraft. I also like Peter Straub, but that's getting off topic because I surely don't like him for his weird prose. I just like some of his stories.
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Old 7th March 2012, 10:20 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Re: The best horror prose writer

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Originally Posted by Fried Egg View Post
As you mentioned Joe Pulver, would one read any of his work and find good prose or should one start somewhere particular?
Pulver sounds really interesting. Thanks for this this thread for making the introduction.
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Old 8th March 2012, 05:34 AM   #38 (permalink)
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Re: The best horror prose writer

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Her story-telling is strongly influenced by writing from the southern states -- the tradition of Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Robert Penn Warren -- which may account for some of the use of language that J. D. Worthington mentions as annoying.
No... what I was referring to was her habit (which she seems to have left behind now; it was only particularly noticeable in her earlier work) of "portmanteau words"... running words together into a single one... but not as felicitously as, say, Harlan Ellison tended to do (and even he had some awkward ones on occasion). What made it annoying is that they would be so unexpected, and so unfamiliar in that form, that it yanked the reader out of the prose into trying to figure out what the word was and how it was pronounced... at which time you recognize the components, and the "complicated" word just became silly as a result. Occasionally, it worked, and added a freshness and strange poetry to her writing; but when it didn't... ouch! However, this was a very minor flaw in an otherwise fine writing style and, as I say, she seems to have left this mannerism behind for a good while now....

Thank for the nod on my mention of de la Mare -- a genuinely unique voice, that one.

Oh, and yes... it's "him"....
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Old 8th March 2012, 04:00 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Re: The best horror prose writer

Hey didnt FE say great prose horror writer today ? Poe is great prose horror but he died like 200 years ago almost.

De La Mare is a current writer ? I can find many great classic, modern classic horror(Bradbury type) fine prose horror,weird writers but im pretty clueless about the ones who are active today.

Ligotti is the one name mentioned often although it feels like its easier discovering who Shakepeare really was than finding a Ligotti book in library system or second hand. I have to buy him online.
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Old 8th March 2012, 04:29 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Re: The best horror prose writer

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Originally Posted by Connavar View Post
Hey didnt FE say great prose horror writer today ? Poe is great prose horror but he died like 200 years ago almost.


De La Mare is a current writer ?
Actually, what he wrote was:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fried Egg View Post
Who was the best prose writer in the field of horror? Who's the best still producing work today?

This may well be quite apart from who writes the best stories or is otherwise most entertaining.

And a secondary question is this: how important is the quality of prose in the field of horror?
Which can be taken either way... either referring to the greatest prose writer (question 1) and who is the best still producing today (question 2), or two parts of the same questiuon.... I took it as the first.

At any rate... Yes, Ligotti is often very difficult to get hold of. I had been searching for a copy of The Agonizing Resurrection for nearly a decade without any luck, until Wilum's vlog notified me that Ligotti himself was selling a copy of the new Centipede Press edition... at which point I said to hell with the budget and jumped on it. But you might be able to get hold of the Carroll & Graf edition of Songs of a Dead Dreamer or the mass market paperback of Grimscribe online for a fairly reasonable price.

We have, over the past 10-15 years, been seeing a greater number of writers in the field with an impressive, often lyrical, prose style; sometimes with an astonishingly wide range of prose styles from the same writer. Some of them have been mentioned above, but I'd suggest picking up a couple of modern horror anthologies and checking out which writers have a style which appeals. Go online first and do some research and look for reviews which stress the literary aspects rather than share excitement about the story itself, and you're more likely to find what you're looking for.

Myself, I've found a number of these writers via their connection to HPL -- which isn't to say that all (or even most) of their work is Lovecraftian, but the Old Gent seems to have inspired a number of writers to develop their talent to the very best of their ability in a literary as well as storytelling sense....
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Old 8th March 2012, 04:35 PM   #41 (permalink)
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Re: The best horror prose writer

I didn't specify classic or modern but am interested in hearing people's opinions on both.

Ligotti is worth Paying for...

"Teatro Grotesco" and "My work is not yet done" are two titles still quite widely available.
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Old 8th March 2012, 04:53 PM   #42 (permalink)
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Re: The best horror prose writer

The short story has seemed to come off the endangered species list, thanks to all of the marvelous small press publishers who are bringing out fabulous collections of single author works. When I read the theme of this thread I immediately thought only of short stories, not novels and novelists.

Lovecraft's influence continues to be paramount, and I suspect there has been a shift of attitude concerning his work and it's influence -- although his prose style still attracts keen criticism from some. When I began writing there seemed to be a general sense that "writing like Lovecraft" was something the professional horror writer should avoid, that to write such stuff was an adolescent phase through which the maturing writer passed. This not only meant writing in Lovecraft's style but in the Cthulhu Mythos to which he has been incorrectly wed. HPL was like some phantom in the corner to which one turned one's creative back. These days we have professional editors seeking Lovecraftian tales for anthologies of Lovecraftian fiction, editors that insist that submissions be authentically Lovecraftian and completely avoid the cliches of the Mythos. That seems, to me, a radical and very welcomed change.
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Old 8th March 2012, 05:49 PM   #43 (permalink)
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Re: The best horror prose writer

JD:

I guess im not interested in talking about classic horror prose writers because thats mostly my experience of the genre. I was selfishly hoping for contemporary names
I dont look for exctiment, sheer entertainment when i look for modern horror. I have seen purely entertaiment horror that emotionally, prose wise don't say anything to me is just not what im into.

The classic authors who i like doing do their works with strong or lyrical prose first. I want the same of todays authors. Im looking for literary acclaimed authors, reviews that rate that and not scary horror light entertainment.

Which are those impressive, lyrical prose authors of today you speak of ?

Im thinking about buying 3 highly rated prose first horror writers of today. Im going the online second hand store route first. Library system dislike smaller,acclaimed horror writers of today.

Lovecraft inspired ? You mean Ramsey Campbell, Peter Struab type names ?

Im gonna use you guys knowledge of todays strong prose horror writers instead of trusting reviews of people whose taste i dont know. Like i did with classic horror.
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Old 8th March 2012, 07:21 PM   #44 (permalink)
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Re: The best horror prose writer

For good writers of modern horror, I can recommend (besides Ligotti), Laird Barron and Jonathan Thomas. I'm sure there are many more but those two I can vouch for.
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Old 8th March 2012, 09:14 PM   #45 (permalink)
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Re: The best horror prose writer

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Which are those impressive, lyrical prose authors of today you speak of ?
Some of those are listed above. Wilum Pugmire has been called a prose-poet, and I would say that classification is often quite accurate. Ligotti has been mentioned -- you might want to look up Cthulhu 2000 as a good example of several such writers, since it contains stories by Ligotti, T. E. D. Klein, Basil Copper, Gene Wolfe, Roger Zelazny, Ramsey Campbell, etc. I would also suggest looking up Caitlin R. Kiernan, whose work can vary between sharp and cutting to lyrical, dreamlike, and wonderfully eerie. (She is also one of the best for conveying that feeling of "deep time" to ever grace the field.)

Quote:
Lovecraft inspired ? You mean Ramsey Campbell, Peter Struab type names ?
These are only a tiny indication. Take a look at the tables of contents of various Lovecraftian anthologies you can find on Amazon. The number of writers who have been inspired by his work is phenomenal. The links below will give you just the ghost of an idea:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu_Mythos_anthologies

http://www.amazon.com/Lovecraft-Unbo...der_1595821465

http://www.amazon.com/The-Book-Cthul...der_1597802328

Quote:
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For good writers of modern horror, I can recommend (besides Ligotti), Laird Barron and Jonathan Thomas. I'm sure there are many more but those two I can vouch for.
And yes, I'd add these two to the list, as well....
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