Jan. 1st, 2009

readingthedark: (Default)
As always, please blame[livejournal.com profile] time_shark for this.

I've spent several months with about a single carful of belongings. I tend to shower at the gym (where they have soap and everything!) and I spend plenty of time in public libraries reading their books. Big ups to any librarians in the MetroWest area who stock Night Shade, still have 1980s horror anthos on their shelves or who rock comics with fewer underwear perverts than most comics.
 
My personal library (of something like 4 to 5 thousand eerie volumes) has been in storage all this time. I love books more than I love most of the human population,  veering toward dark, existential and mind-boggling tomes. Pretty sentences that say little bother me less than they do most people. And plot isn't something that makes sense to me. Writers who get accused of having too little plot and too much atmosphere tend to have plots that strike me as compelling and original.

As a writer, I see the traditional rising action diagram and I want to desecrate it. My favorite plot diagrams loop, spin and intentionally detour. I've reached a point where I want endings tucked somewhere into the story, but they can be dream or nightmare logic. I've never agreed to some sort of contract with the reader and I have little use for giving or receiving consolation. I've read enough that I've seen almost every trick before but I don't mind a bit when an author revisits techniques I enjoy. Justine Musk describes her novels as vampire fiction that doesn't actually contain vampires. In short fiction, I guess I like ghost stories with no on stage ghosts. In longer work, it seems much harder to keep it offstage, but other people's mileage certainly varies on that.

There's a lot more to all of this. I've oversimplified. In short,  I've collected eccentric and creepy books with a fervor for a long time. I used to wish that every bookstore had a special section for books that were darkly and complexly philosophical to such a degree that they were unlikely to interest the general populace. It would make browsing more convenient for me. I tend to have multiple editions (even multiple copies of the same editions) of the writers I love most. The recent ambling through time and space has taught me that I need to be more careful in my purchasing. It's likely that I already own far more unread books than I'll be able to finish in my lifetime. I've changed. This week, I bought Charles Stross' The Atrocity Archives in mass market, the Virgin UK edition of Thomas Ligotti's Teatro Grotesco (which I adore) and Baudelaire's Flowers of Evil.

This much collected creepiness is very heavy. I know because I've lifted the more than a hundred boxes a bunch in the last year. Just to shoehorn one more tidbit of opinion on the genre: the horror boom of the 1980s was very helpful to me because a few less mainstream voices got published that wouldn't have if there hadn't been a boom, I can't imagine a better time to have been trapped in a small town and having little choice but the check the one grocery store in town for horror anthologies -- but I hate stories where a man saves his house, wife, kids and pets by being brave and tough in the name of restoring the status quo.

Maybe bookstores should start a section called "Fiction Where Everyone Dies."  With all the books (and a few too many horrific action figures, Tarot decks and other sundry and weird things, including at least a million words of dark rambling that I've written by hand) in boxes, I look forward to eventually being in a situation where I can unpack the storage boxes like creepy presents to myself.

Reason #2: With that much darkness in one place, I'm glad that the storage space, so far, hasn't become haunted by the powers of evil that are so clearly represented within its contents.

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May 2009

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