Generation H

Sargeant_Fox

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You can tell mere propaganda when the journalist lavishes bombastic epithets on authors without ever quoting the sole thing that matters: the prose of said writers.

"Ashe’s collection, We Are Here to Hurt Each Other, contains some of the most gorgeously upsetting sentences I’ve read in years."

Well, if there's something I respond well to is "gorgeous" prose; after all I'm a sucker for an Ada or Ardor reread. So I rummaged through the even more enthusiastic five-star Goodreads reviews (there being a suspicious nigh absence of other ratings) that sound like they were all written by personal friends, to find some of those nuggets of gorgeous prose. Here are my findings:

“He held my hand as the chemical ate away at my mask, leaving the bone and muscle somewhat damaged but relatively intact.
I am a blistered, blasted nightmare.
What, underneath, are you?”

"Pain is the source of all matter. It is the force that holds the universe together, that will tear it apart, only to rebuild again. Throughout the ages, humanity asks over and over again "why are we here?" and then pretends as if the Void does not bellow the answer back every single time."

"Throughout the ages, humanity asks over and over again 'why are we here?' and then pretend as if the Void does not bellow the answer back every single time.
We are here to hurt each other. Again, and again, and again, in perpetuity."

This is.... something I guess, in the way that tap water is a thing too, but it's not gorgeous prose; but I suppose there's also a place for serviceable MFA dreck.
 

Sargeant_Fox

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The arc of the article goes something like this: from

"That era of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Clive Barker ended in the mid-to-late ‘90s." (i.e. There were these white men with their whitemanish ways)

to

"Since the first half of the 2010s, Paul Tremblay, John Langan, Catriona Ward, Victor LaValle, Stephen Graham Jones, and Grady Hendrix have taken what they had learned at King’s knee and applied a literary varnish." (i.e. and the white men's ways continued to lead the way, boo hoo)

to

"Now, though, a new generation of writers is taking a shake at the status quo." (i.e. screw the white writers' ways)

to

"Rumfitt will return later this year with her second novel, Brainwyrms, which begins with an act of transphobic terrorism and promises to be “shocking, grotesque and downright filthy… while exploring the depths of love, pain, and identity.” I can’t wait to read it." (i.e. explicit graphic violence, aka gross out, the MO of that white male writer Stephen King, is now the default mode of young horror writers; it's a brand new world!)
 

JunkMonkey

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I don't read horror for precisely the reason that it is usually so awfully written as to be un readable. There are only so many ways you can say "then her face fell off", or "then a Hellbeast ate them".
But whatever the new horror writers are doing has to be better than the 'Bizzaro' crap that was the last big thing that never was that I tried to read just in case I was acrually missing something I would enjoy.
 

Montero

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@JunkMonkey - maybe try T Kingfisher - does horror with a nice line in observation on people and humour. Different levels of how soul gouging it is. Just did a re-read of Nettle and Bone which does a nice job on taking apart fairy godmother stories while it is at it. One of the funnier in an edged way ones.
 

paranoid marvin

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I've read M R James. I've also read other horror authors, but none compare. King is good, but he's not horror (at least not these days).

As M R James is endlessly rereadable, I'll stick to him when I want to read a scary story.

For some people horror is not about the suggestion of a presence, but the actual sight of some gruesome monster doing things that involve lots of blood and guts. And that's fair enough, because if that's what they find frightening, then that is what they should be reading.
 

paranoid marvin

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As I've mentioned before, horror - like comedy - is a very personal thing. I laugh out loud at Yes Minister, whereas movies like American Pie bore me silly. I'm sure that for a lot of people the precise opposite is true. And they are right. And so am I.
 

Sargeant_Fox

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I don't read horror for precisely the reason that it is usually so awfully written as to be un readable. There are only so many ways you can say "then her face fell off", or "then a Hellbeast ate them".

Yeah well, how many different ways can you describe a novelist-protagonist looking at a blank sheet during the obligatory writer's black plot, in one of those unbearable "literary fiction" novels?

I actually strive to be very tolerant of prose, because if I refused to read everything that fails to meet my ridiculously-high standards of style, I'd have to spend the rest of my life rereading Nabokov. Most "literary" prose is just as garbagey as most "genre" prose. I fail to understand the brain workings of readers who sneer at King, say, but then extol Sally Rooney.

What I find worrying about this article is that graphic gross out seems to be back in vogue; but I prefer vague, ambiguous, indirect glimpses of terror.
 

JunkMonkey

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I've read M R James. I've also read other horror authors, but none compare. King is good, but he's not horror (at least not these days).

As M R James is endlessly rereadable, I'll stick to him when I want to read a scary story.

For some people horror is not about the suggestion of a presence, but the actual sight of some gruesome monster doing things that involve lots of blood and guts. And that's fair enough, because if that's what they find frightening, then that is what they should be reading.

True enough - the story that only really ever gave me the 'frisson' that I guess horror readers are after was Poe's 'Berenice' which so upset me it made me drop the book and walk away. It took me years to get round to reading anything else he'd written.

Splatter gore and written torture porn is just boring.

So for that matter, @Sargeant_Fox, are most books I have essayed of the middle-aged white male academic angst "literary fiction" First World, problems variety.
 

Robert Zwilling

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I noticed an upswing in horror at an Indie Author show I participated in 2 months ago. The show has been running for 5 years, I had been to the first 2 but not the last 3. It had gone from around 40 authors and a few publishers to around 100 authors. Horror and science fiction wasn't very highly represented at the first 2 shows. It had gone from a show to sell books to the public to a convention of like minded people. Out of the 100, there were around 20 authors, many new to the field, representing a good cross section of people, writing horror stories of all kinds, and a couple of publishers handling horror.
 

Phyrebrat

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As someone who writes more lyrical horror, I’ve really struggled with the dismissal this genre of literature receives in general. There’s a massive amount of snobbery about it and this comes from horror illiteracy. There’s also an annoying conflation of movie horror with horror literature.

The amount of readers who think horror is merely gorenography is staggering. The literary origins of horror seem long forgotten and Paranoid Marvin’s mention of James is well made. To think that Richard Laymon and James might occupy the same shelf in a bookshop is insane.

Stephen King is a great writer and I suppose with some application you could say some of his work is more literary but I’m struggling to think of anything lyrical. Certainly I consider the wonderful Buick 8 more literary in terms of character observation but it’s also one of the most unpopular of his works amongst his fans.

My best discoveries in horror literature have been John Langan and Thomas Ligotti.
 

Toby Frost

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It's also worth pointing out that you can be extremely graphic and extremely lyrical, as per Clive Barker's excellent Books of Blood. Whether it's to your tastes is a different matter and not much to do with whether Barker is a good author.

Sounds like some big axes are being ground in some of these comments, possibly not much to do with the article in issue. In fairness, the article doesn't wear its diversity lightly, and the idea of Barker being part of the moral majority is slightly odd, given that he's gay and his writing has a very subversive feel.
 
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BAYLOR

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I have lots of writers. favorites in the category of Horror.

My favourite horror novel The Hungry Moon by Ramsey Campbell .
 

Randy M.

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Catriona Ward, Victor LaValle, Stephen Graham Jones,
Whether or not these writer took King's lessons to heart, not one of them is a white male. As for gorgeous prose, I have no quibbles with Ramsey Campbell, Peter Straub, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Thomas Ligotti or John Langan.
 

BAYLOR

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It's also worth pointing out that you can be extremely graphic and extremely lyrical, as per Clive Barker's excellent Books of Blood. Whether it's to your tastes is a different matter and not much to do with whether Barker is a good author.

Sounds like some big axes are being ground in some of these comments, possibly not much to do with the article in issue. In fairness, the article doesn't wear its diversity lightly, and the idea of Barker being part of the moral majority is slightly odd, given that he's gay and his writing has a very subversive feel.

More often than not , its best to simply read and enjoy the books .
 
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Sargeant_Fox

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So for that matter, @Sargeant_Fox, are most books I have essayed of the middle-aged white male academic angst "literary fiction" First World, problems variety.

Most "literary fiction" is mind-numbingly repetitive and samey; people make fun of genre fiction's "formula" plots, but how many novels do we need about a middle-aged protagonist who goes back to a place sentimentally connected with his childhood, a beach resort, a cabin in the woods, so as to mourn his dead mother or wife, and the indulge in a series of lengthy flashbacks that slowly unveil a trauma? That's why after several years staying out of genre I decided to explore it again. I think contemporary litfic is in a very unhealthy place, hopefully that'll change. In my opinion a major problem is voice: too many lauded recent novels strike as having the same narrator: emotionally detached unless he's being snarky, minimalist to the point of aphasia, short sentences, shorter vocabularies, very reportorial in tone. Voice, I think, used to be more enthralling and distinctive in the '60s to the '80s.
 

BAYLOR

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Most "literary fiction" is mind-numbingly repetitive and samey; people make fun of genre fiction's "formula" plots, but how many novels do we need about a middle-aged protagonist who goes back to a place sentimentally connected with his childhood, a beach resort, a cabin in the woods, so as to mourn his dead mother or wife, and the indulge in a series of lengthy flashbacks that slowly unveil a trauma? That's why after several years staying out of genre I decided to explore it again. I think contemporary litfic is in a very unhealthy place, hopefully that'll change. In my opinion a major problem is voice: too many lauded recent novels strike as having the same narrator: emotionally detached unless he's being snarky, minimalist to the point of aphasia, short sentences, shorter vocabularies, very reportorial in tone. Voice, I think, used to be more enthralling and distinctive in the '60s to the '80s.

In my case , I read novel or story simply for the sake of enjoyment . I will give a book a chance t grab me .:)
 

Sargeant_Fox

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It's also worth pointing out that you can be extremely graphic and extremely lyrical, as per Clive Barker's excellent Books of Blood. Whether it's to your tastes is a different matter and not much to do with whether Barker is a good author.

I haven't read Books of Blood, but I loved The Damnation Game; but it was so long ago I don't have memory of Barker's prose; and as a teen prose wasn't yet a major aspect for me to focus on. But what an imagination! The book had some crazy imagery!

I love prose that lyrically describes horrible stuff; for me a major purpose of prose is to ennoble anything, including the horrible, through beauty. But then again I'm a big fan of William H. Gass' The Tunnel.
 

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