A big, fat short story anthology is the perfect solution when I’m torn between wanting short bites of fiction that I can squeeze in between tasks, and wanting my reading pleasure to never end. My recent favorite has been Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s The Weird (2012), a lovingly curated history of Weird fiction from 1907 to the present, which, at 1,126 pages, has lasted me through many cycles of thick and thin. I find the collection eye-opening for two reasons. First, it places people like Kafka and Lovecraft in the context of their less famous influences and contemporaries. This has helped me to finally see which of the characteristics I always associated with the big names were really their original signatures, and which were elements already abroad in the Weird horror but which we associate with the big names because they’re all we usually see. Second, it’s refreshingly broad, with works from many nations, continents, and linguistic and cultural traditions.
But as a lover of Japanese horror, I can’t help but notice how Japan’s contributions to the world of Weird aren’t well represented, and for a very understandable reason. The collection has great stories by Hagiwara Sakutarō and Haruki Murakami, but the country that brought us The Ring also puts more of its literature in graphic novel format than any other nation in the world.
[Read more about Japan’s Weird]