I’ve recently received a bunch of short fiction collections from Subterranean Press, including a re-issue of Thomas Ligotti’s Songs of a Dead Dreamer. Originally published in 1985, expanded in 1989, and now revised for 2010, this is a book for anyone who likes quiet, supernatural horror. That’s over-simplifying the book, however.
If you’ve read Ligotti, you’re likely already excited, so I’ll just mention that this is the first of four reprints that will eventually comprise the definitive editions of Ligotti’s work. For those new to Ligotti, his style of quiet, bleak horror is not for the faint of heart. It doesn’t scare with blood and gore, but rather its terror comes from an oppressive and dense style more akin to Henry James* or Bruno Schulz. While I like blood and guts horror, it’s writing like Ligotti (which is a misnomer as there is no one who writes like Ligotti) that sticks with me over time.
The price tag of $40 might seem steep for a new reader, but considering that it can be difficult to find previous editions of the book for less than $100 then $40 doesn’t seem quite so bad.
Last year, I talked about Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition**. This year we have: A Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451 Stories by Ray Bradbury to look forward to. This book contains the rare novella “Long After Midnight” which to this point had only appeared in a more expensive limited edition. It also collects a few other rare stories such as “The Bonfire” and “The Reincarnate” which should be fun for Bradbury fans.
The talented Jonathan Strahan has put together Mirror Kingdoms: The Best of Peter S. Beagle by Peter S. Beagle. Beagle is best known for his novel, The Last Unicorn. If you don’t know, like me, much about Beagle’s short fiction, this collection is a real treat. It’s not a small book; there are more than 200,000 words of fiction here, but when you cover 45 years of publishing history, it’s hard to do so in a slim volume. If you’re not up for the nihilistic worldview of Ligotti, then perhaps Mirror Kingdoms is right up your alley.
But I’m probably most excited about Lesser Demons by Norman Partridge. Partridge is one of my favorite writers, and any time I see something new from him I rush out and pick it up. He doesn’t write fast enough for my liking, but I’d rather get quality Norman Partridge content than get fast Norman Partridge content. I can’t speak impartially about Partridge; I’ll buy anything he publishes. His writing is a mix of crime, horror, mystery, and the fantastic that I find irresistible. I had the great pleasure of introducing Partridge to Jeffrey Ford, another of my favorite writers, at the 2009 World Fantasy Convention.
* When I read The Turn of the Screw, I found myself feeling exhausted every ten or twelve pages. The writing is so dense and evocative that it I had to keep putting in down order to rest before I could continue reading.
** The book has been delayed to early this year.
John Klima is the editor of the Hugo award winning zine Electric Velocipede. Publishers can send short fiction collections and anthologies to him at:
PO Box 266
Bettendorf, IA 52806