While I’m in my threadbare horror fiction recommendations jacket, and looking back my recent reading, I can see that I’ve been on a “New Wave of North American Weird” jag of late (my own classification because this field now has its own book case), and what a strange trip of the imagination it has been. Here are a few titles that I really enjoyed.
‘Greener Pastures’ by Michael Wehunt. Literary horror that reminded of what I enjoy about the writing of regional American writers like Daniel Woodrell and William Gay, or Brian Evenson’s horror stories. Sensitive and sensory writing with some terrific descriptions and simple but poignant insights. Always surprising and never predictable. One of my favourite horror stories in recent times sits in this book too. I wanted it to be a novel. ‘October Film Haunt: Under the House.’
‘Creeping Waves’ by Matthew Bartlett, which I fell on after reading Gateways to Abomination. The equivalent to me of punk in horror, and a middle finger, in the most respectful sense, raised to, well … almost everything. I admire the energy and the absence of a safety catch. I think more of George Battaille and William Burroughs than I do of most horror writers that I have read, though with a dusting of Ligotti and Samuels. Funny and ghastly by turns. Not weird for the sake of it, but compulsively grotesque because of something that matters to the writer (where the good stuff comes from).
‘The Lure of Devouring Light’ by Michael Griffin – a writer doing something different with the cosmic, and I was most reminded of Nathan Ballingrud, in that finely detailed relationships occupy a close focus in the foreground, while the horrors that exist beyond the bounds of time have an influence upon events, situations and feelings. Particularly liked the strange powers of the natural world that were conjured in many of the stories. Favourite tales: ‘The Black Vein Runs Deep’ and ‘Far from Streets’.
‘Wylding Hall’ by Elizabeth Hand – really good creation of a time and place in British folk rock music, with an authentic folk horror haunting. Admirers of the author’s long story in a similar vein – ‘Near Zennor’ – will probably enjoy this novella as much as I did.
‘The End of the End of Everything’ by Dale Bailey. New writer for me, but another fine voice that seems to sweep effortlessly across styles and directions. The title story is superb. It seized me. Another distinctive collection of cosmic horror and all round strangeness that I really enjoyed was Christopher Slatsky’s ‘Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales’. The title story is a very fine tale indeed.
Said it before, will say it again: it’s a great time to be a reader in this field.