What the heck, it was just Halloween. If you have ever read reviews of Thomas Ligotti’s work; you’d almost be too afraid to read anything by him. He is deep in a niche that is window dressed by nice guys like Steven King, Dean Koontz and other scaremongers. Ligotti’s books are unlikely to be on a library or book store shelf, but that may change. Penguin Classics released a compilation of short stories from two collections that were released six years apart, hence the disjointed title. Penguin probably didn’t do themselves any favors by putting a creepy cover on a volume celebrated for its disturbing content.
The book starts with a story called The Frolic, a story about some after-work decompression between a newly minted prison psychologist and his wife. The story is really well written and moves at a sound, anxiety-building pace. Its ending is predictable, but is a perfect landing none the less. There are 30+ more stories in this book, so it’s going to be a nice ride, or frolic if you will.
You read the next one….screech!!! That sucked. Oh well, next one….effing dreadful. Next one…pointless. Next one…ugh! Next one…better, but that was really bizarre. Hmm, do I really want that stuff in my memory banks? Next one…groan. Now you are at the “Notes on the Writing of Horror: A Story” chapter. No thanks. The book has now become an exercise in finding stories that you can connect with.
Comes a point where you have to bail on the Dead Dreamer stories and jump to the Grimscribe stories to take their temperature. However, at this time, we just can’t. You broke us. Anyone who can power through these stories really needs a psych evaluation and their backyard excavated and searched for the remains of local paperboys. See you next Halloween Grimscribe. Unless we forget.