Tag Archives: John Langan

Some favourite reads of 2016

books

This year, despite being one of the most horrible in recent memory in many ways, saw the release of some great fiction. I read a few memorable novels, including Paul Tremblay ’s terrific DISAPPEARANCE AT DEVIL’S ROCK, Robert Marasco’s unsettling BURNT OFFERINGS, and William Sloane’s chilling TO WALK THE NIGHT; but I also found some great collections in Richard Gavin’s powerful SYLVAN DREAD, Lynda E. Rucker’s haunting YOU’LL KNOW WHEN YOU GET THERE, Livia Llewellyn’s disturbing FURNACE, Jeffrey Ford’s wonderful A NATURAL HISTORY OF HELL, D.P. Watt’s strange ALMOST INSENTIENT, ALMOST DIVINE, Joyce Carol Oates’s discomforting HAUNTED, and Jon Padgett’s nightmarish THE SECRET OF VENTRILOQUISM. Included in one of those two categories above (though I’m not sure which) was Peter Straub’s fantastic fragment PERDIDO, which is so purely Straubian that I’m torn as to whether I wish it were finished or whether it should remain untouched and as perfect as it already is. Additionally, and no less importantly, through accident or design I also managed to read/reread most of Matthew M. Bartlett’s released books this year, from the field-stunning debut GATEWAYS TO ABOMINATION, though the short THE WITCH-CULT IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS, VOLUME ONE, to the tour-de-force CREEPING WAVES.

All of the above doesn’t even cover the books I read but am not yet allowed to discuss, or the wonderful short stories I considered at the beginning of the year for inclusion in 2016’s YEAR’S BEST WEIRD FICTION, VOL 3 (available now in trade, hardback, and ebook).

And I still have a stack of books I haven’t touched yet that I’m hoping to in the coming months (including John Langan’s THE FISHERMAN, Michael Griffin’s THE LURE OF DEVOURING LIGHT, and Peter Straub’s A DARK MATTER). The fields of dark speculative fiction are stronger now than ever before, and the wealth of great material feels nearly endless. It may be a horrible time to be living on the planet, but I have to tell you it’s a great time to be a horror reader.

THE WIDE, CARNIVOROUS SKY by John Langan

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This is not a review. John Langan’s THE WIDE, CARNIVOROUS SKY AND OTHER MONSTROUS GEOGRAPHIES (Hippocampus, 2013) is his welcome and long-awaited second collection. John is arguably my favourite from this latest generation, and it’s because he works with traditional forms of language and narrative, but does so in non-traditional ways. Few other writers in the genre—at least insofar as I read them—use the techniques of literary post-modernism in decidedly genre-based experiments. Take for example the Poe tribute, “Technicolor”, which puts a lecture on the page that turns more bizarre the longer we study it, or the Our-Town-by-way-of-zombies theatricality of “How the Day Runs Down”. Which isn’t to say when John takes a more traditional tact he isn’t spot on. “Mother of Stone” is an intense and epic narrative, heightened by its flipped gender imperatives, and is perhaps my favourite story in the book. The more I consider it, the more I come to realize that John Langan truly is slated to become our next Peter Straub—a literate author straddling the line between genre and non-genre. He is one of those rare authors simply too good to be working in the ghetto of the Horror genre, and the fact that does so willingly when he could be so much more respected outside of it is a boon to us all. His work elevates the genre simply by being a part of it.