Tag Archives: paul tremblay

Some favourite reads of 2016

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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.

A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS by Paul Tremblay

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This is not a review. Paul Tremblay’s A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS (William Morrow, 2015) is likely the best “if Shirley Jackson wrote a postmodern version of The Exorcist” novel you’ll ever read. There are so many levels of excellence in the book that it’s difficult to summarize it in any satisfactory way. Which is really how it should be. One of the aspects that most appealed to me is the novel’s insistence on keeping one from knowing what it is. What seems like a classic tale of exorcism suddenly turns on its head, and leaves one wondering if there is something more going on. Even those moments that, surely, could only be the work of a devil, get turned around in a postmodern deconstruction of what we come to expect from an exorcism story, and, in a broader sense, how all fiction is an amalgamation of what went before, reconstituted and recontextualized. His character work is strong, outlining the descent of his characters’ family from average normalcy into confusion and chaos, yet maintaining a through-line that follows them into their final moments, all spearheaded by a narrator relating her experiences when she was a charming eight year old. Anyone who knows Tremblay’s work knows this sort of writing is his specialty, and as ever it continues to impress. This one is well worth your time picking up.