The OF Blog: Author Spotlight: Thomas Ligotti

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Author Spotlight: Thomas Ligotti

Thomas Ligotti may very well be the best horror author I never read until this year. Umm....let me rephrase that a bit. He just might be the creator of some of the creepiest stories that I've come across this year. A bit better, although this too does not do justice to his stories. However, based on the recent graphic novel adaptations of eight of his stories, The Nightmare Factory: Volumes 1 & 2, I believe Ligotti is deserving not just of my attention, but also that of readers of dark fantasy and horror.

In the two graphic novels (covers pictured to the side), Ligotti uses several motifs most familiar to those who enjoy Edgar Allan Poe's darkest tales: Outsiders, outcast in some form from society; inversions of ritual and ceremony; explorations of human attempts to "master" self and fate. In addition, in tales such as "The Last Feast of Harlequin" and "Dr. Locrian's Asylum," there are certain supernatural elements present, if only hinted at for much of these two tales, that resemble some of H.P. Lovecraft's most famous tales.

But Ligotti does not merely ape these two acclaimed writers. While most of my reading to date has been of these graphic novel adaptations, even there in modified form, there is a great sense of pacing and word choice that is distinctive. Hopefully, tonight and later this week I'll have the chance to read the just-released (as of Sept. 16) American paperback version of Teatro Grottesco, which contains 3 of the 8 stories found in the two graphic novels, in addition to 10 others. I hope to have at least a capsule commentary up this weekend (I'll be off work on Thursday and might have the time to complete three long-delayed reviews, if I'm luckier than I have been; if so, then Saturday's commentary might expand into a 750-1000 word review).

But based on what I have read, Thomas Liggoti is one of the rare few authors of horror that I actually can stomach reading; Poe and some of Stephen King's earlier short stories, as well as Ray Bradbury's occasional forays into horror motifs being the few examples of works that I enjoyed greatly. Shall be interesting to see how I'll view the graphic novel adaptations after I finish reading this collection. Looking forward to the experience, even if it might cost me some dearly-needed sleep.


Anonymous said...

I'm not good at distingishing horror from gothic or dark fantasy.
In any case I'd recommend the horror stories of Henry James,Peake's Gormenghast,and above all Jean Ray's Malpertuis and Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle,The Haunting of Hill House and the Sundial.


Anonymous said...

I think Ligotti is well past the point, reputation-wise, of having to be proven worthy of being read by horror/dark fantasy fans, Larry. He's already an icon and has had a long and successful creative career.


Larry said...


While I would agree with you on that, I have noticed my readership here is rather split, with many not familiar of anyone other than epic fantasy authors (I think they visit my blog because of my activities on wotmania and Westeros). Therefore, sometimes I find myself "spotlighting" authors that are "obscure" only to those who haven't yet ventured far from certain circles.

It really is odd (to me) encountering people who can't believe that the short fiction form is a "viable" one, not to mention those who haven't heard of say Borges, for example. All I can hope is that occasional posts here about non-epic fantasy authors might sway a few to try authors outside their "comfort zones."

Anonymous said...

this nice piece of flash fiction (not mine) sums up my thinking about epic fantasy series eh eh eh

By Tom Williams

Tom Williams

Dear Mr. Williams,

Thank you for your submission “Dark Lord of Tarizor.” Unfortunately, we have decided we cannot represent this work. Frankly, single volume fantasies are a very hard sell at this point in time. Perhaps you could turn this into a multi-volume epic?

Best Regards,

R. Jordan Esq.

Jordan & Martin Literary Agents.

Larry said...

To which I respond with a quote from Oliver Twist, in reference to certain reader's perceived views:

"Please sir, can I have some more?"

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