Favorite Genres: Horror, surrealism, speculative fiction, Southern Gothic, and experimental. I hate page-turners.
Favorite Authors: James Joyce, Edgar Allan Poe, Haruki Murakami, Franz Kafka, Brian Evenson, Flannery O'Connor, Mark Z. Danielewski, and Arthur Machen
Though some may find it difficult to connect with a story wherein it sometimes rains fish and Colonel Sanders might magically appear at any moment in time, getting lost is half the fun in this surrealistic opus. Following two lost souls in alternating chapters, Haruki Murakami creates a coming-of-age tale that does not feel like one, a compendium of modernized Japanese tradition and folklore, a story that leaves each reader walking away with something completely different from the next, and an artwork that is easily the finest work of surrealist literature of all time.
Some books aren't just one book, but several different experiences in one. On its face, A Head Full of Ghosts is a horrifying novel about a seemingly possessed girl who, in the midst of this, has a reality show built around her possession. Underneath, this novel is a tale of teenage horrors, a cry against objectification of women in media, a retrospective on the history of Gothic horror, the downright tragic story of a family's decay under the weight of sickening dynamics of society, and, most of all, one terrifying read.
This collection, hailed by many as one of Stephen Graham Jones’ most classically Gothic works, is a perfect read for someone wanting to get the spooky vibes flowing. Perfect for a nighttime read, each story fuses campy and cosmic horror to just the right level, all delivered in the same down-to-earth narrative style Jones is known for. Favorite stories were: “Brushdogs,” “This Is Love,” “After the People Lights Have Gone Off,” and “Solve for X.”
With Song for the Unraveling of the World, Evenson tailors his trademark taste for brutality into a collection of more classically horror-based tales without skimping on the conceptual, literary front as well. There's a story here for every horror fan, whether it's a simple but unsettling account of a girl with no face, a scripture-like tale set in a radiated post-apocalypse, or a sweat-dripping tale of a mansion that houses a horrific skin-stealing creature. Pick this up and be prepared for some relentless, unyielding fear from the best writer in horror today. Favorite stories were: “No Matter Which Way We Turned,” “Born Stillborn,” “Leaking Out,” "The Tower," "Smear," and “Lather of Flies.”
This is one of Murakami's more accessible works, but make no mistake: it has all the mystical and dreamlike powers of his other works, but tuned to a more melancholy, elegiac vibe than usual. The novel follows multiple characters across the course of one night in Tokyo (each chapter title being labeled with the current time) and this dynamic combines with the dreamlike interaction between bereft characters to pull the reader in so seamlessly that it truly does feel like one captured, immortalized night that you can live inside of - all by picking up the book and reading it. Definitely recommended for readers who are interested in Murakami and in surrealism, but perhaps don't know where to start.
If you happen to see someone reading a book upside down, don't laugh at them; they very well may be reading House of Leaves. This is because the text arrangement in this younger work of horror really depends on the page––it could be normal, sideways, upside down, diagonal, red and struck-through, backwards, or even one single letter, and this is usually because the text arrangement is simulating what's going on in the story. The story itself is ostensibly a bizarre manuscript analyzing an even more bizarre documentary about a house that, in blatant defiance of physics, is larger on the inside than it is on the outside, while the footnotes tell a story of their very own alongside it. This may sound like a lot, but I have never witnessed so interesting and profound an example of how a reader can be made to feel fear in countless subtle ways, of storytelling turned (literally) upside-down, and of how innovative postmodern literature can truly be.
Some say that Brian Evenson is a master at walking the line between a variety of genres. This is true, but Evenson doesn't just write in many different genres, he expands the definition of what each genre can be, and with this book, it's horror. Following a misunderstood Mormon teen in search of a father, Evenson channels his own infamous and conflicted past with Mormonism into a psychological nightmare about the dangers of organized religion, and the finest example of how simple but well-picked words can make a reader feel absolute unutterable dread. Recommended for anyone who is tired of trite gore and genre cliches, and hungry for something subversive and new.