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Re: Good modern horror
Posted by: Calgmoth (IP Logged)
Date: 18 November, 2016 07:11PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> How do the supernatural parts in Stephen King's
> Pet Sematary compare in writing quality to those
> in Blackwood's "The Wendigo" and Machen's "The
> White People"? They use similar concepts, ... the
> wendigo, and old ceremonial mounds.
>
> I read Pet Sematary in my teens, and think I liked
> it, but remember it only vaguely. I wonder if it's
> worth rereading? Would it be something for an old
> connoisseur, who has become more and more
> discriminating and demanding over the years?


Pet Semetary has an interesting premise (death, and dealing with death) but King completely fails at making the story believable. The main character is not the usual (would-be) writer but a physician - making both his fear of death and dead people/beings completely and utterly unbelievable. There might be a (small) difference between seeing an unknown corpse and a dead person you are intimately familiar with but it is not so great a difference, especially not if you are professionally working with dead people.

In addition, there is the usual (and quite vexing) tendency of King's to include obscure details like the protagonist being visited by the good ghost of one of his dead patients trying to warn him of the evil cemetery (no idea how or why he did that).

The plot device thing is also rather poorly executed - it isn't clear what the evil cemetery is about - is it a place of temptation or a place of horror? It being both is rather weird (and not in a good sense). The fact that the magic of the cemetery is due to some other magical creature (the Wendigo thing) makes things even more confusing that if it had just been some magical place and the changes in the resurrected animals/people just the inevitable price of bodily resurrection. Now the reader has to ask oneself why the hell this Wendigo creature would want to create zombie animals/people? What's the point in all that?

The only good part of the novel is the nasty ending, quite atypical for King.

Still, in my view the attempt to reread it would be a waste of time.

Never could drag myself through The Stand. I don't like primitive good vs. evil stories anyway. Had he kept Armageddon out of the plot the book could have been pretty interesting, even with supernatural elements included. As a lot of King's novels this story does not really qualify as a horror novel. Monsters may be scary but they grow a lot less scary if you can just blow their heads off or obliterate them with the convenient A-bomb.

Salem's Lot is a pretty interesting modern version of Dracula set in an American backwater town. That one greatly profits from the extended version, by the way. The good vs. evil fight thing can be accepted in a vampire novel.

In my opinion, only It comes close to be King's only actual horror novel. In part I'm biased in favor of that novel because I'm actually terrified of clowns (thanks to having read parts of that novel as a child) but the whole concept of having an evil town is actually pretty good. Of course, the concept is in the end botched by the evil thing not only being defeated but also being promoted from some lowlife children-eating trickster following a hibernation cycle (which is how it is introduced and makes sense in the story - the idea that Satan Incarnate would haunt only one small town in Maine is just ridiculous) to some kind of Lovecraftian monster - which, despite of that fact that it is older than the universe, can be killed by the heroes rather easily. Yet despite those flaws there are sections in the book that are particularly well written, including many episodes that are scary as hell. Especially good for atmosphere are the chapters covering the history of the town and the past exploits of the monster.

Revival, a rather new King novel with explicit Lovecraft references, retains the bleak outlook on life and the universe one would expect in a novel with explicit Lovecraft references yet the premise of the story (revolving around electricity and its 'magical effects') might not be very convincing for a lot of people who actually know something about reality and science.

Re: Good modern horror
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 19 November, 2016 08:41AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I read Pet Sematary in my teens, and think I liked
> it, but remember it only vaguely. I wonder if it's
> worth rereading? Would it be something for an old
> connoisseur, who has become more and more
> discriminating and demanding over the years?

Old? If you read PET SEMATARY in your teens, the oldest you could be is 52, according to my computations.

Re: Good modern horror
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 November, 2016 01:43PM
Thank you Calgmoth. I also did some checking earlier on the book, and decided not to reread it because the story is depressing, dealing with child death. I stay away from depressing books.

Stephen King's books seem to me to more about misery, and social issues, than about the supernatural.

Re: Good modern horror
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 November, 2016 01:51PM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Old? If you read PET SEMATARY in your teens, the
> oldest you could be is 52, according to my
> computations.


That is correct. I get out of breath more easily now, when doing heavy work. So I guess I have grown old.

And remember, Lovecraft considered himself the old gentleman, and grandpa, when he was about ... 17. A commendable role model for today's misled (75-year-old) youth!

Re: Good modern horror
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 28 July, 2018 07:31AM
I especially liked Michael Shea's short story "Polyphemus" in the POLYPHEMUS collection. Very imaginative in a visually graphic way and horror mixed delectably with humour.

Currently reading Nifft the Lean, and not sure what I think of it, whether I like it or not. The prose is dense, with interesting and sophisticated thought patterns, fantastic imagination, and great metaphors - but the narrative story events are almost completely linear, every little step, one after the other, is described in graphic detail (Shea had a great sense of visuals, and understood the anatomy of forms and objects), without pause for breath or for variation in form and pace, ... I find it a bit tiresome ... rich in content, but monotonous in approach (I am thinking of the writing style within the stories themselves; without referring to the short breaks of introduction before each story, which is a kind of structural variation).
Shea unfortunately did not have much popular success with his work - I am thinking that he may have been too intellectual for his own good? The book is chock-full of intelligent convoluted observations, and a second reading may perhaps be rewarding. The style is reminiscent of Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, and Clark Ashton Smith - but it feels more self-conscious and calculated, ... stilted, (and yet so brilliant) ... lacking a wider perspective of wisdom? His intentions are at least honest and passionate. What is the difference in quality between them and Shea?

That makes me wonder what actually made writers like H. P. Lovecraft and C. A. Smith so superior? Their great wisdom and the mystical quality of their minds. I think it really is beyond our intellects to grasp or properly analyze. It is futile. They tower above us. It is on a mystical level. I think, barely, the only possible approach to them is by daring expression of art through ourselves, instead of just criticizing.

That also makes it kind of comical with all the critics and their the lame criticisms that try to get especially Lovecraft under their control. They delude themselves (and the public) that they can trump Lovecraft's vast intellect, and make an evaluation of Lovecraft that he himself wouldn't grasp. Or some, that perhaps are aware of their own inferiority, but still go on unashamedly in their arrogance, because they follow an agenda; Charles Baxter, one of many examples, a "Professor in Creative Writing", says in the New York Review of Books (symptomatic in ownership with the rest of established mainstream media), that "The effectiveness of Lovecraft’s fiction has little to do with its purely literary qualities, which are minimal ...". That is fundamentally a political stance, from a brainwashed multiculturalist globalist left-winger; he is afraid of Lovecraft, afraid of Lovecraft's intellectual capacity, afraid of Lovecraft's influence - so his midget intellect simply tries to crush down and taint Lovecraft's reputation as much as he can. That is always their way of approach.

I expect there will eventually be a transformation of the low depressive capitalist level of society we are in now, and that great art unhampered will again be created. It may take a long time, but eventually all present dross and lies will be cleansed away.

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