A friend of mine announced on Facebook a while ago that he was reading one Poe story a day until there were no more stories to read. I’ve read Poe. Not all of Poe, but I like Poe so I decided to join. Edgar Allan Poe’s language, his dreariness and the dramaturgy. It’s hard, though, to see anything in Poe other than the beating of the tell-tale heart or the dramatic echo of ‘Nevermore’.
It’s not all gothic horror, though. Poe tried his pen with humor, detective stories and even a form of science-fiction. So despite having four big books on my table already (and there is one on the horizon that will undoubtedly make me drop everything – anxiously waiting for Mr. King’s Revival) I have been reading a lot of short stories lately. And not just Poe.
I found out that Amazon has been publishing Icelandic books as e-books so now I’m reading Myrkfælni by Þorsteinn Már and believe me there is nothing like a good Icelandic horror story! They creep in on me differently, not just because the milieu is familiar but because they seem more real somehow. There is a story in this book that is situated on a mountain, someone is driving over it in the night when strange things happen to him and it chilled me to the bone in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time.
Before the Poe project I was already in midst of another short story reading-project. I was going through the Ememess Issues. Those are filled with short stories by Michael Marshall Smith. He is definitely one of my favourite short story writers and his story The Man Who Drew Cats might just be my all time favourite short story, albeit not a horror story per se, but a story full of wonder and his horror stories are really something to sink your teeth into.
It’s hard to speak of horror short stories without mentioning Clive Barker. His Books of Blood include some of the most thrilling horror stories ever written, I believe. Barker is the King of what I like to call Body Horror. It’s been a while since I read them though. I have books 4-6 lying in my bookshelf but might just have to get a hold of them all and make that the next project when this thing between me and Poe is over.
All this means that it’s going slowly with The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell and Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer, the Southern Reach Trilogy is really something else, though. But I’ll get there, right now it’s the short stories that have my attention. I’m not always in the mood for the short and sweet but when I’m in the mood there is nothing like the quick fix a short story gets you.
And sometimes a great idea requires a short story and not the large format of a novel.
If you have a good horror story collection to tip me about then please leave a note!