Thursday, November 12, 2015

Grimscribe: His Lives and Works (1991/This edition 2015) by Thomas Ligotti

Grimscribe: His Lives and Works (1991/This edition 2015) by Thomas Ligotti, containing the following stories:

  • Introduction: Grimscribe: His Lives and Works (1991): Janus-like, the introduction peers toward pomposity and parody.
  • "The Last Feast of Harlequin" (1990): Almost certainly Ligotti's most-reprinted work, a novella that is both somewhat obliquely an homage to H.P. Lovecraft's "The Festival" and its very own thing, a striking, funny, droll, disturbing journey through a small town and its mysterious festival and the narrator who gets pulled into stranger and stranger situations as he investigates the town for anthropological reasons. Ligotti takes a number of horror tropes and makes them seem new and horrible again through the sheer force and inventiveness of his imagination and his narrative POV. One of the all-time great stories of cosmic horror, and perhaps Ligotti's most accessible major work.
  • "The Spectacles in the Drawer"  (1987): Quintessential Ligotti in its combination of reality-busting and extraordinarily idiosyncratic characters.
  • "Flowers of the Abyss" (1991): Another tale of a polluted reality and its peculiar attraction for people who should probably know better.
  • "Nethescurial" (1991): Another oft-reprinted piece of Ligotti's Major Arcana. Vaguely Lovecraftian in tone and content, but distinctly a working-through of these things from Ligotti's assured, unique perspective. Puppet alert.
  • "The Dreaming in Nortown" (1991): Reality breaks down in disturbing ways, all narrated by Ligotti's most Poe-esque protagonist.
  • "The Mystics of Muelenburg"  (1987): Oblique, bleak reality-bender.
  • "In the Shadow of Another World" (1991): Very strange and distinctive tale takes the haunted-house story and utterly scrambles it.
  • "The Cocoons" (1991): Very, very horrific piece of absurdism, or at least near-absurdism. One of Ligotti's stories that disturbs without offering anything in the way of an attempt to frame things within a rational explanation.
  • "The Night School" (1991): Worst night class ever.
  • "The Glamour" (1991): A trip to a movie becomes a nightmarish, inexplicable tour of some peculiar, horrible sights and sounds. One of Ligotti's stories that leaves one shaken without any real way to parse what has happened in the story.
  • "The Library of Byzantium" (1988): Sinister drawings, sinister priests, a sinister book, and a surprisingly traditional use of holy water.
  • "Miss Plarr" (1991): Nothing really terrible happens in this tale of a boy and his nanny, yet the story defies simple explanation while it constructs a world that alternates between claustrophobic interior spaces and fog-erased exterior spaces.
  • "The Shadow at the Bottom of the World" (1990): One of Ligotti's more straightforward stories in terms of its construction of what Evil is and what position it occupies in the universe. Another horror trope (the scary scarecrow) becomes revitalized by Ligotti's imagination. 


In all: a great collection of Ligotti's late 1980's and early 1990's work with all its cosmic, absurdist, horrific, comic, infernal devices. Highly recommended.

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