Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Horror Anniversary: The Dark Is Light Enough For Me...

...is one-year-old!   Time to Celebrate!  Join me as I fill this post with ordering info and review samples and what-nots and who knows what else and... Are you ready?  I am quite proud of this book and hope those of you who have read it have enjoyed it as well.  Working with Ampichellis Books has been a blast and we'll see about more books from them and/or others as they are completed.  I mean, I'm presently putting together another collection, as well as am having my novel, The Wilderness Within, shopped around to publishers.  All part of the deal.  Add to that much writing and more stories you can check out, which I will deal with in a couple of upcoming posts and, well, as I often say and mean it when it comes to writing: Busy is Good. 

But right now, some thoughts from others on The Dark Is Light Enough For Me.

  
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John Claude Smith's Dark is Light Enough For Me is an anthology of dark fantasy, interspersed with horror, but none of the stories consist of recurring popular motifs - internally or within the genre. Each story is original, and in most cases, very dark indeed - coal black.

Smith's anthology isn't for the sensitive or the faint-hearted. Many of the stories are edgy, working on concepts and thoughts that all us adults are familiar with, but rarely talk about. Smith isn't being quirky, or finding satisfaction in the gory, sexually perverse or the profane. No, he is writing this stuff because it unbalances the reader. Disturbs. Sometimes frightens - the essence of what quality horror/dark fantasy is all about. And he does it admirably, especially for a debut title.

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Many of the tales within feature certain horror archetypes - absurdist characters, extreme visceral sensations, madness manifested, etc. However, behind the window-dressings of dark, speculative fiction we find the musings of a philosopher. The concepts of guilt, ennui, ostracism, addiction and rage are examined just as keenly by Smith and his horror as they would have been by the likes of Sartre, Camus, Kafka, Nietzsche and Kant. The reader is forced to think along with feel, a dark dialogue open straight into your psyche.


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These stories, horrific and disturbing as they are, transport the reader far beyond the horror genre. Every story here has such depth and feeling, each could easily serve as the subject of an entire novel. The prose is fraught with emotion, the intensity of the writing is enough in itself to leave you breathless. Whether you are into the horror genre or not, you will be mesmerized by these little masterpieces.

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In a market that is pretty much saturated with the tiredest of horror tropes (vampires, zombies, werewolves), along comes this refreshing debut collection by John Claude Smith. And when I say refreshing, I certainly don't mean "lightweight". The darkness itself, in fact, is very much a constant character in these stories of guilt, hubris, paranoia, abuse, vanity, addiction, desire and depravity.

Many of these stories, though modern, have Lovecraftian antecedents in mood and theme, and if I had to name a more contemporary writer with which to make comparisons, I'd have to say Thomas Ligotti--although, again, with a slightly more modern twist. I don't want to say "gothic" exactly, since that would unfairly typecast these unsettling tales, and they deserve a wider audience than that.

Smith's language is often baroque and inventive, occasionally straying into the ambitious realms in which a scrupulous editor is necessary (and perhaps lacking at times), but any risk of overreaching is admirably offset when compared to the largely anodyne nature of so many contemporary horror clichés. Smith manages to unearth and expose more layers of that deceptively simple term "horror" than most: here, existential dread arrives in unexpected places; disgust and dismay, too. Some of these stories are downright distressing, in fact.

Which is all a convoluted way of saying: buy this book, read it, and be prepared for some serious insomniac unease.
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These are intensely personal pieces . . . that made me feel John more suffered through the stories that wrote them. Letting them wash over me, their was definitely a sweaty nightmarish feel about most of them (especially the title piece) that gave a feeling of inescapable desperation. I was reminded of Ligotti in much of this, but not in a derivative way -- more like Ligotti pointed the way (as all seminal authors do) and then John Claude Smith realized he could explore his own vision of the previously undiscovered country (if that makes any sense at all).

This anthology is definitely worth your time if you are an aficionado of the modern, darker style of horror.
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A fascinating exploration of the horror that slithers through the shadowy catacombs of the mind, the prose carries a poetic air, the brilliant descriptions almost sing. Indeed, one can hear Ligotti whisper through much of the work. Gladiatrix in particular was disturbing. Strange Trees; indeed, strange, strange. I loved it. I was thankful not to be overrun with vampires and zombies, two clichés that are steadily losing their power due to saturation. Nope, not here; in this diverse collection you'll find that true darkness dwells within. Big things coming from John Claude Smith.

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This is certainly not the average horror short story collection. These tales are imbued with a dark flood of images and written in a beautifully terse prose. They all bear a close relation to life, but their twists and turns are like concentrated dynamite. Get yourself a copy and plunge into darkness!

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Enough!  Have I piqued your interest if you've yet to purchase my book?  I hope so.  You can find the whole reviews and more on Amazon--if and/or while they are still there, what with Amazon's possible pulling of reviews written by fellow writers which is, as we know, rather ridiculous--as well as a few other reviews on Goodreads.

Here's most of the links for purchasing the book.  Please check them out and choose the site that best works for you, buy the book, get back to me about what you think of it, write a review, and tell your friends.  Yeah, yeah...well, here they are.

Amazon USA   Amazon UK   Amazon Germany    Amazon France

Barnes & Noble   OmniLit   Kobo   Goodreads
 

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Okay, was off for a month, adjusting to being back in the states and dealing with all I have to deal with when back here, so now, even as I still deal with other stuff, there will again be more consistent blogs.  I will get into current magazines with my stories in them, two upcoming anthologies, a posting of "Photograph," which was up as a Weekly Offering at Phantasmagorium, so if you missed it, you'll get your chance to read it soon and much much more.

After all, I've only just begun with this writing gig.  Even if I have been doing it for years.  ;-)

Here's the Bizarre and Beautiful cover art for my collection.

Enjoy!


 

2 comments:

  1. I've not visited before...very remiss of me... :(
    I want to read your book and see what is loose in that mind of yours and set free onto paper. :)

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  2. It's dark dark stuff...and strange. Psychological elements are strong. Not your average horror, as has been noted. I hope you do check it out, Lizzie...and let me know what you make of it, too!
    Thanks!
    and thanks for dropping by!

    ReplyDelete