Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Comforts of Horror

The cycle horror story is comforting the same way porno is comforting: you already know how they're going to end. The actor will achieve a loud orgasm or die ...
In the Guardian, Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk talks about the comfort to be derived from the untimely deaths of characters in horror stories.

What's a cycle horror story? Palahniuk points to the example of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery:
In 1948, when the New Yorker magazine first published , that one short story drew letters from readers in 25 states and six countries outside the US. People complained of losing sleep owing to nightmares, and cancelled their subscriptions.
Oh miraculous internet! I found a link to the story so you can fright yourselves to death.

Or, if that doesn't work, Palahniuk's new book Haunted sounds deliciously gruesome. According to the blurb on the Random House website, it's a novel:
... made up of stories: Twenty-three of them, to be precise. Twenty-three of the most horrifying, hilarious, mind-blowing, stomach-churning tales you'll ever encounter-sometimes all at once. They are told by people who have answered an ad headlined "Writers' Retreat: Abandon Your Life for Three Months," and who are led to believe that here they will leave behind all the distractions of "real life" that are keeping them from creating the masterpiece that is in them. But "here" turns out to be a cavernous and ornate old theater where they are utterly isolated from the outside world-and where heat and power and, most important, food are in increasingly short supply. And the more desperate the circumstances become, the more extreme the stories they tell-and the more devious their machinations become to make themselves the hero of the inevitable play/movie/nonfiction blockbuster that will surely be made from their plight.
Here's an extract to whet your appetite. (I'm so desirous of this book my hands are shaking, delerium tremours of the bookaholic.)

Oh, and Ms. D? I've just had second thoughts about that writer's retreat we were planning!


Krishna said...

Yumm! My appetite has been stirred as well girl,can't wait to get my hands on the book. Never read Fight Club but the movie occupies pride of place in my DVD collection and is trotted out every once in awhile when I need a dose of adrenaline.For a mainstream Hollywood flick starring Brad Pitt,it is deliciously dark and subversive!

Have also got a local anthology of horror/psycho stories by a writer who goes by the anonymous moniker of Xeus. Will sink my fangs into it and tell you how well it fares in the scary scales.

bibliobibuli said...

where have you been? i already blogged about xeus lah!

yes, let us know what you think ... can even give you a whole post if you want

sympozium said...

"The Lottery" - I suppose it was scary when it was first published but it's lost its impact by now. More scary things happening in the news these days in Third World villages - genital mutilation, organised revenge rapes, so-called "honour killings" (imagine killing your own daughter or sister for the sake of 'honour' - how barbaric). And I've always felt that gweilo horror/ghost stories aren't a patch on Malaysian and Asian horror/ghost stories.

Chet said...

Dear Sharon

The link you gave to the Shirley Jackson short story includes a link at the bottom of the page to an index of twenty great American short stories, of which The Lottery is #16.

Lots of short stories to read from that index. Thanks!


Krishna said...

Oops! Sorry girl! I generally skim through your articles with the speed of a tourist on an hour-long tour of the Louvre,pausing only to see the bits that catch my fancy.

Thanks, will probably get started on Dark City after I finish The Kite Runner, if Orhan Pamuk's My Name Is Red doesn't seduce me first!

Anonymous said...

I have read all of his books except Haunted and I think Survivor and Fight Club are the best, at least they are my favorite. The rest seemed like a short versions of Stephen King's stories. :s