Books by Thomas Ligotti

Released: Oct. 2, 2018

"For Ligotti fans and fellow pessimists, here's affirmation that 'their only respite is in the balm of bleakness.'"
A writer of supernatural horror stories illuminates the darkest horror of all in this nonfiction affirmation of negativity. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 1996

A large and generally very impressive gathering of imaginative and stylish horror fiction, adding several new stories to those culled from Ligotti's previous collections Songs of a Dead Dreamer (1990), Grimscribe (1991), and Noctuary (1993). Poe and Lovecraft are the obvious influences in these richly atmospheric (and often funny) tales of introversion blossoming into obsession, and of antiquarian scholars unwisely uncovering things that really ought to have been buried. Ligotti's prefatory essay on ``The Consolations of Horror'' broods wittily about the kind of person who enjoys this sort of thing, advising helpfully that, in reading such material, ``for a little while we can pretend to stare the very worst right in the rotting face.'' Of the new stories, ``Teatro Grottesco'' and ``Severini'' portray with perhaps excessive flamboyance the neurotic sources and feverish aftermath of artistic creation. Both ``The Clown Puppet,'' whose absurdly menacing title figure memorably objectifies its narrator's ``nonsensical'' existence, and ``The Red Tower,'' about an abandoned factory whose unspeakable products are surreptitiously still being sent out into the unsuspecting world, show Ligotti doing what he does best: Turning the abstract matter of our unguarded dreaming moments into vivid and compelling nightmares. Read full book review >
NOCTUARY by Thomas Ligotti
Released: Feb. 15, 1994

Supersaturated with supernal purple: a third sheaf of horror shorts from Ligotti (Grimscribe, Songs of a Dead Dreamer) that binds bodiless slumberings into a lurid triumph of wordcraft over forlorn weirdness. The present nighttime ditties (earlier magazine publication was not noted in our galley) show him again focused on the decaying glow of a scholarly solitary obsessed by horrific studies and going over the edge as his worst, most hidden fear rises up concretely before him. As in Verdi, Ligotti stories witness the unstoppable force of Fate. Character rarely develops, is only acted upon by an inscrutable malignancy, seen in the indigo of death's twilight glamour. Here, the author opens with a note ``on the appreciation of weird fiction'' whose ideas and sidelights woo us down a gleaming path in a dim woods: ``A man awakes in the darkness and reaches over for his eyeglasses. The eyeglasses are placed in his hand.'' In ``The Medusa,'' a bookish philosopher fixated on the faces of the Medusa in human existence (the horrific is everywhere) finally meets his goddess—and becomes one with the horror in his soul. In ``Conversations in a Dead Language,'' a fat postman given to babytalk is trick-or-treated into his dreamfate by midget vampires and jack-o'-lanterns amid the delirium and disorder of Halloween. In his descriptive short novel ``Tsalal'' (Tsalal is a book of mock scholarship like H.P. Lovecraft's heady but fictitious volume of abstruse weirdness, The Necronomicon), Ligotti relates spiritual particulars of a half-world borderland community called Moxton, which is seen with the vivid brightness of nicked lead. The final ``Notebook of the Night'' slips us into a dozen or so drab labyrinths past all lamplight. An exhalation of evenings with the half-dead. Read full book review >
GRIMSCRIBE by Thomas Ligotti
Released: Dec. 16, 1991

High-style horror stories in a classic literary mode, in expressiveness not far from the American masters, Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. Ligotti (Songs of a Dead Dreamer, 1990) writes out of what seems an all-embracing depression, making him willing to go into wipeout areas time and again and ask a lot both of himself and his readers. His narrators seldom effect any change; they simply observe a superbly described inner state, then leave, hungover. In ``The Last Feast of Harlequin,'' a professor obsessed with clowns locates a clown festival in the midwestern town of Mirocaw. He goes to observe and join the townsfolk in their festival, perhaps wearing his clown suit. But the festival is not meant for him. In fact, it is two festivals, one within the other, the inner one being a cruel festival of freaks who are detested and beaten by members of the larger clown festival. He joins the freaks and follows them out of town and down a hole in the earth wherein they have borne their frigid Winter Queen. In a cavernous earthen hall, the freaks begin turning into huge worms, and he flees up the black wormhole by which he entered. In ``The Glamour,'' the narrator enters a weird boarded-up movie house to find himself in a sparse audience surrounded by purple lights and seated amid hairy threads that bind all to their seats as they watch a cobweb screen on which is shown grisly purple organs being operated on. He leaves before he can be imprisoned by the floating and crawling hairs. In ``The Night School,'' he enters a dark, weird schoolground where strange figures stand around misshapen metal drums in firelight; then he goes into the hideously rotting school for a bizarre class in ``measurement of cloacal forces. Time as a flow of sewage. The excrement of space, scatology of creation...'' He leaves, finding the moon ``coated with a luminous mold, the great sewers of the night.'' Thirteen tales out of a maggoty delirium. Read full book review >