Tag Archives: ray russell

Four Exciting Releases From Penguin Classics

While I’m a little late to the party on this one, Penguin Classics have announced four titles to be published in 2015 and they are must haves for any fan of horror or the weird. The first, and most surprising title is a reprint of two Thomas Ligotti collections. Not only is Ligotti perhaps the greatest living weird author, he is also only the sixth or seventh living fiction author to be published in the Penguin Classics line. Here’s Penguin’s blub from their site.

Songs of a Dead Dreamer and GrimscribeTwo terrifying classics by “the best kept secret in contemporary horror fiction” (The Washington Post)

The recent smash success of HBO’s True Detective has sparked new interest in cult horror favorite Thomas Ligotti, who was cited by the show’s creator, Nic Pizzolatto, as a prime influence. Ligotti’s debut story collection, Songs of a Dead Dreamer, and its follow-up, Grimscribe, marked a major evolution in supernatural horror. Influenced by the strange terrors of Lovecraft and Poe and by the brutal absurdity of Kafka, Ligotti eschews cheap, gory thrills for his own brand of atmospheric horror, which shocks at the deepest, existential, levels.

Ligotti’s stories take on decaying cities and lurid dreamscapes in a style ranging from rich, ornamental prose to cold, clinical detachment. His raw and experimental work lays bare the unimportance of our world and the sickening madness of human consciousness. Like the greatest writers of cosmic horror, Ligotti bends reality until it cracks, opening fissures through which he invites us to gaze on the unsettling darkness of the abyss below.

While I’m thrilled this is coming out and that Ligotti is receiving more attention, it is a bit sad that it seems mainly due to Nic Pizzolato’s alleged plagiarism (You can read all about that here and decide for yourself). Watch for this title on October 6th.

The second release is another welcome addition to the line for any Twilight Zone fan. Even if you’ve never read Charles Beamont, you’ll be intimately familiar with some of his stories which he adapted for Rod Serling’s seminal series. Here’s the blurb:

Perchance to DreamThe profoundly original and wildly entertaining short stories of a legendary Twilight Zone writer

It is only natural that Charles Beaumont would make a name for himself crafting scripts for The Twilight Zone—for his was an imagination so limitless it must have emerged from some other dimension. Perchance to Dream contains a selection of Beaumont’s finest stories, including five that he later adapted for Twilight Zone episodes.

Beaumont dreamed up fantasies so vast and varied they burst through the walls of whatever box might contain them. Supernatural, horror, noir, science fiction, fantasy, pulp, and more: all were equally at home in his wondrous mind. These are stories where lions stalk the plains, classic cars rove the streets, and spacecraft hover just overhead. Here roam musicians, magicians, vampires, monsters, toreros, extraterrestrials, androids, and perhaps even the Devil himself. With dizzying feats of master storytelling and joyously eccentric humor, Beaumont transformed his nightmares and reveries into impeccably crafted stories that leave themselves indelibly stamped upon the walls of the mind. In Beaumont’s hands, nothing is impossible: it all seems plausible, even likely.

Like the Ligotti volume, this will be one of the few affordable print collections available for this author. The release date is October 13th.

Due out on the same day as the Beaumont collection is a novel (and author) I’d never heard of until Penguin announced it. The novel is called The Case Against Satan by Ray Russell. Upon research I discovered Russell is responsible for the short story that William Castle adapted into the film Mr. Sardonicus and the script for Roger Corman’s X: The Man With the X-Ray Eyes. Here’s the blurb:

The Case Against SatanBefore The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby, there was The Case Against Satan

By the twentieth century, the exorcism had all but vanished, wiped out by modern science and psychology. But Ray Russell—praised by Stephen King and Guillermo del Toro as a sophisticated practitioner of Gothic fiction—resurrected the ritual with his classic 1962 horror novel, The Case Against Satan, giving new rise to the exorcism on page, screen, and even in real life.

Teenager Susan Garth was “a clean-talking sweet little girl” of high school age before she started having “fits”—a sudden aversion to churches and a newfound fondness for vulgarity. Then one night, she strips in front of the parish priest and sinks her nails into his throat. If not madness, then the answer must be demonic possession. To vanquish the Devil, Bishop Crimmings recruits Father Gregory Sargent, a younger priest with a taste for modern ideas and brandy. As the two men fight not just the darkness tormenting Susan but also one another, a soul-chilling revelation lurks in the shadows—one that knows that the darkest evil goes by many names.

While I’m not big on possession stories, I’ll be picking this up since it predates The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby.

The last title, and the one I’m on the fence about the most, is The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter. I’m not familiar with Carter’s work and it seems the majority of it is not of the weird variety. However, this collection of reinterpreted fairy tales is certainly important, considering how much this type of thing is going on these days (i.e. Bill Willingham’s Fables, NBC’s Grimm, etc.). Here’s the blurb:

The Bloody ChamberFor the 75th anniversary of her birth, a Deluxe Edition of the master of the literary supernatural’s most celebrated book

Angela Carter was a storytelling sorceress, the literary godmother of Neil Gaiman, Audrey Niffenegger, J. K. Rowling, and other contemporary masters of supernatural fiction. In her masterpiece, The Bloody Chamber—which includes the story that is the basis of Neil Jordan’s 1984 movie The Company of Wolves—she breathed new life into familiar fairy tales and legends in a style steeped in the romantic trappings of the gothic tradition. This edition features a new introduction by Kelly Link, the Nebula and World Fantasy Award–wining author, one of a new generation of writers who’ve been inspired by Carter’s brand of fantastical, subversive, boundlessly imaginative fiction.

While I am not a fan of so-called “Magical Realism” or most of the current fairy tale pastiches out there, I figure I might check this out. This title is due for release on May 26th.

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