Because my reading is so divorced from the calendar (I can’t even remember what came out this year), I’m going to just list a couple things I “discovered” this year, i.e. books or writers that I didn’t know existed before 2009 and which I now love.
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg. Written in the 1800s, this is a formally experimental horror novel about a man followed by/tormented by a doppelganger who may actually be the devil. The doppelganger convinces him to commit various increasingly brutal crimes with the premise that he is one of the “elect,” justified by God, preemptively forgiven for any crime. A great novel.
Brand New Cherry Flavor by Todd Grimson. Holy shit, this novel took my by surprise. Published in the mid-nineties and largely forgotten, this is a fucking genius horror novel that reads like a mash-up of the genius of James Ellroy, David Lynch, Clive Barker, and Bret Easton Ellis. With an incredibly intricate plot, a sense of nauseating momentum, and horror scenes that actually horrify. A bizarre and unique intelligence is the engine behind the whole thing. Track this book down ASAP.
Teatro Grottesco by Thomas Ligotti. Short stories in a genre of their own. You might call them philosophical dream horror. As unique as the stories in Jesus’ Son but far more conceptually complex. Stories like “The Gas Station Carnivals,” “The Clown Puppet,” “The Red Tower” and “Our Temporary Supervisor” now rank among my favorite stories of all time. These stories really and truly stick with you… weeks and months later. Ligotti gets compared to Lovecraft, but he is a vastly superior writer (and, it almost goes without saying, thinker).
Scorch Atlas by Blake Butler. What else to say about this? It’s badass. Blake is a master stylist, and these loosely connected stories of a world beset by surrealist nightmares are a perfect showcase. Can’t wait to read his novel.
Rebecca and Don’t Look Now by Daphne du Maurier. Okay, I knew these existed before 2009, but I hadn’t read them. Read Rebecca in red & gold romance edition on the beach in the Dominican Republic. Teleported to the foggy English coast. Fucking loved it… amazing.
Nick Antosca is the author of two novels: Fires (2006, Impetus Press) and Midnight Picnic (2009, Word Riot Press). Antosca was born in Louisiana and currently lives in New York City. His blog is HERE.
John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.