Sunday, March 27, 2011

Teatro Grottesco

Ligotti gets compared to those other masters of the horror short Poe and Lovecraft and he obviously loves their tales of deranged minds, half glimpsed horrors, and nihilism. The opening line of “The Clown Puppet” seems a wonderful parody of a Lovecraft opening. Ligotti’s true muses are actually Bruno Shultz and Thomas Bernhard. Fans of those writers should run not walk to the store/library to snatch up Ligotti before he vanishes into out of print limbo. Using Bernhard’s repetition and comic disgust and Shultz’s warped towns, sinister fathers, experiments, and unearthly shops, Ligotti creates his signature style. Philosophical horror is a good definition of this as Ligotti uses these stories to reveal a nihilistic take on Plato and his cave or an almost Gnostic vision with deranged archons performing the tasks of the rotting demiurge at the source of creation. Using this style crafted from Bernhard’s rants, Borgesian essay/story, and Shultz’s warped memoirs he tells tales or stories (more like emissions from Ligotti land) of grotesque factories, crumbling towns, Kafkaesque corporations, puppets, clowns, and artists. Highlights are “In Foreign Town, in a Foreign Country.” a story suite, “The Red Tower”(about a gothic factory I think Ligotti’s other muse W.S. Burroughs would have loved), and “Teatro Grottesco”( a tale of a conspiracy of an anti-artist guild that reads a little like David Lynch adapting Crying of Lot 49). The corporate horror stories remind of recent work by Mark Samuels and Jeff Vandermeer’s The Situation. The sense of urban despair in this book makes so much sense to me, when I learned that Ligotti lived in Detroit for about twenty years. Connecting that real life horror brings these stories home for me. I wish someone would mail this collection to film director Guy Maddin, who in a recent interview revealed his love for Bruno Shultz(which popped a couple pieces together in my mind), who is one the few contemporary filmmakers who would do Ligotti justice.

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