I hesitated to comment further on my own nomination, but a certain MR member with whom I conversed in private felt the following comments might be of value.
The trouble with most of the nominations so far is that I've read nearly everything that's been suggested. Besides which, I'm not a fan of Stephen King's style or sentimentality. He's one of the few writers whose books I prefer as films. If you want to see why, look at King's complaints about Kubrick's version of The Shining
. Then watch King's serialized film adaptation of the same book and notice how Kubrick had the taste to remove every single wretched flaw that King chose to cling to loudly and tenaciously.
If you pay attention to multicultural criticism, and to sites like Racialicious
, you'll be familiar with the trope of the black character invested with special powers -- a kind of paranormal butler who appears in order to solve the white characters' problems. In multicultural social criticism, this character is often referred to as The Magic Negro, and you could argue that Stephen King practically invented that character. Famous examples of the Magic Negro appear not only in The Shining
, but in The Stand
, The Green Mile
and a number of other books. Watch Kubrick's film and, again, you'll see how the late director made the black character flawed and unrepentantly sexual -- something the saintly self-sacrificing butlers in King's fiction seldom are.
Then again, I've been friends with a few established horror writers for decades, and carefully avoided most of the schlock which might otherwise slake my constant thirst for morbidity, so I've learned to be rather picky when we're not talking about Henry James or Thomas Lovell Beddoes.
My friends all seem to like Ramsey Campbell, but I find him too prolific to be the sort of jewel-cutter I prefer. The early short stories are my favorite work by him.
Thomas Ligotti is an uneven stylist, but he seems to me to be doing the most original work of any of the currently living horror writers I've read. People compare him to Lovecraft, but he's just as influenced by people like E.M. Cioran. The tone and atmosphere convey metaphysical pessimism, which is far more disturbing to me than a high body count.
And now back to our regular feature.