Dec 8, 2019

Advent Calendar - Eighth Wormhole

From the 1st until the 24th of December, we'll present you a reading tip from our holidays newsletter on this blog - and another reading tip, in German, on our website! It's two great modern Horror authors today, with Inci recommending Paul Tremblay in German and Jakob singing John Langan's praise in English!

John Langan
Sefira and Other Betrayals
The Fisherman
Jakob says: Beware of these sneaky slowburners - and use them to draw your more mainstream-minded friends into the abyss of the weird! John Langan is one of the most prominent voices of contemporary horror fiction, and yet I would hesitate to label his fiction as horror. His recent novel The Fisherman is more of a dark modern fairytale with cosmic overtones. It’s framing narrative is about two men who have lost their families in very different ways - one to cancer, one to a traffic accident - and how they find a certain measure of solace in fishing. Doesn’t sound too exciting? Wait until they decide to take a trip to Dutchmen’s Creek together. Their story becomes the framework for another narrative, a tale about bringing in the most awe-inspiring catch imaginable. Nested narratives intertwine, and what looks like a tall tale in the beginning turns out to be just a scratch on the surface - and beneath it all, black, roiling waves ... Langan’s genius in this novel is that he tells everything from an often slightly slanted perspective, gives everything a certain tone. While The Fisherman is a slowburner, it doesn’t waste a word. There’s no scene in this book here you feel that he is just building up an atmosphere - everything serves a purpose on a psychological or thematic level in this tale of loss. Prepare to have your heart broken, mended and broken again, all from the gentle hand of an author who knows far too much about the human condition not to be deeply compassionate.
And if you want a taste of the full breadth of Langan’s writing, take a look at his most recent collection Sefira and Other Betrayals. The title novella couldn’t be more different from The Fisherman - it is a demonic road movie with moments of blackest slapstick (like, when you have been eviscerated, but find that, for some reason, you can still move around, you better put on a jacket before you go outside, or people might notice …) that screams to be made into a surprisingly brilliant  B-movie. And still, it has a psychological depth that you don’t find that often, no matter in what kind of literature you’re looking for it. The following Story “In Paris, In the Mouth of Kronos”, is reminiscent of Laird Barron with it’s moments of encroaching nightmare that swell like a dissonant chord, just to evaporate in the next second, threatening a more terrifying reveal at a later point. “The Third Always Beside You” is a captivating story about estrangement that offers only a hint of the supernatural at the very end. “The Unbearable Proximity of Mr. Dunn’s Balloons” is worth buying this anthology for its title alone, but it is also a beautifully weird and strange touching yarn about the nearing of death. “Bloom” is one of the most chilling Color-out-of-Space-type stories I’ve ever read (I stood up for a long time after reading it). "Bor Urus" is a variation and critique of the classical portal story that applies the notion of entering a magical realm to a man who’s just colliding full-tilt with his midlife crisis. And “At Home in the House of the Devil” is, for once, a deeply cynical story about the lies we tell ourselves to justify our darkest deeds.
If you give one (or both) of these books to the right person, it will truly be a gift of love. So deeply could I relate to Langan’s characters that, after reading these two books, I felt like my good friend John Langan had taken my hand and told me: “Yes, it’s dark out there. Inside, also. Yes, I know. There’s no way out. It is alright. It is alright.”

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