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- Publisher: Virgin Books
- Format: Paperback | 288 pages
- Dimensions: 130mm x 192mm x 20mm | 200g
- Publication date: 9 March 2010
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0753513749
- ISBN 13: 9780753513743
- Sales rank: 26,657
Thomas Ligotti is often cited as the most curious and remarkable figure in horror literature since H. P. Lovecraft. His work is noted by critics for its display of an exceptionally grotesque imagination and accomplished prose style. In his stories, Ligotti has followed a literary tradition that began with Edgar Allan Poe, portraying characters that are outside of anything that might be called normal life, depicting strange locales far off the beaten track, and rendering a grim vision of human existence as a perpetual nightmare. The horror stories collected in Teatro Grottesco feature tormented individuals who play out their doom in various odd little towns, as well as in dark sectors frequented by sinister and often blackly comical eccentrics. The cycle of narratives introduce readers to a freakish community of artists who encounter demonic perils that ultimately engulf their lives.
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Thomas Ligotti's first collection of stories, Songs of a Dead Dreamer, was published in 1986, and he has since established a cult following. He is also the author of several other story collections. Ligotti is the recipient of several awards, including the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker award for his omnibus collection The Nightmare Factory (1996) and short novel My Work Is Not Yet Done.
By Gregor Matheson 29 Apr 2011
Thomas Ligotti has always been a bit of an enigmatic figure in horror publishing. Literary in style and rudimentary in plot, he shares HP Lovecraft's dark atheist vision without Lovecraft's enthusiasm for science and increasingly strict materialism. He also shared Lovecraft's dislike of romanticism without Lovecraft's fondness for the Ancient world. Perhaps subsequently he is a very difficult author to sell. Bizarrely, given his emphasis on style over story, graphic novel adaptations of his work seem weirdly popular.
His actual prose itself has not been published in great quantity, which is unfortunate. What is in a sense even more unfortunate is that his far superior short story collection The Shadow at the Bottom of the World is now out of print. TSATBOTW had a wonderful array of tales, some urban existentialist, some set amongst weird artists, a Lovecraft tribute and even a fairly conventional (but successful) horror story Cocoons.
Teatro Grottesco is a thinner book, and in my opinion considerably less satisfying. Whilst I find clowns scary, I sadly found his tale 'The Clown Puppet' was Ligotti at his worst: the story is neither materialistic or imaginative, and the nihilistic theme feels very adolescent. Many others are repetitive and cover a rather narrow array of ideas, themes and plots.
On the plus side, the style is very good and (though perhaps only a horror enthusiast would see this as a plus) it gave me nightmares on many of the nights I read it. In all I would not hesitate to recommend it to horror fans, but I would be rather more hesitant to recommend it to more general readers who may have enjoyed The Shadow at the Bottom of the World.
"An accomplished conjuror of nightmares in the tradition of H. P. Lovecraft" The Times "Ligotti is wonderfully original; he has a dark vision of a new and special kind, a vision that no one had before him" Interzone "A generous serving of Edgar Allan Poe, a dash of Franz Kafka, a smidgen of Robert Aickman: These comprise the components in the cauldron of creativity of Thomas Ligotti... His descriptive powers are mesmerizing." Hellnotes "Quite unlike anything else being published ... One of the most unique voices in the field ... His imagery is breathtaking" Science Fiction Chronicle "(Ligotti uses) restrained, lyrical prose and subtly disturbing images that Poe himself might well have admired" USA Today