Saturday, October 20, 2012

The only horror tales you need to read

Robert Aickman, the third best horror writer of all time, once said: "There are only about thirty or forty first-class ghost stories in the whole of western literature." If it weren’t for Aickman’s contributions, forty would probably be on the high side.

There are many reasons why a memorable horror story is so tricky to pull off, but right now I have no interest in mining my remarkable brain for the answers.

Halloween is almost here, and it comes but once a year, so here is a nearly complete list of the only horror tales you need to bother with (some are novellas/novelettes, so I am bending the rules a bit). I am going to leave out Poe and Stevenson because they are taught in school, so people get plenty of exposure to them. I’m trying to highlight writers that non-horror fans might not otherwise encounter.

Lovecraft
The Call of Cthluhu
The Music of Erich Zann
The Outsider
The Shadow Over Innsmouth
The Colour Out of Space
Robert Aickman
Ringing the Changes
The Hospice
The Cicerones
Meeting Mr. Millar
Your Tiny Hand is Frozen
Thomas Ligotti

My Work Is Not Yet Done
Purity
Our Temporary Supervisor
Algernon Blackwood

The Willows (Lovecraft called this the finest weird tale ever, and I can’t disagree).
The Wendigo
M.R. James

“Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad”
Casting the Runes


Mary Elisabeth Counselman
The Black Stone Statue
The Three Marked Pennies

Metamorphosis by Kafka (Kafka is obviously taught in school, but this is a great weird tale that is often soiled by shaky literary analysis, thus robbing virgin readers of potential enjoyment).

Mimic by Donald Wolheim

Night Wire by HF Arnold
Nackles by Curt Clark (AKA Donald Westlake)
It's a Good Life by Jerome Bixby

The People of the Pit by Abraham Merritt

The Canal by Everil Worrell

The Voice of the Beach by Ramsey Campbell
N by Stephen King.
The Geezenstacks by Fredric Brown

Pigeons from Hell by Robert E. Howard

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