Grappling with Stephen King’s IT

As previously threatened, my latest horror lookback has been to Stephen King’s monster novel It. Interestingly, my feelings about the book and where it went wrong are unchanged. I hope, though, that time and more experience–life experience, writing experience, feminist experience–has sharpened my analysis.

You can read my essay here.

The Horrors, at Tor (rors)

Reading Christopher Buelman’s Those Across the River got me to thinking about some of the horror novels I read during the Eighties, which in turn has led me to revisit a few of those books. The first of these time travel experiments is up at, an essay about Peter Straub’s thoroughly wonderful novel Shadowland. Enjoy!

Book Review: Those Across the River

I recently read what I’d characterize as an old-school horror novel for Tor.Com. It’s called Those Across the River, it’s a first novel by Christopher Buehlman, and the review itself is here.

Beuhlman is also known as Christophe the Insultor, Verbal Mercenary, and if you’re not at work–this really isn’t appropriate for the office–check out his stand-up comedy.

Reading this book made me think I might revisit some of the big Eighties horror novels: something by Stephen King, Floating Dragon by Peter Straub, maybe a Koontz, a Barker, Song of Kali or possibly Carrion Comfort.

And then I thought: were there no great blockbuster horror novels of the Eighties written by women?

I bet you all know the answer. Anyone feel like saving me from my ignorance?
stubby the rocket

Books: Little Face, by Sophie Hannah

I recently finished Sophie Hannah’s suspense novel Little Face. One of my students recommended it; she knows I’m wild for Tana French, and the two of them did an interview together online recently.

Little Face was, ultimately, just okay. Maybe my expectations of the prose were unreasonably high because of the “You like French, you’ll like her,” format of the recommendation that led me to her. And there’s nothing wrong with her prose–it’s very competent–but it was other things that put me off. The central mystery spilled out in a way that I couldn’t buy–the set-up was great, but the outcome didn’t convince me. And the bulk of the novel grapples with these two extremely strained heterosexual relationships that are, at their core, really ugly. Unkindness and systematic humiliation of the weak character by the strong abounds, and I find it hard to take vicarious enjoyment in that particular form of human misery.

There’s a fair amount of darkness and violence in my writing, of course, so it’s always interesting to see what puts me off. It turns out that extended mean scenes are on that list. Even in cases where the victims eventually turn it around, the sense of justice served isn’t satisfying enough to wash the taste of nastiness away.