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S T Joshi, the eminent Lovecraft scholar, is not so much a literary critic as a bibliographer with opinions Strong ones But his opinions are invariably worth reading, even perhaps particularly at their most truculent and occasionally pedantic He is unashamedly elitist, while at the same time aware that the literature that he loves most is considered, by other shameless elitists, as rubbish This makes him simultaneously critical and defensive, which may be why he often seems in a bad S T Joshi, the eminent Lovecraft scholar, is not so much a literary critic as a bibliographer with opinions Strong ones But his opinions are invariably worth reading, even perhaps particularly at their most truculent and occasionally pedantic He is unashamedly elitist, while at the same time aware that the literature that he loves most is considered, by other shameless elitists, as rubbish This makes him simultaneously critical and defensive, which may be why he often seems in a bad mood He is also in the ambivalent position of being a card carrying sceptic and liberal in a field that is dominated by the illiberal and the obscurantist The Modern Weird Tale will probably be most controversial for Joshi s unrelenting critique of Stephen King Personally, I am happy to see the King bubble pricked King is not a bad writer, and in some ways he is an admirable one, but he is certainly overrated, and most of Joshi s critical barbs strike home, even if his overall attack seems a little unfair.The most rewarding chapters, though, are those dealing with the authors that Joshi admires Jackson, Aickman, Tryon, Campbell, Klein, Ligotti In these his style is generous, warm and clear headed although his section on Robert Aickman he is curiously led astray by a philosophical red herring In a way, it is the Aickman section that shows Joshi at his most interesting, and conflicted an intelligent, rational man trying to come to terms with his engagement in a field that goes against so many of his dearly held principles This book is a collection of literary criticism focusing on several late 20th century authors of what is often called horror fiction and sometimes called the weird tale Joshi focuses on the following authors Shirley Jackson, William Peter Blatty, Stephen King, T.E.D Klein, Clive Barker, Robert Bloch, Thomas Harris, Bret Easton Ellis, Thomas Tyron, Peter Straub, Robert Aickman, Anne Rice, and Thomas Ligotti I greatly enjoyed the Shirley Jackson essay I ve not read a huge amount of Jackso This book is a collection of literary criticism focusing on several late 20th century authors of what is often called horror fiction and sometimes called the weird tale Joshi focuses on the following authors Shirley Jackson, William Peter Blatty, Stephen King, T.E.D Klein, Clive Barker, Robert Bloch, Thomas Harris, Bret Easton Ellis, Thomas Tyron, Peter Straub, Robert Aickman, Anne Rice, and Thomas Ligotti I greatly enjoyed the Shirley Jackson essay I ve not read a huge amount of Jackson s work just a handful of her short stories , but Joshi s essay certainly whetted my appetite to readof her The essay on Thomas Ligotti s work which I have read a lot of was also impressive.I felt Joshi went on a little too long about Ramsey Campbell and I say this as someone who is gaining an ever increasing appreciation for Campbell s work Joshi devotes forty two of this volume s 278 pages to analyzing Campbell, often delving into a level of detail that seems unwieldy in a volume that s intended as a survey of the field I felt that Joshi s discussion of Campbell was so detailed that it probably could have been expanded to become a monograph in and of itself and if anyone is up to the task of writing that monograph, it d be Mr Joshi.Most of the essays in this book assume a scholarly tone, and the volume benefits from this approach The major exception to this, it seems to me, is Joshi s piece on Stephen King I m willing to grant Joshi that the vast majority of his insights into the problems with King s work are spot on However, Joshi s tone in this essay sarcastic, bordering on seething is quite jarring at least, to this mild mannered Midwesterner For me, everything Joshi had to say about King ended up overshadowed by how he said it.In spite of this, I highly recommend the book Joshi approaches modern horror fiction criticism with a high degree of earnestness and vigor One gets the sense that Joshi is only so venomous about the authors he dislikes because the horror field is so important to him I disagree with Joshi on many, if not most of his points There are plenty of reasons to criticize Stephen King, but he doesn t give reasons for the weird stuff seems a poor one, especially since plenty of the authors that he praises don t give any justification scientific or otherwise for the weird phenomena in their stories The larger problem is that too much of this book is a summary of plots, which gets tedious quickly I would rather Joshi spenttime analyzing fewer works. Out of the cannon of horror writers since the pulp era particularly the 50 s onward who can be considered truly weird This is the underlying topic of The Modern Weird Tale by S.T Joshi, preeminent Lovecraft scholar.What I learned from Joshi regarding the weird authors of the post Lovecraft Machen Blackwood era Shirley Jackson,T.E.D Klein, Ramsey Campbell, Robert Aickman and Thomas Ligotti are class A writers Peter Straub, Anne Rice, Clive Barker and Stephen King are shite It is clear Out of the cannon of horror writers since the pulp era particularly the 50 s onward who can be considered truly weird This is the underlying topic of The Modern Weird Tale by S.T Joshi, preeminent Lovecraft scholar.What I learned from Joshi regarding the weird authors of the post Lovecraft Machen Blackwood era Shirley Jackson,T.E.D Klein, Ramsey Campbell, Robert Aickman and Thomas Ligotti are class A writers Peter Straub, Anne Rice, Clive Barker and Stephen King are shite It is clear there is an obvious bias against the best sellers From the outset, he appears to demarcate those who are the true authors of the weird and who are not He spends time setting up why certain authors are not considered weird and although it was entertaining to hear his opinions, I wasn t sure why some were even regarded It would not occur to me to included Bret Easton Ellis, Thomas Harris and William Peter Blatty in this discussion,or less the other noted best sellers, but he makes a case for horror to be a subgenre of the weird I have never known Rice, Straub or even King to claim being weird Although Barker has been in several weird fiction anthologies, despite a heavy tendency toward his brand of physical violent horror, his work appears to still reflect that cosmic terror that is clearly Lovecraft influenced Some lines of discussion Supernatural vs non supernatural horror Issues of psychological horror Bloch vs Campbell Short story vs novel form Religious didaticism as a source for themes Blatty Some areas of criticism Overused tropes Derived plots Depth of characters Unnecessary sentimentality Long winded tomes Hello King Motivations and explanations for the appearances purposes uses of horror devices in a piece of writing I was generally entertained by Joshi s clearly elitist views of Weird writers of the modern age The inclusion of a bibliography designated with Primary vs Secondary works is very beneficial overall This was for me clearly an introduction to authors I was familiar with and haven t read and an initiation to others I am excited to seek out works by Klein and Campbell, who despite their sales and low reputation, are lauded by critics as unsung masters of horror I am most excited to pursue Ligotti s short fiction Making a judgment only by way of the brief excerpts that were included, I feel I connected with his writing above the rest The subtitle here iscorrect that you might think Joshi has very little complementary to say about any of the modern authors he covers There are a few exceptions T E D Klien and Ramsey Campbell to name two but otherwise is very aggressive about his dislike of most modern authors in the genre An Joshi s strong very strong dislike of anything religious comes pounding through Many of his entires most notably Blatty, for whom Joshi is especially vituperative come off as littleThe subtitle here iscorrect that you might think Joshi has very little complementary to say about any of the modern authors he covers There are a few exceptions T E D Klien and Ramsey Campbell to name two but otherwise is very aggressive about his dislike of most modern authors in the genre An Joshi s strong very strong dislike of anything religious comes pounding through Many of his entires most notably Blatty, for whom Joshi is especially vituperative come off as littlethan poorly constructed arguments in favor of his own atheism.If you have any interest in weird literature, then you re no doubt already familiar with the few authors Joshi has anything good to say about If you do not have any interest, then well you don t In either case, there s very little to like here and a great deal to dislike Well, I can t say I entirely agree with Joshi s views on everything in this book, but by and large, his evaluation of the modern weird tale is well researched and reflective of a quality review and assessment Much of this book is one chapter after another deconstructing an author who he sees making very little literary contribution through their work, juxtaposed with another chapter evaluating an author whose work has literary merit Joshi is of course very high on the less commercialized but c Well, I can t say I entirely agree with Joshi s views on everything in this book, but by and large, his evaluation of the modern weird tale is well researched and reflective of a quality review and assessment Much of this book is one chapter after another deconstructing an author who he sees making very little literary contribution through their work, juxtaposed with another chapter evaluating an author whose work has literary merit Joshi is of course very high on the less commercialized but critically aclaimed authors such as Klein, Ligotti, Campbell, etc, and pretty down on those authors whose work has been commercially successful but very suspect in its literary contribution to the weird tale field.I think Joshi asks some very critical but fair questions Ultimately, I can see how such an approach can make a fan very uncomfortable Nobody wants to feel that by enjoying hack work that their tastes are poor or lacking in sophistication However, I think it is worthwhile to draw some of these kinds of lines in the sand I am positive that I have read and enjoyed plenty of stories that have very little artistic merit, but I think as readers it is worth moving beyond the bounds of our comfortable tastes in books and trying to challenge ourselves with works that havesubstance but may bedifficult to consume I think Joshi is trying to get at this point, but in a highly polemical style that may turn off a lot of fans of mainstream horror such as King, Barker, etc This is a very worthwhile books to read, but be aware that you may not like everything you read in this book, at least you will be challenged to evaluate your own reading interests in the horror genre |READ DOWNLOAD ♃ The Modern Weird Tale ♲ This is a critical study of many of the leading writers of horror and supernatural fiction since World War II The primary purpose is to establish a canon of weird literature, and to distinguish the genuinely meritorious writers of the past fifty years from those who have obtained merely transient popular renown Accordingly, the author regards the complex, subtle work of Shirley Jackson, Ramsey Campbell, Robert Aickman, TED Klein, and Thomas Ligotti as considerably superior to the best sellers of Stephen King, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, and Anne Rice Other writers such as William Peter Blatty, Thomas Tryon, Robert Bloch, and Thomas Harris are also discussed Taken as a whole, the volume represents a pioneering attempt to chart the development of weird fiction over the past half century Missing You, Love Sara and to distinguish the genuinely meritorious writers of the past fifty years from those who have obtained merely transient popular renown Accordingly Dose De Prazer (Os Irmãos OSullivan, the author regards the complex Roughneck Cowboy (Cartwright Siblings, subtle work of Shirley Jackson Land of Golden Wattle Ramsey Campbell Criminal Behavior (Twilights Children Robert Aickman Dynamite Doc or Christmas Dad? TED Klein Reunion on the Run and Thomas Ligotti as considerably superior to the best sellers of Stephen King Overtime in the Bosss Bed Clive Barker Marrying Miss Monkton Peter Straub Countdown to Danger and Anne Rice Other writers such as William Peter Blatty Let Me Call You Sweetheart Thomas Tryon The Chopin Manuscript Robert Bloch The Cowboy is a Daddy and Thomas Harris are also discussed Taken as a whole Everybody Loves Evie (Chameleon Chronicles, the volume represents a pioneering attempt to chart the development of weird fiction over the past half century A little unprofessional in tone at times, full of unsupported blanket statements as well as carefully considered judgements Covers topics few people should care about who thinks Thomas Harris is a weird writer and skirts others ofimportance to his arguments what exactly makes Peter Straub s The Throat any better than the similarly wordy Mystery and Koko Interesting for its candor at times, though one wishes he would pursue some of these subjects with a littleexactitude. The Modern Weird Tale is an insightful and refreshingly unpretentious bit of literary criticism However, I could have done without Joshi s compulsion to doggedly promote his atheistic worldview, especially given that many of his jabs at religion were not very persuasive Take his dismissal of William Peter Blatty s belief that the presence of tangible evil proves the existence of good, or even of God Blatty s position as presented by Joshi is of course too strong evil can only serve as ci The Modern Weird Tale is an insightful and refreshingly unpretentious bit of literary criticism However, I could have done without Joshi s compulsion to doggedly promote his atheistic worldview, especially given that many of his jabs at religion were not very persuasive Take his dismissal of William Peter Blatty s belief that the presence of tangible evil proves the existence of good, or even of God Blatty s position as presented by Joshi is of course too strong evil can only serve as circumstantial evidence rather than direct evidence of objective goodness But Joshi s position is evenoverdrawn than is Blatty s In calling Blatty s point a false corollary, Joshi does not, as he thinks, dismantle the argument From a logical standpoint, just because a given variable like the presence of transcendent evil is not a sufficient condition for a given conclusion like the reality of forces of good it does not follow that that variable cannot support that conclusion it just means that the variable alone does not absolutely prove the posited conclusion is accurate Unfortunately, strident atheists often make these types of logical missteps, as they regularly attempt to use but in actuality frequently misuse concepts imported from the legal world e.g., the burden of proof to win their case Given this sloppy logic, it was difficult to stomach Joshi s numerous attacks on theism, but the book s other contentthan made up for this shortcoming This borderline polemic survey of weird horror fiction post Lovecraft is entertaining as well as informative Joshi s attacks on poorly thought out religious messages and on several of the dull conventions of popular writing approach laugh out loud territory, even if I don t fully agree with him on everything as I feel that some of Stephen King s and Clive Barker s early short stories are actually quite good However, even when critical of an author overall, he usually has nice things to say a This borderline polemic survey of weird horror fiction post Lovecraft is entertaining as well as informative Joshi s attacks on poorly thought out religious messages and on several of the dull conventions of popular writing approach laugh out loud territory, even if I don t fully agree with him on everything as I feel that some of Stephen King s and Clive Barker s early short stories are actually quite good However, even when critical of an author overall, he usually has nice things to say about at least one or two of their better works such as King s The Running Man and Anne Rice s original Interview Also encouraging is his promotion of excellent but less well known authors such as Ramsey Campbell and Thomas Ligotti The only major faults with the book are the somewhat arbitrary selection of authors Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson are omitted for some reason perhaps because the former isassociated with science fiction and the latterassociated with TV and film work , the occasionally heavy handed opinionation fun though it may be , and, though it s hardly Joshi s fault, the fact that the book only covers stuff written up to about 1994.Recommended for serious fans of this genre, though die hard fans of King, Barker, Rice, Peter Straub, and The Exorcist may want to approach with caution