I love me some Laird Barron. Yes, I know. How very original. It's like saying, "Lovecraft did some good work," or "Kubrick really knew his way around a camera." Barron has garnered awards, accolades, and acclaim by the bushel basket, and all of it has been well deserved. Hype doesn't get you very far when the proof is right there stained in black and white. He has the rep because he's earned it.
Laird Barron was one of the first living writers of speculative fiction that I read after making the leap from Lovecraft (aka "The Foundation"), and ever since then, I voraciously read and carefully collect his works like I do the old Weirdling Masters of the Pulp Golden Age - or more recently, Grau Haus faves Thomas Ligotti and T.E.D Klein. He's one of those "instant classic" sort of writers, who only come along a few times a generation. Luckily for us, he came of literary age during our time, so we can all lean back in our nano-powered rocking chairs some decades hence, whistle through our noses, and let fly a nostalgic "I remember when..."
Barron just makes it look easy. His effortless blend of the coldly cosmic with the uncomfortable heat and grit of the natural world make the everyday happenstance or forgotten patch of flyover wilderness a brush with the brutally unsettling. Danger can lurk within any shadowed vale where the old psalms are still sung. Incalculable danger waits at the end of every weed-choked country driveway. Mankind has been driven quietly mad, and is seeking to bring down Everything by unlocking the doors that were never meant to be opened. Dread drenches the Barronic air, which is what makes his fiction so engrossing, and so terrifying. I sometimes heave a sigh of relief at the end of one of his stories - not because I'm glad it's over, but that I'm glad that the poor, unlucky sap I've just been reading about for thirty pages isn't me. It's like finally waking up after a seemingly real nightmare and kissing the bedroom carpet because none of it was real.
That's what Laird Barron does. He writes nightmares that we can walk away from. And thank the mute gods, we can walk back to them, as well.
We covered the release of Barron's last book, the novella The Light is the Darkness (with a titular nod to my current musical obsession Lustmord) - masterfully crafted, bound, and published by Infernal House and Miskatonic Books - through a review by Cosmicomicon regular Alex Lugo published here back in November. Today, I'm here to bring you news of The Croning, which is his first full-length novel, published by the good peeps at Night Shade Books (who most recently brought us the fantastic The Book of Cthulhu, edited by Ross E. Lockhart, which contains the epic Laird Barron tale "The Men From Porlock", which will surely go down in the annals as one of the most celebrated stories in the modern era of the genre).
From the Night Shade Books presser:
Strange things exist on the periphery of our existence, haunting us from the darkness looming beyond our firelight. Black magic, weird cults and worse things loom in the shadows. The Children of Old Leech have been with us from time immemorial. And they love us... Coming May 2012
Donald Miller, geologist and academic, has walked along the edge of a chasm for most of his nearly eighty years, leading a charmed life between endearing absent-mindedness and sanity-shattering realization. Now, all things must converge. Donald will discover the dark secrets along the edges, unearthing savage truths about his wife Michelle, their adult twins, and all he knows and trusts. For Donald is about to stumble on the secret...
... of The Croning.
From Laird Barron, Shirley Jackson Award-winning author of The Imago Sequence and Occultation, comes The Croning, a debut novel of cosmic horror.
The Croning can be pre-ordered now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other larger electronic outlets.
|Laird Barron by JD Busch|
Just a word of caution to procrastinators: Barron's books sell out rather quickly, so don't sleep on The Croning. You need to jump on this now, before you're combing eBay for out-of-print copies, cursing your lack of foresight while bemoaning your separation from the dark, strange places that only a few left on earth can show you.