Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Non-Fiction News: T.E. Grau Interviews Thomas Ligotti for Fiction Journal LORE - Death Poems Now, New Ligotti Fiction on the Bleak Horizon?


I love many modern Weird Fiction writers - and by "modern," I mean anyone distilling shadows and strangeness into ink from the early 20th century into this current toe tip in the 21st. We are currently blessed with a wonderful array of talented scribes, who incorporate all those delicious elements of great Speculative Fiction - the cosmic, supernatural, bizarre, uncanny, unsettling, unnameable, terrifying - into their short stories, novellas, and novels.

But there is no one currently putting word to the dark that can touch Thomas Ligotti.  He's The One for my generation.  The It.  He's our greatest living Weird/Horror Fiction writer.  And just as he was about to be crowned, he left the game.

Well okay, that's no entirely true.  He didn't leave the field by his own volition.  He was forced out, and put on injured reserve due to his ongoing battles with anhedonia, depression, and a few physical ailments, which rendered him psychologically unable to write the sort of stories he wrote.  This, in turn, left a stadium full of devoted fans to ponder a Weird Fiction future as grim as Ligotti's fiction as its greatest star was forced into an early retirement.  There would be no more tales of such profound oddness, darkness, and OTHERNESS for us to read and over which to marvel.  No more collections of short fiction during a time when the short form was being - and continues to be - stamped out by the Almighty Novel.  No more stories that can viscerally unsettle a reader in such a unique and subtle way, without falling back on the tired tropes and gratuitous gore that has sullied the Horror genre under the weight of their own overuse.  The betrayal of our ridiculously weak human form left our very best unable to continue adding to his incredibly rich corpore laboris, which seemed right out of a Ligotti story

He still undertook occasional non fiction and philosophical writing (see The Conspiracy Against the Human Race), as well as critical reviews and blurbs, but the streaming spigot of fiction has been all but shut off since 2006 with the release of Teatro Grottesco, which is notable as his last written and published collection of new works, after which an extended break from fiction writing evolved into the feared end of his creative writing career.  This was a tragedy, made selfish by us in our desire for more of his particular brand of magick, but mainly because such a gifted individual was unable to continuing doing what he was created to do as a result of the betrayal of the very consciousness he so often railed against (and in his case, for apparently good reason).  The always reclusive writer became all the more so, ghosting out of the literary world as he battled inside himself.  He was done with fiction, through a personal decision that was ironically not his to make.

Or so we thought...

In a recent interview I conducted with Thomas Ligotti for the acclaimed Horror/Fantasy/Sci-Fi journal Lore, he was his usual eloquent, profound, and famously pessimistic self, but also incredibly candid, sharing rare details of his ongoing struggles with psychological and physical ailments and their impact on his work, depression, suicide, as well as revealing that he has recently written several new works of short fiction.  Naturally, this blew me away, and excited devoted fans of Ligotti's work around the globe.

I will except a portion of the interview below, and encourage you to click on through this link to find the full discussion at the Lore website:
T.L.: I never abandoned fiction writing as a matter of principle or anything like that. My mental state just began to deteriorate after 2001. Then, within the space of a few minutes, my mood shot up and that lasted for about a month in late 2002. During that month, I wrote two stories. Afterward, my mood would usually improve late in each year. It was during those times that I worked on The Conspiracy against the Human Race beginning in 2003, because it hadn’t improved enough to write fiction, which takes a different sort of energy and motive, at least for me, than writing nonfiction. In 2005, I crashed completely and couldn’t even earn a living anymore as an editor. During upward mood swings, I continued to work on Conspiracy until it was finished in 2010. I apologize for giving this blow-by-blow account of my moods and literary production, but now that I’ve started I’m going to finish. In 2012, I suffered some severe physical traumas that had the effect of heightening my mood, and my imagination started to gradually make a comeback after dying in 2002. That’s the best way to explain it: After producing two stories in 2002, my imagination just died. Throughout 2012, the trauma I experienced kept elevating my mood and ambition. I wrote some new poems and started to compile a collection of my interviews. Matt Cardin will edit the interview book for publication by Subterranean Press and provide an introduction. In March 2013, my imagination resurrected itself for me to finish two new stories. I don’t know if I’ll write any more stories. I’ve always said that. But I really didn’t think I would think I would write again, since I haven’t been engage in anything like gainful employment since 2005. I want to write, because when I’m in the process of doing it feels as if there’s something standing between me and death. When I don’t have that, then I either suffer from death anxiety and panic attacks or my imagination is burned out by anhedonic bipolar depression and all I want to do is kill myself, which is a daunting proposition. The non-suicidal speak so cavalierly about suicide, as if anyone can do it anytime they want. But you really have to be in a very particular frame of mind to voluntarily attempt to die. More often, someone with the worst depression simply doesn’t feel good enough to kill himself. It just doesn’t seem like a solution. Anyway, after going under anesthesia three times in 2012, I realized that to be anesthetized to death is by far the best way to do it, like Edward G. Robinson in Soylent Green. A lot of anesthesiologists kill themselves, more than any other profession, or so I’ve read. I asked an assistant anesthesiologist about this, and she was very forthcoming about people in her profession having the know-how and access to the right drugs to die peacefully whenever they want. It seems so unfair that we all don’t have that advantage.

This is HUGE, folks.  Absolutely massive.  I'd wager most of us never thought we'd see the day when Thomas Ligotti would return to fiction, instead retiring from the trade like T.E.D. Klein.  But here we are, standing on the precipice of something new in the fiction department, as well as the promise of a book of collected interviews, overseen and edited by exceptional speculative fiction writer, religio/horror philosopher, and Lead Teeming Brain Matt Cardin.  For us fans, these are bright days awaiting the delivery of the deepest dark.

While we all anxiously await the release of his new fiction, we can slake our thirst with a pitcher of his classic poetic verse in Death Poems, originally published in 2004 by Durtro and now re-released by Bad Moon Books, featuring cover and interior art by the incredible Richard A. Kirk, who is a longtime collaborator with the likes of Clive Barker and Caitlin R. Kiernan.

From the Bad Moon Books website:
We are proud to announce the updated version of Death Poems by Thomas Ligotti, with a whole new section of poetry titled "Closing Statements". Cover art and internal illustrations by the amazing Richard A. Kirk. Long out of print, Death Poems was originally produced in a very small edition by Durtro in 2004. This highly prized collection has been virtually unobtainable until now. We expect this to sell out very quickly, so do not hesitate.

Wraparound dustjacket with internal illustration by Richard A. Kirk - See more at: http://www.badmoonbooks.com/product.php?productid=3621#sthash.HYs9xKKk.dpu
We are proud to announce the updated version of Death Poems by Thomas Ligotti, with a whole new section of poetry titled "Closing Statements". Cover art and internal illustrations by the amazing Richard A. Kirk. Long out of print, Death Poems was originally produced in a very small edition by Durtro in 2004. This highly prized collection has been virtually unobtainable until now. We expect this to sell out very quickly, so do not hesitate.

Wraparound dustjacket with internal illustration by Richard A. Kirk
 
So snatch up some TL poems (quickly, as this book WILL sell out, and become highly collectible, as are all this other works) and wait by the door, keeping your sweating palms firmly clamped over your ears to guard against that strange, soft knocking in the middle of the night.  The postman doesn't work after dark, but other things certainly do.

(Photos of the breathing tome below by Andrew Nevins, originally posted on Thomas Ligotti Online, and re-posted here at The Cosmicomicon with permission)




6 comments:

  1. This is fantastic. Ligotti is amazing. Thanks for sharing this with us. Hope he feels better in the near future.

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  2. You're so welcome, John. Thanks for reading.

    Yes, let's hope that TL's condition is improving, at the very least for his peace of mind.

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  3. I hope he gets better - such a fantastic writer. Would you mind if I reblogged this post on my site (with link-backs of course)?

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  4. Re-blog away, my man, and thanks!

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  5. Thanks man - reblogged here: http://williamcookshowcase.blogspot.co.nz/

    ReplyDelete