tirsdag den 1. marts 2011

H is for Horror

- I rarely read horror, but in this thriller the writer plays with the genres by adding a touch of horror (or perhaps I just wanted an excuse to combine Kerrie´s alphabet meme with a post about my latest read? Who knows what is true and what is fabrication?) 

Andrew Wilson, The Lying Tongue - a Death in Venice (2007)
This is the British writer´s first novel, and it is set in Venice.

One of the ways Wilson builds up suspense is creating a creepy atmosphere in the old, Venetian palazzo where much of the story takes place.

"Running down the centre of the large, three-storey, perfectly symmetrical building, like a spine of a long-dead monster, was a series of arched windows, four on each level, the extrados sculpted out of white marble. In one of the rooms on the first floor candles flickered, illuminating patches of the darkened interior and casting strange shadows up onto the ceiling."

The narrator´s description of the old writer Gordon Crace adds to this tone. Here is young Adam Wood´s first impression of his new employer:

"In front of me stood a man who seemed much, much older than I had imagined. He was stooped, nearly bent double, and as he slowly raised his head upwards to look at me I saw that the flesh on his neck had lost all definition. His tiny, grey-green eyes narrowed as he squinted into the sunlight, and instead of moving forwards to greet me he took one step back into the shade."

For two proper - and very fine - reviews of this interesting thriller, you may visit Petrona (Maxine who sent me the book) or "It´s a Crime! (Or a Mystery)". As I have not read much Patricia Highsmith, I can only say it reminded me of Oscar Wilde´s The Picture of Dorian Gray.


I could also mention Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Minister´s Black Veil (1836) which I am reading in my English class this week as it also has certain horror aspects.  I´d like to share a fine example of show, don´t tell. The congregation has just seen their veiled minister and "... several little boys clambered upon the seats, and came down again with a terrible racket."

14 kommentarer:

BooksPlease sagde ...

I rarely read horror, but this sounds more creepy than horrific - is that so? I did enjoy The Picture of Dorian Gray, so maybe I'd like this too?

Elizabeth Spann Craig sagde ...

I don't usually read horror either, but this sounds interesting. I loved Hawthorne's "Black Veil." :)

Dorte H sagde ...

Margaret: creepy is a good way of describing it. "Psychological thriller" is probably the correct subgenre.

Elizabeth: it is interesting, but the reason why it didn´t really scare me is that none of the characters is likeable at all - I didn´t mind in this case because I was rather curious, but some readers would definitely hold it against the book.

Anonym sagde ...

Dorte - Ohhh, this does seem creepy. And this is a good reminder that creepy and eerie do not require lots of blood and gore.

Maxine Clarke sagde ...

How interesting, I never thought "horror" when I read this book, but I see from the atmospheric quotations that it could have this connotation. It reminded me of John Fowles (The Magus) as well as those other authors. I think it is an excellent first novel, and I am surprised that he hasn't written any more (or maybe he has and I missed it).

Thanks for the link to my review!

Felicity Grace Terry sagde ...

The Minister´s Black Veil (1836), I'm intrigued to know more. Being written such a long time ago are you finding the English difficult?

Not a horror novel fan either but this sounds like it is more of a thriller with a creepy element to it.

Cathryn Grant sagde ...

Mark me down as another who doesn't read horror, until this past year. I read two flash fiction stories that I really liked and it made me think I should explore that genre more. The reason I don't tend toward horror is because I don't like gore etc. But I am intrigued by the idea of psychological horror.

The Lying Tongue is going on my TBR pile. I love the lines you quoted describing the building -- a very talented writer to draw me into his novel with a building. ;)

If you're interested in trying out Patricia Highsmith, of course Strangers on a Train is good, but I also liked Edith's Diary (many people don't, but I thought it was brilliant, gripping, and creepy).

Dorte H sagde ...

Margot: good point - and I certainly prefer authors who create an atmosphere without too much gore.

Maxine: I may have cheated slightly (I do most weeks after all :O), but it was just my best H-idea.

Tracy: no, not really, but I think my students will. And you are right, this is thriller, not ´real´ horror.

Cathryn: the advantage of flash fiction is the short dose - I have noticed that I can stomach most genres in a well-written flash story. And you are right about the quality of this one - my daughter put it down because she thought it was *too* literary.

Kelly sagde ...

I don't particularly care for horror movies, but I don't mind reading the occasional horror novel. I guess I prefer thrillers (especially psychological) to true horror.

Dorte H sagde ...

Kelly: films are always worse than books! - and this book will hardly scare you :D

pattinase (abbott) sagde ...

I like horror if it's psychological rather than physical. For instance THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE is brilliant. Or THE TURN OF THE SCREW.

Kerrie sagde ...

I have to protest - you keep finding such interesting sounding books Dorte! Thanks for this week's contribution to CFA

Beth F sagde ...

This is probably too creepy for me, but I take a look at it when I'm at the library.

Dorte H sagde ...

Kerrie: I know - I am a follower of our FriendFeed temptation room :D

Beth: well, I don´t think it is that bad, but it is not exactly a cosy.