LITERARY DARKNESS is a book discussion group on Goodreads with roughly two thousand members, many of them teachers, librarians and writers – passionate readers all. For three years, our knowledgeable and enthusiastic members have been analyzing and appreciating dark literature. This first annual list of notable books is in no way intended as an award, nor is it meant to be exclusive. Many wonderful books are out there, and we hope to read them all. Our goal is to help others discover them as well.
Some books become lights in the eternal darkness. What follows is a list of recommendations and commendations… combined with heartfelt thanks to the many fine writers who keep readers awake at night.
These are new titles selected by the group for having made a considerable impact during the past year.
THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME by Donald Ray Pollock
THE DROWNING GIRL by Caitlin R. Kiernan
THE FACELESS by Simon Bestwick
THE FLAME ALPHABET by Ben Marcus
GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn
HABIT by Stephen McGeagh
THE HOARD by Alan Ryker
JOHN DIES AT THE END by David Wong
KIN by Kealan Patrick Burke
WESTLAKE SOUL by Rio Youers
These may be collections of short fiction or literary essays, anthologies or novels. All are from the recent past and all are extraordinary.
THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE HUMAN RACE by Thomas Ligotti
THE HAIR WREATH AND OTHER STORIES by Halli Villegas
KNOCK KNOCK by SP Miskowski
THE LITTLE STRANGER by Sarah Waters
THE MARBLED SWARM by Dennis Cooper
A MATRIX OF ANGELS by Christopher Conlon
OCCULATION by Laird Barron
THE ROAD by Cormac McCarty
THE SECRET HISTORY by Donna Tartt
ZOMBIE by Joyce Carol Oates
Sometimes calling a book a Classic is like entombing it. Many readers would sooner pry open the lid of a coffin than peer between those musty pages. Often this represents a sort of tragedy. Many of these books seethe with life and emotion… and cry out to be read. These are among our favorites.
THE CASTLE by Franz Kafka
THE GOLEM by Gustav Meyrink
GRENDEL by John Gardner
THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson
MCTEAGUE by Frank Norris
NARROW ROOMS by James Purdy
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde
THE SAILOR WHO FELL FROM GRACE WITH THE SEA by Yukio Mishima
THE STRANGER by Albert Camus
TALES OF MEN AND GHOSTS by Edith Wharton
This is a list of titles, some celebrated, some obscure, that in so many ways evoke the finest qualities of literary darkness.
ICE AGE by Iain Rowan
KELLAND by Paul G. Bens, Jr.
THE KING IN YELLOW AND OTHER HORROR STORIES by Robert W. Chambers
LET’S PLAY WHITE by Chesya Burke
SOUTHERN GODS by John Horner Jacobs
STAY AWAKE by Dan Chaon
SUICIDE BLONDE by Darcey Steinke
SUSPICIOUS RIVER by Laura Kasischke
THE WASP FACTORY by Iain Banks
WORSE THAN MYSELF by Adam Golaski
Literary Darkness is dedicated to an appreciation of important works of literature, both classic and contemporary, that happen to fall into the category of Dark Fiction. We tend to avoid the big, banal blockbusters (and the more lurid fare) in favor of beautifully written explorations of the unknown, many obscure, all extraordinary.
This is our 2012 list of books selected by the membership for reading and discussion. The links provided should help clarify some of the criteria involved in making these choices.
THE COLLECTED STORIES OF ELIZABETH BOWEN
CONJURE WIFE by Fritz Leiber
GARDENS OF NIGHT by Greg F. Gifune
HOUDINI HEART by Ki Longfellow
HOUSE OF LEAVES by Mark Z. Danielewski
MARTYRS & MONSTERS by Robert Dunbar
THE NIGHT STRANGERS by Chris Bohjalian
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES by Ray Bradbury
VERLAND: THE TRANSFORMATION by B. E. Scully
Our group discussions of these works may be found here: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/group_folder/90262?group_id=13824
We are currently reading Robert Aickman’s collection THE WINE-DARK SEA.