Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Croning by Laird Barron

Modern cosmic horror from the unlikely sounding Laird Barron.  Aside from the clearly invented name, he's meant to be a one eyed champion dog sledder from Alaska.  It's all too perfect. Is he really the ghost of HP Lovecraft?

The Croning is genuinely unsettling - more so than any book I've read in years.  It concerns the elderly Don Miller looking back on decades of happy marriage with his beloved wife Michelle.  Except he's scared of the dark, he has worrying gaps in his memory, and deep down he knows something is terribly wrong.

What really works is how the reader is always one step ahead of Don.  We know before he does that there's something very sinister going on, even if we don't know exactly what.  And his growing unease and paranoia could just be the onset of dementia.  But you know it isn't.

This is Lovecraft where you actually start to care about the characters.  The small details of domestic life rub up nicely against the vast and unspeakable horror behind the curtain.  And despite it all, there are quite a few laughs to be had, even if they're mostly of the blackest hue.


Okay, I've missed a few books out of late, and I fear they'll have to fall by the wayside.  I'll give special mention to The Kindness of Women, JG Ballard's follow up to Empire of the Sun.  Not really a memoir, because much of it appears to be made up, but it does suggest that Crash is more autobiographical than you'd think was possible.  Electric Eden by Rob Young is also well worth a read - a very entertaining and comprehensive history of British folk music.  Makes me want to pull on an itchy jumper and put one finger in my ear.

1 comment:

zungg said...

Sounds great. There's a story by Laird Barron called "The Forest" in my favourite anthology bar none, "The Weird" ed. Ann and Jeff Vandermeer(buyit, buy it), but I'm not sure that I've read it yet.