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Key horror novels 70s/80s

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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Friday, September 22, 2006 - 01:23 pm:   

With Halloween season around the corner, I always get the bug to tackle a few horror novels. I'm about to finish Peter Straub's Ghost Story, which got me thinking about horror novels from the 70s and 80s. I'm well versed in the works of the popular writers like King, Straub, and Barker, and am familiar with some of the landmark works like Klein's The Ceremonies and Leiber's Our Lady of Darkness. So I'm interested in discovering some more great horror novels from these decades that get overlooked. Any personal favorites out there?
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, September 22, 2006 - 07:28 pm:   

This is on my website but I'll post it here:

Scary Books: A List

[Someone once asked me for a list of books that I've found to be scary. This list is quite a few years old now -- no title on it is more recent than 1993 -- so maybe one of these days I'll update it.]


Finishing Touches (1987) by Thomas Tessier -- I think this one really terrified me because the process of corruption of the innocent was nicely subtle and utterly believable.

Red Dragon (1981) and The Silence of the Lambs (1988) by Thomas Harris -- to me are the best of the serial killer novels. Perhaps Silence affected me more because the protagonist is a woman and I could relate to Clarice more than I could to Will.

A Child in Time (1987) by Ian McEwan is about the aftereffects of a child abduction that is never solved. Even though I have no children this parent's nightmare is remarkably disturbing.

If You Could See Me Now (1977) by Peter Straub -- something about it just got under my skin

Skin (1993) by Kathe Koja -- probably because I find mutilation frightening and voluntary mutilation even more so.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2006 - 12:11 pm:   

AbeBooks.com shows copies selling for a dollar:

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?sts=t&an=Irwin&y=0&tn=Arabian+Nigh tmare&x=0
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2006 - 12:37 pm:   

It appears, from Amazon, that Arabian Nightmare has been re-printed, as it's readily available.

Ellen, I just recently picked up a copy of Tessier's Finishing Touches, after reading Bill Sheehan's glowing essay in Horror: Another 100 Best Books. I've read parts of Tessier's Fogheart and was impressed -- definitely a novelist whose work I need to explore.
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William Lexner
Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2006 - 12:40 pm:   

Books not named yet:

-House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
-Perfume by Patrick Suskind
-Anno-Dracula by Kim Newman
-The Nightmare Factory by Thomas Ligotti (Reading this one now, due to many reccomendations.)
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2006 - 05:23 pm:   

I've never read Newman and the plot of ANNO-DRACULA, from the dust jacket, always souned kind of silly to me. But it's received heaps of praise, so I should probably add it to the list...
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2006 - 07:33 pm:   

The Arabian Nightmare is excellent.
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Jamie Rosen
Posted on Tuesday, September 26, 2006 - 06:58 am:   

The Face of Another by Kobo Abe might not get classed as horror, strictly speaking, but it's disturbing and nightmarish.
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Gary Couzens
Posted on Tuesday, September 26, 2006 - 11:18 am:   

I'd add Joyce Carol Oates's Son of the Morning to any list of 70s horror novels, though it was never published as such.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Tuesday, September 26, 2006 - 11:29 am:   

Gary: Never heard of that Oates' novel, and it appears to be OOP. From what I've read, it sounds fascinating.
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GabrielM
Posted on Tuesday, September 26, 2006 - 01:19 pm:   

I love THE ARABIAN NIGHTMARE, but I think all of Robert Irwin's novels, including especially EXQUISITE CORPSE and SATAN WANTS ME, are worth reading. His anthology of classical Arabic texts, NIGHT AND HORSES AND THE DESERT, is also fascinating. He's been rather neglected I think.
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George O'Gorman
Posted on Thursday, September 28, 2006 - 05:11 pm:   

Oates also wrote a disgusting book called "Zombie". I think it came out in the eightees, maybe newer. Guaranteed to induce projectile vomiting.

Speaking of which, Harris wrote a third Hannibal book called "Hannibal" in the ninetees. It's not quite as good as Silence of the Lambs, but still really good. It fleshes out Hannibal's character. The three work well as a trilogy.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, September 28, 2006 - 06:07 pm:   

Zombie is actually from the mid-90s.
I meant to read it but never got around to it.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Friday, September 29, 2006 - 06:02 am:   

George: Yeah, I read Zombie a while back. It's quite a quick, disburbing read -- made all the more disturbing by Oates' narration, told from the first-person POV of a serial killer.
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George O'Gorman
Posted on Friday, September 29, 2006 - 02:32 pm:   

How does a writer write a book like Zombie without going insane?
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William Lexner
Posted on Sunday, October 22, 2006 - 09:20 am:   

Yeah.....House of Leaves......80's.....how did I screw that one up?

Allow me to replace it with Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin.
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Jeff Rogers
Posted on Tuesday, November 06, 2007 - 11:56 am:   

This is great, thanks for the info!
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Ryan Strange
Posted on Monday, December 03, 2007 - 11:33 am:   

I completely agree, Zombie is seriously disturbing!
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Beth Ryans
Posted on Tuesday, December 04, 2007 - 08:22 am:   

Thanks I have been looking for some more good books!

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