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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2011 - 08:11 pm:   

Thinking about what I wrote about The Heart of the Matter, I thought - what are some great (some at all!) totally non-horror horror stories?

This would obviously be difficult to nail down, to quantify - one man's non-horror-genre piece is another man's traditional example of genre horror, and verse-vice-a.

But to me, it's like pornography - you just know it when you see it. I'm talking about stories that have elements perhaps of horror, as a cross-genre flavoring. But that would defy being nailed down to what would traditionally be called a "horror story." Again, I'm repeating and backflipping here - it's down to, you think you know it when you see it.

Examples that come to my own mind are....

"Night They Missed The Horror Show," Joe Lansdale
""The End of the Party," Graham Greene
"The Moment of Decision," Stanley Ellin
"The Next in Line," Ray Bradbury
"Seaton's Aunt," Walter de la Mare

What are some others? It's tricky. "The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson, for example, to me, is too much in the realm of horror to be classified as non-horror horror. Whereas We Have Always Lived In The Caslte is for me too far gone for non-horror horror to reach, and so also doesn't qualify....
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Stephen Theaker (Stephen_theaker)
Username: Stephen_theaker

Registered: 12-2009
Posted From: 92.232.184.206
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2011 - 10:39 pm:   

If we don't have to stick to short stories, I'd think of something like Steptoe and Son, which while obviously not horror, is as pure a vision of hell as you'll ever see.

Plays - Huis Clos by Sartre, and Waiting for Godot by Beckett come to mind.

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2011 - 10:50 pm:   

If we're including TV then you probably have to include The League of Gentlemen. While most (non-horror?) people would consider this to be a comedy, it's really quite sinister and horrific.

Not sure about literature (short or long fiction). I find it very difficult to distinguish between out-and-out horror and non-horror with a horror leaning, so I'm getting confused just trying to think about it!
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.24.30.11
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2011 - 09:16 am:   

Caroline, to me the Bradbury and de la Mare stories you cite belong firmly to the supernatural horror genre. They're just kind of low-key. Both are among the most frightening stories I know.

Lansdale identifies his short stories as being mostly within the horror genre rather than the crime genre I think because their intensity and nightmarish feel makes the violent scenes the focus, rather than the plots or the explanations. In the 'The Night They Missed The Horror Show', for example, there's no back story or explanation regarding the activities of the Texas Klan they burst onto the scene like something from a nightmare. Lansdale has a lot of nightmares, apparently.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2011 - 11:24 am:   

Great non-horror horror stories?

Certain stories that utilise philosophical concepts that are unpalatable or unbearable; for instance Norman Spinrad's 'No Direction Home' which it is revealed that true basic reality is a terrible, pointless thing; Harlan Ellison's 'I Have no Mouth and I Must Scream' which is about the horror of eternal consciousness; most of Philip K. Dick's novels, etc.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.66.23.11
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2011 - 11:34 am:   

The Talented Mr Ripley.

The closest examination of the mind of a psychopath I've ever read.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2011 - 11:46 am:   

The Tunnel by Ernesto Sabato. Recently republished as a Penguin Modern Classic.

One of the finest examinations of obsession I've ever read.
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.30.22
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2011 - 01:12 pm:   

See my list in The Book of Lists: Horror!
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2011 - 01:59 pm:   

>>Caroline, to me the Bradbury and de la Mare stories you cite ..<<

Joel - I'm afraid you're mixing me up with Craig!

Anyway, back to the question ... I guess it depends on each person's definition of "horror". I mean, if we have a story with lots of blood, gore and killing it could be horror if told perhaps from the killer's or victim's viewpoint. But if it's told from a detective's viewpoint, is it a murder mystery/thriller?

And, of course, horror is much more than blood, gore and killing. There's supernatural horror, psychological horror, etc, etc. And what about something that's slightly off-kilter, the weird story? Is that horror?

I'm not sure there's an answer to the question you posed, Craig - horror in fiction can crop up almost anywhere.

A novel which had a profound effect on me when I was a teen was one I picked up in my local library - "Excluded from the Cemetery" by Peter Marshall. I definitely thought it was horror when I read it. It's a tale of a young, rather disturbed, boy growing up (and turning into a rapist in the process, though not believing it to be rape - everything is told from his perspective, and it's quite heart-wrenching reading).

Anyway, when I tried to find that same book many years later, to see if it really was as good as I'd remembered, I was really surprised to find it catalogued under "Religion". Apparently, it's the moral of the story which puts it in that category, and the author intended it that way - it was just me who saw it as horror (maybe other readers too? I've never met anyone else who's read it).

Sorry, I'm rambling a bit today ...
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2011 - 02:33 pm:   

Sorry, Caroline. That's a grave error for me to have made.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 82.27.14.15
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2011 - 02:35 pm:   

It is, but I have to say that Caroline's template theory of film kind of makes it acceptable to accidentally mis-ascribe material to her. She deserves everything she gets for that travesty! :-)
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.66.23.11
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2011 - 02:38 pm:   

They look so alike as well
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Stephen Theaker (Stephen_theaker)
Username: Stephen_theaker

Registered: 12-2009
Posted From: 92.232.184.206
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2011 - 03:21 pm:   

On a similar point, Caroline, I was surprised yesterday to hear Mark West mention on Twitter that there's a film of Les onze mille verges by Apollinaire, which was the most shocking book I've ever read - e.g. parents are forced to rape their children and then the kids get put on spikes. I would have thought it was unfilmable.

When I looked the film up on www.imdb.com, it's listed as a comedy!

Either it was very unfaithful to the book, or my poor French let me down very badly when I read it!
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2011 - 05:40 pm:   

Yes, though sometimes I manifest my awful power through Caroline, please don't confuse us....

I might put the de la Mare story in the supernatural category (though it's a pull there), but the Bradbury one?... I see nothing "supernatural" about it. Horrifying? Both, yes, very.

In the end I guess it's a despairing enterprise to categorize and/or examine, because it's always going to be in the eye of the beholder, Caroline, et. al. But I persist in believing there are those stories that are right on the blurry edge - they don't go to one side nor the other, but almost perfectly balance themselves.

Truman Capote might be another good example, some of the stories from A Tree of Night, including that title story. It's been too many years since reading for me to remember it very accurately, but I'm feeling like Dennis Etchison's "The Dark Country" should also be included in this category. Many of Etchison's stories barely touch the fringes of horror, so too Joyce Carol Oates. Peter Straub's "The Juniper Tree," again my memory is hazy since it's been so long since reading, but I'm thinking it too needs to be placed in this bin.

I'd also put Tony's latest story, a fine one indeed and included in Des's The Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies, in this category, too....
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2011 - 09:52 pm:   

>>Yes, though sometimes I manifest my awful power through Caroline<<

Ah, that explains those strange urges I keep getting sometimes ...
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.17.202
Posted on Wednesday, July 06, 2011 - 09:13 am:   

I certainly won't claim any greatness for them, but not by any means everyone thinks that all my horror stories are horror stories. I do, though.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 129.11.77.197
Posted on Wednesday, July 06, 2011 - 04:44 pm:   

Do you have any particular tales in mind, Ramsey?

I'm struggling to think of any of your work that cannot be considered horror.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 166.216.226.50
Posted on Wednesday, July 06, 2011 - 05:24 pm:   

Me too....
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.66.23.11
Posted on Wednesday, July 06, 2011 - 05:44 pm:   

The Last Voice they hear could easily be marketed as a crime thriller - Mo Hayder's stories certainly cross the boundaries in just the same way as TLVTH but are marketed as straight crime stories.

Similarly The One Safe Place, Secret Stories or even Silent Children could easily be shelved in the crime section...
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.157.19.243
Posted on Wednesday, July 06, 2011 - 06:02 pm:   

It's not really horror or supernatural but The Go Between has an eerie atmosphere.
What about non-ghosty ghostly books as well?
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.157.19.243
Posted on Wednesday, July 06, 2011 - 06:06 pm:   

Caroline; talking about 'lost' books a long time ago I read a book called The Train Ride about a weird bloke who meets and befriends a kid in a train carriage and then kills her. The fact is, it was told from the bloke's viewpoint, and it shattered me when he killed because up until that point i felt a sort of sympathy for him. It dwelt on a lot of his childhood memories, and some of them were so vivid and poignant. I adored it at the time but then felt sort of mucky at the end, and not wanting to go there again. I don't know if it was a very 'acknowledged' good book but in hindsight it felt like a slightly grubby George Orwell.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.158.157.153
Posted on Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 10:50 am:   

Thanks, Craig!
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.17.36
Posted on Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 12:19 pm:   

Will this be it?

http://www.alibris.com/booksearch?qwork=6774710
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.158.157.153
Posted on Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 12:22 pm:   

I think that's it!
It's a disturbing read though. Making you like a character - and yes, sigh, identify with him - then have them kill in such a terrible way.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 01:47 pm:   

I read the same author's first novel, Jacqui, when it came out. Quite similar: engaging protagonist who then does awful things doesn't kill anyone in that book, though. He's a touching, melancholic sort of writer. Some phrases from that book have stayed with me over 25 years.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.158.157.153
Posted on Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 05:04 pm:   

Yes Joel - same here with the Train Ride. Sort of sad these quite powerful writers vanish entirely.
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Patrick Walker (Patrick_walker)
Username: Patrick_walker

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 31.185.128.210
Posted on Sunday, July 29, 2012 - 05:22 pm:   

I've said it before, but everything in Ian McEwan's first collection, First Love, Last Rights certainly qualifies in this category.
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Patrick Walker (Patrick_walker)
Username: Patrick_walker

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 31.185.128.210
Posted on Monday, July 30, 2012 - 10:22 am:   

Oh, and Rupert Thomson's Death of a Murderer.

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