Bury February 2 – Post #2: Darkened Passages

Here we are, post two of my second BURY FEBRUARY blog event. It wasn’t something I was planning on doing this year, considering the sheer crap-tastic nature of January 2010. But then I realized that Bury February isn’t about spewing vitriol on the most useless of holidays. It’s about getting to the other side of winter. The way I plan to do it is by grouping together some posts which stand in opposition to not only St Valentine’s Day but the sheer lethargy this time of year exudes. Truly this is the deadest month. Sure, you could turn to current world affairs and say otherwise. But I think it just goes to prove that April is not the cruelest month… Here’s some words about reading and Ramsey Campbell

Let’s face it, none of us are reading as much as we used to or should. And I’m not talking about those who can count the number of books they’ve read in a year on one hand. I’m talking to the constant readers, those whose homes teem with the printed world. I’m building those paperback towers in every cupboard and corner.

The ironic upshot of the death of the printed page is how cheap used books are. The world of mainstream publishing house fiction is one of disposable thrills. Without pointing fingers these type of books are simply dry runs for the movie, pages for people who read rarely. I picture the shock that the normal casual reader experiences when they cross the path of Ramsey Campbell.

The less literately inclined would not likely use the word shock to describe the slow motion nightmares of Campbell.
His earliest works in Lovecraftian pastiche form a bridge between the classic horror stories and more modern forms. In novels like The Parasite and The Face That Must Die, the mundane and fantastic merge through the fusion of the supernatural with the psychological. These conflations really require character building and that takes time. Theme and atmosphere is not the desired poison of the modern horror fan.

While I have not seen El Segundo Nombre or Los Sin Nombre, two Spanish films adapted from Campbell’s work, the psychological depths of his fiction means they are books instead of script treatments. His fiction, however, is not absent of striking imagery. Stories to be savored rather than wolfed down are far and few today.

Campbell has consistently turned away from the increasingly shrill splatter histrionics to put forth ideas more nuanced. Horror doesn’t approach from unfamiliar angles, it knows us from the inside out. What if it is our house that’s haunted and not the one atop the hill?

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