article

Dealing with Racism in Genre Writing

image of train wreck

I’ve recently been reading The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane by Robert E. Howard.

They were recommended to me by a friend after I mentioned enjoying other sword & sorcery stories such as “Conan”, “Kull”, and Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane books.

The recommendation came with a caveat that some of the stories contained racist language and imagery. I’m not easily offended as a reader, so I felt fully prepared for it.

I was unprepared.

“The Moon of Skulls”, in particular, was a story I could barely finish. I forced myself to read it entirely, but I was completely disconnected from it once all the deeply racist imagery and description appeared. This was similar to certain stories I’ve read by H.P. Lovecraft, who, in addition to being a brilliant writer, was unfortunately a terrible xenophobe and bigot.

This post isn’t meant to be an examination of their beliefs. The guys were racist and wrong. Full stop.

What I want to understand is why the racist imagery struck me so hard, versus other books I’ve read like Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Huck Finn.

I believe it is because those stories were consumed as Literature (with a capital L) and in a scholastic setting. There was discussion and analysis that framed the reading of the books, and the “language of the time” was part of that larger critical discussion. That Howard and company were “genre” authors shouldn’t diminish their stories or the impact of their language, but I it feels more jarring in writing intended primarily for “entertainment”.

I’m a firm believer that genre stories can tackle tough subject matter, including social issues and politics. That said, outlets like Weird Tales and other pulp magazines were very much intended as entertainment during their heyday around the 1920’s. The very concept of “pulps” identified that this was not literature or high-brow stuff. It is writing as pure escapism, and I often read it because I want to escape the depressing and nasty things delivered by the media in a seemingly never-ending stream these days. So for it to appear in my escapist pleasure reading, I was angry and turned off.

I’m interested to know how the rest of you handle language that is offensive or distressing to you when you come across it.

Do you continue reading and try to “separate the art from the artist”? Do you stop reading it and find something else? Do you throw the book across the room and recoil in terror? Although I finished that initial story, I skipped later ones where I saw racist text, since I knew I wouldn’t enjoy the stories.

self-publishing, writing

DETROIT 2020 2nd Edition FREE THIS WEEK

d2020_2nd_cover

Hey everyone,

DETROIT 2020 2nd Edition is free this week only! If you or someone you know haven’t read the action-packed grindhouse thriller yet – full of mutant mayhem, car combat, and Wilson Phillips references – grab your free ebook here on Amazon

And once you’re done, I’d super appreciate if you let me know what you thought in a review.

Happy reading!

announcement

DETROIT 2020 2nd Edition Release and Sale

Hey loyal blog readers,

Just a short post to tell you DETROIT 2020 2nd Edition is now available!

After a long wait, the upgraded version of Dagger and Julia’s action-packed adventure through “Free Detroit” is now available for purchase on Amazon.

It features:

  • A cool new cover by artist Christoper Torres and Designer Kevin Noonan
  • A new layout and additional professional edit (now with 350% less typos!)
  • Previously deleted scenes and an expanded story that give you more details about the gritty world of “Free Detroit” and its citizens

d2020_2nd_cover

If you already own Detroit 2020, great news, it’s a FREE UPGRADE. If your Kindle has auto-updates enabled you should get 2nd Edition the next time you open it.

If you’ve never read it before, now is a great time to jump in because it’s on sale for just 99¢ to celebrate the re-release. Grab a copy while it’s cheap and see what all those 5-star reviews on Amazon are about!

Jeff and I also want to thank all of our friends and family that made this project possible. You’d be shocked at how much work was. Seriously, to everyone involved who has supported us in making this crazy book happen, you’re the best!

(While you’re here, I rarely post about my mailing list, but if you’d like to sign up for it, you can do that here. I send a quarterly newsletter with author updates and news, and I’ll never spam you or share your email address.)

book review

Book of The Year 2018

bs21

Holy cow, how did I almost forget to hand out my Book of The Year award?

Last year went to John Langan’s incredible folk-horror tale, The Fisherman.

Let’s all hope Netflix turns it into a movie like they did with Malerman’s excellent Bird Box

OK, so onto this year’s book. It’s a doozy with one hell of a long title.

Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe by Thomas Ligotti

(Yeah, I totally cut & pasted that)

This book. Oh this book.

So it’s technically a re-issue, but holy cow. This (set of two) books garnered me not just a Book of The Year, but also a personal “Favorite New Horror Author” award. It’s that good.

Ligotti’s work is just mind-bending. It’s also literary AF. So unlike The Fisherman and Bird Box I can totally recommend this to people who don’t traditionally like horror. Just don’t expect an easy read. It’s anything but.

As I said in my review earlier this year, this book is a straight-up challenge to get through. It takes time, focus, and lots of re-reading individual passages to unwrap the horrifying packaging of this guy’s ideas. The prose is also flat out beautiful, and makes me envious when I look at it.

Grab yourself a copy and you won’t be disappointed. I’m very excited to have received Ligotti’s The Conspiracy Against The Human Race for Christmas, which supposedly inspired a lot of those crazy Matthew McConaughey rants as Rust Cohle in the excellent season 1 of True Detective.

Good times all around.

What was your book of the year? Let everyone know down in the comments. I need to start making my “To Read” list for 2019!

 

article, Uncategorized

The Haunting of Hill House

_The-Haunting-of-Hill-House-Netflix

Watch it. Read it. Be terrified by it.

I’m doing both at the same time!

In a rare turn of events, I’ve begun watching the hit horror show “The Haunting of Hill House” while I read the book. This is normally a cardinal sin, as I’m one of those uppity “I want to read the book first” people.

I was convinced to double-dip because the show is different enough from the source material that one won’t fundamentally spoil the other.

So since this post is going up so close to Halloween, let me make a recommendation. If you haven’t found some solid horror this October, you just did.

If you need a good book, go read it. Shirley Jackson set the blueprint for the modern Gothic “haunted house” story. It is phenomenal literature, beautifully written, and oozing with dread. Plus it’s not too gory, for those non-horror folks who are turned off by that stuff.

If you need a new binge-worthy show on Netflix, watch it. Well-written, well-acted, and holy cow it’s scary! Just aces all around. Probably the best horror show to arrive on TV in the past five years.

So stop reading this and go read/watch Hill House now before your jack-o-lantern burns out and you’re left in the darkness.