The Dark Descent
I've been losing more sleep than usual these days, simply because I recently bought an incredible horror anthology called The Dark Descent and instead of brushing my teeth and going to bed, I've been brushing my teeth and then standing around for another half hour finishing up whatever story I've been sucked into.
I've been a fan of horror fiction since I was in my early teens -- sometimes sneaking in books that I wasn't allowed to be reading because they were too 'adult' in nature - Stephen King, John Saul and the like. By high school, I'd read just about all of Stephen King and Dean Koontz's published work as of that time. I can't stomach Koontz anymore -- he's far too formulaic and the characters are so flat that they cause papercuts.
King I still like, when it's clear that it's really him writing. Unfortunately, I think there are a fair number of ghost-written novels out there bearing the Stephen King name (Insomnia stands out in my memory as obviously not King, but there were some other ringers as well). I've always liked his short stories better than his long fiction, anyway.
Short aside: saying that you enjoy Stephen King is taboo for an English major, especially a creative writing major (which I was). A lot of his work is pure escapism, admittedly, but some of it has a 'there there'. Case in point: You Know They Got a Hell of a Band, which has a fascinating subtext when read allegorically.
Clive Barker is a more recent favorite -- although Orson Scott Card also put together a kick-ass collection of stories in the horror mode back in the early 90s, called The Changed Man and the King of Words.
Let me reiterate, though, The Dark Descent is incredible. A lot of old favorites, as well as many excellent stories that I've never encountered before. (Theodore Sturgeon's "Bright Segment" has been playing in my head like a snuff film for two days now -- that and Clive Barker's "Dread", which is easily one of his best.) I'm only about a quarter of the way into the book and I'm already itching to get back into writing fiction -- something I haven't done seriously in about ten years.
I didn't put this blog up to hawk books, but if you like horror stories, this is one that you'll definitely want to get your hands on. Buy it, borrow it, check it out of the library or stick it in your pants the next time you're browsing through Borders. But definitely get a copy in hand.