Let's be honest. One of the best horror novels of the past several years was not some piece-of-crap zombie novel, nor was it anything to do with sparkly vampires. It was Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Like Pet Sematary, this book is horror defined. There is no gore involved, just the hell of seeing your child's soul die in front of you as he grows up.
The debate over what is horror can take up a lot of time and space. Horror is something visceral, so there's no point in trying to define it to someone who might view it differently. So I'll come up with two related examples.
The other night, I was bopping around the vast world that is Reddit. Reddit is nothing more than a gigantic high school with a student body of more than a million people. I ended up in a sub-reddit called /r/gore.
The title says is all: Gory photos and videos. Once this corner of the net and many like it were inundated by videos releases by Al Qaeda and Ansar al-Islam: beheading videos in the desert. But those videos, which are awful, pale in comparison to what is now coming out of Mexico.
Mexican drug-cartels (And I'm afraid to even type their names; I suspect they just might show up at my door) like to capture members of rival gangs, and then slowly cut off their heads on camera. Sometimes they like to be efficient and use chainsaws. Sometimes they like to leave piles of dismembered bodies on the side of the road.
I was an idiot and watched a few of those videos, and clicked on a few photos. It's that awful Mount-Everest urge to vault the greatest heights, or see the most extreme things. Afterwards, I felt numb and ill, but I recovered.
I read up a little more about life in the cities south of the US border, such as Ciudad Juarez, which is the most afflicted by drug violence. This is what one resident said: "After work everyone rushes home. Because after dark, the vampires come out."
I was disturbed and grossed out by the videos, but that one statement by an innocent Mexican citizen horrified me and gave me nightmares. That is horror.
In We Need to Talk about Kevin, the vampires come out. A woman is condemned to hell on earth - because she didn't want a child in the first place? Because her son was born bad? Because she may have abused him? We never know, and the reader may as well vote as to whether the mother or Kevin himself is to blame for Kevin's behaviour. According to the author, it's about 50-50.
The movie is coming out soon. It's earned the author's seal of approval. It features John c. Reilly, who is wonderful, and most importantly, a delicious, six-foot package of acerbic and gingery goodness by the name of Tilda Swinton (who regretfully has gone brunette for this role).
For those of you who want true horror, and to be taken to a place where everything you ever wanted and valued turns sour and rotten as you live it, read this book. See this movie.
I've been writing stories for years. I think I'm a good writer and I'm willing to bet you'll feel the same way. So here they are. Enjoy them, comment on them, tell your friends about'em, reblog them, retweet them, reread them. I have four stories in my archive so far:
"One day on the Mountain", a story of Lycanthropy, a father, and a son.
"The Boy", a story of a very ambitious and sociopathic fifth grade boy.
"The Easy Girl, A story of infidelity and unpaid sexual debts. This story is very dark.
"Brick The Mighty", a story of an aging superhero.
Although this is primarily a blog of horror, I also write about things that are important to me. I have more stories tucked away; they just need editing. There's even a few novels. There will be more to come.
PS. Feel free to leave a comment. I love comments.