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Baker's Dozen

Some Will Not Sleep: Adam Nevill's Favourite Horror Short Stories
Sean Kitching , October 30th, 2016 07:40

To mark the Halloween release of his own first collection of short stories, Some Will Not Sleep: Selected Horrors, horror novelist and genre aficionado, Adam Nevill, selects a Baker’s Dozen of his favourite short stories from contemporary writers in the field of modern horror. As with Nevill’s 2015 filmic Baker’s Dozen, fans of the genre are going to find an abundance of suggestions to work through on this list. (Written by Adam Nevill, as relayed to Sean Kitching)


Joel Lane - ‘My Voice is Dead’
Stephen, a Catholic man sickened from the treatment of his cancer, the insidious return of the illness, and the sickening revelations of sex abuse amongst Catholic priests that has rocked his faith, invests his desperate curiosity into an appalling occult website for a sect of the Yellow Sign.

The site features "amateurish sketches and blurred photos" of a ruined industrial landscape beside a black lake. It is "the ruined city of Carcosa", information further embellished by "a few crude drawings" of "crippled birds and misshapen human figures that lurked around the lake and ruined buildings". With his own end near, his body ruined, his faith rejected, his mind in a vice of despair, his correspondence with the Yellow Sign website offers Stephen enigmatic clues about its own brand of salvation: "The King is in tatters, the Lake of Hali is in twilight, the Pallid Mask never changes. Life fades but death goes on forever. I think you are ready to join us." In typical Lane fashion, Robert Chambers's legendary fictitious realm of Carcosa is actually in Telford, and his journey to it is made by train and then inside a rusty blue metro car. The legendary city of Carcosa itself is flanked by burned out tower blocks, beside a polluted lake, not far from a derelict estate of council housing. A few prefabricated huts and some kind of church, with scaffolding around its steeple, completes the mythical location. And yet, also in typical Lane fashion, despite the awful seediness of the ordinary, there is something unnaturally ghastly afoot too.

The late and much missed Lane, was a unique horror writer, who consistently portrayed the West Midlands as the grimmest place you might ever find in fiction, but he painted it with the eye and insight of a remarkable poet. He was an ardent socialist and the wounds of Thatcherism he kept open and undressed. His stories are short, sharp, hard, tone-prose-poems of the broken, the breaking, the fragile, the lost, the addicted, self-harming, depressed, sadistic, suicidal and self-mutilating. Through his grim and grotesque visions of flyovers, concrete, tarmac, dreadful pubs and waste ground, arise unpalatable truths and a lyrical delicacy that never fails to startle you. Yet, the abiding quality in his work is empathy - like a sin-eater, Lane seemed to draw into himself the morbid and the worst of everything and everyone to write about his subjects authentically. He knew what was inside us in our darkest hours. And he knew and expressed the suffering of his time and place, successfully fusing social realism with horror.

Recommendation: Scar City (Eibonville Press)