I'm still playing at keeping busy and my mind on neutral things. I wrote a bit yesterday, and I read a few stories in the evening.
I finished reading Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. Without spoilers, the book is a collection of short stories attached to a frame. Twenty-five writers agree to disappear from their lives for three months at a writers' retreat to complete their masterpieces, but instead of working they choose to procrastinate in the most... physically and emotionally violent ways possible. This is a brilliant book, but it is NOT an easy read. I feel like I deserve a badge for my web site along the lines of "I survived Haunted."
The collection kicks off with the story "Guts," which I heard about years ago and made it my mission to read. At the time I think it was only published in Penthouse, but I got hold of a copy and was floored.
When I heard about "Guts," I remember thinking: It can't be as horrifying as people say. Well. It is.
I can't recommend this sort of horror to another person --graphic doesn't begin to cover it-- but I'm glad I read it. And I'm glad it exists to gross me out and make me think.
I also read a couple stories from American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from the 1940's Until Now edited by Peter Straub including Caitlin R. Kiernan's "The Long Hall on the Top Floor," and half of Kelly Link's "Stone Animals." Kiernan is one of those writers whose work I rush out and buy as soon as it's available. Her word choices are powerfully precise and evocative.
Kiernan's new novel, The Drowning Girl was just released and would be a good place to start if you want to try her dark fiction.
As for Kelly Link, she's a fantastic short story writer. You can read some of Link's work free at her web site.
There were other stories and snippets of things, but now it is time to brew the coffee. Happy Thursday.