Thomas Ligotti is a truly unusual author. He has a fascination with "weird fiction," with the unknowable, the macabre. This is paired with a knack for eloquent word-poetry, intelligence and complexity, and a sense of the chillingly unusual. When I finish reading several Ligotti stories, I find that the world looks different. The colors aren't quite right any more, or the angles, or maybe people seem a little darker, a little stranger.
I have several books of Ligotti stories and Noctuary is my favorite. I have often wondered why, and the answer I eventually came to is that most of the stories in here are shorter than those in other books. The longest one is less than 40 pages, and many are only two or three pages long. As much as I love all of Ligotti's writing, he's at his best when he writes in short chunks. Otherwise I find his writing sometimes drags a little.
Ligotti's work is not for everyone. If you don't like the weird or the macabre, you won't enjoy his work. If you prefer your stories to be normal, with a beginning, middle and end, all wrapped up in a neat little ribbon, then this is not for you. If you prefer your world to be its same, comfortable self when you close your books - don't read a word of Ligotti. Ligotti's style is definitely not for everyone. He hands us phrases that no one but he would conceive of, that almost cannot help but elicit a shudder:
"We witness the scene and, with what remains of our mouths, we smile."
But for those of us who enjoy it, it is a dread and harrowing pleasure - one that I would not give up. My only regret is that Ligotti is not a more prolific author.