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Teatro Grottesco [Paperback]

Thomas Ligotti
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 July 2008
Thomas Ligotti is often cited as the most curious and remarkable figure in horror literature since H. P. Lovecraft. His work is noted by critics for its display of an exceptionally grotesque imagination and accomplished prose style. In his stories, Ligotti has followed a literary tradition that began with Edgar Allan Poe, portraying characters that are outside of anything that might be called normal life, depicting strange locales far off the beaten track, and rendering a grim vision of human existence as a perpetual nightmare. The horror stories collected in Teatro Grottesco feature tormented individuals who play out their doom in various odd little towns, as well as in dark sectors frequented by sinister and often blackly comical eccentrics. The cycle of narratives introduce readers to a freakish community of artists who encounter demonic perils that ultimately engulf their lives.

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Teatro Grottesco + The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror + The King in Yellow (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Virgin Books (10 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753513749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753513743
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 16.7 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"An accomplished conjuror of nightmares in the tradition of H. P. Lovecraft" (The Times)

"Ligotti is wonderfully original; he has a dark vision of a new and special kind, a vision that no one had before him" (Interzone)

"A generous serving of Edgar Allan Poe, a dash of Franz Kafka, a smidgen of Robert Aickman: These comprise the components in the cauldron of creativity of Thomas Ligotti. . . . His descriptive powers are mesmerizing." (Hellnotes)

"Quite unlike anything else being published ... One of the most unique voices in the field ... His imagery is breathtaking" (Science Fiction Chronicle)

"(Ligotti uses) restrained, lyrical prose and subtly disturbing images that Poe himself might well have admired" (USA Today)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 24 May 2012
Teatro Grottesco, a collection of short stories, is split into three categories: Derangements, Deformations and the Damaged & the Diseased. This is the first time I've read anything from this author (whom I've heard so many goods things said) and I'm really enjoying it so far. I find his style very easy to read (although he does belabour the point sometimes) and he successfully manages to weave a haunting atmosphere in a most indirect way.

What particularly drew my attention to Ligotti is that people said he wrote in the tradition of Lovecraft with subtlety generally lacking from many modern writers of horror. He unsettles the reader not by regaling us with explicit acts of violence or terror, but instead by weaving a mood and atmosphere with his words and the way he tells the story.

With Lovecraft, his themes often centered around an individual uncovering a mystery that led the protagonist to discover ever more unsettling and disturbing things about reality that threatens their sanity. Humanity and it's sense of order and being the dominant species are undermined and belittled by the discovery of beings that were they not somehow dormant or absent would swat us away like we would an insignificant insect.

Ligotti seems to pursue this theme but in a different way. There are malignant and supreme forces at work in the universe that defy all comprehension by us mere mortals. As the reader, don't expect to understand the these mysteries any better than the protagonists of the story. The torment/suffering of the human victims in Ligotti's stories are often almost incidental to the central but unknowable goals of these malignant forces/beings.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thomas Ligotti 3 Jan 2014
Bizzare,unnerving,atmospheric and totally original.Ligotti is a genuine modern master and is well worthy of any comparisions made to his work with that of other literary magicians of the poetic,terrifying and surreal (Poe and Lovecraft are obvious touchstones).But his vision and style is all his own,no concessions to 'show-business',Ligotti is a craftsman and a complete one off in the best possible sense .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very atmospheric 8 Oct 2012
I couldn't actually finish this book. Not because it's bad, but because I found it so frightening. The brooding atmosphere followed me around everywhere, so I only read 4 stories and then had to stop! My friend, who had read it first, really enjoyed it, but wasn't affected by it like I was. (I am not a wuss, usually. In fact the friend I mentioned found Heart-shaped Box one of the scariest things he had read, while I thought it was a bit of fun featuring a malevolent ghost.)

If you want to be frightened, then I recommend this book.

The writing is superb and very stylish, evocative and sinister.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightenment Through Depression 25 April 2011
By kepotaz
Thomas Ligotti is a depressed genius who writes horror stories that mix Lovecraft, Poe, Kafka, Borges, E.M. Cioran, David Lynch, Thomas Bernhard and bunch of horror writers into a depressing, yet brilliant and surreal mix of short stories that represent nightmares better than any writer that I know of.

Some of the reviewers here in Amazon complain that the "plots" don't go anywhere, or that the stories don't make sense. Ligotti isn't about plots or stories that "make sense". His stories are about mood, atmosphere and dark, surreal truths about the world we live in. Mix of philosophical ideas and nightmares. Trying to "get" his stories is like trying to get what Kafka is about, or what the nightmare you had last night was about.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars creepy creepy! 22 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Amazing writer. His stories are not really horror in the usual sense of the word, but inhabit the realm somewhere between a disturbing dream and a full-blown nightmare. The best example of this is the opening story (and the best of this collection), where the gnawing unease is cranked-up by very subtle inferences. In fact, subtle is the word here, with each story insinuating itself upon the reader. Some of these tales have a nebulous structure, and just seem to float in suspension. The title story is a musing on life and society, and infers that this is a horror all of its own! This is all the work of a very special author.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting 4 Aug 2014
By Zin
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Teatro Grottesco is my first foray into Thomas Ligotti after being pointed to his literature by forums on the Excellent show "True Detective".

I am currently only half-way through the book, and don't even begin to understand some of the themes and interpretations of his work, but it is very interesting stuff, and certainly gets you thinking.

I am taking the approach of reading a story, then having a day or two to let it sink in and try to fully understand it. Some of the work here is certainly challenging and engages the reader in a way you do not experience very often.

It is definitely the kind of book to keep hold of and pull out now and again to re-read.

Very good.

I would like to read some of his other works, but most are out of print, and the ones you can get are out of my budget.

Oh well.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Killing Sadness 4 Aug 2011
By TomCat
Teatro Grottesco is a collection of thirteen short stories (give or take (some include `micro' narratives inside themselves)), in the horror genre. What kind of horror, precisely, is difficult to say, because while Ligotti doesn't conform to any of the basic slasher-gore, paranormal, supernatural, serial killer (etc.) genre types, he doesn't ignore them either. Instead he offers a subtle convergence of all of these ranks of horror (and much more besides), while simultaneously corrupting and distorting them from their more classic/familiar incarnations. For example, Ligotti's conception of viscera isn't a hyperbolic focus on blood `n' guts, but a half-glimpsed suggestion of mutation, tumorous growths and sick, malformed bodies. In the opener `Purity' I see a fetishising of the latent horror implicit in extreme body types - from the incredibly obese to the deathly emaciated or over-tumoured; the reader is unnerved not by any explicit focus on blood/bile/organs or the other inside aspects of the body which commonly dominate horror, but by an external grotesque which, mostly hidden in shadows or shooed away, is all the more disturbing for its malformity - such bodies cannot exist without something having gone drastically wrong. In this aspect, Teatro Grottesco is strikingly Lovecraftian: the body isn't a healthy temple which spills its secrets when sliced from the outside; it's instead an internally corrupting, treacherous, sickly and unhealthy shell liable to bloat itself or shrivel or grotesquely mutate: unreliable and frightening.

Similarly, Ligotti's approach to the supernatural is unconventional. In the title story `Teatro Grottesco', an elusive, never-seen theatre company drains all ambition and creativity from any artist precocious enough to enlist their services.
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