Thomas Ligotti is an American writer of strange, disturbing fictions, which linger in the mind long after you’ve finished reading. He has been compared to the horror writers H P Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe, and since 1982 he’s been winning nominations and awards for his work.
His 2008 collection of short stories Teatro Grottesco is an unsettling one. Although they appear at first sight to be about the routines and rituals of “normal” life, details soon accumulate that twist our perception of the world he is conjuring into existence. Several of the stories share a very similar environment – a remote “northern border town” which inhabits a post-industrial landscape, semi-derelict and decaying. Very little can be seen – the stories are usually set at twilight, or during the night, or in a miasma of permanent fog. The street lights, when working, are dim. The inhabitants work at pointless and repetitive jobs – processing endless forms or constructing strange metal artifacts with no understanding why they are doing so. They are overseen by managers and foremen, who may or may not be human, and who mysteriously appear and disappear, possibly at the behest of the Quine Organisation, a company that also controls the medication upon which everyone relies. Continue reading