December 8, 2020
Based on recommendation from r/horrorlit: I read Stephen King’s “The Jaunt” and Clive Barker’s “In the Hills, the Cities.” I figured what a better time to read a bit of horror than the holiday season. The former is a bit. of cosmic horror, while the latter seems more allegorical, or body horror.
King’s story would make a great Twilight Zone episode. It’s really a science-fiction, horror story that has a simple mystery and a nice payoff at the end that could be done very well visually. The style seems old-fashioned, like a lot of King’s writing, but one that works well in horror. I call the story cosmic horror, but the style is nothing like Lovecraft, yet the scale—the weight and immensity—of the horror takes on cosmic dimensions. I recommend this one.
Barker’s story is so surreal that it takes on allegorical dimensions. Like King’s, I think with the right director—like David Cronenberg—this could be a great visual treat. The horror here is vast, and seems to exist on an allegorical plane—something about politics, tradition, religion, and intimacy. All of this centers around the flesh—the way our bodies are twisted by external forces that are not necessarily simpatico with individual desires. Also worth a read.
Neither of these stories is “scary,” but both are definitely horror. I might stick with Barker for a bit longer. I’ve had the film version of “Midnight Meat Train” for a while now, so I might try the short story first with is in the same Books of Blood volume as “In the Hills, the Cities.”