lunedì 11 aprile 2011

Word Wizards: Jack Ketchum

I am pretty much convinced that the majority of Horror, in any of its forms, fails its purpose: it is not scary. If the author/creator applies, they will, maybe, gross you out but thats as far as they will go. Great horror creations are less than a few, and most of the time, the effect they had on you will be relative tonyour age or personla sensitivity and not really to their effective power.

That said, the genre in itself can host some good narrators or visonaries. I could go on for paragraphs about horror cinema and the abstract beauty of its great geniuses and i will in the future.

What i wanna talk about here is one of the great usung geniuses of horror writing: Jack Ketchum. While the public tends to recognize more famous narrators as the "kings" of the genre, a lot of those names have really given their best efforts through non-horrifying storytelling.

I think the biggest example is Stephen King, a great writer (at time more underrated than the opposite, i think) that knows how to create vivid visions and feelings through wordplay anjd whose best works are unadaptable in any form that isnt the page (which is, to me, the sign of a great word wizard). Still his masterpeieces arent strictly horrifying. They do contain moments of creepiness but their power, take "It" or "The Stand" fo example, is not in those moments but in the human side or the off-there ideas. So while scouting for good reading, i noticed that often, in recoomendations, the name of Jack Ketchum came up. "The most dangerous writer in the world". "Terror personified". "The true king of horror". He started a whole movement of "extreme horror", that apparently was rooted in the attempt of using the wirtten word's power to create REAL horror.

Any of his novels could terrify even the most jaded reader. And, while violence and brutality are present in his stories, sometimes even strongly, the visceral power of his greatest stuff scars you way more deeply than a simple shows of gruesome killings or monsters. He worte some stories about vampires or brutal zombie-like creatures (like the amazingly hardcore "Off Season", a novel thats ages and still has the crude relentless power that few others have in its absolute lack of restraint). But his real peak is in stories that talk about real evil, like "The Lost", which contains one of the most dark and completely uncomnpromising villains ive met or the bleak poetry of "Red", a tale of an old-vet and his dog, turned into a descent into blodd spattered grief and humanity.

Or "The Girl Next Door".

If you never read that book, you might want to check it out without knowing anything about its story. But think twice. I would love to blindly reccomend it, cause its written beautifully, powerful and shiny. Still, its a book that scras people. Deeply. Actually, if you read it and you're not affected by it, something is really wrong with your soul and you're a sickly jaded person.

"The girl next door" takes a very harrowing true story. Uses Ktchum's pitch perfect ability to create a realistic atmosphere, believable and likeable characters, moments of absolutely heartbreaking swqeetness and sentences that get burned in your heart forever and uses it to destroy your soul. Its a tale of beauty, of sweetness, of humanity and how it can get devoured by pure evil. Real evil. The one you cant stop and that corrupts everything, turning even innocence into a rotting pit of corrosive slime. How man is essentially capable to do beautiful things but how it can easily turn into the most inexplicable threat on earth. With no reaosn besides cruelty and the thriving on it.

Thers a movie of it. It isnt bad but it turns the story into weird exploitation.

Some things shouldnt be seen by eyes. They only should be summoned. Theres no way to really give a good view of true hell, withotu somehow diminishing it. Jack Ketchum does. You've been warned.

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