Jan/Feb 2012 Reviews & Interviews

GRANTA 117: Horror

GRANTA 117: Horror
John Freeman, Editor.
Granta. 2011. 256 pp.
ISBN 978 1 905881 36 9.

Review by Ann Skea

Buy now from Amazon! This is no collection of ghosts, ghouls, and gruesome fantasies. Indeed, there is enough real horror in the world for imagination to be unnecessary. So, Granta's "Horror" covers Will Self's thoughts on his own rare blood disease; Tom Bamforth's field notes from a humanitarian mission in a lawless area of Sudan; Paul Auster's reactions to the death of his mother; and Santiago Roncagliolo's memories of returning to Peru as a worker for the Public Defenders Department and working with the Belgian human rights activist, Father Hubert Lanssiers, interviewing convicted, potentially violent, terrorists in an overcrowded, high-security prison. Mark Doty writes about eroticism, desire, insatiability, addiction, and Bram Stoker and Walt Whitman; and Julia Otsuka examines the strange world of memory loss.

Fiction is not completely absent from this collection. Roberto Bolano's "The Colonel's Son" (translated from the Spanish) traps you in the fertile mind of a man obsessed by a film story, Rajesh Parameswaran shape-shifts into a man-eating tiger, Dan DeLillo follows in the steps of a film-obsessed stalker, Sarah Hall creates a weird and frightening dog story, and Stephen King tells a ghost story with a sting in its tail.

Sometimes, however, fact is weirder than fiction, like the crypto-gothic fight club in Los Angeles visited by Daniel Alarcon—Cave Woman fights The Hammer, Arctic fights The Mad Monk, and rivers of fake blood flow across the floor so that your shoes stick to it.

Poetry and art, too, explore death and disease. D.A.Powell's poem "Quarantine" suggests a black future in which the world becomes "one great gall," and Kanitta Meechubot gathers life, love, and death into her unusual images of "The Garden of Illuminated Existence."

There are nightmares and terrors enough here to haunt the imagination and keep you awake at night. And, as usual, Granta has chosen the best people to tell you about them.


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