Blood, guts and literacy.
January 22, 2008 11:53 AM   Subscribe

What should I read after Jack Ketchum?

I just read three Jack Ketchum novels in a row (The Girl Next Door, Off Season and Offspring) and while I like him I'm ready to branch out into other writers. Who makes a good follow-up in the modern horror genre? Anything that can touch the darkness of The Girl Next Door or Off Season is what I'm looking for. I don't mind a touch of the supernatural, but no vampires, please.
posted by Bookhouse to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I really enjoyed Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted.
posted by dosterm at 3:23 PM on January 22, 2008

I'm a huge admirer of Ketchum, but I hated Haunted (no offense, dosterm :-). Nothing like Ketchum, for sure. Whenever you're ready for another by JK, I highly recommend Ladies' Night...
posted by ibeji at 3:59 PM on January 22, 2008

At risk of hijacking: the original post made me think I wanted to check out some Ketchum, but then I read the reviews on amazon and frankly got nervous that maybe it would be too disturbing/intense/grotesque for me.

How can I know whether or not I can handle Ketchum without, you know, actually having to find out the hard way? As a point of reference, I am not a huge fan of the torture porn movies but I didn't find them unwatcheable... with the exception of High Tension. I turned it off right before things went into high-gear... pretty much the only movie I have ever done that with...

What movies are at the same level of intensity of Ketchum?
posted by robotdog at 5:09 PM on January 22, 2008

Don't mind the hijack, robotdog, it doesn't look like I'll get many responses anyhow. I've never read anything as dark as The Girl Next door or as violent as Off Season (excluding waaay out shit like Peter Sotos). I got into Ketchum after reviewing The Girl NExt Door the film, which came out recently on DVD. It has about one percent of the gore of High Tension and is far more disturbing. Try renting it.

It's not just the gore factor -- it's the way Ketchum inhabits the minds of both victims and killers. I guess Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is pretty much in the ballpark.
posted by Bookhouse at 6:02 PM on January 22, 2008

Aww, you hated Haunted? I'm taking it personally! ;) I admit, the stringing together of the stories struck me as ham-handed, but I thought there were some pretty strong moments.

Sounds like I need to check out this here Ketchum character. I threw in a suggestion mostly because nobody was saying anything.

Anybody ever read Carlton Mellick III? I don't know if anyone would call it horror (honestly, I don't know what it is, other than surreal), but Satan Burger certainly is as disturbing as any horror movie I've seen.
posted by dosterm at 7:54 PM on January 22, 2008

Thanks, dosterm. I've read haunted also, and I didn't hate it, but it's not really the same (although that one story in it -- you know the one -- caused as physical a reaction in me as anything I ever read). Ketchum is very different. He doesn't use a literary style -- it's very bare-bones pop writing, just way beyond the norm.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:18 PM on January 22, 2008

It really is hard coming up with contenders for Ketchum. But one name that came to mind after your "inhabiting both killer and victim" comment is Peter Straub. Not a new or obscure author (someone you may have already read actually), but the level of disturbing imagery/ideas *and* skillful, effective writing he offers is rare; I find my mind wandering back to his stories more than many others.

"The Buffalo Hunter" from his collection House of Doors is a strange, strange thing and oddly beautiful... not your usual predator/victim set-up either. The nature of violence, obsession, failure, and disconnection as experienced by one man alone in his apartment.

"Bunny is Good Bread" from the collection Magic Terror is as tortuous a descent into childhood and depravity as The Girl Next Door. It shares a similar plot with "The Juniper Tree" from House of Doors, but is much much darker.

To answer your request for darkness specifically, the darkest book I've heard of in the genre is respected author Samuel Delany's 1969 work Hogg. Delany's a really interesting guy, and I'd be fascinated to see him plumb the depths of his own psyche, but... I still haven't brought myself to touch this work. Reading the synopsis may be enough, and really, this book sounds like a thing unto itself, somewhat separate from the rest of the horror genre.
posted by ibeji at 7:06 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

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