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Messages - Paul Campbell

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Books / Re: Your biggest influence - authorwise...
« on: October 08, 2006, 12:05:37 pm »
Peter Straub's 1990 collection Houses Without Doors.

I love short stories. This is a collection of stories.

A lot of critics and writers lament the fact that the short story market has shrunk so drastically, without owning up to the fact that it's partially their fault.


They write short fiction.

There is no story.

Slipstream movement... how I loathe and curse the British slipstream movement. All dates back to the early 1990s when Chris Kenworthy released his insipid series of independent press anthologies. The early issues of The 3rd Alternative were another culprit. Their introductions and editorials gloried in the fact that they weren't interested in 'story'. To them 'story' was a bad word.

The real tragedy?

This movement was praised to the skies and there, people, was the beginning of the death of the short story.

Oh, there's plenty of short fiction - navel-gazing, lint-picking, miserablist dreck that, at best, reads like an excerpt from a novel; at worse the self-absorbed musings of a self-pitying diarist.

Don't these writers realise why fiction exists in the first place?


It's always about story. It always should be about story.

Thankfully not every new writer has been seduced and brainwashed by this slipstream movement -

- thanks be to Joe Hill!

20th Century Ghosts, a collection of stories. That's right, stories! Here's a new writer who glories in story, who champions story!

These are the writers I want.

These are the writers every reader should demand.


With a linage like Tabitha and Stephen as his parents it's surely no surprise that Joe is a storyteller (Stephen's The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is the only novel that has made me cry as an adult and Tabitha's The Book of Rueben is, quite simply, a modern classic - and their other son, Owen, has recently released a terrific short novel called We're All in This Together; a tragi-comedy worthy of the best of John Irving).

Peter Straub's House Without Doors blew me away; it's the apotheosis of storytelling. Forget all those Writer's Digest manuals: this is the only 'how-to' book you need. From vignettes, novelettes and novellas Straub's masterful touch is on every line of every page.

Robert McCammon's Blue World is another seminal collection, as are:

David Morrell's Black Evening

Thomas Ligotti's Grimscribe

Margaret Atwood's Wilderness Tips

and Dan Simmon's Prayers to Broken Stones

More, there's always so many more: any collection by Ramsey Campbell or Connie Wilis. Gardner Dozois's Geodesic Dreams. The Charles Beaumont reprospective The Howling Man. Lucius Shepard. Michael Swanwick. Brian Aldiss.

Storytellers, each and every one of 'em.

The biggest influence on me... you mean in terms of which author's have consistently touched me the most?

That would have to be Clive Barker and John Irving. Irving's tragi-comedies are par excellence and Barker's love of language, character and story are unsurpassed.

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