Living for the Revel (catvalente) wrote,
Living for the Revel
catvalente

You Keep Using That Word...

So I'm having this conversation on Twitter about this "list" of books which will save horror and indicate that we are in the middle of a horror golden age which is not a list because it is two books, and because more ink is expended on Paolo Bacigalupi as the savior of SF than on either of the horror authors mentioned, and also because it is stupid.

First of all, House of Windows was merely meh. It was OH SO STRAUB circa Ghost Story and not very innovative or interesting at all besides featuring the WORST FATHER/HUSBAND EVER who totally deserved to be ghoststomped. Also it is not about a haunted house and the house is just like: whatever, I'm old. Those people were fucked up when they got here. Except not because the house is not haunted.

Second, a list of two dudes and no The Red Tree is talking out of its ass to begin with. (Two books is not a golden age, yo. I feel you and all, it must suck to have lived through the heady 80s and now be like...a shelf of King and Koontz reprints and some LA Banks. But come on. TWO?)

Horror is not dead. It's just reshelved. SO MANY people are writing horror these days, by any definition--books that have vampires and werewolves are literally propping up the rest of the publishing industry, and even if you consider those not horror by dint of...something, I guess. Not being scary enough? 80s horror is often not scary at all or the fear is in the eye of the beholder--I find a lot of the implied rape in the mildest vampire fiction to be pretty scary. (Look, I don't like paranormal romance either but you can't discount it out of hand--chances are, if you're a writer, some paranormal romance writer's success is paying your elegant literary novel's advance.) Even if you cut out the vamp/were stuff, a WHOLE LOT of what's called dark fantasy is horror with a cover in a color other than black.

The problem? It's girls writing it. And people of color, and queer folk, and all those undesirables. And as soon as I realized that, it hit me.

I think "dead" is always code for "OMFG girls (POC, gays) are doing that thing we like to do! Kill it! Kill it with fire!"

I mean, that's what they mean when they say the American novel is dead, right? No one with a teaspoon of sanity could look at the sagging bookshelves and actually call the novel dead. They mean girls are writing novels and maybe better novels and so it's not cool anymore and we can't smoke and drink and fuck and chalk it all up to I'M AN ARTIST YOU CAN'T JUDGE ME anymore and EW do we have to COMPETE with them now? Let's use our ancient powers of Shunning the People What Are Not Like Us and write screeds about how the novel is dead because our white dude friends haven't written any good ones lately and everyone will believe us and nod because if it's in the New Yorker it must Be Real! Cool? Cool. WONDERDOUCHE POWERS ACTIVATE.

I feel like I have understood an essential part of the universe. Whereas before I was all: what do you mean, science fiction the print novel the American novel horror is dead? Like EVERYONE EVER still wants to be a writer and ALL THE BOOKS EVER are being written constantly and lots of them are really good! But when I say books and when they say books we do not mean the same thing. I mean printed narratives bound in covers, or sometimes pixels. They mean that, but only written by white dudes. When girls and POC and gay people write them, they are not books. They're just like...coloring books or something. You might think a kid is clever and cute for staying in the lines, but you don't give them a Pulitzer. You take it off the fridge as soon as their widdle feelings won't be hurt.

Horror isn't dead. (Neither is SF, GAWD.) We do not need dudes to save us from this terrifying dystopia. Trust me. The kids are gonna be all right.

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