I first encountered Thomas Ligotti in print decades ago, when my younger brother, who had been working at a local bookstore, presented me with a box of coverless paperbacks that had originally been destined for the incinerator. One of the books included was Ligotti’s Songs of a Dead Dreamer. On a whim, in-between Eric Van Lustbader’s Nicholas Linnear novels, I cracked it open.
And fell inside.
The stories within were bizarre, disturbing, and like nothing else I’d ever read. There was a hint of a Lovecraftian style to them, but it appealed to more modern sensibilities. There were times I had to put it down for a few days not just because what he’d written needed digesting, but because they were so damned creepy. I can’t describe them here in a way that gives these stories justice, so I highly recommend you go take a look.
This was in the early days of the internet, so there had been no way to learn more about Ligotti and his works, at least for the amount of effort that I had been prepared to expend at the time. We had telnet that we used to MUD on, and a nascent web, but nothing like we have today. Other books called, including college textbooks, so I moved on.
The coverless paperback managed to lose itself somewhere between Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Florida as a casualty of my peregrinations across the country, so while Ligotti’s name drifted away from my active consciousness, the effects of his stories stayed with me.
An unfortunate reminder of him came in the form of this blog post on the awesome Lovecraft Ezine. While it’s great to read that his works have endured such that they’ve possibly been plagiarized, it’s terrible that this has happened. I haven’t watched the show True Detective, and while I’ve heard good things about it, I probably won’t watch it now.
As it turns out, Ligotti’s not doing as well as one might hope, but he continues to write when he can, and that’s good. Now that I’m reminded of him, I’ve picked up his The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. It doesn’t promise to be light reading, which is exactly why I got it.
Read his stuff if you can find it, but be warned: you won’t be the same afterward.