Joe Hill, "Best New Horror"

A horror editor tries to track down the author of a particularly horrific and alluring story.

(from 20th Century Ghosts)

Meta can be fun but let’s not pretend it’s not easier than straight-up creation. “Best New Horror” is insidery, playing with form and the popular culture surrounding it (including a visit to a horror con with zero sarcastic observations). Our narrator, Eddie Carroll, is exhaustingly described as an expert in all things horror/fantasy/murder fiction, but as to whether he’s a whole person with interesting thoughts I’m not so sure. He’s an archetype on a collision course with the inevitable end. That Hill is apparently conscious of this, that he made this decision with the express purpose of commenting on the form, doesn’t make me want to forgive a whole lot. Because, meta-horror is still horror and meta is still easy.
I know, I know, this is genre fiction — dig your plot and bury yourself in it. But the intro to this anthology, the part of it I could read without feeling like it was a spoiler fest, was a standing ovation to Joe Hill’s skillz as a literary horror guy. And the story itself echoed that promise, in a way, with the mysterious Peter Kilrue’s crude fiction coming recommended by the editor of a “serious” litmag.
So, yeah, this story had a decidedly undecided (read: literary:( ) ending, but I guess I was expecting something written a little tighter, or something where I bought what the author was selling. The New York Times praised Hill’s “nervy” critiquing of his chosen genre, but I don’t see it that way. You (and our narrator) would have to be stupid not to get bored reading story after story about vampire sex.
That said, the horror world is largely unknown to me — and Hill kept me mostly entertained and often curious about where it was all going — so I expect I’ll give this collection a few more chances to kick my ass.

One thought on “Joe Hill, "Best New Horror"

  1. WhiteSlim

    I Read it last night… It was an interesting story… And then the ending came! Dissapointing ending!
    It felt rushed and like the final gasp of a writer who just wanted to get the story out of his life as soon as he could.
    Aw… Well. I move on and tonight I’ll read the second story.


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