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How to identify the best of Macabre Literature

Post by: Kabita Sonowal

Speaking of macabre literature, the first person who comes to mind is Roald Dahl. After a reading of Skin, one realizes why his macabre writings are immensely popular. Drioli, a man with a prized tattoo on his back disappears after the promise of a fine life by the dubious owner of the Bristol Hotel in Cannes. And what the reader discovers later is that there is no Bristol Hotel. All that chillingly emerges after his disappearance is a varnished painting, a dead-ringer version of Drioli’s tattoo in Buenos Aires. Roald Dahl leaves us to interpret it for ourselves about Drioli’s fate. The story is a riveting one and if you’re dead immersed in this story you would rather wish Drioli was alive and living a cushy life in Cannes with his fingers being manicured and his breakfast served in bed.

Some of us thrive on ghoulish readings. Try reading Kiss, Kiss, a collection of short stories by Dahl which he blended with dark humor with a twist in the tale. The Landlady (from Kiss, Kiss) is a story of lodgers who have gone missing at a bed and breakfast at Bath. To all lovers of the macabre, this is usually a recommended read because of its eerie and brilliant ending. Further William and Mary from the same collection is a fantastic read. It is a tale of an all-enduring wife who gets vindictive with her control-freak of a husband. Dahl’s Man from the South was filmed into an episode titled as Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It is about a man called Carlos who wagers with people and makes them part with their fingers!

Ruth Rendell is another writer who is known for her uncanny and grisly yet mesmeric works. Her book, The Bridesmaid is one such example that exemplifies ordinary people with a murderous intent. It is difficult to believe how beautiful and nymph-like Senta Pelham in the book is driven by the desire to kill to prove her love for Philip Wardman and expects the same of him.

A lot of the macabre fiction also takes a look into psycho analysis and the sub-conscious mind. Stephen King’s novel, The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon is yet another paradigm of the peculiar and the creepy: nine-year old Trisha gets lost in a forest during a family hiking trip. What follow is her hallucinations and her manifestation of  God who she believes is the God of the Lost. Further she is about to be attacked by a bear and what saves is her move of retaliation (something she copies from Tom Gordon, her baseball hero). It is about a small girl’s survival in the forest overcoming hunger, thirst, and fear.

Indeed there is a lot of remarkable literature out there with a bent towards the horror. While dark humor and storylines gleam, such literature takes readers on a voyage of delirious reading.

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