Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Stoker Winners Announced

The awards are here. Unfortunately, the book that I selected (and reviewed here), Deep in the Darkness, did not win. Michael Laimo's book was up for best novel and lost out to Peter Straub's In the Night Room. I guess it's not terribly shocking that Straub won. He seems to be somewhat of a critical darling, at least as far as horror writers attain that status. Still, in reading the description of Night Room, I learned that not only does it "transcend the conventions of horror fiction," but it also features the continuing saga of Tim Underhill, whom I first met in Straub's novel Koko. Koko is not a good book. The parts that aren't confusing are alternately boring and painful to read. I was dismayed to learn that somehow Straub thought Underhill's story was worthy of continuation. Frankly, I think it says something about the man (Straub, not Underhill: he can't help it).

Now, it's not that I dislike Straub. Ghost Story is an unquestioned horror classic, and I couldn't put down the first half of Shadowland. Mr. X was also a heck of a read, especially the strange, twisting city within a city that was one of the weirdest yet very real feeling horror settings I have ever encountered. But then you get to bloviations like Black House (Mr. King shares equal blame for this profaning of The Talisman), and, well, tell me how it turns out, because it's just not worth the effort.

My point is, based on the description of In the Night Room, I won't be reading it any time soon. Straub needs to be grounded to reality to be good, not exploring even farther boundaries of weirdness. And let me just say this: if you're too weird for my tastes in reading, you're pretty freaking weird. Maybe you should tone it down.

Thus, to me it's a shame that Mr. Laimo didn't win. His book was a creative, suspenseful effort, and in a year with no masterpieces it would have done nicely as a best novel.


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