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Granta 117: Horror

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It haunts us; it stalks us; it shapes us. It creeps into our dreams and, if we allow it, can plague our ponderings of the future. The same ‘monsters’ that lived under our childhood beds can reappear, alive and toothsome, in our adult lives. And perhaps most frightening of all: without reason or apology, one person’s fancy is another person’s torment. Granta 117 takes a sta It haunts us; it stalks us; it shapes us. It creeps into our dreams and, if we allow it, can plague our ponderings of the future. The same ‘monsters’ that lived under our childhood beds can reappear, alive and toothsome, in our adult lives. And perhaps most frightening of all: without reason or apology, one person’s fancy is another person’s torment. Granta 117 takes a stab at understanding the phenomenon that is horror. With award-winning writing, Granta has illuminated the most complex issues of modern life. In 117, Stephen King writes of a retired judge who pays repeated visits to a patch of sand capable of predicting human mortality. Don DeLillo climbs into the head a moviegoer-turned-stalker. Joy Williams writes of a father with a grown son even stranger and less stable than he suspects. Rajesh Parameswaran presents us with a tiger who narrates its own escape from a zoo and its subsequent terrorizing of a neighborhood, while Daniel Alarcon explores the phenomenon of staged, high-camp blood baths. And Mark Doty ruminates on a close encounter between Walt Whitman and Bram Stoker. Also new work by Paul Auster, Will Self, and Julie Otsuka. Come along. Hold tight. Get scared…


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It haunts us; it stalks us; it shapes us. It creeps into our dreams and, if we allow it, can plague our ponderings of the future. The same ‘monsters’ that lived under our childhood beds can reappear, alive and toothsome, in our adult lives. And perhaps most frightening of all: without reason or apology, one person’s fancy is another person’s torment. Granta 117 takes a sta It haunts us; it stalks us; it shapes us. It creeps into our dreams and, if we allow it, can plague our ponderings of the future. The same ‘monsters’ that lived under our childhood beds can reappear, alive and toothsome, in our adult lives. And perhaps most frightening of all: without reason or apology, one person’s fancy is another person’s torment. Granta 117 takes a stab at understanding the phenomenon that is horror. With award-winning writing, Granta has illuminated the most complex issues of modern life. In 117, Stephen King writes of a retired judge who pays repeated visits to a patch of sand capable of predicting human mortality. Don DeLillo climbs into the head a moviegoer-turned-stalker. Joy Williams writes of a father with a grown son even stranger and less stable than he suspects. Rajesh Parameswaran presents us with a tiger who narrates its own escape from a zoo and its subsequent terrorizing of a neighborhood, while Daniel Alarcon explores the phenomenon of staged, high-camp blood baths. And Mark Doty ruminates on a close encounter between Walt Whitman and Bram Stoker. Also new work by Paul Auster, Will Self, and Julie Otsuka. Come along. Hold tight. Get scared…

30 review for Granta 117: Horror

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    They should call the magazine Garbage instead of Granta! This edition pretends to explore the horror genre but all it produces is a book full of horrifically pretentious and soul-crushingly boring stories. Will Self’s False Blood prattles on about his heroin addiction with ridiculously verbose language – hey, lookit me, I’m edumacated, I has a degree an’ everthing! Paul Auster’s Your Birthday Has Come and Gone is Auster posturing yet again. He drones on about this and that, nothing really, in th They should call the magazine Garbage instead of Granta! This edition pretends to explore the horror genre but all it produces is a book full of horrifically pretentious and soul-crushingly boring stories. Will Self’s False Blood prattles on about his heroin addiction with ridiculously verbose language – hey, lookit me, I’m edumacated, I has a degree an’ everthing! Paul Auster’s Your Birthday Has Come and Gone is Auster posturing yet again. He drones on about this and that, nothing really, in the second person no less, and it’s awful to read. I don’t know what I saw in him before but my only excuse is that I read him when I was a dumb teenager! Don DeLillo’s The Starveling is about a man who spends his days watching films. DeLillo has got to be the most overrated author alive. His prose has the startling ability to be forgotten as you’re reading it. Roberto Bolano’s The Colonel’s Son is a lengthy description of a fictional b-movie – seriously. The other stories, all by unknown writers, show why said writers are unknown. They read like bad creative writing assignments written by students. Oh, the horror of a man losing his wife. Oh, the horror of losing a relative. Oh, the horror of… er… being a tiger! The only writer who gamely makes an effort is also the most famous name by far in the collection: Stephen King – and I say that as a guy who doesn’t like King all that much anymore! His story, The Dune, is about a haunted dune which sounds like a parody of a King story but that's just the kind of stuff he writes. It’s not great and it’s got a campfire ending but it’s the only story that feels like it’s trying – the others were just concerned with wanking each other off. I’ve never read an edition of Granta before and, after this atrocious book, I’ll never feel the urge again. Granta 117: Horror is a steaming pile of wannabe-literary turds. Avoid!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Briggs

    I was reading the "Horror" issue of high-falutin' literary journal "Granta," fruitlessly searching for anything remotely horrific, when I came to a story toward the end of the book called "The Colonel's Son" by Roberto Bolano. Bolano, some of you might know, is the latest big thing in Latin lit, the "Gabriel Garcia Marquez of our time," according to The Washington Post. (That's funny. I thought Gabriel Garcia Marquez was the Gabriel Garcia Marquez of our time.) Although Bolano died early, like T I was reading the "Horror" issue of high-falutin' literary journal "Granta," fruitlessly searching for anything remotely horrific, when I came to a story toward the end of the book called "The Colonel's Son" by Roberto Bolano. Bolano, some of you might know, is the latest big thing in Latin lit, the "Gabriel Garcia Marquez of our time," according to The Washington Post. (That's funny. I thought Gabriel Garcia Marquez was the Gabriel Garcia Marquez of our time.) Although Bolano died early, like Tupac, he left plenty of posthumous product to crowd the shelves. In "The Colonel's Son," the narrator catches a late-nite "B-grade schlock" movie and recounts what he sees. That's the whole story: I saw this movie called "The Colonel's Son" last nite, here's how it went. And as I read, it dawned on me: I know this movie Bolano is describing. I've seen this movie. It's not called "The Colonel's Son." It's "Return of the Living Dead 3." He's regurgitating the entire plot of "Return of the Living Dead 3." I wouldn't want to suggest that the literary crowd is easily misled or that Roberto Bolano is a great gassy fartcloud of hype. But in "The Colonel's Son," he essentially wrote a screen treatment, a Wikipedia entry for an early '90s zombie sequel that he had no part in making, then he presented it as his own work. Some might call that plagiarism. Not the poindexters on the "Granta" editorial board. They read "The Colonel's Son," then leaned back, squinched their eyes shut, released a deep sigh of satisfaction, clasped hands in a circle and declared as one: "Sheer genius!" They even got an artist to animate the story online, perhaps not realizing this zombie yarn had already been "reanimated" almost 20 years before by flesh-and-blood actors. And schlock or no, the movie stars a SMOKING hot Melinda Clarke, which makes it a safer entertainment bet than Bolano's bunk.

  3. 4 out of 5

    A. Dawes

    Outside of Will Self, I only read the fiction here. 4.5* Stephen King, a popular yet critically underrated writer, explores immortality and fate when a retired judge revisits a fortune-telling patch of sand. Very strong story. 4.5* Don DeLillo. This is the most accessible story I've read by DeLillo. A moviegoer evolves into a stalker - well that's what he's telling us... This is a creepy, atmospheric tale and one which sucks you in. Thankfully, it doesn't contain DeLillo's customary abstract viol Outside of Will Self, I only read the fiction here. 4.5* Stephen King, a popular yet critically underrated writer, explores immortality and fate when a retired judge revisits a fortune-telling patch of sand. Very strong story. 4.5* Don DeLillo. This is the most accessible story I've read by DeLillo. A moviegoer evolves into a stalker - well that's what he's telling us... This is a creepy, atmospheric tale and one which sucks you in. Thankfully, it doesn't contain DeLillo's customary abstract violence that pervades most of his work. An excellent story. 2.5* Joy Williams explores a father-son relationship in which the son is far more a pychopath than we are initially led to believe. Sounds great but it isn't the best story. 5* Rajesh Parameswaran has one of the most intriguing stories here, presenting the reader with a tiger who narrates its own escape from the zoo and the ensuing violence afterwards. Original, well-written and extremely well executed. A must read. Didn't find much else worth while but on the basis of King, Self, DeLillo and Parameswaran, I'd still recommend this, if only on the strength of their works alone.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Christian Molenaar

    A very different kind of horror anthology, as one could likely surmise solely from the list of authors included. (Bolano! DeLillo! Auster!) Certainly uneven as this sort of collection always fundamentally is, but a few pieces genuinely took me by surprise. Favorites: Joy William's "Brass" and Sarah Hall's "She Murdered Mortal He" were the clear standouts for me, each setting unpleasant characters in dark yet ambiguous circumstances. Bolano's "The Colonel's Son" was another star, though I felt the A very different kind of horror anthology, as one could likely surmise solely from the list of authors included. (Bolano! DeLillo! Auster!) Certainly uneven as this sort of collection always fundamentally is, but a few pieces genuinely took me by surprise. Favorites: Joy William's "Brass" and Sarah Hall's "She Murdered Mortal He" were the clear standouts for me, each setting unpleasant characters in dark yet ambiguous circumstances. Bolano's "The Colonel's Son" was another star, though I felt the translation left something to be desired. Stephen King and Paul Auster--two authors on whom I've repeatedly flip-flopped--both surprised me with excellent short pieces, one fiction and the other a highly engaging memoir. Julie Otsuka's "Diem Perdidi," Tom Bamforth's "The Mission" and Mark Doty's "Insatiable" both also deserve a mention, as do Kanitta Meechubot's illustrations at the center of the book and D.A. Powell's poem "Quarantine." Nah: This collection opens on a supremely weak note with Will Self's "False Blood," which in spite of a few inspired turns of phrase adds up to nothing beyond Self whining about homeless drug users. Don DeLillo's "The Starveling" begins strong but falls prey to Walter Abish syndrome, wherein all the intriguing ideas living behind the premise give way to terminally heterosexual ideas about male-female relationships. Rajesh Parameswaran's "The Infamous Bengal Ming" is a particular type of story--an anthropomorphized animal fable for adults with hints of magical realism--uniquely suited to grate on my nerves, though I'm sure it would be plenty effective for a different reader. There are two other nonfiction pieces included that, although rooted in horrific historical tragedies, made no impact on me at all. I found neither one objectionable or at all memorable.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Randolph

    Let's get one thing out of the way before we go any further. There is little of what most people would call "horror" here. Granta is a magazine for really hip smart people who don't stoop to reading genre writing. So don't buy this if you want to read stories about spooks and zombies, or creepy things, etc. Unless you want to wade through a bunch of other non-horror stuff too. Okay, there is one zombie story. Caveat emptor. It's actually kind of sad that Granta feels they need to file these piec Let's get one thing out of the way before we go any further. There is little of what most people would call "horror" here. Granta is a magazine for really hip smart people who don't stoop to reading genre writing. So don't buy this if you want to read stories about spooks and zombies, or creepy things, etc. Unless you want to wade through a bunch of other non-horror stuff too. Okay, there is one zombie story. Caveat emptor. It's actually kind of sad that Granta feels they need to file these pieces under any sort of label since it creates an expectation that could cause one to miss the point. What we do have here is a book/magazine of very, very good short fiction, non-fiction, and art that is interesting and sometimes disturbing. There are 4 or 5 really good stories here, about half the book. As always in Granta, the writing is good even when the subject matter is weak. If I miss a few it is because they were forgettable. I hate most poetry so I'll skip the poem. False Blood is a pretty good autobiographical essay by Will Self about a guy who has to have a pint of tomato sauce removed from his veins every week because of some disease he has. Oh, he hates needles too. Yuck. Your Birthday Has Come And Gone - pointless, meandering piece that had one paragraph that stretched on for eight pages. Brass by Joy Williams is a real, actual horror story, although the payoff won't come until the penultimate paragraph. Good stuff. The Starveling - I hated this story from the get go and I was right in the end. Overlong and with a plot hole so wide you could fly the space shuttle through it. The Mission - depressing non-fiction about Somalia. Certainly horrifying but not HORROR. She Murdered Mortal He - I'm sure this is just one of those stories I'm too stupid to get. Pretty good build-up, but it turns out to be a dog bites man story, literally. Lots of symbolism, ooooh. Nice artwork in the middle. Deng's Dogs - another depressing (non-fiction?) tale about Peru. Well told and grim, but not much different than anything you would see in The Atlantic. The Infamous Bengal Ming - Now we're talkin'. This is a story told from the point of view of a tiger in a zoo. I kid you not. Sounds corny. I was pretty skeptical when I started but this turned out to be a very original fantastic horror story. The sort of story Saki would write. The Ground Floor - Goofy. Insatiable - In my opinion a strained attempt to connect Dracula to The Leaves of Grass (Hey, I don't make this stuff up). Sure they are both creepy, but I don't buy the connection. Like something you would turn in for an English final exam to show how clever you are. The Colonel's Son - You knew Granta was going to put one REAL horror story in just to show they really do get it, and it's so campy and fun to be weird and creepy, and aren't we crazy and edgy here. Zombie mayhem. Enjoy it even though you know why they threw it in. Then, we get the Stephen King story, another Granta nod to the real genre here. A good story, not a great story. Actually, a pretty good old fashioned horror story. Unfortunately, instead of finishing on a high note there is one more clinker at the end; a tedious exposition of Alzheimer's disease that goes: "She remembers...She doesn't remember...," for page after page. There's more to it than that, of course, but the repetitive style just doesn't engage the reader at all. Enough blather...Worth reading, just don't get suckered.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    I've always meant to sample the delights of Granta - a literary journal of new writing - but it was only the combination of a 99p Kindle deal and an ongoing horror jag that eventually got me to try it. Much as I like the idea of what Granta promises, I can't say I'm likely to give it another go. It's not that the writing is bad - there's powerful stuff here from the likes of Will Self and Paul Auster - its just that a lot of it seemed like the kind of thing you'd get in a Sunday supplement, not I've always meant to sample the delights of Granta - a literary journal of new writing - but it was only the combination of a 99p Kindle deal and an ongoing horror jag that eventually got me to try it. Much as I like the idea of what Granta promises, I can't say I'm likely to give it another go. It's not that the writing is bad - there's powerful stuff here from the likes of Will Self and Paul Auster - its just that a lot of it seemed like the kind of thing you'd get in a Sunday supplement, not a collection of horror writing. I suppose the idea was to broaden out the idea of what might be defined as horror, extending it to such real-world scenarios as discovering one has contracted a serious blood disease or the death of a parent. While these have power, they needed to be anomalies to make it work; as it was I approached each new piece with trepidation: would it be an essay or would it actually have a story? Sadly I was disappointed most of the time, leaving it to Stephen King to provide actual entertainment (luckily, even on auto-pilot he has more ability to tell a story than the plodding likes of Don DeLillo).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Didik

    who knew there were magazines on goodreads? stephen king's "the dune" = thumbs up. delillo's "the starveling" - on a creepy scale of 1-10? 6.5. i laughed a little too much to be "horrified." doty's "insatiable" - ugh, i can't even rate this on a creepy scale because it's not meant to be creepy. and i was never really a fan of walt whitman. though when i see doty tomorrow, i won't really be able to look at him the same way. who knew there were magazines on goodreads? stephen king's "the dune" = thumbs up. delillo's "the starveling" - on a creepy scale of 1-10? 6.5. i laughed a little too much to be "horrified." doty's "insatiable" - ugh, i can't even rate this on a creepy scale because it's not meant to be creepy. and i was never really a fan of walt whitman. though when i see doty tomorrow, i won't really be able to look at him the same way.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David Agranoff

    Granta #117 Lit journal So apparently this is a long running english(the country) literature journal dedicated as best I can tell to new writing by mostly new authors. Monster Lib was sent this short collection because it is a horror themed issue and lets face it it features a new story by the genre's ( and the world) most popular of authors Stephen King. A bad sign for this journal is that a week after reading it when I sat down to review it I could only remember strongly two stories in the whole thing Granta #117 Lit journal So apparently this is a long running english(the country) literature journal dedicated as best I can tell to new writing by mostly new authors. Monster Lib was sent this short collection because it is a horror themed issue and lets face it it features a new story by the genre's ( and the world) most popular of authors Stephen King. A bad sign for this journal is that a week after reading it when I sat down to review it I could only remember strongly two stories in the whole thing. My favorite story was The mission by Tom Bamforth which is a tale about the horror of combat and of course the Stephen King story called the Dune. King's new tale is a classic campfire tale that to me fit nicely with his early work in Night Shift but of course written with a more experienced sure hand. The Dune is placed near the end and highlighted the problem with this collection. King is a master horror story-teller he think s deeply and often about what it takes to scare people. Like dragging a match and starting a flame. The rest of this journal is clearly filled with authors who are not horror authors. That can be ok by if this journal really wanted to explore the genre there are plenty of authors in genre with talent and strong voices that understand what it takes. Outside of the two stories I was bored out of my skull. Sorry I can recommend it. Dune will one day be in a a King collection and I hope The mission finds a second home in a another collection.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    A star for each story that blew me away. Joy Williams, Sarah Hall, and Rajesh Parameswaran are the authors. It's not that the other stories in this collection are dull; the pieces by Will Self, about his battle with cancer (a similar cancer that killed my mother), Julie Otsuka, about a Alzheimers inflicted mother, Roberto Bolaño, recounting a late-night zombie movie, and Santiago Roncagliolo, about Peru's "Shining Path" revolutionaries, are engaging. Even Stephen King's story is engaging though A star for each story that blew me away. Joy Williams, Sarah Hall, and Rajesh Parameswaran are the authors. It's not that the other stories in this collection are dull; the pieces by Will Self, about his battle with cancer (a similar cancer that killed my mother), Julie Otsuka, about a Alzheimers inflicted mother, Roberto Bolaño, recounting a late-night zombie movie, and Santiago Roncagliolo, about Peru's "Shining Path" revolutionaries, are engaging. Even Stephen King's story is engaging though it ends with the predictable Kingian dark-humored twist. Oh, Williams' story has a sudden twist similar to King's but much more powerful and haunting. Hall's tale creeps with dread and left me contemplating an animal's unfathomable thoughts. Parameswaran's story is actually from the perspective of a tiger which, at first,seemed to me an uncomfortable anthropomorphization. The animal's knowable logic here quickly overrides that initial discomfort. There. I hope I didn't give away too much.

  10. 5 out of 5

    س

    I was expecting/hoping this edition to be straight-up horror, but as usual Granta's approach to its themes is more tangential than literal: here horror ranges from zombies to lost love to sex addiction to an illness. Horror in the everyday rather than in the supernatural sense. Once I got over that, I appreicated it for what it was. The stories started out a bit slow (Don Delillo and Will Self are two of my least favourite writers) and halfway through I put the book down. I did eventually come b I was expecting/hoping this edition to be straight-up horror, but as usual Granta's approach to its themes is more tangential than literal: here horror ranges from zombies to lost love to sex addiction to an illness. Horror in the everyday rather than in the supernatural sense. Once I got over that, I appreicated it for what it was. The stories started out a bit slow (Don Delillo and Will Self are two of my least favourite writers) and halfway through I put the book down. I did eventually come back to it and was glad to see it definitely picks up towards the end. My favourite piece was Roberto Bolano's story, which is a must read if you get the chance. The Bengal Tiger story was very interesting, as was the Stephen King (with a killer final line). I also thoroughly enjoyed many of the non-fiction stories. The final story about the mother with dementia was very sad, and a great end to a book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cameron Trost

    There is some fine prose in this publication, but the anthology isn't what it says it is. The only horror story was The Dune by Stephen King. If King's tale hadn't been horror, it really would have been freaky. This is an anthology of essays and personal reflections about death and drug addiction. Horrible and poignant, yes, but horror, no. There is some good writing but too much use of the second person. If you're writing unpleasant things about yourself or people you know, admit it. Don't tell There is some fine prose in this publication, but the anthology isn't what it says it is. The only horror story was The Dune by Stephen King. If King's tale hadn't been horror, it really would have been freaky. This is an anthology of essays and personal reflections about death and drug addiction. Horrible and poignant, yes, but horror, no. There is some good writing but too much use of the second person. If you're writing unpleasant things about yourself or people you know, admit it. Don't tell the reader what he or she did! A bit on the nose, don't you think? "You open this book and read some decent writing, but after a few pages you realise it's not horror at all. You keep going, skim here and there, and then close it and reach for a bottle of whisky instead."

  12. 5 out of 5

    sisterimapoet

    Not the strongest selection. I had high hopes for the theme, a personal favourite, and while I know the idea is to interpret the theme in wildly varied ways, some just fell short for me. Favourites were the Will Self (which I'd already read elsewhere, but still enjoyed the second time), the Auster (which has gone me desperate to read the whole from which this is an extract) and the King (classic, will a killer ending) and the Otsuka (heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time). Not the strongest selection. I had high hopes for the theme, a personal favourite, and while I know the idea is to interpret the theme in wildly varied ways, some just fell short for me. Favourites were the Will Self (which I'd already read elsewhere, but still enjoyed the second time), the Auster (which has gone me desperate to read the whole from which this is an extract) and the King (classic, will a killer ending) and the Otsuka (heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time).

  13. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Pyle

    I read Stephen King's "The Dune." If you're thinking about buying this anthology just for King's story (like I did), I'd suggest waiting for the story to come out in a collection someday. It's a fine little tale but nothing you absolutely have to read right this minute. Unless you're a fellow diehard fan. I read Stephen King's "The Dune." If you're thinking about buying this anthology just for King's story (like I did), I'd suggest waiting for the story to come out in a collection someday. It's a fine little tale but nothing you absolutely have to read right this minute. Unless you're a fellow diehard fan.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Karen Katchur

    Overall I rated the magazine a three. Some of the horror stories/essays about genocide, cancer, Alzheimer was too real. I prefer to read to be entertained. The three short stories I really enjoyed I would rate a 5. They are in no particular order: THE DUNE by Stephen King, THE INFAMOUS BENGAL MING by Rajesh Parameswaran, and SHE MURDERED MORTAL HE by Sarah Hall.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    Some of these pieces are beautiful, others slightly disturbing. None are what I would deem horror, but they touch on it in so many different ways.

  16. 4 out of 5

    David Hebblethwaite

    I'm concentrating here on three pieces from the anthology; in each case, it was my first time reading the author. Will Self, ‘False Blood’ This is an account of how Self was diagnosed with and treated for polycythemia vera, a condition which causes the blood to thicken through the overproduction of red blood cells. It’s a very frank piece: Self writes matter-of-factly about his past of drug-use – neither apologising not seeking to justify it, but simply treating it as something that happened – and I'm concentrating here on three pieces from the anthology; in each case, it was my first time reading the author. Will Self, ‘False Blood’ This is an account of how Self was diagnosed with and treated for polycythemia vera, a condition which causes the blood to thicken through the overproduction of red blood cells. It’s a very frank piece: Self writes matter-of-factly about his past of drug-use – neither apologising not seeking to justify it, but simply treating it as something that happened – and how it left him afraid of needles, which made his treatment (by having excess blood extracted) all the more difficult. The horror of ‘False Blood’ seems to me to lie less in the mechanics of Self’s illness and treatment (though there is certainly some of that, and you may well find yourself picturing the blood flowing – or otherwise – through your own veins) than in something more existential. Self reflects on death and disease, and how we dress them up in metaphors in the vain hope of making them more palatable – and comes to the conclusion that it’s better to confront those phenomena without metaphors. But Self acknowledges that disease has been one of the key metaphors he has deployed in his fiction. So, just as the very blood-flow which sustains Self’s life is now threatening it, so a cornerstone of his life’s work has gained a chillingly personal resonance. Perhaps the true horror of this piece comes from the thought of being betrayed by the most familiar and trusted of things. Rajesh Parameswaran, ‘The Infamous Bengal Ming’ A tiger wakes up one day (“the worst and most amazing day of my life,” p. 167) and realises that he feels love – the love that comes from a deep friendship – for his keeper, Kitch. But where is Kitch today? Ming is getting hungry and wants to see his keeper and friend. When Kitch finally arrives, he’s with another, rather nervous, member of zoo staff; the tiger’s friendly move towards Kitch scares the other man, so Kitch strikes Ming with his stick – and then it all goes wrong. When I started reading ‘The Infamous Bengal Ming’, I thought Parameswaran’s decision to give the tiger such a fluent, human-like narrative voice was amusing but perhaps misjudged – surely that wasn’t how an animal would really think? But now I see that the voice was judged perfectly, because the affect of the story is founded on the tension between the measured, reasonable tone of the narration, and the way Ming’s animal instincts intrude upon it. It’s not just that the tiger tends to misinterpret the human characters’ behaviour; it’s also that the way he reacts and explains himself can be at odds (sometimes chillingly so) with what his voice lulls us into expecting. This story is extracted from Parameswaran’s forthcoming collection, I Am an Executioner, to which I now look forward eagerly. Julie Otsuka, ‘Diem Perdidi’ Diem perdidi is Latin for “I have lost the day”, which sums up what has happened to the woman with dementia who is at the heart of this story. The text consists mainly of declarative statements about what the woman does and doesn’t remember (sometimes addressed directly to the woman’s daughter – though neither character is ever named). With what might seem to be a rather restricted palette, Otsuka paints vividly what has passed in the lives of the woman and her family; and what is now being lost, the little cruelties of (and those caused by) being able to remember the relatively distant past, and long-held routines, but not what happened a few minutes before. Otsuka’s prose is dotted with poignant turns of phrase, such as: “She remembers that today is Sunday, which six days out of seven is not true” (p. 252). Clearly another writer whom I need to read further.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Before I moved to the west coast almost twenty years ago, I was a very voracious and focused reader. I don't quite know what happened to me. Perhaps more time spent driving a car than using public transit. Maybe it's the climate. Maybe it's been the rise of the internet, which I sometimes feel has turned my head into mush. Anyway, back when I was more dedicated to reading, one of the things I read regularly was Granta, the quarterly literary anthology. The appearance of each new volume was an ev Before I moved to the west coast almost twenty years ago, I was a very voracious and focused reader. I don't quite know what happened to me. Perhaps more time spent driving a car than using public transit. Maybe it's the climate. Maybe it's been the rise of the internet, which I sometimes feel has turned my head into mush. Anyway, back when I was more dedicated to reading, one of the things I read regularly was Granta, the quarterly literary anthology. The appearance of each new volume was an event for me. It was a wonderful collection of diverse writing and introduced me to some great authors. Why I stopped reading Granta probably had something to do with all the myriad reasons why I haven't been as focused on reading books as I once was. At the recent L.A. Times festival of books I was compelled to find the Granta booth, perhaps for reasons of nostalgia as much as anything. And indeed, I saw some of the older volumes on display, covers I remember vividly from over 20 years ago. After speaking to the company representative for several minutes, I had that inescapable feeling of guilt I always get when I take up the time of someone whose job is to try to sell me something and I end up not buying anything. In the spirit of the day, I was in the mood for spending money. So I randomly selected this volume, whose subject is "Horror." (Perhaps because I was actually too embarrassed to pick up the one whose theme was "Sex.") I am not particularly drawn to Horror writing. I assumed I'd take it home, attempt to read a story, then put it aside forever. Another unfinished book, no more than the souvenir of a good deed for a publisher trying to sell print books in this horrible, electronic environment. What I found instead was that I was reading one story, and then another. And then another, and another and another. And eventually I had finished the complete contents of the collection. This being Granta, I should have realized that a collection labeled "Horror" was not going to be a conventional collection of zombie, vampire or serial killer stories. These tales could perhaps be more specifically described as real life horror tales, from Will Self's tale of his rare blood disease, to Santiago Roncagliolo's piece recalling the political horrors in Peru's recent history, to Rajesh Parameswaran's story told from the point of view of a zoo lion who accidentally kills two humans and must deal with the guilt of his actions, to Julie Otsuka's meditation on Alzheimer's. There's even a short Stephen King story that is the most overtly supernatural tale of the bunch. Bottom line: I'm back, and intend to start reading Granta regularly now. Who knows? Maybe this will be the start of me working off years of intellectual flabbiness.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence

    I guess that Granta's idea of horror is not the same as mine. Maybe the story by Stephen King qualifies as horror; maybe also the story by Sarah Hall. But there is little else in this issue that qualifies in my opinion. I would not regard Will Self's assessment of his blood disease and his recounting of the experience of illness as horror. Rather it is a well written piece that could easily be described as a story that evokes feeling of fear, terror, and other emotions that also are associated w I guess that Granta's idea of horror is not the same as mine. Maybe the story by Stephen King qualifies as horror; maybe also the story by Sarah Hall. But there is little else in this issue that qualifies in my opinion. I would not regard Will Self's assessment of his blood disease and his recounting of the experience of illness as horror. Rather it is a well written piece that could easily be described as a story that evokes feeling of fear, terror, and other emotions that also are associated with the horror genre. That's not the same genre. The best pieces in this issue are toward the end: the essay on the relationship between Bram Stoker and Walt Whitman by Mark Doty, Santiago Roncagliolo's narrative of live under and post Peru's Shining Path, Roberto Bolano's narration of a B-grade horror movie, and Julie Otsuka's evocation of what it is like to see an aging parent's mind slowly give way to the ravages of Alzheimer's. Too bad you have to wade through Paul Auster's failure to use paragraphs, Joy Williams' cheap ending, and a not very inspired story of obsession by Don Delillo to get there.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    I've never read Granta before but saw this in Mumbai airport and picked it up for some horror short stories. I didn't actually get round to reading it for a few weeks but it's been fun to dip in and out of while moving houses. Horror is broadly defined here, usually more intellectual than the average horror tale. I enjoyed the odd recounting of what sounds like a really entertaining made-up zombie movie (The Colonel's Son); the first 'person' tale of an escaped tiger turned out to be surprisingl I've never read Granta before but saw this in Mumbai airport and picked it up for some horror short stories. I didn't actually get round to reading it for a few weeks but it's been fun to dip in and out of while moving houses. Horror is broadly defined here, usually more intellectual than the average horror tale. I enjoyed the odd recounting of what sounds like a really entertaining made-up zombie movie (The Colonel's Son); the first 'person' tale of an escaped tiger turned out to be surprisingly emotive and affecting (The Infamous Bengal Ming), and the Stephen King story is a brief and engaging tale with a twist. I also found Will Self's description of his PCV diagnosis and treatment to be interesting from the patient perspective. There's also some war reporting, nice artworks and most of the other stories have merit. Based on this I'll happily pick up more Granta issues to satisfy my short story desires.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Interesting set of stories. Some are horror in a non-traditional way. The Stephen King story is actually quietly horrifying, building up slowly. I found the most engaging story to be one about a zoo tiger written by Rajesh Parameswaran. And besides Mark Doty's piece being about the known and supposed relationship between Walt Whitman and Bram Stoker (who knew?), is the mere mention of the writer of Count Dracula make a particular essay frightening in some way? Definitely some big names in this co Interesting set of stories. Some are horror in a non-traditional way. The Stephen King story is actually quietly horrifying, building up slowly. I found the most engaging story to be one about a zoo tiger written by Rajesh Parameswaran. And besides Mark Doty's piece being about the known and supposed relationship between Walt Whitman and Bram Stoker (who knew?), is the mere mention of the writer of Count Dracula make a particular essay frightening in some way? Definitely some big names in this collection: Don DeLillo, Will Self, Paul Auster. And some very good stories. But you need not be afraid.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mathew

    The best thing about this is the front cover art work. This was my first edition of Granta, and it'll be my last. Not because it isn't good, it just isn't for me. The title of horror is slightly misleading, unless I'm missing something, but there is very little horror to be found. Stephen King stands out (obviously) among them, the rest are mostly forgettable. If you're passionate about short stories and new writers, this will be ideal for you, if not you may be disappointed. The best thing about this is the front cover art work. This was my first edition of Granta, and it'll be my last. Not because it isn't good, it just isn't for me. The title of horror is slightly misleading, unless I'm missing something, but there is very little horror to be found. Stephen King stands out (obviously) among them, the rest are mostly forgettable. If you're passionate about short stories and new writers, this will be ideal for you, if not you may be disappointed.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Eddie Skelson

    The excellent Stephen King story at the end the book saved this. Reading about someone having bad luck is not 'my kind of horror' regardless of how well written it is. I appreciate that the editor wished to collect stories that explores the less trod path of this area but to give them the bold title of Horror stories is stretching it. With the exception of The Dune by King. He is really back on form here. A crisp and satisfying tale. The excellent Stephen King story at the end the book saved this. Reading about someone having bad luck is not 'my kind of horror' regardless of how well written it is. I appreciate that the editor wished to collect stories that explores the less trod path of this area but to give them the bold title of Horror stories is stretching it. With the exception of The Dune by King. He is really back on form here. A crisp and satisfying tale.

  23. 4 out of 5

    PG

    Horror should be in quotes. The stories are not scary. They don't go boo. They don't keep you up at night. What they are are good. I skipped some that weren't doing it for me, such as the first one and the one by Bolano. Otherwise, good job Granta. And, really, this is one of those publications that should be see on paper. The interstitials and the intro art to almost every story is a super cool bonus when seen as two facing pages. Kindle if you have to, but. Horror should be in quotes. The stories are not scary. They don't go boo. They don't keep you up at night. What they are are good. I skipped some that weren't doing it for me, such as the first one and the one by Bolano. Otherwise, good job Granta. And, really, this is one of those publications that should be see on paper. The interstitials and the intro art to almost every story is a super cool bonus when seen as two facing pages. Kindle if you have to, but.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tom Mueller

    This collection includes Sai King's "The Dune". The protagonists' semi-private dune reveals names written in the sand; of people who will die the following day. The day one name is written, he calls his judge/friend over to witness his will, which must be done immediately. Read this one to find out why. ☺ This collection includes Sai King's "The Dune". The protagonists' semi-private dune reveals names written in the sand; of people who will die the following day. The day one name is written, he calls his judge/friend over to witness his will, which must be done immediately. Read this one to find out why. ☺

  25. 5 out of 5

    Parvathy

    Definitely not the best edition of Granta. But the Stephen King story is a good one, if you are a fan (as I am). Also loved Rajesh Parameswaran's The Infamous Bengal Ming and Deng's Dogs by Roncagliolo. Definitely not the best edition of Granta. But the Stephen King story is a good one, if you are a fan (as I am). Also loved Rajesh Parameswaran's The Infamous Bengal Ming and Deng's Dogs by Roncagliolo.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tansy E

    i don't love the new editor. and am not entirely convinced by how american and male the selection now seems to be... i don't love the new editor. and am not entirely convinced by how american and male the selection now seems to be...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Barrie Collins

    Good read, not quite what I expected but a typical Granta approach, worthwhile ...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Not really horror in the generally accepted use of the term in films, books, etc. There's one or two short stories that deal in supernatural themes, and another two entries that deal with horror themes: Bram Stoker/ Dracula, and Zombies. The rest of the 11 (10 prose + 1 poem) entries only incidentally feature horror in its widest definition: horror of death, losing your memory and sense of self, horror of blood letting, horror of strangers, etc. Of all of the entries my favourites were: Sarah Hall Not really horror in the generally accepted use of the term in films, books, etc. There's one or two short stories that deal in supernatural themes, and another two entries that deal with horror themes: Bram Stoker/ Dracula, and Zombies. The rest of the 11 (10 prose + 1 poem) entries only incidentally feature horror in its widest definition: horror of death, losing your memory and sense of self, horror of blood letting, horror of strangers, etc. Of all of the entries my favourites were: Sarah Hall - She murdered mortal he Rajeesh Parmeswaron - The infamous Bengal Ming Roberto Bolano - The Colonel's Son Stephen King - The Dune.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Noor ul Ain

    I had different idea of 'horror stories' and was pleasantly surprised by some of the stories-Stephen King off course and Santiago Roncagliolo stole the show with their excellent pieces . However, I find that some of the author dealt with their subject matter quite pretentiously; top of the list might be Mark Doty with his short story. I didn't understand the relevance of explaining graphic details of his sex life in his story...it was definitely not relevant. It is definitely not the strongest c I had different idea of 'horror stories' and was pleasantly surprised by some of the stories-Stephen King off course and Santiago Roncagliolo stole the show with their excellent pieces . However, I find that some of the author dealt with their subject matter quite pretentiously; top of the list might be Mark Doty with his short story. I didn't understand the relevance of explaining graphic details of his sex life in his story...it was definitely not relevant. It is definitely not the strongest collection of short stories with some extremely weak links like Your Birthday has Come and Gone by Paul Auster, The Ground Floor by Daniel Alarcon, and The Colonel's Son by Roberto Bolaño.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ross

    I'm quite pleased I picked this up in a charity shop, to be honest. Giving this collection the "Horror" title is misleading as the vast majority of stories in here are barely even adjacent to the genre - Will Self, Stephen King and Rajesh Parameswaran are the only real sources of any interest at all here. Bonus star for the genuinely excellent art, although that shouldn't really be a selling point as Granta are a literary magazine after all... I'm quite pleased I picked this up in a charity shop, to be honest. Giving this collection the "Horror" title is misleading as the vast majority of stories in here are barely even adjacent to the genre - Will Self, Stephen King and Rajesh Parameswaran are the only real sources of any interest at all here. Bonus star for the genuinely excellent art, although that shouldn't really be a selling point as Granta are a literary magazine after all...

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