Thursday, June 12, 2014

Author Overview - Richard Laymon

Richard Laymon began his horror career with 1980s The Cellar and produced some 50 novels and tons of short stories before his untimely death in 2001.  I'd only heard of him relatively recently - for some reason he missed his place with other 80s horror paperback greats, though he reportedly found more success in England than in his native US.

His books are known for their over the top sex and violence, but it's the way he does it that stands out.  While other authors seem to relish pushing or crossing boundaries like a rebellious child, with Laymon it's more like he innocently didn't know these boundaries existed.  Like he didn't know you're supposed to have the child rape happen off page, or that it's silly to have the women fleeing said child rapist hook up with a hit man at a house where monster's live.

This is a good thing.  There's all the gore and depravity of your typical splatterpunk outing, but it's more matter of fact than in your face.

This is Laymon at his best.  At his worst, there are hundreds of pages of padded out interior monologues of annoying people.  The characters are supposed to be annoying, or petty, or in frustrating situations, but he just goes on and on.  This seems to get worse further down his career, if the trajectory of his Beast House Chronicles is any indication.  By the last installment, there is hundred pages of a guy wanting to ditch his girlfriend and ask out a tour guide for every one page of monster penis biting (that's a monster with a penis that bites, not a monster that bites penises).

With the monologues comes another Laymon standby - juvenile sexuality.  A lot of voyeurism and copping sneaky feels, not so much actual doing it.  This is perfectly at home in this setting, and supports his atmosphere of being innocent and depraved at the same time.

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