Why Read Horror?
My publishers at Apocalypse Ink Productions ask the question in this post from January.
Honestly, horror isn’t my first choice to read. It hasn’t been since Lovecraft caught me in grammar school.
When I read it now, however, it gives me more understanding of the human condition than any other genre I enjoy.
Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell is one such tale. At the age of forty, it speaks to me of the dissatisfaction that comes with age, the endless quest to keep your mind and soul and body satisfied and together. The horror in Russell’s story comes from an understanding of the track my own life is on, and the likely results of a slip.
The Monsters of Heaven by Nathan Ballingrud is a shattering story of loss, with a redemption that may be worse than the crime. It calls to mind helplessness, powerlessness, the heaviness of grief and the vast, undeniable gulf that guilt and isolation create. The horror comes not from the creatures, but the things which call them forth.
Both these stories feature monsters, but they are truly about people; people who live and suffer and ache. They are people to whom I relate, deep within.
The Shadow Minion at Apocalypse Ink reads horror for a frisson of fear, for the adrenaline rush. She reads to escape the boredom and stagnation of everyday life. I understand that, and yet …
I read horror not for the monsters, but for the victims – even when they are one and the same. I read not to be terrified by the things that happen to them, but to ache alongside of them at the choices they make, to weep out the darkness which they carry within.
Horror is not an escape for me. It is a release.
It reminds me that the world suffers, that others in the world suffer.
Horror tells me that things will not get better, will never be better, cannot be fixed.
Then I set down the book, and look at the peeling paint on my study wall. I feel the cold February drafts from the holes in my window insulation. I regard the ancient, half-broken computer on which I do not write enough under a bulb which has never given me enough light.
This reminds me that things can be fixed. From home improvement to toxic relationships to addictions. It is up to me.
Life can be a struggle. But even so, it is a beautiful struggle.
I read horror not for the darkness it displays, but for the light which it unwittingly reveals.
Am I the only one? Possible, but doubtful. Why do you read horror? Tell me.
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