Post by thecoffinflies on Mar 13, 2015 13:48:10 GMT
Greetings all. Since I can't find an existing thread just for James Herbert as such, thought I'd give this a go. The comments and discussion on Vault are mostly split between different books of his, which is fair enough as far as it goes, but I find his work compelling as a whole.
I've been writing down my thoughts recently about a writer who quite profoundly warped my mental development, and decided to start compiling it in a blog.
So far I've written opinions (glowing ones, mind you!) of Fluke, Domain, Sepulchre, as they all seem to get weirdly short shrift from horror fans but are name-checked as favourites by Herbert fans - and one of Portent (not so glowing, as it's not very good by any measure). If I get the chance, would be fun to write more. The only book about Herbert is Craig Cabell's which is a fine biography but weak when it comes to looking squarely at the writing.
If anyone is interested (or even irritated!) do click on the link below and have a look; I would love to know what people think.
The only book about Herbert is Craig Cabell's which is a fine biography but weak when it comes to looking squarely at the writing.
What about the Stephen Jones edited James Herbert: By Horror Haunted (New English Library, 1992)? Had a copy from the library once and found it very impressive, pretty much a multiple-author biography. I'm sure you'd enjoy it.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
James Herbert was by far, for me Britain's greatest writer. Love all his books. I recently tackled Portent again, and although it is the lesser of his works, it stands heads above many other writers of the genre. We tend to forget Herbert set a high standard for himself so one of his books is inevitably going to come bottom. The Dark is my favourite book of his, and one of my all time favourites for that matter. First book to truly scare me as a young lad, the only other being The Ghosts of Sleath also by him. Considering another read of one of his books soon. 48 or maybe Once, as its been such a while. By Horror Haunted is a brilliant book. Incisive and with some great pictures too, well worth tracking down. As is The City, the graphic 4th volume of The Rats series. Good luck though as its going for outrageous prices. Looking forward to reading the blog.
Post by thecoffinflies on Mar 16, 2015 16:09:14 GMT
All right, you got me, there are two books about Herbert. I should have given a nod to By Horror Haunted: stupidest thing is I got my copy signed when I met James Herbert in person! I've no excuse.
But it's a sort of anthology, mostly of articles and interviews that had been previously published (as much as 16 or 18 years before sometimes), so I guess I count it as more of a scrapbook than a dedicated Herbert volume...
Post by thecoffinflies on Mar 20, 2015 15:22:28 GMT
Actually I do compare the Rats trilogy to A Christmas Carol, in the blog. Comparing Dickens and Herbert isn't that much of a stretch, they've more in common than, I dunno, Dickens and Virginia Woolf...
Post by franklinmarsh on Mar 24, 2015 11:04:45 GMT
Excellent stuff, TCF. James Herbert was something of a catalyst when Dem was putting the site together, someone we could all agree on. Not just a great horror writer, but part of the NEL gang. Over the past few years I've revisited quite a few of his works that I'd only read the once (probably when they came out in paperback) and was surprised and delighted to find that I still enjoyed his style. It's the later works I'm deficient in, although I did enjoy Others.
I like Herbert's earlier books, such as 'The Rats,' 'Lair,'' The Fog,' and so on. Much of his later work seems to be rather bloated, but I suppose he was falling into line with the fashion for much bigger books. I have started books like 'The Magic Cottage' and 'Once...' and not been able to finish them as they didn't hold my interest. I guess, like many authors, he mellowed as his writing matured, but I really missed the rawness and power of his early books.
Post by thecoffinflies on Apr 23, 2015 10:48:27 GMT
Thanks Erebus, I will check that out.
In general, everyone feels (and I agree) that his later, more bloated books are less impressive works than the early stuff, and I stick by what I said in the blog: that whichever book you personally first found disappointing, Portent was definitely the first really bad book. All the same, I think even Portent, Ash, and Once... have some interesting qualities. If I get the chance to write some more thoughts down, I'll link to them again here.
BTW did anyone notice this story from The Jonah coming true in real life?
In general, everyone feels (and I agree) that his later, more bloated books are less impressive works than the early stuff, and I stick by what I said in the blog: that whichever book you personally first found disappointing, Portent was definitely the first really bad book.
Yes, Portent was when I stopped reading him regulary. I love it when a writer develops, but with Herbert I never connected again. The last I tried to read was Crickley Hall, as I love a good haunted house story, but this was a disappointment.
I thought that Crickley Hall was symptomatic of his later works in that it was just far too long. I don't know if Herbert cut it down from an even longer length but I remember when reading it that there was a plot thread that he seemed to be setting up but it went nowhere much to my surprise, so it crossed my mind that it had been edited out.
Post by thecoffinflies on Apr 29, 2015 12:06:39 GMT
Would that be the plot thread involving the teenage girl and the bullies at her school? It's interesting enough for a few scenes, but just disappears with no ramifications...
In the TV show, they kept the set-up of that plot thread, where the dad teaches the daughter how to punch someone properly, then left that hanging. I guess that's better in some ways, but really the tv adaptation was pretty meh compared to a book which was already 55% meh to start with.