Christopher Owens 🕮 Horror is rooted in the mundane.


Don’t believe me? Just read the following segment from J.G Ballard’s High Rise:

First, she would try to kill him, but failing this give him food and her body, breast-feed him back to a state of childishness and even, perhaps, feel affection for him. Then, the moment he was asleep, cut his throat. The synopsis of the ideal marriage.

That could be the synopsis for a Stephen King novel or a segment from The Sandman. Not just because of the basic plot, but the imagery of normalcy masking evil. Something a lot of horror writers can forget whenever detailing the corpse’s state of decay or building up the bogeyman in such a way that the reveal is a let-down.

Not an accusation that can be flung at this book, a jolting mix of the intellectual and pulp fiction.

Canadian based, Brendan Vidito has form in this area as he wrote Nightmares in Ecstasy (awarded ‘Best Collection’ at the 2019 Wonderland Awards). This is his first collection since then, and it is an astonishing read.

What marks this book out is Vidito’s evocative and off-kilter writing style, especially his settings. Here’s an example:

A chorus of moans and screams, blended with wet sucking sounds, played over speakers mounted on the walls. The light fixtures on the ceiling were long and conical. They shed a crimson radiance over the space. The marble floor was made up of dizzying swirls of black and white, like a melted chessboard. A grainy hologram shone on the wall opposite the back door. It comprised a disembodied face, huge and Oz-like, with androgynous features and a perversely grinning smile. Liam thought he saw it move…

I don’t know about you but, for me, I was envisaging a Fellini/Jodorowsky style world, with this old mansion acting as both a simulated brothel and a never-ending maze.

With nine tales, it would be unfair to discuss them all as half the joy of reading it is letting Vidito dictate where you’re heading (narratively speaking) and the route that you take to get there, However, I will discuss my favourite tale in this collection: ‘Apate’s Children’, which holds this crown due to its deeply mysterious and sinister secret that is hinted at (but never revealed) and also because of how it starts off with such a small (but every day) occurrence that would be a common fear among many (kids breaking your window) and then descends into Dali-esque surrealism and nightmare fuel.

Couple the above with an astonishingly beautiful cover from Wieslaw Walkuski, and what you have is an exceptional short story collection that manages to detail the horror of what is underneath the surface while offering a more cerebral take on the contrast between mundanity and horror. Some of it is also deeply visual, offering the potential for greater exploration not only through other books but through the medium of film as well.

The perfect book to start off October with.

Brendan Vidito, 2022, Pornography for the End of the World, Weirdpunk Books, ISBN-13: 978-1951658236

🔖 Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.

Pornography For The End Of The World

Christopher Owens 🕮 Horror is rooted in the mundane.


Don’t believe me? Just read the following segment from J.G Ballard’s High Rise:

First, she would try to kill him, but failing this give him food and her body, breast-feed him back to a state of childishness and even, perhaps, feel affection for him. Then, the moment he was asleep, cut his throat. The synopsis of the ideal marriage.

That could be the synopsis for a Stephen King novel or a segment from The Sandman. Not just because of the basic plot, but the imagery of normalcy masking evil. Something a lot of horror writers can forget whenever detailing the corpse’s state of decay or building up the bogeyman in such a way that the reveal is a let-down.

Not an accusation that can be flung at this book, a jolting mix of the intellectual and pulp fiction.

Canadian based, Brendan Vidito has form in this area as he wrote Nightmares in Ecstasy (awarded ‘Best Collection’ at the 2019 Wonderland Awards). This is his first collection since then, and it is an astonishing read.

What marks this book out is Vidito’s evocative and off-kilter writing style, especially his settings. Here’s an example:

A chorus of moans and screams, blended with wet sucking sounds, played over speakers mounted on the walls. The light fixtures on the ceiling were long and conical. They shed a crimson radiance over the space. The marble floor was made up of dizzying swirls of black and white, like a melted chessboard. A grainy hologram shone on the wall opposite the back door. It comprised a disembodied face, huge and Oz-like, with androgynous features and a perversely grinning smile. Liam thought he saw it move…

I don’t know about you but, for me, I was envisaging a Fellini/Jodorowsky style world, with this old mansion acting as both a simulated brothel and a never-ending maze.

With nine tales, it would be unfair to discuss them all as half the joy of reading it is letting Vidito dictate where you’re heading (narratively speaking) and the route that you take to get there, However, I will discuss my favourite tale in this collection: ‘Apate’s Children’, which holds this crown due to its deeply mysterious and sinister secret that is hinted at (but never revealed) and also because of how it starts off with such a small (but every day) occurrence that would be a common fear among many (kids breaking your window) and then descends into Dali-esque surrealism and nightmare fuel.

Couple the above with an astonishingly beautiful cover from Wieslaw Walkuski, and what you have is an exceptional short story collection that manages to detail the horror of what is underneath the surface while offering a more cerebral take on the contrast between mundanity and horror. Some of it is also deeply visual, offering the potential for greater exploration not only through other books but through the medium of film as well.

The perfect book to start off October with.

Brendan Vidito, 2022, Pornography for the End of the World, Weirdpunk Books, ISBN-13: 978-1951658236

🔖 Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.

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