The Inevitable Introduction
It’s not the comic book thing that bothers people.
Even I think that part’s weird. Everyone loves comic books nowadays, even people who’ve never read a comic book. Especially those who have never read one. “Sorry, I haven’t seen the new Avengers movie…”
No, it’s the horror thing. I’m a middle-aged guy in a plaid blazer. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I’ve never listened to metal. I did, embarrassingly, just name-check Don DeLillo. We’ve all read that comic books are “growing up” these days (though like most things we’ve read these days there’s little truth to it). But horror, as a genre … Isn’t it a little, well, juvenile?
It don’t think it has to be. There’s a lot of really bad horror out there, of course. There’s a lot of bad everything out there. But speaking of DeLillo, I’d say White Noise is the best horror novel ever written. It’s coiled with an unmatched sense of anxiety, a slow-boil meditation on the grotesquery of modern Americana, and the lengths that average people will go to avoid their own mortality. It’s just like the world outside your window. What about that place doesn’t scare the ever-living shit out of you?
I didn’t grow up reading Stephen King. I never saw Friday the 13th or Halloween. I read Martin Amis and Annie Proulx, Margret Atwood and Cormac McCarthy, Neil LaBute and Suzan-Lori Parks. These are the authors who taught me about the world I lived in. And if those people weren’t writing horror, what the fuck were they writing exactly?
I don’t think I need to argue that horror, as a genre, is more relevant than ever. Our culture, our media, and our government have made that argument for me. So in the face of all that, I don’t have the bandwidth to parse low-brow from high-brow. Sure, I could just as easily say my last book was a meditation on Cartesian Dualism, not a zombie western. But if it’s like that Muppet said, fear leading to anger and hate, then learning to stand up to our worst fears is the least juvenile thing each and every one of us could do. I write horror because, in the end, I write about people.
How could I be writing anything but horror?