TO EACH THEIR DARKNESS by Gary A. Braunbeck (2010 Apex Publications / 330 pp / tp)
Since reading the brilliant novel IN SILENT GRAVES back in 2004 (a novel I've now read 3 times), Gary Braunbeck instantly became one of my must-read authors. I quickly sought out as much from his as I could, and just about everything I've read has managed to inspire me both as a writer and (even) as a person. TO EACH THEIR DARKNESS is an extended version of Gary's FEAR IN A HANDFUL OF DUST: HORROR AS A WAY OF LIFE, a book I had missed out on, so everything here was new to me (except for a couple of short sections I had read online over the past few years).
This isn't a "how-to" manual, but rather a series of sections dealing with the films, literature, and real-life events that have inspired and shaped Gary as an author. As a huge film fan, I could've read another 500 pages of Gary's film reviews and recommendations, but as it stands there's plenty here to seek out (I was especially thrilled to see how much of an affect the Burt Lancaster film, THE SWIMMER, had on the author: it has been one of my favorites since I saw it as a kid on late night TV). Seriously...if you read this, keep a pen and pad on hand as you'll surely want to check some (if not) all of these films out.
Like his fiction, Gary's real-life stories are quite dark, depressing, and (some) downright terrifying, yet like a car accident, I just couldn't look away, and now that he has shared these accounts, it has given some of my favorite stories from him even more depth than they already have (it was also nice to see him dissect much of his own writing, especially one of my favorites, his short titled 'NEED' that literally caused my stomach to drop the first time I read it). There's also a story of one of Gary's closest friends that had me laughing my ass off, so despite the grim aura surrounding most of DARKNESS, there's still a few laughs to be had (as well as much to benefit from, which I'm sure is Gary's main goal here).
Gary also gives much space to what he believes keeps horror (as a genre) less respectable than other forms of literature, yet not once does he apologize for being a genre writer. And when he gets into the issue of the lack of subtext used within modern horror fiction, writers would do well to pay close attention.
If you're a fan of Braunbeck, these 330 pages will fly by. While I'm not sure it was necessary to feature several introductions Gary had written for other author's books, there really isn't anything negative I can say about this look into the mind of one of horror fiction's most gifted authors. Check it out.