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DarkEcho Horror
deccoclock by Rick Berry
Book Review

Ramsey Campbell and Modern Horror Fiction
Liverpool Science Fiction Texts and Studies 23
S.T. Joshi
Liverpool University Press/180 p/ (no price listed)
ISBN: 0853237654 (July 2001)

To those who take horror literature seriously, Ramsey Campbell is considered to be one of its most outstanding practitioners. But meritorious writing does not always receive the attention of the masses. Stephen King may be the most well-known writer in the history of the world. Campbell's fellow Liverpudlian Clive Barker (and junior by only six years) is fast becoming a brand name himself. Numerous others -- most of whom are decidedly lesser talents than Campbell -- have received both public acclaim and financial success with their macabre imaginations. But, like Lovecraft and Poe before him, Campbell has been poorly compensated for 30 years of high literary art. And, as S.T. Joshi points out in his new book RAMSEY CAMPBELL AND MODERN HORROR FICTION, Campbell also occupies a distinctive place in the historic progression of horror fiction: "[H]e represents a bridge between the 'classic' weird writers of the first half of the twentieth century and today's diverse crop of best-sellers, although he himself is in many ways still in advance of his young colleagues in the provocative dynamism, of his work."

cover Joshi can't do anything about the economics of the situation, but his work does bring deserved attention to both Campbell and his writing. He approaches Campbell's body of work thematically and does a commendable job of both analysis and literary context. Joshi is a thorough writer, but not a particularly entertaining one -- but that is said as warning only to the general reader. The book is definitely readable and, as part of a university press academic series, one can hardly expect a jolly frolic. Perhaps the single area Joshi touches on too lightly on is Campbell's influence on a younger generation of writers, but this is probably an impossibility at this stage. The history is yet to be written. Ramsey Campbell and Modern Horror Fiction certainly belongs in every library on both sides of the Atlantic, on a good many shelves owned by horror critics and mavens and should be read by any sincere student of modern horror. -- Paula Guran, originally appeared in The Spook

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