LAYMON, BAD ASS AUTHOR
by A.D. Barker
want murder, mayhem, kinky sex, torture, beasts, fiends, and teenage
girls in their underwear? Then author Richard Laymon has all that
for you, and so much more.
Laymon there’s no tip-toeing around; it’s always full-on,
unrelenting, hardcore horror.
The author of more than thirty novels and countless short stories,
Laymon’s work is not for the weak of heart. He goes far
beyond what any movie could ever show (probably why he’s
never been adapted for the screen), and writes with a quick, pacey
prose that never lets up.
Yet, through all that, he also has the ability to make us care
for his characters. He is a master at dialogue, witty and natural,
and his protagonists (and antagonists) are always layered and
textured, and above all, truthful. A lot of horror novels, particularly
hardcore horror novels, are just trash, but Laymon manages to
balance his scares (and he does go further than most) with humour
and believability. And story! He’s books rattle along like
there’s no tomorrow.
I started reading Laymon in the early 90s, and although I’ve
gone off to explore all kinds of other authors, I always come
back to himfrom time to time. It’s like seeing an old friend
again; a particularly nasty and twisted one, but a friend nevertheless.
Below is a list of my personal top five books of his that I have
read thus far. There is still a long list I have yet to read,
particularly Savage – Jack the Ripper in
the Wild West! – and I am just about to start reading, fittingly
for autumn, Night in the Lonesome October.
Unfortunately Richard Laymon died of a heart attack on Valentine’s
Day 2001 aged 54, but what he left behind is an absolute treasure
trove of depravity.
Anyway, my Richard Laymon Top Five!
Friday Night In Beast House
Part of his ‘Beast House’ books. This thin volume
is one hell of a fun ride, and can be read pretty much in one
sitting. The reason I’ve got this here is because of how
and when I read it. It was October, one rainy night, and I settled
down and burned through it cover to cover. Sometimes reading Laymon
makes me think of watching a good 80s horror flick; a titillating,
no-holds-barred assault on the senses.
4. Out Are The Lights
Here basically because it was the first Laymon book I ever read.
Loved it because it’s about movies – well, snuff movies
A masterpiece of tension and twisted depravities with several
castaways trapped and fighting for their lives. This is a great
Only read this one recently and loved every page of it. I’ve
never been that into vampires, and I feel they are completely
saturated nowadays, but there was something about this novel that
got me. Laymon plays with conventions, as so often he does, and
waves several interlinking stories which meet beautifully at the
climax. Quite a touching ending as well.
The Travelling Vampire Show
So having just said I’m not that big on vampires, why then
have I got two ‘vampire’ novels back to back, you
ask. Well, it’s simple; this isn’t really a vampire
novel, not for the main bulk of it anyway. This one is about kids
on an adventure, albeit a dark adventure, during the burning hot
summer of 1963. I could liken this one to a couple of Stephen
King stories, The Body (adapted into Stand
by Me of course) and his towering classic It.
This is a wonderful novel, filled with lovely observations on
being a teenager, complete with a truly vivid and relentless climax.
Happy reading folks!
RICHARD LAYMON NOVELS (USA)
RICHARD LAYMON NOVELS (UK)