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A View From the Lake by Greg F. Gifune

A View From the Lake

by Greg F. Gifune

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“I have to get them out. It’s the only way I know how to do it. Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve written things down. Thoughts, dreams, stories, poems, all of it written down, pounded out on old typewriters or scribbled here or there on pads and scraps of paper, like once I’d written it down I’d be free of it somehow.”
~ “A View from the Lake”
by Greg F. Gifune

No one writes like this.

No one. Not now.

But there was a time when all American horror literature was an exploration of metaphysical terrors. “Varney the Vampire” and “Wagner the Werwulf” – with their attendant tidal explosions of gore – represented an exclusively European manifestation of the genre, but here higher levels of sophistication held sway. And though horror traditions may have originated in the Old World, New World writers refined the concept. Henry James’ atmospheric nuances and subtlety of expression elevated it to an art form, while William Sloane explored apocalyptic levels of existential evil. Shirley Jackson helmed a new breed of writers who applied the burgeoning science of psychology to Gothic situations with shattering results. Their ghosts – demons of the mind all – were empowered by guilty memories and repressed yearnings. In short, they were lethal. These authors terrorized with nothing so quaint as monsters but with a pervasive sense of another reality, a realm moving near to this world and sometimes intruding: not so much the fear of the unknown as an apprehension of the unimaginable.

Few writers create works like this now. Greg Gifune is a notable exception.

The complete writers’ writer, crafting novels and stories with an elegance almost unheard of within the contemporary genre, Gifune reveals roots in the noir wordsmiths of another, more cultured era. His characters tend to be articulate, intelligent, aware, which renders their predicaments all the more disturbing. An author whose core popularity has always been among the literati (Brian Keene referred to him as the genre’s “best-kept secret”), Gifune has only recently begun to attract media attention, but even after many published novels and two collections of short stories his work remains amazingly little-known by the general public. Why the relative obscurity? Some authors possess such high standards of integrity that they resist all impulses toward self-promotion, and – though admirable – this stance can render a disservice to readers frequently reduced to perusing overrated efforts by those who are simply tiresomely adept at marketing. When press attention has focused upon Gifune, however, the excitement of discovery rings loud and clear. The Rosewell Literary Review recently called him “one of the best writers of his generation.” What tedious self-marketer wouldn’t kill for copy like that?

Gifune’s A VIEW FROM THE LAKE represents a near-perfect distillation of his oeuvre. Trapped by a blizzard in a holiday cottage, a young widow must contend with the phantoms of drowned children who slowly emerge from the frozen lake, as well as with a husband who may not be dead so much as transmuted into something infinitely more shocking than a mere ghost. The setting alone proves chillingly well realized. Nor is this an ordinary blizzard. An expression of the paralyzing emotional frigidity of the characters, this snowfall blanks out the world with surreal intensity, reducing it to a blank page, an empty stage on which the terrible inevitability of the plot must play itself out. In this accomplished and mature work, a permeating dread suggests the underlying fears that fuel all superstitions, all nightmares. Make no mistake – this is a devastating novel, vastly superior to the usual genre fare, as intellectually stimulating as it is viscerally frightening. And the horror lurking at its heart may well be the ultimate supernatural manifestation.

Some quotes leap with meaningless monotony from the covers of paperback books, words like “terrifying, blood-curdling, a new voice in horror fiction.” How predictable. How empty. A truly new voice must evoke a new lexicon, rife with words like uncanny … hypnotic … profound … ( )
  Rob_Dunbar | Nov 12, 2009 |
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She saw them only in dreams now.
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