I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling and M.B. Partlow), posting reviews as we go. (For more information, including a list of the books, see this post.)
It's been almost a year since I last reviewed a book on here. Back in January, right before everything went chaotic in my life, I reviewed Naomi's Room. As with everything else, I'm trying to get back to my old normal.
This week I'm reviewing Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison.
I'm going to be honest. When I saw this title on the list, I thought it was THE Invisible Man, which is actually by H.G. Wells. But this book is on a list of scariest books ever for very different reasons than Wells' story.
Ellison's Invisible Man is a stark look at society, individualism, identity, and, most obviously, race. The examination of race is split between two different areas: the deep South and Harlem.
I wish I'd reviewed this after first writing it. It's been probably about eight or nine months. I read it just before things went upside down. I remember the raw emotion I felt while reading this gorgeously written book. The frustration, the anger, the sadness, and a host of other emotions. But I don't remember specific examples I could pull and more precise reviews to give you.
The "horror" of this book is the way people treat other people, the things that happen that are looked past or ignored. The way we train others to be, and are in turn trained to be. The wrong we can do, and the wrong that can be done.
If I remember right, we never get a true name for the main character. This is part of his invisibility.
All I can tell you is that everyone should read this book. Written in 1952, it flows in a beautiful arrangement of words that belies what we're reading about. To close, I'll put the opening paragraph of the prologue here:
"I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids--and might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination--indeed, everything and anything except me."
I rank this right there with "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "The Handmaid's Tale" for commentary on society and a vivid, depressing look at the resilient and downtrodden in our society. The invisible, as it were.
Now for some links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.
HorrorAddicts.net is seeking horror stories set in the Victorian era for Dark Divinations. 2000 to 5000 words. Pays $10. Deadline October 31.
Flash Bang Mysteries is seeking flash mysteries. 500 to 750 words. Pays $20. Deadline October 31.
Utopia Science Fiction is seeking optimistic SF. 100 to 6000 words. Pays $15.
Mura Magazine is seeking poetry, flash fiction, and visual art. Less than 1000 words. Pays $1 CAD/100 words.
Czykmate Productions is seeking horror flash and short stories (plus graphic art). Pays $2.
The Bronzeville Bee is seeking speculative fiction, crime, and YA short stories. Up to 3000 words. Pays $.05/word.
Have you ever read Ellison's Invisible Man? How about the other books I mentioned? What are your thoughts? Do you find the subject matter chilling? Any of these links of use? Anything to share?
May you find your Muse.