Thomas Ligotti

From YSDC Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Thomas Ligotti (born July 9, 1953, in Detroit, Michigan) is a writer of horror stories.

Something of a cult figure, Ligotti is rather little known, but has seen high praise as one of the most effective and unique horror writers of recent decades: The The Washington Post calls him "the best kept secret in contemporary horror fiction." Another critic declared "It's a skilled writer indeed who can suggest a horror so shocking that one is grateful it was kept offstage."


Ligotti attended Macomb County Community College between 1971 and 1973 and graduated from Wayne State University in 1977.

Often favorably compared to Edgar Allan Poe, Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka and H.P. Lovecraft, Ligotti began his publishing career in the early 1980s with a number of short stories published in various American small press magazines.

His unique and affecting tales gathered a small following. Ligotti's relative anonymity and reclusiveness led to speculation about his identity: Was Ligotti a pseudonym used by a prominent literary writer? Were his stories in fact collaborations of multiple authors? In an introduction to her collection The Nightmare Factory, Poppy Z. Brite mentioned these notions, with a rhetorical question: "Are you out there, Thomas Ligotti?"

In recent years, Ligotti has conducted interviews and disclosed some details of his background. For twenty-three years Ligotti worked as an Associate Editor at Gale Research (now the Gale Group), a publishing company that produces compilations of literary (and other) research. In the summer of 2001, Ligotti quit his job at the Gale Group and moved to south Florida. His favorite music is generally instrumental rock. Nevertheless there are still some who question Ligotti's actual existence and--in a fittingly Ligottian notion--claim these biographical details are part of an extended literary conspiracy.

Ligotti's worldview has been described as profoundly nihilistic (though he's wary of the label, stating "'Nihilist' is a name that other people call you. No intelligent person has ever described or thought of himself as a nihilist." and has stated he has suffered from anxiety for much of his life; these have been prominent themes in his work.

Ligotti generally avoids the explicit violence common in some recent horror fiction, preferring to establish an intensely disquieting, pessimistic atmosphere through the use of subtlety and repetition. He has cited Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Bernhard, Edgar Allan Poe, Bruno Schulz, E. M. Cioran and William S. Burroughs among his favorite writers. There are similarities between some of Ligotti's work and the subtly disturbing stories of Robert Aickman, as well. H.P. Lovecraft is also an important touchstone for Ligotti: At least one story (most blatantly "Sect of the Idiot") makes explicit reference to Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, and another, "The Last Feast of the Harlequin", was dedicated to Lovecraft.

Ligotti has explored metafictional notions in several stories: "Notes on the Writing of Horror" and "Professor Nobody's Little Lectures on Supernatural Horror." Both begin as advice for prospective writers of horror fiction, but gradually become uniquely Ligottian exercises in quietly disturbing fiction.

Ligotti has stated he prefers short stories to longer forms, both as a reader and writer, though he has recently written a novella, My Work Is Not Yet Done.

Ligotti has collaborated with the musical group Current 93 on several albums: In A Foreign Town, In A Foreign Land; This Degenerate Little Town; and I Have A Special Plan For This World.

The story "The Journal of J.P. Drapeau" is presented as a player handout in the scenario "In a City of Bells and Towers" from the Horror on the Orient Express campaign for the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game.

A critical analysis of Ligotti's work can be found in S.T. Joshi's book The Modern Weird Tale (2001).


Critical opinion of Ligotti has generally been favorable.

  • The New York Times Book Review: "If there were a literary genre called 'philosophical horror,' Thomas Ligotti's Grimscribe would easily fit within it...provocative images and a style that is both entertaining and lyrical;"


Ligotti has received many awards and nominations for his work:

  • 1982: Small Press Writers and Artists Organization, Best Author of Horror/Weird Fiction: "The Chymist"
  • 1986: Rhysling Award, from Science Fiction Poetry Association (nomination): "One Thousand Painful Variations Performed Upon Divers Creatures Undergoing the Treatment of Dr. Moreau, Humanist"
  • 1991: World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction (nomination): "The Last Feast of Harlequin"
  • 1992: World Fantasy Award for Best Collection (nomination): Grimscribe: His Lives and Works
  • 1997: World Fantasy Award for Best Collection (nomination): The Nightmare Factory
  • 1995: Bram Stoker Award for Best Short Fiction (nomination): "The Bungalow House"
  • 1996: Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection:The Nightmare Factory
  • 1996: Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction "The Red Tower"
  • 2002: Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction: "My Work Is Not Yet Done"
  • 2002: International Horror Guild Award, Long Form Category: "My Work Is Not Yet Done"


  • Songs of a Dead Dreamer (1986, 1989)
  • Grimscribe: His Lives and Works (1991)
  • Noctuary (1994)
  • The Agonizing Resurrection of Victor Frankenstein and Other Gothic Tales (1994)
  • The Nightmare Factory (1996)
  • In a Foreign Town, in a Foreign Land (1996, with Current 93)
  • I Have a Special Plan for This World (1997)
  • This Degenerate Little Town (2001, with Current 93)
  • My Work Is Not Yet Done: Three Tales of Corporate Horror (2002)
  • Crampton: A Screenplay (2003, with Brandon Trenz)
  • Sideshow, and Other Stories (2003)
  • Death Poems (2004)
  • The Shadow at the Bottom of the World (2005)
  • Teatro Grottesco (2005)

  • The Thomas Ligotti Reader: Essays and Explorations (2003), edited by Darrell Schweitzer. A collection of essays about Ligotti's work, which includes one by Ligotti on the horror genre, a Ligotti interview, and a bibliography of his published works.

External links

Original Wiki source: Wikipedia