Friday, July 4, 2008
Ramsey Campbell is something of the Stephen King of England. Since the publication of The Doll Who Ate His Mother and The Face That Must Die in the 70s, he has written a number of novels, as well as several short story collections. They are of consistently high quality, and Campbell is widely recognized as one of the greatest practitioners of “quiet horror”.
It was with some sadness that I read in the forward of his book The Overnight that he had taken a job at a Borders in his native England a few years back to ease some financial difficulty. I won’t engage in a full fledged rant about a society in which such a fine author can’t make a more than comfortable living on such a body of work, except to state that I consider it a tragedy.
The Overnight is inspired by the Borders sojourn. It takes place at a large book store called Texts, which could be a Borders, Barnes & Noble or whatnot. This is basically a haunted-bookstore novel. Each chapter is told from the point of view of a different store employee. For some reason, as the store manager (an American) is driven to madness, I couldn’t stop thinking about the British TV series The Office (never seen the American one). It is more creepy than terrifying, and probably not one of Ramsey Campbell’s best, but I’ve never read anything by Campbell that I wouldn’t recommend.