Europe & USA $55 USD Rest of World $55 USD
by Christopher Barker
Introduction by Reggie Oliver
Publication Date: July 2010
Sewn hardcover, issued without dustjacket, limited to 160 copies, 174 pp with end papers
Tenebrous Tales is the debut collection of short stories Christopher Barker. Although his work has been compared favourably to Walter de la Mare, Robert Aickman and M.R. James, Barker has created an original voice for himself. The author has a healthy disregard for gratuitous horror although he firmly believes that the portrayal of violence is entirely valid provided that it is handled responsibly. He is equally dismissive of rationalised supernaturalism and pretentious posturing. An obsession with emotional trauma and psychological dysfunction – placed within a suitably eerie and horrific context – dominates the author’s work. Nor is he judgmental. There are few villains in Barker’s work. Most of the characters are flawed victims.
Barker has deliberately employed different styles and narrative techniques in Tenebrous Tales. Although most of the stories have a broadly contemporary setting, few are conventional: ‘The Melancholy Haunting Of Nicholas Parkes’ fictionalises the haunting of a doppelganger by the cult musician Nick Drake and as such is split between the 1970s and 1990s; ‘Subtle Differences’ describes the terrifying experiences of a group of English film students who visit the real-life location of The Blair Witch Project; ‘One Last Glastonbury’ is a tale of existential horror set at the famous music festival. Other tales such as ‘The Attic Clock’, and ‘The Cliff Path’ could be set anytime in the last hundred years; while others – such as ‘Beyond The Fens’ and ‘The Sinister Cupboard’ – have late Victorian and Edwardian settings. Only two qualify as pastiche, yet even then, the author has imbued both with a uniquely intense traumatic horror missing from the originals.
Arguably something of an expert on supernatural horror fiction from the Gothic novel through to the real-life horrors of World War 2, most of Barker’s inspiration comes from personal nightmare, obscure films, old folklore and music. Typically one image or memory will inspire a whole story. None of the stories have been plotted in a conventional sense: all have been written at breakneck speed with no real idea how they might end. However, once committed to paper, Barker will then spend several weeks obsessively revising and editing his work. Finally he will then usually consult Reggie Oliver, with whom he has successfully collaborated on many successful occasions, and revise or tweak his work accordingly, just as Oliver consulted with Barker on his first two collections.
Tenbrous Tales is a devastatingly powerful collection of weird horror stories by an author who plans to stop working in the genre to concentrate on writing mainstream novels. This Ex Occidente Press edition will almost certainly be the only opportunity to access Barker’s short stories in collected book form.
Forward by the Author
Introduction by Reggie Oliver
The Melancholy Haunting Of Nicholas Parkes
The Sinister Cupboard
The Man Who Fell Awake
The Motiveless Pursuit
The Cliff Path
The Thing In The Tree
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Tenebrous Tales is a sewn hardcover book of 174 pages with endpapers and a full-colour frontispiece. Edition limited to 160 copies. $55 inc. p&p; to Europe and USA, $55 to the rest of the world.
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