Read Raptus by John Farris Free Online
Book Title: Raptus|
The author of the book: John Farris
Edition: Sperling & Kupfer
Date of issue: September 1996
ISBN 13: 9788878246966
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 546 KB
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Reader ratings: 6.7
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There is no other horror novel quite like this one. Its notoriety and reputation--its esteem and admiration--are fully well-earned. It was conceived at the dawn of the horror-fiction revolution stirred awake by Stephen King; during that long 'lull' before the genre exploded and multi-millions began to be tossed around. Ambitious mass-market authors at that time, were not really throwing all their energies into this genre because it was considered a 'sleepy backwater'. A special-interest genre. Ira Levin (of all people) was leading the field.
But then John Farris comes along and--via this one book--showed that a horror novel could stand on its own; be fully-fledged; could exhibit robustness, could obey all the principles of modern mainstream dramatic fiction. He was ahead of his time; he was a pioneer and a forerunner.
The strengths of his conception here, are many. First, 'All Heads' is a rich example of 'Southern Gothic' writing --and a very fine one at that. Much of it can be read--and marveled at--for just this aspect alone. It's a moody, atmospheric, crazy family saga combined with a sexually-realistic romantic storyline as well. Not an easy feat to pull off. Good Southern gothic is famously hard to arrive at 'correctly'.
Next: as a horror novel, 'Heads' is wildly creative and penetrating; psychological; unorthodox (spanning multiple continents? you don't see that too often, in horror yarns) as well as that convincing romance I'm mentioning (one meets that, even less frequently). The length and breadth of time Farris spends on description... conveying gorgeous Southern landscape, meticulous details of character, local histories, personal backgrounds, 'shared past' events...there's inventiveness in every quarter.
Next: the technical traits of Farris' writing style. You will need a thesaurus handy to accompany this read. It is dense, literate, weighty--this is challenging literature which has to be slowly sifted through and pored over. What Farris demonstrates by this is that horror novels don't have to written crudely, simplistically, or childishly (as they mostly were being written at the time and often continue to be written, today). This is a mature work penned from a mature sensibility; it's not 'kiddie horror'.
Do you catch the import of my comments so far? Folks, this is a full-blown novel. Morally ambiguous characters, fully-grounded motivations and genuine emotions; characters with unclear destinies; alternating perspectives. This is the kind of intimacy and delicacy that Stephen King usually abandoned in favour of faster-moving, more-sensational plots (and his famous 'commercial cues').
Let's talk straight: Stephen King succumbed to authorial flaws more often than not as his career bloomed. Besides his endlessly thin, repetitive characters..he also quickly began to write in extremely predictable, derivative cycles. Always borrowing from his horror predecessors --in some way or other--for his source ideas.
Though I'd love to be able to say that John Farris did not also fall prey to this, unfortunately he did. If Farris had only written one more book as unique as 'All Heads'; he would be a grandmaster of horror. But unfortunately--as it turned out--this specific tale is the only kind of work he can pen. All his books afterwards borrow from the format he first coined here. He's a proverbial one-trick pony.
Farris' fatal flaw is that he doesn't lift from other writers [as King does]: sadly, he re-uses material from himself. Right from this very title. The rest of his novels are wash-rinse-repeat: 'Orestian family sagas' just as this one is. This sole book is the primary model for all his later narratives. This is his only watershed.
Whereas Stephen King--for all his failings--always gave us something unusual and fresh in every story premise (whether he handled each premise very well, is a different matter). But title after title--he wasn't limited to just one, lone, stupendous creative outburst. Farris was. And that's why you've never heard about Farris. He came up with 'The Fury', too--which received a fair movie adaptation--but it just wasn't enough.
Bottom line: in any pound-for-pound "book matchup" you can take any single title of King, Levin, Straub, Campbell, or Barker--arrange any one-on-one comparison you wish--none of them will match the audacity, ingenuity, and execution of 'All Heads Turn'. Not 'The Shining'; not 'Ghost Story', not 'Rosemary's Baby'--nothing out there in its class--can compete. Where Farris stumbles--where his career falters--is when you compare him to his peers on criteria like 'output-over-time'. He has no durability, no sustainability. Nonetheless, 'Heads' is perhaps the single-best standalone horror novel, ever. Certainly the best in its particular style. And that is well deserving of all our constant and renewed admiration.
Look here. If all I've said up above doesn't convince you--then, forget everything I've stated--and let's make it just this: your hands will tremble; your breath will get short, your heart will race; and you will gulp and swallow on a cotton-dry mouth. You will have to leap out of your seat and pace around the room to calm yourself down. It is that crazy, that unsettling, that disturbing.
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Read information about the authorAmerican writer and screenwriter of both adaptations of his own books (e.g. 'The Fury'), of the works of others (such as Alfred Bester's 'The Demolished Man') and original scripts. In 1973 he wrote and directed the film 'Dear Dead Delilah'. He has had several plays produced off-Broadway, and also paints and writes poetry. At various times he has made his home in New York, Southern California and Puerto Rico; he currently resides near Atlanta, Georgia. Early in his career he also wrote under the name Steve Brackeen.
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