Dark Fiction (Part II)

Dark fiction is concerned with the sinister side of human nature. It is often distinguished from the mainstream horror genre in that it tends not to be fantasy-orientated. Dark fiction may contain elements of black or satirical humour.

Here are six works of dark fiction, some of which are humorous, some of which are anything but. They are presented in the order in which they were published. Click on the links to read my reviews.

 

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1899)

Heart of Darkness is a disturbing, multi-layered story about what can occur when man exists outside of civilisation’s constraints. Readers are challenged to question the existence of being.

My Review: Heart of Darkness is a novella about a steamship sailing up a river through the jungles of The Congo, in search of Mr Kurtz, a mysterious ivory trader, who has reportedly turned native…(more)

 

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (1915)

The Metamorphosis is a bleak, existential nihilistic tale that comments on the human condition and the futility of life. This reader appreciated its dark humour.

My Review: Protagonist Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed into a beetle. This awkward situation is exacerbated when Gregor’s boss turns up at his house…(more)

 

Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler (1940) 

Koestler’s seminal work is a powerful and poignant political novel that examines issues of morality, particularly that of justifying the means by the end.

My Review: Darkness At Noon is dedicated to the victims of ‘The Moscow Trials’, several of whom the author Arthur Koestler knew. Though the characters in the book are fictitious, the historical circumstances…(more)

 

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)

This satire of the yuppy culture of the 1980s comments on our obsession with the meaningless and trivial, and questions the inherent value of capitalist society.

My Review: American Psycho is a highly controversial novel that brought its young author Bret Easton Ellis instant fame. The book is written from the perspective of a young Wall Street…(more)

 

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk (1999)

The book’s premise, the superficial vanity of the beauty industry, is used both to explore the unattractive side of human nature and, in customary Palahniuk fashion, to satirise society.

My Review: Shannon McFarland is a catwalk model, who is the centre of attention wherever she goes. That is until she ‘accidentally’ blasts her jaw shot off with a gun whilst driving…(more)

 

Newspaper Diapers by M. T. Johnson (2012)

What this book lacks in length, it more than compensates for in disturbing, child abuse themed content. This harrowing work is one of the darkest books I have read to date.

My Review: Newspaper Diapers consists of a series of loosely connected vignettes about child abuse and group homes being recounted by various perverse and narcissistic narrators…(more)

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A Black Comedy of True Distinction

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