Friday 2 July 2010

New Arrival: One Rainy Night by Richard Laymon

Off on a slight tangent for this next new arrival:

It's a UK first edition hardback of Richard Laymon's One Rainy Night, published by Headline in 1991. This one falls under the header 'research'; I picked it up cheap online for a book I'm editing. Of course, the fact that it happens to be a really nice first edition, which I'll be 'storing' at home now that I've scanned the cover, is neither here nor there...

Back in the late '80s/early'90s I went through a big Richard Laymon phase, hiring his books from the local library when I was back dahn sarf from university in Manchester, and again after I'd finished my degree and was whiling away my time on the dole (thank you, Beckenham Library). Laymon, for those who don't know, was like a leaner, nastier Stephen King. His books often feature unfortunate young people getting trapped in old houses or lost in forests or cast away on deserted islands and being stalked and tortured and mostly murdered by backwoods loons and malevolent supernatural forces. They're brilliant, twisted reads – the ostensible hero or heroine in each book rarely escapes intact, frequently losing bits of their body by the end of the novel.

Laymon was a lot more popular in the UK and Europe than he was in the States, despite hailing from America; I think a lot of his books were only published in paperback in the US, whereas here in the UK they usually appeared in hardback first. (As an illustration of his European success, the main Richard Laymon website appears to be German in origin, although it hasn't been updated in a while.) He died of a heart attack in 2001 (something I hadn't realised until recently); I'm not sure how well remembered he is now, but for my money you'd struggle to find a better horror writer, yer Stephen Kings aside (King was a big fan). Purely by chance (ahem... there might have been other books mentioned in the text of the book I'm editing that I could've picked to show...) One Rainy Night is the Laymon book I recall most fondly: it's about a weird rain that falls on a small town, turning the majority of its inhabitants into homicidal maniacs. It's a cracker, and it's nice to have this rather spiffing copy in my hands.

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