“A Day in the Life” of Author and Film Critic Mike Thorn

Calgary Guardian

Mike Thorn is an author and film critic who currently resides in Calgary, Alberta (mostly inside his apartment, at the moment). Thorn’s Darkest Hours, a collection of short stories, is anything but mundane. Although his writing is full of darkness and supernatural horrors, it is always rooted in something painfully human. A genre film enthusiast, Mike excels at uncovering allegorical meanings behind fantastical works of art, often rooted in depictions of trauma and hidden pasts. He also can name the top ten horror flicks from any decade at the drop of a hat; the man has lists for everything. Mike is unique in his approach to writing, as he is informed not only by his intense love for literature, but also by his extensive knowledge of cinema. He is particularly influenced and inspired by 1930s horror. Currently, Mike works as an instructor at Bow Valley College, while also keeping up with personal writing projects. Keep your eyes peeled in February 2021 for his debut novel, Shelter for the Damned.

See the full article on Calgary Guardian.

Kathe Koja’s Velocities is a Major, Genre-Transcending Achievement

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Kathe Koja’s work has always contended with complex issues: the limits of agonistic art, performance/performativity, and expressions of embodiment. From her groundbreaking debut horror novel, The Cipher (1991), to her 1997 collection Extremities, the author often evaluates these topics through the porous boundaries of horror. Of course, it is not only Koja’s compelling thematic engagements that set her writing apart, but also her crackling, inimitable, urgent prose style.

Koja’s career-long fixations persist in her new collection, Velocities, one of the most vital, haunting, and commanding genre releases in recent years. Particularly noteworthy is the book’s interest in art (especially performance art) as a catalyst for negotiations with trauma. Two stand-out examples are “Velocity,” which sees its performance artist reliving a horrific event through his work, and “Pas de Deux,” which depicts a woman grappling with the interior catharsis of dance versus exterior demands on her body. Indeed, this tension between desires of interiority and those of embodied, physical reality (central to novels like Skin [1993] and Strange Angels [1994]) shows up repeatedly throughout this collection.

When dealing with Koja, one of the twentieth century’s major American horror novelists, it seems impossible to avoid the question of genre. Is Velocities a “genre” collection? Undoubtedly Koja lays bare her expertise on genre forms and modes (“The Marble Lily” might be the most convincing contemporary imitation of nineteenth-century Gothic I’ve read), but this book circumvents customary genre structures at nearly every turn. Within the first couple stories, it dawned on me that Koja’s fiction is a genre unto itself; hers is a body of work defined by singular style. Truly, Koja’s voice is among the most distinctive and invigorating I have ever encountered.

Koja maximizes on that which is specific to the written medium; her wildly unique prose style delivers affective experiences that I cannot imagine transmitting fully to any other artistic form. At the same time, though, Koja draws often on the tactility of performance and dance, imagining the many ways in which artistic modes can either mirror or contend with each other.

Suffice to say Velocities is, like any other Koja book, a major event. Koja’s work has had more impact on me and my work than I can possibly express. Time and again, her fiction has reinvigorated me and helped me imagine the boundless literary potential of genre. It is no exaggeration to say that she is among the most important writers in horror, and a major figure in contemporary American fiction more broadly.

Buy Velocities.

2010-2019: Top 25 Books, Films, and Albums

BOOKS
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Advice for Taxidermists and Amateur Beekeepers, by Erin Emily Ann Vance (2019)
And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, by Gwendolyn Kiste (2017)
Arctic Smoke, by Randy Nikkel Schroeder (2019)
Autobiography of Childhood, by Sina Queyras (2011)
Burqa of Skin, by Nelly Arcan (2011)
The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, by Thomas Ligotti (2011)
Daddy Love, by Joyce Carol Oates (2013)
A Dark Matter, by Peter Straub (2010)
Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King (2010)
Full-Metal Indigiqueer, by Joshua Whitehead (2017)
Home, by Toni Morrison (2011)
Horror of Philosophy, vols. 1-3, by Eugene Thacker (2011-2015)
Monoceros, by Suzette Mayr (2011)
Oil on Water, by Helon Habila (2010)
On an Ungrounded Earth: Towards a New Geophilosophy, by Ben Woodard (2013)
Only Pretty Damned, by Niall Howell (2019)
Open City, by Teju Cole (2011)
Point Omega, by Don DeLillo (2010)
Son of a Trickster, by Eden Robinson (2017)
Strange is the Night, by S. P. Miskowski (2017)
The Streets, by Robert Dunbar (2015)
The Thing: A Phenomenology of Horror, by Dylan Trigg (2014)
What is Not Yours is Not Yours, by Helen Oyeyemi (2016)
Where the Sun Shines Best, by Austin Clarke (2013)
The Wilderness Within, by John Claude Smith (2017)

FILMS
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4:44 Last Day on Earth, dir. Abel Ferrara (2011)
Almayer’s Folly, dir. Chantal Akerman (2011)
The Assassin, dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien (2015)
Bitter Money, dir. Wang Bing (2016)
Blackhat, dir. Michael Mann (2015)
Cityscape, dir. Michael Snow (2019)
Cosmopolis, dir. David Cronenberg (2012)
Crazy Horse, dir. Frederick Wiseman (2011)
Djinn, dir. Tobe Hooper (2013)
J.
Edgar, dir. Clint Eastwood (2011)
Jauja, dir. Lisandro Alonso (2014)
Journey to the Shore, dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa (2015)
Knock Knock, dir. Eli Roth (2015)
Like Someone in Love, dir. Abbas Kiarostami (2012)
The Lords of Salem, dir. Rob Zombie (2012)
Mekong Hotel, dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul (2012)
The Other Side of the Wind, dir. Orson Welles (2018)
People That Are Not Me, dir. Hadas ben Aroya (2016)
Shutter Island, dir. Martin Scorsese (2010)
Stemple Pass, dir. James Benning (2012)
Three Landscapes, dir. Peter B. Hutton (2013)
A Touch of Sin, dir. Jia Zhangke (2013)
Twin Peaks: The Return, dir. David Lynch (2017)
Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey, dir. Terrence Malick (2016)

ALBUMS
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, by David Bowie (2016)
Bring on the Sun, by Laraaji (2017)
Circle the Wagons, by Darkthrone (2010)
Concrete Desert, by The Bug vs Earth (2017)
Conversations with Myself, by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma (2011)
Conversion, by Jacob Kirkegaard (2013)
Copper Lock Hell, by Khost (2014)
Destiny Calls, by Chevalier (2019)
Ett, by Klara Lewis (2014)
Every Day I Get Closer to the Light From Which I Came, by Jesu (2013)
Firepower, by Judas Priest (2018)
Heaven Upside Down, by Marilyn Manson (2017)
Lost Themes II, by John Carpenter (2016)
Lulu, by Lou Reed & Metallica (2011)
NV, by Gnaw Their Tongues & Dragged Into Sunlight (2015)
Ornitheology, by Chubby Wolf (2010)
A Paean to Wilson, by The Durutti Column (2010)
Post Self, by Godflesh (2017)
Posthuman, by JK Flesh (2012)
Pylon, by Killing Joke (2015)
Skeleton Keys, by Steve Roach (2015)
Tempest, by Bob Dylan (2012)
Universal Themes, by Sun Kil Moon (2015)
Utilitarian, by Napalm Death (2012)
Yeezus, by Kanye West (2013)

 

31 Days of Horror 2019: Mike Thorn’s ‘Dreams of Lake Drukka/Exhumation’

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“This is an excellent double shot of Thorn’s brand of creeping, slow burn horror, continuing from 2017’s short story collection Darkest Hours.

You might know Thorn through his film criticism in the MUBI Notebook or Vague Visages, among others. His fiction has appeared in Dark Moon Digest and Tales to Terrify. His style is somewhere between the weirder short works of Stephen King and the more down to earth works of Clive Barker. I found Darkest Hours to be a surprisingly fun read where I often didn’t know where I was going or why, but when I got there I felt fully satisfied with the journey.”

Read Tim Murr’s full review of Dreams of Lake Drukka & Exhumation in Biff Bam Pop.

The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviewer on Dreams of Lake Drukka & Exhumation

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Dreams of Lake Drukka & Exhumation is another excellent, high-quality addition to Demain Publishing’s Short Sharp Shocks! imprint, and also a further demonstration that Mr Thorn is a skilled and deeply imaginative Horror writer able to range across sub-genres at will. Dreams of Lake Drukka is a fantastic short story that really digs into the nature of parental loss, delayed grief and then mixing in elements of supernatural horror; and Exhumation is a fast-paced and gory tale of supernatural dues owed.

Read the full review.

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