Well, the brief summary of this amazing work will have to be made from scratch by my, since I can´t find much about Ligotti´s work in reference websites such as wikipedia for instance.
Without spoiling much, this novella focuses on the authors´ renowned "tales of corporate horror". It tells the story of a guy called Frank Dominio, a worker of an unnamed corporation. This is what I can tell for "sure" - for you can never be so sure when dealing with Ligotti´s pieces. He (Dominio) gets pissed about the (ill-)treatment and abuse he is getting at the company, which culminates with his dismissal of the company´s workforce. Decided to show the ones who mistreated him what´s the deal, he goes on a quest for revenge.
But the final product is so much more than that. The story is told on first person, by the perspective of Frank Dominio, and it almost gets to be told by the same person as an omniscient observer by the end of it - you see, Frank undergoes a transformation brought about by an accident, which turns him into a 'minion of the Forces of Darkness' or 'darkness itself', as it were. And he uses this newly acquired power to exact revenge upon his former co-workers.
Opinion: Frank is a mess from the start - from what I could get. One of the mentally deranged narrators so common of authors Ligotti declared to follow. He begins by telling us that he is afraid of many things and has a penchant for old, torn apart places and vistas, but when he acquires his eldritch powers, that´s when things get freaky. But we simpathize with him, for he is what everyone who is not a sociopath, sees himself as, amidst the arid world of corporate work. Abused and at the end tortured, he snaps and decides to kill everyone that he feels deserve this fate on his company. Because of an accident that he suffers, he gets in touch with the one thing he calls "The Great Swine", which, in Ligottian sense, is a metaphor for the forces of Nature - the inner working of all things akin to the Schopenhaurian concept of "the Will". It´s this entity that grants Frank his 'dark powers'. But there are limits to it, which by the end forces him to make an important decision.
This story is amazing on many levels. To date, it´s the lengthiest work by Thomas Ligotti. Also, the way by which he tells it, by detailing and presenting all the antagonists, collectively named after the 'Seven Dwarfs'. The story has the oneiric narrative style that made the author famous, such as the city not being located on anywhere specifically in "our real world", or the company, or even the products the company is responsible for, being named. The detectives that investigate the murders Dominio is responsible for are named after the achromatic hues of black and white - which incidentally could be their last names, or a reference to their style of clothing, personality, or something else altogether. It´s brilliant.
As regarding characters, the ones that stuck to me were Sherry, and the big bad Richard. Sherry is a mixed thing for me - and I believe for Frank as well. She is described paradoxically as being sexually attractive and also disgusting at the same time. I respectively quote here to make my point:
If she closed her eyes and didn´t speak Sherry could indeed pass for an attractive human female. But the moment she spoke, or the moment her thing-like eyes came into view, she became a Gorgon[...]This duality that Sherry embodied could often be a source of tremendous conflict to those around her, who one moment would experience the tide-pull of her figure and the next moment, when she happened to speak [...] would be inwardly retching with disgust at the very existence of this Sherry-thing [...]. [My Work Is Not Yet Done, p. 29, Virgin Books).
The major antagonist is a SOB like no other. Incredibly cunning and astute, an enemy of the same level of Frank Dominio after he gets his eldritch powers. It´s not directly hinted if he possess some otherwordly power of the same or other type as Dominio, but is very plausible that this is so. The man knows stuff. Long before others suspect that Dominio may be behind the killings, Richard (the major antagonist) is already on the man. He suspects that he might be the killer. How, you may ask? Other than that, it seems that Richard can escape much of Dominio´s powers and influences - like his clairvoyance, for instance, by the end of the novella.
The first time I read the work, by the end I thought it was all happening in Dominio´s head. I confess that it might be a mistake, but in my opinion nonetheless one that can easily be made, as per the way Ligotti weaves his tapestry of information. In the end, one can never be sure how much actually actually happened, and how much is just a mixed error and illusion of all that is unreal in actuality.
I can´t stress how much this story struck a chord within me. I believe it was my first story by this magnificent author. I would advise anyone that if you read Ligotti, you gotta be prepared to be another man (or woman) by the end of each of his works. His stories stay within you and change you - that´s my belief about them. If you don´t believe in this, give it a try and see for yourself. It´s another major example of tone, mood and ambience that the author is famous for. Try and read it while the rain is falling and the skies are grey, for an increased experience.
I wish I could read more from Ligotti, I only have about 2 collections of his, but they don´t cover even a third of his works. I can´t find them to purchase, even going on sites like amazon. If anyone wants to help me with that, please, send me a message or a comment.
- Ontological horror;
- Ontological horror;
|Rating - 5 crows.|