web site hit counter My Work is Not Yet Done: Three Tales of Corporate Horror - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

My Work is Not Yet Done: Three Tales of Corporate Horror

Availability: Ready to download

When junior manager Frank Dominio is suddenly demoted and then sacked it seems there was more than a grain of truth to his persecution fantasies. But as he prepares to even the score with those responsible for his demise, he unwittingly finds an ally in a dark and malevolent force that grants him supernatural powers. Frank takes his revenge in the most ghastly ways imagina When junior manager Frank Dominio is suddenly demoted and then sacked it seems there was more than a grain of truth to his persecution fantasies. But as he prepares to even the score with those responsible for his demise, he unwittingly finds an ally in a dark and malevolent force that grants him supernatural powers. Frank takes his revenge in the most ghastly ways imaginable - but there will be a terrible price to pay once his work is done. Destined to be a cult classic, this tale of corporate horror and demonic retribution will strike a chord with anyone who has ever been disgruntled at work. Also contains the stories "I Have A Special Plan For This World" and "The Nightmare Network".


Compare

When junior manager Frank Dominio is suddenly demoted and then sacked it seems there was more than a grain of truth to his persecution fantasies. But as he prepares to even the score with those responsible for his demise, he unwittingly finds an ally in a dark and malevolent force that grants him supernatural powers. Frank takes his revenge in the most ghastly ways imagina When junior manager Frank Dominio is suddenly demoted and then sacked it seems there was more than a grain of truth to his persecution fantasies. But as he prepares to even the score with those responsible for his demise, he unwittingly finds an ally in a dark and malevolent force that grants him supernatural powers. Frank takes his revenge in the most ghastly ways imaginable - but there will be a terrible price to pay once his work is done. Destined to be a cult classic, this tale of corporate horror and demonic retribution will strike a chord with anyone who has ever been disgruntled at work. Also contains the stories "I Have A Special Plan For This World" and "The Nightmare Network".

30 review for My Work is Not Yet Done: Three Tales of Corporate Horror

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    Thomas Ligotti is as close as I come to a living literary hero. Now that I have learned we share a common loathing, however, I find him more sympathetic but less heroic than before. Yes, Thomas Ligotti and I both loathe meetings, and--unfortunately--Ligotti's visceral loathing of meetings is evident on almost every page of this book. In 2001, after 23 years, Ligotti retired from his position as an editor with The Gale Group (publisher of research volumes for schools and libaries, best known for I Thomas Ligotti is as close as I come to a living literary hero. Now that I have learned we share a common loathing, however, I find him more sympathetic but less heroic than before. Yes, Thomas Ligotti and I both loathe meetings, and--unfortunately--Ligotti's visceral loathing of meetings is evident on almost every page of this book. In 2001, after 23 years, Ligotti retired from his position as an editor with The Gale Group (publisher of research volumes for schools and libaries, best known for InfoTrac.) Then, in 2002, he published My Work is Not Yet Done. Set in the world of corporate management, this book—although it also includes a few forays into cosmic terror—is structured around the primary horror of meetings: those pointless gatherings of perpetual antagonists, where hidden agendas have already been decided, where every weakness will be exploited, each small misstep used to blight a rival's career. I loathe meetings too. I recently retired from 34 years of teaching, and—although I view my colleagues more charitably than Ligotti's hero views his—I now see even more clearly just how much I loathed those meetings, how the pull of their soul-killing inertia can weigh down—my, anybody's--useful endeavors. So I sympathize. The trouble is, though, that I look to Ligotti for cosmic—not quotidian—terror. Sure, this book has cosmic terrors in it too, but, filtered through Ligotti's loathing of meetings, even those terrors begin to appear mundane. It is a different, an heroic terror that I seek, something that howls in the spaces between the stars. I think I'll open my old copy of Grimscribe, read a few favorites again.

  2. 4 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Pearls to Swine There is a peculiar aspect of corporate sociology that never seems to get discussed or analyzed - any lack of ambition for status and promotion by an employee is perceived as a subversive act. I suspect the reason for such a perception is that a lack of ambition connotes an absence of loyalty, or at least respect, for the collective enterprise. The insufficiently motivated are feared for what they might not do as well as for what they might do, namely, the unexpected. Ligotti unde Pearls to Swine There is a peculiar aspect of corporate sociology that never seems to get discussed or analyzed - any lack of ambition for status and promotion by an employee is perceived as a subversive act. I suspect the reason for such a perception is that a lack of ambition connotes an absence of loyalty, or at least respect, for the collective enterprise. The insufficiently motivated are feared for what they might not do as well as for what they might do, namely, the unexpected. Ligotti understands this syndrome. This aversion to the unambitious means that corporate culture involves a certain kind of perverse trust - that every one of one’s workmates wants the same thing: recognition, advancement and reward. Colleagues perceive this as a common bond. Subordinates derive a kind of comfort from knowing the rules of the game. And one’s superiors can feel relaxed about knowing which motivational buttons to push as required. Ambition, the desire for what others want, is the glue that holds corporate society together. Remove that desire and the corporation disintegrates into something less than a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, discussing the various things that no one wants. Lack of ambition, therefore, is a potential corporate disaster. A person without ambition breaks the rules just by existing. It matters not that they contribute effectively to joint efforts, or that they demonstrate competence in their jobs. They are a threat. More than that, they are an aberration, a sort of corporate zombie without an understandable life-force. They can’t be killed by the usual corporate tools because they are not alive. These are the corporate undead. Oddly, the corporate undead are also afraid. Not of death within the corporation obviously. But of exclusion from it. Their ontological state of static existence within the corporate fold is essential for living outside it. Their worry is one of exposure and expulsion, that their true status as having life only outside their membership in the corporation becomes public. Having such an external life is frowned upon as disloyal. Having one’s only life there is sacrilegious and warrants exile. The corporation does not like being exploited by those whom it is naturally meant to exploit. Wanting to be left alone might seem a strange motivation to join a corporate group. But what alternative is there. Our world is corporate. It doesn’t run on the principles of competitive economics or socialist directives but according to corporate policies. Making a living means accepting that fact. In the minds of the undead this provokes not just fear but also horror, the anticipatory dread of a world order that despises what one is and will do all it can to crush resistance. There is no salvation from the corporate pressure to conform, to come back to life as its employee, or, the only alternative, to simply cease to exist. Paranoia is not an inappropriate or unhealthy reaction to such a situation. Zombies like the undead are dangerous because they are in a constant state of angst. That this condition is situational is not visible from inside the belly of the beast, as it were (another reason for insisting on minimum life outside the corporate). For the non-zombie, reality only emerges after the fact: “... looking back from the deathbed of your entire life in the working world, you would be left exclaiming, ‘What was that all about!” Frank, Ligotti’s protagonist, knows that he is living a nightmare: “... the paradox of always being afraid: while the pangs of apprehension and self-consciousness may allow you to imagine yourself as a being created of finer materials than most, a certain level of such agony necessarily drives you to grovel for the reassurances and approval of swine, or dwarfs if you like, who function as conductors of a fear from which they themselves do not appear to suffer.” Sometimes under the right conditions, however, the nightmare can be made apparent to everyone. If Only: https://photos.app.goo.gl/KdZJPaW6EUV...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    MY WORK IS NOT YET DONE SUMMARIZED IN PICTOGRAMS MY WORK IS NOT YET DONE SUMMARIZED IN BORING OLD WORDS 4.0 stars. This is a bleak, bizarre and wonderfully original story that I thought I would have real trouble describing in a way that conveys the “unique feel” of the book. Then, as I was contemplating visual aids for my review, the images above popped into my head and I thought...That's pretty much it!!! Still, I will do my best to explain my weird picture equation. 1. Say Hello to Dilber MY WORK IS NOT YET DONE SUMMARIZED IN PICTOGRAMS MY WORK IS NOT YET DONE SUMMARIZED IN BORING OLD WORDS 4.0 stars. This is a bleak, bizarre and wonderfully original story that I thought I would have real trouble describing in a way that conveys the “unique feel” of the book. Then, as I was contemplating visual aids for my review, the images above popped into my head and I thought...That's pretty much it!!! Still, I will do my best to explain my weird picture equation. 1. Say Hello to Dilbert Our “Dilbert” is Frank Dominio. Frank is a scared, introverted loner who holds a "lower-middle management" position at a huge, nameless “mega corporation.” Frank suffers from OCD and a serious persecution complex and feels loathing and disgust for humanity (who he refers to as swine). This loathing is simply of reflection of Frank's bleak outlook on life in general and his view that anyone who willingly participates in the farce that is LIFE is a swine. As Frank explains on the first page of the story: Of Course there is a measure of beast's blood in anyone who aspires to maintain a place in this world, anyone who lacks that ultimate decency to remove themselves from the herd either by violence to themselves or total capitulation to their dread. Frank sees the world as a greedy, impersonal, implacable place that has no room for the individual or their needs....Quick Side note: If you haven't figured it out yet, let me be very clear that this is NOT A FEEL GOOD BOOK. It is complete absence of light "black hole" dark and can turn a cute, carefree kitten into Frank sees the company he works for as a microcosm of this worldview and he sum up the purpose of his employer (and by extension the world) as follows: The company that employed me strived only to serve up the cheapest fare that its customers would tolerate, churn it out as fast as possible and charge as much as they could get away with. If it were possible…the company would sell what all businesses of its kind dream of selling—Nothing. And for this product they would command the ultimate price—Everything. This market strategy would then go on until one day, among the world-wide ruin of derelict factories and warehouses and office buildings, there stood only a single shining, windowless structure with no entrance and no exit. Inside would be—will be—only a dense network of computers calculating profits. Outside will be the tribes of savage vagrants with no comprehension of the nature or purpose of the shining, windowless structure. Perhaps they will worship it as a god. Perhaps they will try and destroy it, their primitive armory proving wholly ineffectual against [it]… 2. Where Dilbert meets Kafka Frank's disgust for humanity are personified in 7 people that he works with at the company. They are his 6 fellow managers and their boss, Richard. Frank refers to them collectively as the 7 Dwarfs. Each Monday, Frank meets with the 7 Dwarfs for a department meeting. At the beginning of the story, Frank introduces a radical proposal that he thinks will benefit the company (Frank explains that he is only doing this because occasionally you need to show your worth so people will leave you alone the rest of the time). To Frank’s dismay, his proposal is viewed with silence and polite deflection by the 7 Dwarfs and he leaves the meeting very upset. [ENTER KAFKA] Suddenly Frank finds himself in the middle of a “Kafkaesque” conspiracy (or so he thinks). Odd occurrences begin to happen that make Frank look bad and Frank’s boss privately tells him he is willing to submit the proposal to the higher ups but would like “all of the background data” as well. Frank is reluctant and believes that the 7 Dwarfs are conspiring against him. Eventually, Frank thinks his suspicions are confirmed as he is fired from the company (normally, I would say the following is a spoiler, but it is on the back of the book so I figured I was safe. 3. The Devil Made me Do it Frank immediately decides to massacre the 7 Dwarfs and then kill himself and buys an arsenal to carry out the plan which is set for the next Monday meeting. However, before that can happen “something happens” [ENTER SUPERNATURAL FORCE] and Frank discovers that guns are no longer necessary for him to take his revenge. Again, I normally would be worried that I am saying too much but all of this is mentioned on the back of the book as well. 4. Turning the Sins Against the Sinner For those who have seen the movie [ENTER SEVEN] (and for those who haven’t, you really should). Frank goes about planning to kill his co-workers in the most ghastly ways he can think of…and the boy has quite an imagination. Ghastly and brutal (yet incredibly inventive) imagery shall follow so be prepared. As much information about the story as I have given above, I don’t think I have described much more than I knew going into the story based on reading the book description. Besides, the real magic of this story is in experiencing Ligotti’s superb prose and his amazingly deft plotting. This is the first Ligotti book I have ever read and I am an instant fan and looking forward to reading more of his stories. Plus, as a HUGE BONUS, the title story I just described is only one of three stories in the book and the other two are excellent as well. I will leave you to discover those on your own. Finally, I need to give a big shout out to GAVIN who recommended this superb book to me. Gavin, you sir have earned TWO BIG THUMBS UP!!!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to burst out laughing when reading Thomas Ligotti, but I confess that I did on several occasions while reading "My Work is Not Yet Done". Let me explain why. I discovered Ligotti's work last year, with the "Teatro Grottesco" collection (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), and I really liked it: his prose is wonderful, and he creates amazingly gritty, cloying and paranoid tales of weird cosmic horror - which I love. "My Work Is Not Yet Done" was next on m I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to burst out laughing when reading Thomas Ligotti, but I confess that I did on several occasions while reading "My Work is Not Yet Done". Let me explain why. I discovered Ligotti's work last year, with the "Teatro Grottesco" collection (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), and I really liked it: his prose is wonderful, and he creates amazingly gritty, cloying and paranoid tales of weird cosmic horror - which I love. "My Work Is Not Yet Done" was next on my list of his works because it is labeled as corporate horror, and after over a decade of working in the insurance industry (not to mention surviving a major merger), I flatter myself that I know a thing or two about the potentially horrifying and maddeningly absurd sides of corporate life. Frank Dominio (who's family name is always mistaken for "Domino" - metaphor alert!) is a middle management cog in a big company that produces God only knows what, for God only knows what purpose. He suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, so he tends to isolate himself and often has paranoid thoughts. He is part of a management team of seven people, nicknamed the Seven Dwarves, whom he comes to believe are conspiring to get him fired. When he is forced to resign, he concocts a revenge plan that involves murdering the people he believes responsible for his termination... It turns out that Frank was actually right about the Seven plotting against him, but not quite in the way he believed. And while he does end up enacting his violent revenge plan, that also goes slightly differently than expected, because of the intervention of a strange, dark force that defies understanding. What made me laugh about this, you might wonder? Well, for starters, the grandiloquence of Ligotti's prose is delightful, but when used to describe the nitty-gritty, painful parts of corporate work, as someone who has sat on the kind of meetings and committees he describes until I wanted to smash my head against a wall, it is hard for me not to find that he captures the senselessness and absurdity of it all to a tee - in rather magnificent style. He also nails the description of a few key specimens of the corporate fauna. Anyone who has ever worked in an office has known an over-organizer who fucks everyone else's work up by re-organizing everything, that girl who dresses just appropriately enough not to be reported to HR for violating the dress code, the person who never answers their phone or email but always needs answers from you immediately, the gossip who never ever shuts up, the boss who subtly bullies people until they would rather get another job than to keep putting up with the psychological abuse... How tempting to imagine them as agents of an unnatural dark force... To be honest, imagining dark, Lovecraftian weirdness do away with such people is far from sad, and Frank's punishment for them feels delightfully appropriate. If you've ever gotten up on a Monday morning and thought that you wouldn't be that sad if your office had burnt down over the weekend, this little novella is definitely for you! Deeply unnerving and darkly funny. 4 and a half stars rounded up.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Maciek

    The company that employed me strived only to serve up the cheapest fare that its customers would tolerate, churn it out as fast as possible, and charge as much as they could get away with. If it were possible to do so, the company would sell what all businesses of its kind dream about selling, creating that which all our efforts were tacitly supposed to achieve: the ultimate product – Nothing. And for this product they would command the ultimate price – Everything. This is the third collection by The company that employed me strived only to serve up the cheapest fare that its customers would tolerate, churn it out as fast as possible, and charge as much as they could get away with. If it were possible to do so, the company would sell what all businesses of its kind dream about selling, creating that which all our efforts were tacitly supposed to achieve: the ultimate product – Nothing. And for this product they would command the ultimate price – Everything. This is the third collection by Thomas Ligotti that I've read, and it's the most straightforward. The title novella, My Work is Not Yet Done, is a very dark and gruesome story of Frank Dominio - a typical corporate drone caught in a mindless 9 to 5, who is convinced that his seven co-workers are conspiring against him. When Frank is demoted and then removed from his position completely, he is completely convinced that it's their doing that got him sacked - and begins to plan a bloody revenge on all involved. But as he thinks about the situation he found himself in, he sees the destructive, malignant nature of the corporation that he worked in, and the even further destructive nature of the system on which it operates: This market strategy would go on until one day, among the world-wide ruins of derelict factories and warehouses and office buildings, there stood only a single, shining, windowless structure without entrance or exit. Inside would be -- will be -- only a dense network of computers calculating profits. Outside will be tribes of savage vagrants with no comprehension of the purpose or nature of the shining, windowless structure. Perhaps they will worship it as a god. Perhaps they will try to destroy it, their primitive armory proving wholly ineffectual against the smooth and impervious walls of the structure, upon which not even a scratch can be inflicted. Commodity fetishism is not a new concept, but Ligotti's dark vision of its consequences is truly excellent. Gradual dehumanizing of workers turning them into easily replaceable links in a corporate chain, which would eventually evolve into a conscious, powerful and malevolent force of its own. In this vision some of the vagrant tribes are said to consider worshiping it as a God, but I think that it is the embodiment of the Devil. The next two stories expand on the theme of revenge and corporate isolation, with the last story featuring a corporate merger combined with cosmic horror in an episodic, fragmented way through a series of want ads in the ultimate aim of creating a multi-dimensional, semi-organic corporation. However, the title story is the most successful riff against corporate culture and its devastating events on human life, which all people who have ever been subjected to it will recognize and be able to relate to themselves.

  6. 5 out of 5

    TK421

    What a bleak, dark tale of corporate culture and the ways in which the bugs of the corporate world go about surviving day-in and day-out. I can't say that I am going to recommend this, but if you have a hankering for dark material, search no further. I need to read some more of his stuff before I can fully state if I even like this author...to me, that says something. Nightmares, here I come. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Okay, I've had some time to think What a bleak, dark tale of corporate culture and the ways in which the bugs of the corporate world go about surviving day-in and day-out. I can't say that I am going to recommend this, but if you have a hankering for dark material, search no further. I need to read some more of his stuff before I can fully state if I even like this author...to me, that says something. Nightmares, here I come. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Okay, I've had some time to think about Ligotti, and have come to this conclusion: He is America's Kafka. He takes what would normally be seen as banal (the office work place), and spins a nightmarish vision that we all secretly agree with. To boot, he has no qualms about putting our "thoughts and feelings" into his words in the most grotesque images possible. Mr. Ligotti, with all due respect, if we ever work in the same place, let this be my two weeks notice. A perfect read for the state America is in right now, methinks. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (for those of you that are deeply disturbed...you know who you are)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Benoit Lelièvre

    Up until this morning this was in line for the "best thing I've ever read in my life", but since the main narrative MY WORK IS NOT YET DONE kind of ended in a predictable whimper, I'll only say this: MY WORK IS NOT YET DONE: THREE TALES OF CORPORATE HORROR is just one of the best things I've read in 2015. Whoever calls himself a horror fan and hasn't read Thomas Ligotti yet is like a man saying he likes painting despite looking at the same wall of the same museum for years. The man is a universe Up until this morning this was in line for the "best thing I've ever read in my life", but since the main narrative MY WORK IS NOT YET DONE kind of ended in a predictable whimper, I'll only say this: MY WORK IS NOT YET DONE: THREE TALES OF CORPORATE HORROR is just one of the best things I've read in 2015. Whoever calls himself a horror fan and hasn't read Thomas Ligotti yet is like a man saying he likes painting despite looking at the same wall of the same museum for years. The man is a universe unto himself. I've read Ligotti's essays before, they were good but in no way could they measure up to THIS. The psychological accuracy of his first person narration is second to none. He nails the perceptive insight that makes a character feel special, but weak at the same time for understanding and fearing human nature better than his fellow man. His storytelling is unhinged and free from most of the constraints of the genre. Ligotti is a standout writer and MY WORK IS NOT YET DONE was a fantastic reading experience. I tip my hat to him!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sakib

    Yes, this is a five-star book... I've always held that Teatro Grottesco is my favorite collection by Ligotti, and in which he's at his darkest and peakest state of his craft and maturity both as a writer and as a storyteller. And here I'm again, blown away by nightmares and horrors that I savored to the last period. Yes this stands as my second most favorite collection by Ligotti, and also one of the best works I've read in my meagre timeline as a reader. The same haunting prose and rendering that Yes, this is a five-star book... I've always held that Teatro Grottesco is my favorite collection by Ligotti, and in which he's at his darkest and peakest state of his craft and maturity both as a writer and as a storyteller. And here I'm again, blown away by nightmares and horrors that I savored to the last period. Yes this stands as my second most favorite collection by Ligotti, and also one of the best works I've read in my meagre timeline as a reader. The same haunting prose and rendering that I first experienced in "Teatro Grottesco", with fluid and penetrating storytelling that sinks in deep and beyond. My Work Is Not Yet Done is Ligotti's lengthiest work (can be disputed as whether a novel or novella), and one of the finest pieces of fiction ever written (that I've ever read). I loved his corporate horror stories in Teatro Grottesco, and here he seems to dive into deeper realms that uncannily uses and relfects the very reality of our present world (yes I know the story takes place in the pre-depression time, but still, come on...). Just watching them gulp mouthful after mouthful of their various liquids sometimes broght fantasies of a gleaming row of urinals to my mind. Perhaps they all wore special undergarments, I once considered, and freely relieved themselves as we spoke about budgets and headcounts, speed to market and outsourcing. Yes it's a humorous story, but one cannot help but notice the underlying darkness and derangement, which both made me grin and horrified. But you can't stereotype it based on the cliche of the so-called "revenge" story; it's much deeper and deliciously exceptional... My nights and weekends were now taken over by a set of constantly recycled scenarios in which Domino had his day. And that day was soaked in bathtubs of blood, a day of judgement overseen by a never-setting sun that burned madly red against a black sky. I wanted to be calm and menacing. I wanted to be a creature of murder-lust, a monster of all madnesses. I wanted to do things to Richard that would make the sun grow cold with horror. Can you feel the murderous rage and hatred? I did feel them, in every line, in every empty space where there were no words written... I can't discuss anything else regarding My Work Is Not Yet Done, it's the best one to watch out for in this book... I Have a Special Plan For This World is another corporate horror story, atmospheric, soaked with just as good prose and to me a kind of a plot twist... The Nightmare Network is quite the disturbing view of the world, if not of the corporate world. I take it as an experimental work in Ligotti's part, and he obviously knocked it out of the park. This is one of the most horrifying ones of Ligotti, depecting downright horrific scenes, if not gory, and scenarios; I'm tempted to call it a "science fiction horror story"... I don't have much materials by Ligotti left to devour, which is sad, but I don't mind that; I've already started revisiting...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nate D

    I don't read much horror. I mean, just look at the much-neglected horror shelf at the back of any bookstore, dominated by Anne Rice, Stephen King, Dean Koontz. Nothing much too alluring. But as someone who is very interested in horror cinema, it seems strange to me that outside of the standard Poe and Lovecraft and a few Clive Barker stories, I give the stuff such a wide margin (please suggest). So when I ran across Ligotti, who draws comparison to Bruno Schulz and Thomas Bernhard, Kafka and Bur I don't read much horror. I mean, just look at the much-neglected horror shelf at the back of any bookstore, dominated by Anne Rice, Stephen King, Dean Koontz. Nothing much too alluring. But as someone who is very interested in horror cinema, it seems strange to me that outside of the standard Poe and Lovecraft and a few Clive Barker stories, I give the stuff such a wide margin (please suggest). So when I ran across Ligotti, who draws comparison to Bruno Schulz and Thomas Bernhard, Kafka and Burroughs, I knew I had to investigate. And so this. The title novella, 3/4 of this volume of "corporate horror" opens pretty well as a sort of gothic paranoiac Office Space, switches to something annoyingly obvious, and then, fortunately, to something much less obvious. The weird mystery of which makes the rest of the story move very quickly. The world-view at the center is oppressive and unsettling as could be hoped, and offers memorable moments of hallucinatory insight, but a lot of the action leaves me pretty cold. Particularly when it falls into a sort of theater of the grotesque (appropriating another Ligotti title) that reduces to "hey, what's the craziest, most awful death you can think of?" Enghh, never mind. I guess there are still reasons that I don't read much horror. I was hoping that the literary comparisons indicated a strength of writing and aesthetics to correspond to the best style, ambiance, and dread in good horror cinema, and sometimes they do, but only sometimes. Still, some of the obsessive, dire analysis of the business universe is quite good, and compellingly written. Here's the very best part, which is admittedly excellent: The company that employed me strived only to serve up the cheapest fare that the customer would tolerate, churn it out as fast as possible, and charge as much as they could get away with. If it were possible to do so, the company would sell what all businesses of its kind dream about selling, creating that which all of our efforts were tacitly supposed to achieve: the ultimate product -- Nothing. And for this product they would command the ultimate price -- Everything. This market strategy would go on until one day, among the world-wide ruins of derelict factories and warehouses and office buildings, there stood only a single, shining, windowless structure without entrance or exit. Inside would be -- will be -- only a dense network of computers calculating profits. Outside will be tribes of savage vagrants with no comprehension of the purpose or nature of the shining, windowless structure. Perhaps they will worship it as a god. Perhaps they will try to destroy it, their primitive armory proving wholly ineffectual against the smooth and impervious walls of the structure, upon which not even a scratch can be inflicted. The other two stories that follow are much shorter, one an eerie variation on office alienation and solipsism, the other a fragmented documentation, that is only half-way comprehensible but fully bizarre and intriguing (and has a stunning last moment). (A few years later now, thinking back, I'd really like to read that second bonus story again. My recollection of it is that it was totally insane and original.) Ligotti is unique at least, in the underlying conceptions if not always in execution. I'll probably come back to him at some point, despite rating this merely "okay", which it was.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eddie Watkins

    Thomas Ligotti is the best "horror" writer at work today, though not many people have heard of him because he chooses to publish with small presses. But to pigeon-hole him as horror is certainly a disservice, as if he and Stephen King could even remotely be grouped together. King has his place and can be scary and entertaining, but Ligotti is entertaining and not only spooky scary but philosophically scary as well. He's in possession of about as bleak a vision as is possible while still retainin Thomas Ligotti is the best "horror" writer at work today, though not many people have heard of him because he chooses to publish with small presses. But to pigeon-hole him as horror is certainly a disservice, as if he and Stephen King could even remotely be grouped together. King has his place and can be scary and entertaining, but Ligotti is entertaining and not only spooky scary but philosophically scary as well. He's in possession of about as bleak a vision as is possible while still retaining a clear head. This is all just to say that Ligotti has looked into the Void, and the Void has infested him, yet he manages to still write about it. This isn't my favorite work of his, I prefer his denser stories filled with very evocative nightmare scenarios and a more "literary" language, while this book is intentionally cold and calculating in tone (like a corporate document) with a minimal amount of described nightmare scenarios, which adds to the almost unbearable chilling inhuman nature of the narrative. The one novella and the two stories in this collection are essentially vehicles for Ligotti to vent his absolute abhorrence of corporate life. The eponymous novella is a revenge fantasy involving the systematic murder of seven of the main character's co-workers. The second story involves the takeover of a corporation by a very evil entity. And the third is a little collection of want-ads and corporate statements and advertisements that is more satirical than horrific in nature. What adds a punch to this collection is knowing that Ligotti worked in a corporation in Detroit for many years, only quitting recently, maybe around the time this book came out. If he had published this book while still working, some serious eyebrows would've been raised.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) Regular readers will remember that I recently read the new In the Mountains of Madness by W. Scott Poole, which is not just a biography of horror writer HP Lovecraft but also an examination of the "Lovecraftian" culture that has built up around his work since his death; and that got me interested not o (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) Regular readers will remember that I recently read the new In the Mountains of Madness by W. Scott Poole, which is not just a biography of horror writer HP Lovecraft but also an examination of the "Lovecraftian" culture that has built up around his work since his death; and that got me interested not only in reading the entire oeuvre of Lovecraft for the first time (a process I'm in the middle of right now), but also checking out some of the contemporary authors who write in Lovecraft's vein, and who are helping to carry and extend the "Cthulhu Mythos" into the 21st century. So for advice with that I turned to an acquaintance of mine, Chicago horror author Richard Thomas; and among the other contemporary writers he encouraged me to sample was Thomas Ligotti, who I had already vaguely heard of as, alternatively, "The best horror writer you've never heard of" and "the horror writer all the other horror writers wished they were." Several of his fictional works struck my fancy when first looking through his bibliography; but what stuck out much more in my mind when coming across it, and what I ended up taking on first, was actually a nonfiction book he wrote back in 2011 with the intriguing title The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. It's essentially a Philosophy 101 survey of all the various deep thinkers throughout history who have espoused what Ligotti calls a "philosophy of pessimism," which he then examines and weaves together to present a sort of unified narrative story about what all these philosophers had in common, and the 3,000-year-old lesson they've been trying to teach us the whole time. It essentially starts with the idea that no living creatures in the universe were ever meant to have self-sentient consciousness, and that the fact that humans do is actually an aberration and a curse, not some sort of gift from a benevolent god; because with this self-sentient consciousness, we're then compelled to spend our lives searching for a meaning to our existence, but are saddled with the knowledge that there is no meaning to existence, that the universe is quite simply an infinitely large void of constant chaos and random violence, bereft of any human-invented quality like "equality" or "fairness," and that each of our lives are nothing but insignificant specks in the cosmic scale, in which we change not a single thing about the universe in our lifetimes and then are promptly forgotten by the human race a mere generation or two after our deaths. That's the "conspiracy" of the book's title, the idea that someone is perpetrating a grand cruel joke on humanity at all our expenses; for anyone who looks too closely at this unvarnished truth about the universe, one that we were born with the ability to easily see, ends up going violently insane (or in other words, suicide victims and serial killers are simply the people who see the universe as it really is), which means that to stay sane, productive members of society, we must literally spend our entire lives making up pretty little lies about existence (that there is a cosmic order to it, that there is an inherent sense of justice, that we were purposely born on this planet for a specific reason), and then spend every ounce of our energy brainwashing ourselves into believing these lies, despite the fact that we can quite easily see with our rational minds just how much we're deluding ourselves when we tell ourselves these things. That's essentially the basis behind every horror story ever written, Ligotti argues, the schism between the lies we tell ourselves about an orderly, fair universe and the unending parade of chaos and violence that we glimpse when we stop telling ourselves these lies; and he then spends the length of his book hopping from one famous thinker to another over the course of written history, showing how there have always been select philosophers and authors around, from the ancient Greeks to the Renaissance to the Victorian Age to now, who have used this same basic set of principles as the basis behind every treatise and manifesto they ever wrote. Yeah, pretty dark and heady stuff, making it no surprise that True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto has admitted in interviews that he based Matthew McConaughey's season 1 antihero Rush Cohle directly on the theories being discussed in this book; and it also goes a long way towards explaining why a genre writer like Ligotti cites as some of his favorite authors such surprising non-horror people as Arthur Schopenhauer, Vladimir Nabokov, and Samuel Beckett. So after this, then, I jumped right into the only book-length fictional piece Ligotti has ever written, 2002's My Work Is Not Yet Done, republished in 2009 for a larger audience by hipster British press Virgin Books (all the rest of his books are short-story collections), which unsurprisingly reads like a fictional version of all the nonfiction theories being banded about in Conspiracy. It's essentially the tale of an intellectual malcontent and mentally imbalanced loner working a faceless middle-management job at a blandly nondescript corporation; when he's railroaded by scheming co-workers into getting unfairly fired, he makes plans to launch into the violent act of retribution you would expect from such a person, but then a sudden dark cloud that envelops the city that night imbues him with a malevolent supernatural spirit that suddenly makes the story go in a much different and weirder direction. I'll let the rest of this delightfully crackpot story remain a surprise, although I will mention that the scope of the narrative gets a lot bigger and grander than you would expect by the time the story is over, and that it's also obvious in this book why so many people call Ligotti the natural heir to Lovecraft and his obsession for all-powerful creatures who regard humans as little more than gnats to be flicked at in annoyance. What may be the most clever thing of all about about My Work, however, is that it's also an astute examination of the former industrial powerhouses of the American Midwest, and the ignoble corrosion they have faced in the post-Industrial age (Ligotti was born and raised in Detroit, and the unnamed city where My Work takes place feels an awful lot like it, although you could also substitute in such cities as Cleveland, Indianapolis or St. Louis), as well as a gleefully cynical takedown of the misguided attempts to transform these cities in the 21st century into shining creative-class destinations full of coffeehouses, bike paths and loft condos. (In fact, in a way you can see the main theme in My Work manifested as the question, "What if literal demons were behind the urban gentrification movement?") It's been a darkly exhilarating experience for the last few weeks, being stuck so deep in Ligotti's unrelentingly nihilistic universe, a writer who after thirty years of professional publishing just now seems to be starting to come into his own as a popular public figure. (He's one of only ten living writers on the planet who's been republished by Penguin Classics, a feat which only happened a year and a half ago, at which point the Washington Post called him "the best-kept secret in contemporary horror fiction.") If you yourself are looking for a refreshingly chilling alternative to the played-out "ghosts in the suburbs" trope of Stephen King and other Postmodernist horror authors, I suggest you give Ligotti a whirl yourself.

  12. 4 out of 5

    T.E. Grau

    This is a grim, sad, violent book, which suffers a bit from scattershot plotting that seems to take the story in arbitrary directions, without tying up loose narrative ends. Still, the rendering of the tale is what helps it overcome structural slips, as no one writes horror fiction like Thomas Ligotti writes horror fiction, especially set in areas of urban, moral, and capitalistic decay. A pitch black gut punch to optimism and corporate culture.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tim Pendry

    This book did, in all honesty, give, or at least contribute to, nightmares. The sheer viciousness of the evil acts of the protagonist of the main novella might be enough to do that for some people ... but the real nightmare, as always with Ligotti, lies in his dark vision of existence. My more considered opinion on Thomas Ligotti's place in contemporary culture is to be found elsewhere - http://asithappens.tppr.info/journal/... - but this book adds to the canon. The book is slim - really it is a n This book did, in all honesty, give, or at least contribute to, nightmares. The sheer viciousness of the evil acts of the protagonist of the main novella might be enough to do that for some people ... but the real nightmare, as always with Ligotti, lies in his dark vision of existence. My more considered opinion on Thomas Ligotti's place in contemporary culture is to be found elsewhere - http://asithappens.tppr.info/journal/... - but this book adds to the canon. The book is slim - really it is a novella with two short stories attached, culled from previous journal publication. Ligotti does not do extended narrative in general. He is not entirely comfortable with plot or characterisation though he is not bad at it either. The main title 'My Work Is Not Yet Done' seems to stretch him to his limits though it cannot be said that he fails in what he wishes to achieve. As always, we are wary of spoilers so the main guidelines here are that these stories take us into the world of the modern corporation which he has handled elsewhere - see our review at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24... - but that the horror is more obviously cosmic. These may be counted as tales of both demonic possession and of human evil. The novella in its first section gets closer imaginatively to the mind-set of a person 'going postal' than anything I have read before (although I suspect no killer is quite this self aware). What Ligotti does is turn creation into a 'great black swine', a blind thrashing animal of destruction, while everything that we do with our consciousness is just a puppet play, theatre: " ... only costumes and masks, the inventory of an ancient and still flourishing theatrical supply company'. In this world, the obsessive-compulsive personality (as he refers to it) simply wants to tidy things up. Things can only be tidied if everything is destroyed. This stance is truly pathological and not within the normal imaginative range of the vast majority of non-adolescent humanity but he takes 'rage against the machine' and recrafts it. Ligotti's use of the corporation as the site for his horrors (with the caveats outlined below) is not quite so modern as it appears. Big lumbering corporations are now being displaced by the very different creative chaos of the internet, much as industrial society had long since replaced the castles by the time that castles had become the centre of Gothic writing. Horror, even Stephen King's small town settings, generally positions itself in what is passing, even when the subject is future apocalypse, and less frequently in what is now or is to come. It is as if horror writers are anxious about being confused with their brother, dystopian science fiction. They must articulate one of the primal cores of their art - anxiety about change and modernisation. To do that, they have to set the horror where things are being lost and not where they are being created. However, in his final short tale ['The Nightmare Network':], Ligotti does switch gear with a deliberately confused picture of all human consciousness as struggling brutal competition within one massive oneiric/nightmare corporation spreading outwards - reversing his usual Lovecraftian position that brute cosmic matter, working out its 'swinish' anti-human destiny, is the blackness of evil in order to make its counterpart, collective human consciousness, equally chaotic, cruel and expansionist. By this point, while he does not state this, his world-view seems to shift from humans as puppets in a black universe to that black universe and the collective of humanity competing to be chaotic evil - doubling the chaos and doubling the horror. And the role of the person in all this? "I - and you - now understood: We would be pulled back into the flowing blackness only when we had done all the damage we were allowed to do, only when our work is done. The work of you against me ... and me against you." Mind you, anyone who is not American and who has worked 'with' or for Americans in business and politics will know what he is getting at. American individualism can seem incredibly counter-productive and unnecessarily time-consuming. No wonder American executives rarely get a proper holiday ... Between the main novella and the 'oneiric' nightmare lies a more familiar style of Ligotti story ['I Have A Special Plan For The World':] bridging the tale of the demonisation of the human and the demonic nature of the human with a sense of the demonic in the world, a demonic that may not be human at all. The story is worth reading just for the use of the metaphor of haze, a worthy successor to Dickens' use of fog in 'Bleak House'. It is the obfuscation, crass politics and isolation of life in that sort of corporation where things just happen and one knows not why. The blurring of perception and ignorance are made physical in the most remarkable way. As the story progresses, the haze is linked to the construction of a false (whether theatrical or public relations) reality by corporatism to cover up what actually happens in the world - in this case, 'murders'. This is a very subtle story, if written in that formal style that, derived from Poe and Lovecraft, positions Ligotti within a specific tradition. Taken as a whole, in this book we have a ruthless competitive individualism (people only combine to effect a conspiracy) operating within seas of ignorance although, by placing detectives and waitresses outside this system, Ligotti uncharacteristically suggests that, though no doubt swine' at their core, 'ordinary people' at least are not directly complicit in this machinery of corporate horror. Ligotti appears to hate any claim to organisation whatsoever and sees it as lying cover for underlying soul-destroying chaos (yep, he has definitely had a job in a real Western capitalist corporation!). His contempt for the expansionary and acquisitive plans of the various corporations and executives in his stories are manifest in this volume. Although written at the height of global happy-clappy capitalist Friedmanism in 2002, their release more widely by Random House in 2009 might well express a new mood after the credit crunch has created a growing sense of a capitalist system out of control and run by incompetent buffoons. Let us return to the third story to get a feel for this. A 'Memo from the CEO' states: "As the forces operating in today's marketplace become more shadowy and incomprehensible we must recommit ourselves every second of our day to a ceaseless striving for that elusive dream which we all share and which none of us can remember, if it ever existed in the first place." Yes, well, that pretty well fits corporate life for many people. The last two pages of the last story pull together these themes in a transition from horror to science fiction, a flip from a Lovecraftian resistance to the modern and to a dark observation of where we are heading ... I won't spoil it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    I didn't know whether Ligotti could live up to the impressively high standards that he attained in Teatro Grottesco but fortunately he did. I am once again humbled by this man's brilliance. This is precisely the kind of thing I'm looking for in horror; smoothly, eloquently written prose with creeping unease that makes one tremble in the face of the universe and the unseen that hide in its shadows. Ligotti presents a starkly atheistic, cynical view of life and the universe. If asked whether the gl I didn't know whether Ligotti could live up to the impressively high standards that he attained in Teatro Grottesco but fortunately he did. I am once again humbled by this man's brilliance. This is precisely the kind of thing I'm looking for in horror; smoothly, eloquently written prose with creeping unease that makes one tremble in the face of the universe and the unseen that hide in its shadows. Ligotti presents a starkly atheistic, cynical view of life and the universe. If asked whether the glass is half empty or half full, I think he would say that it is less than empty, inversely filled inside out in some kind of nether world. Don't read this expecting some kind of life affirming read because it is precisely the opposite. His crowning achievement to my mind is the way he can make the reader share the protagonist's sense of cosmic terror. A far more easy task in the case of more visceral types of horror but not so easily done when it comes to the cosmic variety. In this regard he is unequalled (in so far as I have read), even by Lovecraft. This book comprises of a novella and two short stories, thematically linked by a concern with corporations and their nefarious nature and become progressively more cryptic. I'm not sure where he was going exactly with the last one but the other two were utter brilliance. Avoid reading the synopsis on the back as it gives away too much of the story of the novella for my liking.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    One of the most sinister terms in the English language in my mind is "corporate culture." The gruesomeness lies in the fact that the dehumanization is covered up by superficial banality. The anxiety comes with the expectation that one is to be satisfied, nay elated, at one's lot in life, even when one's prospects for any kind of real joy or satisfaction become narrower and narrower. Ligotti's characters, well, they do the Ligotti thing and bug out in decaying cities and cavernous fluorescent-lit One of the most sinister terms in the English language in my mind is "corporate culture." The gruesomeness lies in the fact that the dehumanization is covered up by superficial banality. The anxiety comes with the expectation that one is to be satisfied, nay elated, at one's lot in life, even when one's prospects for any kind of real joy or satisfaction become narrower and narrower. Ligotti's characters, well, they do the Ligotti thing and bug out in decaying cities and cavernous fluorescent-lit office interiors, and there is no reason why they shouldn't.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Peterh

    There were three stories in this book, of which titular and first story was the longest, and the most offensive. Ligotti's attempt to wring shock value out of various issues, including rape and eating disorders was disgusting, at least to me. The whole first story was an angsty revenge fantasy that dragged on for much too long. Ligotti somewhat redeemed himself with the second two stories though. The second, "I Have A Special Plan For This World" was less focused than the first story, but also m There were three stories in this book, of which titular and first story was the longest, and the most offensive. Ligotti's attempt to wring shock value out of various issues, including rape and eating disorders was disgusting, at least to me. The whole first story was an angsty revenge fantasy that dragged on for much too long. Ligotti somewhat redeemed himself with the second two stories though. The second, "I Have A Special Plan For This World" was less focused than the first story, but also more eerie. The third story, "The Nightmare Network," was a sort of epistolary piece, and while it was difficult to follow, it stayed short enough to be entertaining in spite of that. Ligotti knows his way around a sentence, and his book is not without some good moments, but they do not redeem the work as a whole.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This was my first Ligotti read. Don’t know what took me so long. He definitely has his own style which really worked for me in the first and third stories in this collection of corporate terror tales. The second story “I Have A Special Plan For This World”, was a bit of a chore to get thru and seemed to be a series of super long run-on sentences, stream of consciousness style. The main story and the namesake for the collection was my favorite of the three stories. The voice was strong and drawn, This was my first Ligotti read. Don’t know what took me so long. He definitely has his own style which really worked for me in the first and third stories in this collection of corporate terror tales. The second story “I Have A Special Plan For This World”, was a bit of a chore to get thru and seemed to be a series of super long run-on sentences, stream of consciousness style. The main story and the namesake for the collection was my favorite of the three stories. The voice was strong and drawn, as Frank prepares for his Ultimate Statement. Frank was a great protagonist – an egomaniac with an inferiority complex and homicidal tendencies. I doubt that The Seven think so. Very well done. I need to queue up some more from Mr. Ligotti.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Just never gets off the ground. I found the angst of the main character to be, well, juvenile. The author obviously has issues with the corporate world or he is trying to project something... but it doesn't work for me. The main character garnered nothing but negatives from me - first in his reactions and lack of accountability to himself, and then , even worse, by just quitting. Quitting everything. The "I have decided to die and take everyone with me" motif is just... boring. I didn't find the Just never gets off the ground. I found the angst of the main character to be, well, juvenile. The author obviously has issues with the corporate world or he is trying to project something... but it doesn't work for me. The main character garnered nothing but negatives from me - first in his reactions and lack of accountability to himself, and then , even worse, by just quitting. Quitting everything. The "I have decided to die and take everyone with me" motif is just... boring. I didn't find the shocks shocking and I didn't find anything that made me feel horrified in this horror. I hear Ligotti's other work is better. This was my first try so I hope so. Disappointing.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    I don’t think you’re going to like this book. Here’s the thing. Thomas Ligotti is one of my favourite modern horror writers, but he does not work very hard to be liked by the average reader. His stories are the concentrated expression of a personal philosophy which goes beyond bleak. Most eloquently expressed in his book ‘The Conspiracy Against the Human Race’, it is something not often found in mainstream fiction for the simple reason that it isn’t the kind of thing most people want to read. Mo I don’t think you’re going to like this book. Here’s the thing. Thomas Ligotti is one of my favourite modern horror writers, but he does not work very hard to be liked by the average reader. His stories are the concentrated expression of a personal philosophy which goes beyond bleak. Most eloquently expressed in his book ‘The Conspiracy Against the Human Race’, it is something not often found in mainstream fiction for the simple reason that it isn’t the kind of thing most people want to read. Most people would call it nihilism (though the author himself apparently dislikes that term) but the point is that if you feel strongly that this kind of thing is essentially wrong and bad, you aren’t going to like this book. Ligotti believes that the world is not worth living in, that our fundamentally inglorious existence is characterised by suffering, and that most people who live in our world probably do not deserve to be living at all. Which, I ought to add, is not the same as saying they ought to be killed. But when the central character of ‘My Work is Not Yet Done’ begins to plot vicious and bloody revenge against his co-workers, one might be tempted to think that Ligotti has finally slipped into straightforward advocacy of murder. It’s not quite that simple. For one thing, Frank Dominio, the protagonist of that long story (which comprises most of this edition) is portrayed as something of a buffoon. He comes across as a cross between an Edgar Allan Poe character, the killer from the movie ‘Se7en’, and George Costanza from ‘Seinfeld’. He rails against daylight savings time and the excessive consumption of coffee and juice during meetings even while he’s fantasising about putting an end to the inane witterings of his colleagues. There is no real attempt on the author’s part to empathise with Frank’s feelings; instead, Frank is as belittled as anybody else’s in this world. And then, shortly after stocking up on firearms and ammunition, something strange happens to Dominio. He finds he has has developed supernatural powers which allow him to inflict strange and cruel torments on the targets of his wrath. This is where Ligotti is in more comfortable territory. His fiction may be focused through the ideals previously mentioned, but it’s when he begins to pull and stretch at the threads of reality that his work really shines. One memorable punishment involves an executive trapped in a darkened office, forever opening an infinite series of doors labelled only ‘WORK NOT DONE’. I think we can all relate to that one from time to time. But at some point the author has to explain away Dominio’s condition, and it’s at this point that his story becomes somewhat forgettable. This grounding in a realistic mode probably leaves it as the weakest tale in this collection. Far more to my taste were its companions, ‘I Have a Special Plan for This World’ and ‘The Nightmare Network’. Both are linked thematically by a corporate setting: the former is an unsettling tale of a series of murders in an office where the atmosphere has become so anxious, so poisonous that it’s become difficult to actually see more than a few feet away from oneself; but the latter is something else entirely, an abstract tale which describes a corporation apparently dedicated to the manufacture of dreams (or nightmares), the dry Ballardian style mimicking a world of hellish infomercials and systematic atrocity in the unconscious fantasies of a seemingly omnipotent company. It’s utterly extraordinary and probably the best thing in this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    It saddens me that I've almost read all of Ligotti's published fiction at this point. No other writer has affected me so much. In this book Ligotti turns to corporate horror, something he has explored elsewhere, in Teatro Grottesco in particular. But this book is different from anything else I've read by him. His dark philosophy and imaginative, surreal atmosphere come through, but the first story in this book is longer than anything else he's published. Because of this he paces the story and we It saddens me that I've almost read all of Ligotti's published fiction at this point. No other writer has affected me so much. In this book Ligotti turns to corporate horror, something he has explored elsewhere, in Teatro Grottesco in particular. But this book is different from anything else I've read by him. His dark philosophy and imaginative, surreal atmosphere come through, but the first story in this book is longer than anything else he's published. Because of this he paces the story and we get a sardonic look at boring modern office life before we're slowly taken out of the normal and into increasingly surreal weirdness. Philosophically I found the image of The Great Black Swine particularly effective. This is the life force which "infects" matter, makes it animate, what we call "alive." This chaotic, aimless, meaningless force is often embodied in Ligotti's work as The Blackness, The Shadow, etc. Here Ligotti calls it The Great Black Swine while his protagonist contemplates this animating force within a roach: "...there was nothing especially ‘roachy’ inside the roach any more than there was anything of a distinct ‘person’ inside of Lillian – once the dark interior of each had been penetrated, there was only that buzz of swinish agitation and turbulent blackness. The Great Black Swine was thrashing about inside the cockroach just as it had within Lillian Hayes, the only difference being that any sense of delusion about being some kind of thing-in-the-world was missing from the insect..." "...that Great Black Swine, that thrashing and vicious blackness which flowed like a river through every living thing [...] that moved and manipulated all the created life of this world [...] the shadow within all life, the thing that would live on and on as each one of us died our deaths alone. Because whatever life we had was only its life, and when our bodies, our cockroach bodies, became too damaged to accommodate it . . . this blackness flowed away, leaving behind it a dead vine, a bug’s crushed carapace, or a human corpse – things that had no life of their own, nothing real at all about them." This book is in three parts. First is what could be called Ligotti's only novel, coming in at 42,000~ words. This is a story of surreal, horrific workplace revenge. The second section is a short story, where the first story feels like it's set in reality, this one is far more dream-like. It's about a company, constantly striving to reach it's "ultimate potential" with horrific consequences. The atmosphere here reminded me of Bruno Schulz. The final section is a brief, bizarro sci-fi horror story told primarily through classified ads, corporate memos and cinematic descriptions of camera shots. It's about a corporation seeking dreams which merges with the subversive "Nightmare Network." All three of these have something to say about corporations taking on a nature of their own, much like the "Will to Life," but the corporation is all-consuming, to the ends of the universe. This is a really funny book at times, but it's dark and bitter too. I've never worked in Cubicle Hell, but the paranoia, anger and frustration of a sensitive person in such a situation makes it real. In some ways I could see this being a good introduction to Ligotti's work, however I wouldn't say it is the most representative.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Duarte

    Two words: Neoliberal horror. One novella and couple of short stories make this Not that it's horror that espouses neoliberalism, but the opposite: It turns the real horrors of neoliberalism, the conspiratorial meetings, the feelings of complete and utter helplessness towards abusive superiors, the endless corporate jargon (i.e. euphemisms that make the obviously undesirable look like policy change), the talking about employees as though they're "family" and so on, in an extremely vivid manner. Two words: Neoliberal horror. One novella and couple of short stories make this Not that it's horror that espouses neoliberalism, but the opposite: It turns the real horrors of neoliberalism, the conspiratorial meetings, the feelings of complete and utter helplessness towards abusive superiors, the endless corporate jargon (i.e. euphemisms that make the obviously undesirable look like policy change), the talking about employees as though they're "family" and so on, in an extremely vivid manner. The fates of The Seven The ending in particular are creative and disturbing without ever being gratuitous and the ending is nothing short of absolutely crushing. If you ever worked at some massive megacorp, this isn't just some dumb revenge fantasy that will let you blow off some steam, it's a deeply engrossing, engaging literary experience that will leave you both thinking critically and simultaneously leave you completely emotionally exhausted and satisfied. In short: The greatest piece of revenge fiction that I've ever consumed, period. The second story is a long, Kafkaesque short story, suitably nightmarish with a bizarre, ambiguous ending. Pretty damn good. The third story is just fluff and probably the least good story Ligotti has written seriously, but it's not to say that it's bad and it's very short too. Obviously it's the novella that dominates your attention here, but the stories are still worth it. But really, the novella alone is a masterpiece that demands to be read. It seriously puts this close to Ligotti's best collections, and considering how much I love Teatro Grottesco, that's saying a lot.

  22. 4 out of 5

    John

    I feel like half the art in horror is atmosphere, where nothing exactly happens for a while but I am nail-bitingly on edge and expecting just about anything. The eponymous novella in this book is about one the most unsettling things I've read: the story of an outcast at a large corporation whose personal neuroses, related with a wry, unsettling voice that owes a lot to both Nabokov and Lovecraft, drives him to bizarre extremes. Thinking I'd work through it in a couple of days, the novella had me I feel like half the art in horror is atmosphere, where nothing exactly happens for a while but I am nail-bitingly on edge and expecting just about anything. The eponymous novella in this book is about one the most unsettling things I've read: the story of an outcast at a large corporation whose personal neuroses, related with a wry, unsettling voice that owes a lot to both Nabokov and Lovecraft, drives him to bizarre extremes. Thinking I'd work through it in a couple of days, the novella had me up late into the night through to the disturbing, though satisfying conclusion. Seriously, this story stayed with me for days. The other two stories here are very good and, particularly in the "Nightmare Factory", brilliantly weird. "I Have a Special Plan for This World" reminded my of some of the Aikman stories I've read, and despite its somewhat heavy-handed commentary on corporate ambition it left me with a strong and strangely dark image of the weird city Liggoti creates here

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    I read this years ago (I think it was when it first came out, back in 2002). I remember it being okay, but disappointing after reading some of his other (better) stories from The Nightmare Factory. I read this years ago (I think it was when it first came out, back in 2002). I remember it being okay, but disappointing after reading some of his other (better) stories from The Nightmare Factory.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Emre Sevinç

    Ligotti is a badass and this one is an instacult! It's got an undeniable American Psycho vibe to it in the beginning, but of course, Ligotti being Ligotti, the whole thing gets deeply and philosophically troubling in no time. Not everybody's cup of tea, but more like an acquired taste, or rather distaste, if you know what I mean. I won't give you any spoilers, but I'm sure some of you corporate types will be able to have some kind of uncanny empathy with the story. Ligotti is a badass and this one is an instacult! It's got an undeniable American Psycho vibe to it in the beginning, but of course, Ligotti being Ligotti, the whole thing gets deeply and philosophically troubling in no time. Not everybody's cup of tea, but more like an acquired taste, or rather distaste, if you know what I mean. I won't give you any spoilers, but I'm sure some of you corporate types will be able to have some kind of uncanny empathy with the story.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ian Casey

    Ligotti’s fourth major collection of original fiction (ignoring some obscure ones) is quite literally a change of pace from the previous three. More on that momentarily, but first, a Public Service Announcement. The Nightmare Network could easily be overlooked as the last and shortest story here, but that would be a disservice. My initial reaction is that this is the most dementedly brilliant thing I’ve read from Ligotti so far, or from anyone. That visceral response will dull with time but for no Ligotti’s fourth major collection of original fiction (ignoring some obscure ones) is quite literally a change of pace from the previous three. More on that momentarily, but first, a Public Service Announcement. The Nightmare Network could easily be overlooked as the last and shortest story here, but that would be a disservice. My initial reaction is that this is the most dementedly brilliant thing I’ve read from Ligotti so far, or from anyone. That visceral response will dull with time but for now I feel knocked sideways in the way I was with The Screwfly Solution by James Tiptree Jr. What happens when a multinational company pursues the notion of endless growth to its ultimate extent by expanding through every level of reality, unreality, consciousness and time? I won’t spoil any more but I will say it’s bonkers. The unconventional form alone is a sight to behold. The other short story, I Have a Special Plan for This World, is about par for Ligotti though his par is better than most. I will have to investigate how this ties in with the poem of the same name and his collaborations with Current 93. The main event of the three-story collection is of course the titular novella, which is to my knowledge the single longest story published by Ligotti to date. All his trademark themes and visual cues are present and correct though the pace is positively brisk and free-flowing compared to the crushingly dense prose of Noctuary. At first it comes across as if Office Space had been re-written as a nihilistic horror, the humour still evident but blacker than black. But then we get the supernatural twists and turns kicking in halfway through and it becomes an intense rollercoaster of vengeance, grotesquery, unreality (of course), violence as both catharsis and an exercise in futility, a central mystery of the nature of being and an exploration of the meaning of fear. If you’ve any taste for the darkest extremities of weird fiction, then My Work Is Not Yet Done (originally subtitled Three Tales of Corporate Horror) - as with Ligotti’s other collections - demands to be read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Patrick.G.P

    “I wanted to do things to Richard that would make the sun grow cold with horror.”  Fantastic collection of stories by Thomas Ligotti, though the dark revenge fantasy «My work is Not Yet Done» is the clear standout for me. Frank Dominio, the protagonist hatches a dark, murderous plan to destroy his former co-workers after getting fired. His almost irrational hatred for his co-workers shifts to a darker tone of all out contempt for humanity and the world around him. As a unnamed darkness grants hi “I wanted to do things to Richard that would make the sun grow cold with horror.”  Fantastic collection of stories by Thomas Ligotti, though the dark revenge fantasy «My work is Not Yet Done» is the clear standout for me. Frank Dominio, the protagonist hatches a dark, murderous plan to destroy his former co-workers after getting fired. His almost irrational hatred for his co-workers shifts to a darker tone of all out contempt for humanity and the world around him. As a unnamed darkness grants him supernatural powers, his special plan slowly comes to fruition. Of the other two stories, «The Nightmare Network» was the best one in my opinion, filled with disturbing imagery that will haunt me for a long time. «I Have a Special Plan for This World» was again centered around a nameless corporation and the miasma that spreads from this institution. Ligotti's prose is beautiful and disturbing, somehow his underlying nihilism and misanthropy seems almost infectious to the reader. There are several instances of extreme violence and degradation in these stories, but it is the disgust and contempt for humanity that lingers longest, and the true horror is our utter meaningless existence. Highly recommended to fans of weird fiction and horror!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    oh heck, I lost interest. The problem is a possibly good story gets weighed down by vague, obvious satire. Yeah, we're all corporate drones run by unseen malevolences--but I still get vacation days oh heck, I lost interest. The problem is a possibly good story gets weighed down by vague, obvious satire. Yeah, we're all corporate drones run by unseen malevolences--but I still get vacation days

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lee Johnston

    Interesting concept, just not executed particularly well. It started off strong but towards the end the story line fell to bits around itself and it stopped making sense.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sam Reader

    (taken from Geek Rage/Strange Library ) The rundown is as follows. This is arguably one of the nastiest things I've ever read, from one of the nastiest authors I've ever read. If you want a good, surreal Halloween read, you cannot go any better than Thomas Ligotti, whose works convey a certain pessimistic and existential dread. So the master of dread and dark pessimism doing a novella about a man pushed past the point of collapse who exacts some very creepy revenge on the people who wronged him (taken from Geek Rage/Strange Library ) The rundown is as follows. This is arguably one of the nastiest things I've ever read, from one of the nastiest authors I've ever read. If you want a good, surreal Halloween read, you cannot go any better than Thomas Ligotti, whose works convey a certain pessimistic and existential dread. So the master of dread and dark pessimism doing a novella about a man pushed past the point of collapse who exacts some very creepy revenge on the people who wronged him gets a warm recommendation from me, despite the caveat that the novella and its companion pieces are fairly sick to read*. My Work Is Not Yet Done is not as human as Joe Hill's work, nor as sickeningly sensual as Clive Barker's early pieces, but Ligotti is in a class all of his own when it comes to unnerving the bejesus out of someone. The drawbacks come in when every narrator and main character sound like I imagine Ligotti to sound, not exactly purple in prose but using the same syntax and dialogue choices despite being presented as different people. The curse of Ligotti having such a unique voice is that it's kind of easy to pick out, and when confronted with a lot of it at once, it all kind of runs together a bit, with only the unique themes of the novella and two stories to keep things separate enough to be enjoyable. But pick this one up if you get the chance, or try to find it in a library. If not, try to find his other work. *You'll forgive me for not going into too much detail yet... "It was the loudest sound I had ever heard in my life" - Frank Dominio "WORK NOT DONE. WORK NOT DONE." - Domino So I thought for Halloween** I might go back and look over an author I haven't given much time to. Thomas Ligotti is one of those authors who a lot of writers hold in high regard, but not many people in the mainstream give much time to. He writes short stories and novellas in a style that emphasizes the existential dread of existence and forces beyond the control of human comprehension. So, like HP Lovecraft, but not nearly as dry as the actual HP Lovecraft stories***. I was first introduced to Ligotti through Amazon's recommendations page, as I had bought a copy of the novel Pandaemonium and a few other fantasy and horror books. My Work Is Not Yet Done popped up on the first page, and I was intrigued by a tale of corporate horror, as you don't see many of those in works. I can only think of this, Company (which is a black comedy despite being a very funny book), and Resume with Monsters. So naturally, I was intrigued, but at eleven bucks for an ebook of one novella and two stories, I kind of felt it was a little steep. So I let it go and filled my life with other stuff until two Decembers hence, where I wanted someone new to read and picked up My Work is Not Yet Done. And I haven't regretted it yet. The book is twisted in a way I haven't seen since Clive Barker or maybe the nastier work of Carlton Mellick III, but manages to be more subtle than either of them. It's simultaneously abstract and very concrete in its execution. Ligotti has a singular voice in fiction, and while there are no doubt detractors of his work, whether you wind up liking or hating him, you have to agree that at least he's like nothing you've ever read****. My Work Is Not Yet Done may not even be his strongest collection of stories, but it's my current reigning favorite overall, and it's a good place to get into the literary enigma that is Thomas Ligotti. My Work Is Not Yet Done begins with the title novella, a story of a man named Frank Dominio. Frank is an average man, a little on the obsessive compulsive side, who works for an unnamed corporation in a nameless city full of decaying buildings. We're told he's a supervisor, but for what we do not know. What we do know is that he's very good at his job, beloved by his staff, and works under a group of management types known as The Seven-- Mary, Kerrie, Barry, Perry, Sherry, Harry, and Richard. The Seven are somewhat grotesque...they're not people so much as caricatures of people, and when Frank brings them an idea one day so that they can give it to the New Product department, they have him passive-aggressively demoted to a different department and then shortly after that, fired entirely from the company through a series of nasty little re-organizations. And then things get weird*****. Frank gets angry enough to go on a bullet-riddled rampage at his old place of work and buys himself a new set of black clothes and some firearms to match The Seven. But on his way from the office supply store, he realizes he forgot the paper and toner he'd need to print out his "Ultimate Statement" to the world and goes running back only to suddenly black out in a loud burst of noise. When he comes to, he's not quite a ghost, not quite a vengeful monster, but he's definitely something not human, able to move almost at will and to see the darkness all around people, as well as something he calls "The Great Black Sow" at the edge of the universe. He uses this power to spy on the people who betrayed him, watching as they go about their day. But then Frank learns the full extent of his powers, and it becomes a game of hunter and hunted between Frank and The Seven. But there are a few things Frank doesn't know, and in the end it may be his undoing, even from this state. I suppose what I like the most about the novella is the atmosphere. Ligotti piles on the paranoia and the oppressive other bits quite well, creating a sense of mounting dread****** that continues all through the first half of the novella, making the violent and quite frankly revolting second half of it a wonderfully cathartic release not of gore-- oh, no, it's cleverer than that-- but of cold-blooded fate-worse-than-death revenge. Which, in its own way, is something everyone can relate to. We all have the people in our life who have in some way or another cut us off or have slighted us in some way. Some of these are devastating. Other slights aren't as much. But there's that urge to "get back" at someone. Definitely not in the same way that Frank, as the pitch-black avenging angel "Mr. Domino"******* does, but in some way we want to be vindicated. Ligotti takes a universal theme and cranks it up to almost cartoonish levels, even if by cartoonish I mean one of those creepy Eastern European cartoons with washed-out colors and strange jerky movements. And it works amazingly well. Even if you think that the fates of the villains are sickening (and believe me, without spoiling anything, they are), you can't help but think they deserve something for what they did, and Frank's just sympathetic enough that it casts Domino's actions in a better light, if not a sympathetic one. Although this brings us to the issue I have with My Work is Not Yet Done, and not just the novella, but also the two short stories that come after it (that I haven't talked about in detail). I once got into an argument about The Shining where I referred to Stanley Kubrick as "observing emotion from two blocks away with a telescope". Ligotti has the same problem Kubrick does-- his approach to emotion is sterile, alien. He touches on some very primal subjects, and creates a nice atmosphere of dread by playing off of the emotional responses involved, but in the end, it comes down to this: he's very hands-off when it comes to the emotion of things. He knows how to trigger the fear response, but I still feel like I'm watching from the outside of it. It pushes emotional triggers, but only so many, settling for merely giving me disturbing things to think about instead of forcing me to feel them. The two short stories contained in here take a more surrealistic bent and while good are slightly weaker than the main piece, possibly due to their being significantly less grounded than the title piece. The other issue is one more prevalent in these two works after reading the first, and it is that while Thomas Ligotti has a unique voice, there is not much differentiation. This is especially clear in "I Have a Special Plan for this World", arguably the weakest story of the three, as its plot is muddled and the lack of differentiation makes it difficult to concentrate on the events of the story and the atmosphere, taking you right out of it. Thankfully, the third story, "The Nightmare Network", brings things back into a nice surreal focus, taking the shape of a series of press releases detailing a company trading in the subconscious from its rise to its eventual decay. I think. It's kind of a hard story to get a handle on, but a nice departure from the first-person accounts of the other two. In the end, this is well worth the price I paid for it, even if I was overcharged for an ebook that was barely out two years when I picked it up. It's a good introduction to the world of Thomas Ligotti, the stories are (while weak in places) original and definitely a cut above most of the stuff currently in the genre, and very enjoyable to read. Even if they do linger a little in the head******** and kind of crank up the squick a little. The issues with the book do not ultimately keep it from being a very good, very creepy read, and it is definitely worth checking out. Find some way to find this book. I cannot stress this enough. Even if you don't enjoy it, you have to at least recognize you won't read anything like it in all of fiction. NEXT WEEK: - A Tourist in an Unknown Land returns with "Strange Tales on the Road to NekoCon" (I know, I know, too soon, but I have to write this stuff about a week or so after I do the con, otherwise it just comes outta nowhere and has no bearing on anything any more) - The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman And when I can fit them in: - Johannes Cabal and the Fear Institute by Jonathan L. Howard - More Walter Moers - Possibly some Carlton Mellick III **This is not, however, the Halloween special. That got cancelled due to the storm ***Everyone loves Lovecraft. Few actually read him, and most spout the memes. Given I've read a fair amount of Lovecraft...I actually don't see this as too bad a thing. He's kinda dry and xenophobic and a little pedantic. ****Unless you've lived under a rock and only had Poe, Stoker, and Lovecraft to read. Then I can see your stories probably coming out a little like his. *****Ooooh, it feels good to say that after so long! ******Why yes I have a checklist of cliched horror review phrases I'm ticking off. Why do you ask? *******This may be the con mindset still rattling around in my brain, but "Avenging Angel Domino" sounds like a damn good name for an anime... ********Cream of mucous membrane. CREAM OF MUCOUS MEMBRANE. Phew, feels good to get that out.

  30. 5 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

    Q: At the company where I had been a longtime employee, the purest breed of swine was represented by the seven persons with whom I met in a conference room according to a weekly schedule. I had risen, somewhat reluctantly but with a definite touch of swinishness, to the position of a supervisor in my division of a company in which there were countless other divisions. This made it necessary to attend these meetings along with six others of my kind and a seventh who was our superior by virtue of h Q: At the company where I had been a longtime employee, the purest breed of swine was represented by the seven persons with whom I met in a conference room according to a weekly schedule. I had risen, somewhat reluctantly but with a definite touch of swinishness, to the position of a supervisor in my division of a company in which there were countless other divisions. This made it necessary to attend these meetings along with six others of my kind and a seventh who was our superior by virtue of his having out-swined the rest of us. (c)

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...