cover image Dark Dreamers

Dark Dreamers

. Cemetery Dance Publications, $40 (224pp) ISBN 978-1-58767-024-4

""Most of us write,"" states Barker in his introduction to this unusual and handsome volume, "" search of a kind of invisibility."" Yet about 100 authors (and a handful of artists, filmmakers and editors) of horror in all its guises have allowed photographer Gwinn to make their faces and at times, through her artistry, their souls visible via her camera. The striking b & w photos, each full page and each stunningly detailed, represent a decade's work by Gwinn, and so also reflect ten years in the life of a genre and its practitioners. There's Barker in 1994, looking pensive but amazingly boyish, and an impish Dean Koontz in 1999, with his hair transplant and sans moustache. There's Jack Cady in 1997, with a face carved from Mount Rushmore, Stephen King a year before the accident, Joseph Citro in 1990 and, ultimate testament to the passing of time, Richard Laymon, dead now less than two months, grinning like a jack-o'-lantern in 1998. Each photo is accompanied by a paragraph or two or three of commentary, usually from the subject but occasionally by Wiater (e.g., for Joyce Carol Oates), plus a recommended reading list, presumably by Wiater. Scanning the commentaries provides a minicourse in the raison d' tre of horror, sometimes lightly witty (""I get very delighted when I create something that's pretty terrible,"" says Ramsey Campbell), sometimes profound (""There is something both subversive and sacred about horror,"" comments editor/journalist Paula Guran. ""It pushes us to accept that which is normally unacceptable.""). Even though horror is an immensely popular genre (think King, Koontz, Rice), critically it languishes in the shadows. Kudos to Gwinn for shining a strong light on it. (Apr.) Forecast: This volume is a lock not only for dedicated horror fans but also for libraries.