Any Books Like Night In The Woods Or Kentucky Route 0?


#21

Oh! Also One Bloody Thing After Another by Joey Comeau (who used to write A Softer World). Read it a long time ago, but always stuck with me. Night in the Woodsy af.

“Jackie has a map of the city on the wall of her bedroom, with a green pin for each of her trees. She has a first-kiss tree and a broken-arm tree. She has a car-accident tree. There is a tree at the hospital where Jackie’s mother passed away into the long good night. When one of them gets cut down, Jackie doesn’t know what to do but she doesn’t let that stop her. She picks up the biggest rock she can carry and puts it through the window of a car. Smash. She intends to leave before the police arrive, but they’re early. Ann is Jackie’s best friend, but she’s got problems of her own. Her mother is chained up in the basement. How do you bring that up in casual conversation? ‘Oh, sorry I’ve been so distant, Jackie. My mother has more teeth than she’s supposed to, and she won’t eat anything that’s already dead.’ Ann and her sister Margaret don’t have much of a choice here. Their mother needs to be fed. It isn’t easy but this is family. It’s not supposed to be easy. It’ll be okay as long as Margaret and Ann still have each other. Add in a cantankerous old man, his powerfully stupid dog, a headless ghost, a lesbian crush and a few unsettling visits from Jackie’s own dead mother, and you’ll find that One Bloody Thing After Another is a different sort of horror novel from the ones you’re used to. It’s as sad and funny as it is frightening, and it is as much about the way families rely on each other as it is about blood being drooled on the carpet. Though, to be honest, there is a lot of blood being drooled on the carpet.”

De-lightful.


#22

A recommendation for the works of Caitlin Kiernan. I’ve read two of her stories recently: Agents of Dreamland, a novelette about a government agent who investigates cosmic horror-esque incidents; and The Red Tree, about an author struggling with personal tragedy and writers block who seeks refuge in a New England farmhouse, under the shadow of the titular timber. She’s also edited or contributed to many Cthulhu-mythos collections.


#23

i’m reading a tor novella called The Lamb Will Slaughter The Lion by Margaret Killjoy and I think it fits this pretty well. It’s about a hitchhiker/itinerant punk who ends up in this abandoned town that’s become one big communal squat… but with some weird dark magic going on. Lots of queerness, and a weird rural gothic atmosphere.


#24

I’ve only read Gravity’s Rainbow from Pynchon, and I loved it, but was exhausted by it. Similar to my experiences with Ulysses and Moby Dick, it felt elevated for reading it, but needed to read some quote unquote bad fiction for a while afterward to recover.

Somewhat askew of your list: Probably my guilty favourite Murakami is “Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World” because of its wonderful strangeness and more overt fairy-tale structure.

The imagery of KR0 makes me want to recommend Cormac McCarthy (particularly No Country for Old Men and Blood Meridian) for his ability to imbue the American Southwest with a covert sense of myth. But trigger warnings for both of those. McCarthy is a brutally violent writer at times.

Gene Wolfe’s Peace is brilliant puzzle of a short novel (you do need to read it at least twice to sort it out) that remixes the midwest of the 1970’s with overt fantasy and covert horror.

In the Night in the Woods vein of “if you’ve lived in a small town this is painfully true to life”, Margret Lawrence’s Stone Angel is a masterful. It’s the kind of book I appreciate, but it brings back a little too much to be enjoyable. No weirdness at all in here however.


#25

Yooooo, The Red Tree rules. It’s a slow burn, but both times I’ve read it the climactic chapter has sent a shiver up my spine.


#26

Universal Harvester is incredible and definitely has a very Night in the Woods feel, right down to this idea that something very scary and bad is going on and nobody really believes in it or knows how to start working to uncover it.

@BenJovi mentioned Wolf in White Van, John Darnielle’s first novel, which I will also second as very good but not quite as Night-in-the-Woods-y. However, I am going to round out the recommendations with his first novella, Black Sabbath Master of Reality for the 33 and 1/3 series. It’s about a young man who is locked away in a mental institution due in no small part to stigma about his love of metal music, as well as some actual potential psych diagnoses (the book lets the reader decide whether or not they believe the narrator was entirely unfairly placed into treatment). It’s written as a series of diary entries. It mirrors Darnielle’s own experience as a psychiatric nurse (also reflected in the tMG album All Hail West Texas) and the clients he would work with, as well as probably some personal experience in locked treatment facilities, as he would go on to write deeply confessional music about his survival of abuse and his struggles with drugs. There’s nothing at all in the way of magical realism in Darnielle’s Master of Reality, but the character feels very much like a male Mae.

Darnielle’s musical work on the other hand comes a lot closer to magical realism pretty regularly, and something like Tallahassee is a good album for that southern gothic vibe.


#27

I actually bought this a while back, left it in Canada for safe-keeping. It’s a real short read and a real good book.


#28

Now that I’ve ahem actually played Night in the Woods, it occurs to me how many Parallels there are betweeen it and the work of Daniel Clowes. Kentucky Route Zero as well. His narrative arcs would tend to be deeply personal journeys through surreal American Landscapes.
I’d reccomend three of his story arcs, I’m pretty sure they are collected in trade paperbacks now:
(warning, all have graphic and disturbing imagery)
Like a Velvet Glove cast in Iron,The most surreal of the bunch, a man sees an ex girlfriend in a strange art film and searches for her.
Ghost World, the most similar to NitW, a girl graduates from high school and wanders around her small town.
David Boring A young man obsessed with a father he only knows through a few torn comic panels and a female archetype he thinks he’s found in woman who’s fairly indifferent to him.


#29

Another couple books came to mind that really captures some of that small-town aimlessness and young woman’s angst. Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore is beautifully written and haunting, although once again, no supernatural elements.

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff is also a slow burn, but it’s got some interesting “documentary evidence” in one section as the protagonist does research to unravel one of the core mysteries of her life. There also IS a mild supernatural element revolving around a lake monster in upstate New York.

And speaking of lakes, there’s a B-plot in American Gods that should scratch that small-town mystery itch.


#30

Thanks to this thread I came home with these books today:

Universal Harvester
Wolf In White Van
100 Years of Solitude
Against the Day
Kafka on the Shore

Really looking forward to digging into these!


#31

I just realized that lakes are like inherently creepy and mysterious for me, which is weird.


#32

Toluca Lake is a big one for me. I live near a lake so completely get this.


#33

The Joke and the Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera are favorites of mine that deal with questions of belong, home, finding stuff. Really great writing too.

Also, Nausea by Sartre is a quick read, mostly not insufferable existentialism, and has some blindingly amazing passages.


#34

Reading Visit from the Goon Squad, it’s challenging in the way I always find books with frequent shifts in narrators, but worth it so far!

Lakes are creepy

I agree. Large standing bodies of water, whatever human dertrius drops in there just sinks to the bottom. Becomes part of the lake.


#35

I came in here to recommend Against the Day but someone has already done that for me.

Against the Day is my favorite book, probably.

I might also suggest Amnesiascope or Our Ecstatic Days by Steve Erickson. Amnesiascope does the same surrealist trick KRZ does with Kentucky with Los Angeles, and Our Ecstatic Days uses LA as well, except there’s a giant lake in the middle of it for some reason.

Both are very good.


#36

This thread is delivering


#37

They’re like the opposite of an ocean or the sea. Instead of these chaotic agents of change they’re concentrated stagnant concentrations of lost time and sediment.


#38

oh, and have only just started it - but how about the orange eats creeps, by grace krilanovich? the summary on the publisher’s website says:

A girl with drug-induced ESP and an eerie connection to Patty Reed (a young member of the Donner Party who credited her survival to her relationship with a hidden wooden doll), searches for her disappeared foster sister along “The Highway That Eats People,” stalked by a conflation of Twin Peaks’ “Bob” and the Green River Killer, known as Dactyl.

the mention of steve erickson is what made me think of it, because he wrote the introduction. have been wanting to read his books but they’re not so easy to get hold of in the UK. anyway it’s pretty weird and eerie, more of that rural american gothic vibe, and vampires.


#39

Has anybody read Mira Corpora by Jeff Jackson? It sounds like it could fit in with these books pretty well but there doesn’t seem to be an English version on Kindle.


#40

Just noticed these podcasts while trawling about today, which may be of interest: https://www.gamingbroadly.com/tag/playing-appalachia/ (haven’t listened to them myself yet)