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I'm interested into getting into Jack Ketchum's book, but not sure of the best place(s) to start? I think The Girl Next Door is too intense for me, but I'm open to others. Any recommendations are appreciated. :)
Jack Ketchum is the only author who can consistently write a story that causes me to have a visceral reaction to it, which is why he is easily my favorite horror writer. I have not read all of his stories- I am still trying to track down quite a few of them, in fact.
Here are my quick thoughts on each of the books I have read, regarding how graphic/intense they are.
Off Season- Very disturbing, definitely not for anyone with a weak stomach
Ladies Night- I don't remember this as being particularly gruesome, rather more of a women getting back at men kind of thing. Probably a good starting place.
The Lost- I know I've read it, I don't remember it being all that gruesome, but more of a psychological thriller. Another possible starting place.
Right to Life- Pretty disturbing as fiction, but extremely disturbing when you realize that it's based on a true story. Not for the timid, probably not for first-time Ketchum readers.
Red- Very difficult to read if you are an animal lover, because it's easy to fall into the mind of the main character.
Peaceable Kingdom- Short story collection, might be a good place to start, because it gives you glimpses into several of his different views.
She Wakes- This story was actually not my favorite, and is probably the exception to my statement that JK consistently gives me a visceral reaction. YMMV
Fear the Fever- had one JK story in it, and I remember it being a bit disturbing, but not overly so.
The Girl Next Door- LOVED this story, but OMG was it hard to read. VERY disturbing, based on a true story. Even if you can fictionalize it, it's still an emotionally difficult read. On its surface, it's about Child Abuse, but if you can look past that, you can see how peer pressure, longing to fit in, and group mentality all play a role in who we are, the choices we make, and who we become. If you can somehow muster up the courage to read this one, it's such a well-written story, with so much to offer us to think about, that I strongly encourage you to read it. I can nearly guarantee that you will have nightmares from it. I know I did. But my ability to understand others and to be more compassionate and appreciative of others was, IMO, greatly enhanced after reading this book.
Triage- I actually thought the other 2 stories were better than JK's, but his was interesting. IIRC, his was a Cthulhu-based story.
Cover- another one that's hard to read if you have experience with the Vietnam War, or have family members or friends who experienced the Vietnam War. I'm not sure whether people who don't have that experience will have the same reactions to this story, but they might. Perhaps Desert Storm and the War on Iraq are close enough?
Related news story to Jack Ketchums Girl Next Door. That book was gruesome, true story.