To Other Similar Abysses!

Part of my day job entails coming up with Read-Alikes: little lists for popular books that can direct readers to other titles based on sharing similar themes, concepts, or aesthetics. For example, Laird Barron’s The Croning could be on a Read-Alike list for Jeff VanderMeer’s City of Saints & Madmen due to them both dealing with strange nonhuman entities and toying with the reliability of historical accounts. Diehard cosmic horror fans could probably quibble over the finer points of the comparison, but it’s a way of saying “if you liked X, try Y” for people who may not be that familiar with the genre.

And if there’s one thing common to the genres I like the most, it’s that lots of folks aren’t familiar with them.

So here’s a list of Read-Alikes for To Another Abyss. If…

…you want more irreverence towards iconic horror authors: Pym by Mat Johnson.
This book follows a disgraced professor hoping to prove to the world that Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket” was a factual account. Along the way it takes a multitude of satirical shots at academia, literature, and race relations with its cast of clever caricatures both human and Yeti.

…you like having a better understanding of things than the narrator: Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse.
I’ve been a Wodehouse fan for decades, and definitely modeled Greg and Decca’s relationship on Bertie and Jeeves. Sure Jeeves doesn’t dye his hair, but there’s plenty of witty description and unsubtle class spite on display. I always preferred the stories where Jeeves solves Bertie’s problem while managing to wring something for himself out of the deal.

…you were expecting Lovecraftian things acting more traditionally Lovecraftially but still funny: Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero.
Four friends and a dog have to re-solve a mystery they thought they’d solved as kids, returning to their home town and the mysteEeEerious caverns beneath. All the old Lovecraft tropes show up at some point, but Cantero’s prose style is hands-down one of the funniest I’ve ever read. The novel bounces along with all the frantic action and bombastic expressiveness of Saturday morning cartoons.

…people kvetching about art in the middle of a genre novel kinda worked for you: The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars by Steven Brust.
There’s only one person I know who’s also read this book and neither of us could believe the other one was talking about it when we realized. Brust is always an excellent storyteller, and it seriously takes a storyteller of his caliber to tell a story about storytelling and not come across as self-indulgent. It’s about a group of artists in the late 80s who deal with the agonies of influence, inspiration, selling out, and the transformation of lived experience into fiction. No tentacles that I can recall, though.

…moar punks plz: the Hoodie Ripper series by Chris Eng.
They don’t have anything supernatural in them, but Molotov Hearts and Zero Wave are wicked charming punk romances and D.I.Y. AF! Squatter houses, snerky band names, outcast solidarity, these books are a snapshot of punk scenes rendered in detail you don’t usually find in media outside of Hard Times headlines. True to the music’s ethos, the characters and their relationships throw plenty of elbows at romance’s norms and stereotypes.

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