->''"... I’ve conceived of stories that were just too disturbing for me to write. If you can write something, then it’s only so disturbing. Anything truly disturbing can’t even be written. Even if it could, no one could stand to read it. And writing is essentially a means of entertainment for both the writer and the reader. I don’t care who the writer is—literature is entertainment or it is nothing."''
->'''Thomas Ligotti''', [[http://www.ligotti.net/showthread.php?t=420 in an interview with Neddal Ayad]]

One of the most respected writers in the field of supernatural horror alive today, Thomas Ligotti, in critical terms, has it all. He has been nominated for and won awards for his short stories and poetry on numerous occasions, gaining the accolades of everyone from Ramsey Campbell to Creator/PoppyZBrite and accumulating a wildly devoted cult following. His prose has been favorably compared to EdgarAllanPoe and the Decadent poets of ''fin-de-siècle'' France, and before he even had released his first story collection, the late CthulhuMythos archivist Lin Carter declared him the SpiritualSuccessor to Creator/HPLovecraft.

Whence comes the logical question: "So why haven't I heard of this guy?"

In short, because Thomas Ligotti is the ThomasPynchon of the CosmicHorrorStory.

To elaborate: Ligotti has, since his early twenties, been [[CreatorBreakdown afflicted with agoraphobia, panic-anxiety disorder, and severe bipolar disorder]], rendering him unable to, for example, [[ReclusiveArtist meet directly with fans or conduct face-to-face interviews]]. Early on, there were even questions as to whether the man actually existed, with some claiming that Thomas Ligotti was [[EpilepticTrees actually a pseudonym for a more famous writer]]; these rumors [[{{Jossed}} began to lose credence]] following a series of phone interviews, and all but ceased following the proliferation of email.

Perhaps even more damaging to Ligotti's notoriety—although ever appreciated by his devoted fanbase—was his steadfast dedication to the small press, with some of his collections only being produced in editions of under a thousand.[[note]]For a particularly extreme example, [[http://www.ligotti.net/showthread.php?t=1280 look here. And yes, the webmaster has a copy.]][[/note]] Granted, most of his works were later released in trade paperback, but even these have gone out of print. Only recently has the publisher Mythos Books begun to rectify this, to the extent that copies of Ligotti's most recent fiction (''MyWorkIsNotYetDone'' and ''Teatro Grottesco'') and a retrospective (''The Shadow At The Bottom Of The World'') are now available in major chain stores, while older collections are gradually being reissued in revised form. Which has also pleased the fans.

Ligotti has also had a long-standing friendship with David Tibet of the English experimental music outfit {{Current 93}}, and has collaborated with them on the following albums:
* ''All the Pretty Little Horses'' (1996): Ligotti reads an excerpt from his short story "Les Fleurs" at [[TheStinger the end of the album]]. "The Frolic" is also based on the story of the same name ([[VillainSong in a roundabout way]]).
* ''In A Foreign Town, In A Foreign Land'' (1997): Released with the book of the same name as a musical companion piece.
* ''Foxtrot'' (compilation, 1998): Ligotti plays steel guitar on Current 93's track "A Dream Of [=TheInmostLight=] (For Christoph Heemann)".
* ''I Have A Special Plan For This World'' (2000): Based around Tibet's reading of Ligotti's poem of the same name. He also supplied "The Bungalow Tapes".
* ''This Degenerate Little Town'' (2001): Ligotti recites his poem of the same name with backing from Current 93.

Also, he created on his own an EP titled ''The Unholy City'', which is Ligotti reciting a cycle of poems over borderline minimalistic musical accompaniment.

!!Tropes evident in Thomas Ligotti's works include:
* AdultFear: "The Frolic" plays into both this ''and'' [[CosmicHorrorStory existential terror]] with the walking, talking slab of undiluted ParanoiaFuel that is "John Doe". Think of ''[[FateWorseThanDeath the worst thing]]'' that someone could possibly do [[WouldHurtAChild to a child.]] Now, think of someone who does this. Often. Someone that does this [[ObliviouslyEvil without even knowing]] [[BlueAndOrangeMorality that it's even slightly wrong]]. Someone (or rather ''something'') that [[HumanoidAbomination may not even be human]]. [[PlayAlongPrisoner His capture, he says, is merely time for him to rest.]] Now, imagine that, for what ever reason, he just ''knows'' that you have a daughter...
* AndIMustScream
* AntiHero: Finding a [[TheHero straight hero]] in a Ligotti story is like finding a HappyEnding: If you think that you have, one can be certain that you are terribly, ''terribly'' wrong.
* AuthorAppeal: Deconstructing horror and philosophy tropes seems to be a big one. Also, any of the recurring themes under Paranoia Fuel.
* AuthorTract: ''The Conspiracy Against The Human Race'', a book-length non-fiction treatise on philosophical pessimism.
* BittersweetEnding: In Ligotti's entire oeuvre, only ''two'' stories can be said to have anything close to a positive conclusion, those being [[spoiler:"The Order of Illusion" and "My Work Is Not Yet Done".]] Just to give you an idea of ''how'' bitter even Ligotti's "happy" endings are, [[spoiler:the protagonist of the former becomes a cult leader, while the [[DesignatedHero "hero"]] of the latter ''kills himself'' to escape from [[AFateWorseThanDeath a potentially worse outcome]]...]]
* BlackComedy: The tone of many of his first person stories is [[DeadpanSnarker extremely snarky]], which ultimately [[MoodWhiplash only adds to the horror of his endings]].
* BlueAndOrangeMorality: Attempting to assign moral values to the behaviour of Ligotti's characters, human or not, is futile in the extreme.
* BodyHorror: Generally averted, though "The Cocoons", "The Spectacles in the Drawer" and "The Tsalal" all contain some extremely visceral scenes.
* CosmicHorrorStory
* CrapsackWorld
* CruelAndUnusualDeath: [[NothingIsScarier But rarely "onstage."]]
* CruelTwistEnding:
* CthulhuMythos: "The Sect of the Idiot" is definitely a Mythos story, though "The Prodigy of Dreams", "Nethescurial", "Vastarien" and "The Last Feast of Harlequin" (which was dedicated to Creator/HPLovecraft) are all at least considered part of the {{Fanon}}.
* DarknessEqualsDeath: Played with in various ways.
* DeadpanSnarker / TheSnarkKnight: Most of Ligotti's more detailed protagonists are this, resulting in some [[BlackComedy surprisingly]] [[KafkaKomedy funny]] [[GallowsHumor moments]]. The man himself is also a fine specimen of the latter.
** FirstPersonSmartass: Naturally.
* DownerEnding
* EldritchAbomination
* EldritchLocation: The titular DarkWorld of "Vastarien" is a standout in modern literature.
* EnigmaticMinion: "The Clown Puppet" is perhaps the epitome of this trope, as well as [[ZigZaggedTrope its most confusing example]].
* AFeteWorseThanDeath: "The Last Feast of Harlequin", "The Greater Festival of Masks"
* GainaxEnding: Any of his more experimental stories, ''especially'' "The Nightmare Network".
* GodIsEvil: And ''how''. For some explanation, please read "Nethescurial".
** Many of his stories imply that [[spoiler:''reality itself'' is inherently malignant.]]
* HumansAreSpecial: Deconstructed in ''The Conspiracy Against The Human Race''.
* TheLittleShopThatWasntThereYesterday: Ligotti ''loves'' ambiguous locations, though "The Astronomic Blur" from ''"Sideshow," and Other Stories'' is one of the most unusual.
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes: The seminal ''Songs of a Dead Dreamer'' has been reprinted a few times, but none of its edition is currently available through retail. Second-hand copies are available online at [[ShockinglyExpensiveBill exorbitant prices]].
* LostEpisode: Several stories published through small-press magazines have never been collected or reprinted.
* MedicalHorror: "The Cocoons" specifically, though [[MorallyAmbiguousDoctorate hearing that someone bears the title of "doctor" is usually a bad sign in the Ligotti universe]].
* MindScrew: Par for the course, though some stories ("Eye of the Lynx", "The Greater Festival of Masks", "Notes on the Writing of Horror", "The Nightmare Network") are more perplexing than others.
* NewWeird: Considered to be one of the {{Trope Maker}}s.
* NietzscheWannabe: Interestingly averted with the man himself, who refuses the "nihilist" distinction and is extremely well-versed in pessimistic philosophy (as evidenced by ''The Conspiracy Against the Human Race'').
* NothingIsScarier
* OurVampiresAreDifferent: [[spoiler:"The Lost Art of Twilight".]]
* OurWerewolvesAreDifferent: [[spoiler:"The Real Wolf". Hello, {{Deconstruction}}!]]
* OurZombiesAreDifferent: [[spoiler:"Autumnal".]]
* PersonalHorror
* PerspectiveFlip: Most of the vignettes in ''The Agonizing Resurrection of Victor Frankenstein and Other Gothic Tales''.
* PurpleProse: Many of his more abstract vignettes fall into this category, albeit rarely to the degree of [[EdgarAllanPoe his chief]] [[Creator/HPLovecraft inspirations]].
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: ''The Conspiracy Against The Human Race'' is basically this as applied to ''everyone that has ever lived''.
* ScaryScarecrows: "The Shadow at the Bottom of the World".
* TheStarsAreGoingOut: Played with.
* SurrealHorror: Even Ligotti's most realistic stories have a tendency to rely on a modicum of dream logic. Case in point: "The Frolic".
* [[invoked]] TrueArtIsIncomprehensible: PlayedForLaughs (of [[StealthParody a rather subtle]], [[BlackComedy bleak kind]]) in many of the stories in ''Teatro Grottesco'', most of which are set in art communities.
* TheUbermensch: {{Deconstructed}}, with ruthless vigour, in "The Shadow, The Darkness".
* UltimateEvil
* WhamLine:
** "Nethescurial": [[spoiler:I am not dying in a nightmare.]]
** "The Chymist": [[spoiler:Now, Rose of Madness... Bloom!]]
** "Mrs. Rinaldi's Angel": [[spoiler:"It was an ''angel'', did you know that?"]]
** "The Troubles of Doctor Thoss": [[spoiler:"My name is Thoss, I am a doctor."]]
** "Drink to Me Only with Labyrinthine Eyes": [[spoiler:"You will not awaken until morning, ''no matter what sounds you hear outside your door''. Understand?".]]
** "The Nightmare Network": [[spoiler:There is no one behind the camera.]]
** "The Last Feast of Harlequin": [[spoiler:"He's one of us. He has ''always'' been one of us."]]
** "Purity": [[spoiler:"Why, it's families, sweetheart."]]
* WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds: [[spoiler:Plomb from "The Spectacles in the Drawer".]] Frank Dominio from "My Work Is Not Yet Done" could also be seen as one of these [[FromNobodyToNightmare before his transformation]].