In a recent interview I read of Nigerian singer-songwriter (now rocker) Asa, she said that she picked the name Beautiful Imperfection for her new album because it summed up her ethos. She'd always had this funny bass-heavy alto that didn't fit in well with her church choir or any other choral group. And her songwriting, as songwriting can rightfully do, over-reaches as a matter of course. (Give or take what sounds to me like her musical reinterpretation of Langston Hughes' "A Dream Deferred," the song "The Way I Feel," which is as close to beautiful perfection as anything I've ever heard.)
That said, I think that sense of high-reaching imperfection is one of the things that connects my love of rock and rap's musical impulses to my love of horror fiction. To attempt a quote without the transcript before me, I believe Stephen King said that key to his attraction to horror was the understanding that the form was "assaultive" in its nature. My favorite music tends to share that trait. It may flub a note; it may veer downright foolish, but it gets your attention, and it's usually throwing down some kind of challenge. At their best, music and horror fight to change our most fundamental perceptions.
No surprise then, my favorite horror novels and movies teeter on the edge of artistic disaster. Some do more than teeter--they fall. Yet worthwhile things happen in that process. As an example, my great friend Erica and I shared two responses to Stephen King's Bag of Bones. We both loved it and the ending annoyed the hell out of us.
I thought about Erica, who isn't here to see it, watching director Mick Garris's TV version of Bag of Bones on A&E this week. I think she'd agree with me that some of the book's finest touches--ghostly rearrangements of refrigerator magnets and unseen presences in quiet, reflective moments--are perhaps impossible to pull off in a movie, and they only worked so well here. Still Garris (The Stand, Riding the Bullet, Desperation) is about as fearless a King tale interpreter as any there's been, and he manages to capture more of that book's wild (and often chilling) surrealism than seems possible. Grief has rarely been more palpable; the talking dead have rarely rung so vividly true.