Today's subversive selection is The Confidence Man by Herman Melville


Originally published in 1857, this tale of a Mississippi steamer bound for New Orleans with a passenger who is not who he appears to be.....and he appears to be many things before all is said and done in this masterwork of misanthropy, deception and casual evil.

Though not traditionally considered a horror novel, novelist Michael McDowell called it "the most fundamentally unsettling, powerful, and influential book I have ever opened." He went on to say "According to Melville (and now according to me, too), the universe and existence are only a joke but dimly discerned. The punchline is garbled and all we know, while the cosmos' laughter clamors in our fevered brains, is that we are the butt of that joke."

Need he say more?

Trivia Tidbits: The initial reception to this book was so poor, 38 year old Melville gave up writing and devoted the rest of his working life to being a customs inspector.

Both of Michael McDowell's quotes above were taken from his essay on The Confidence Man in Horror: 100 Best Books.