Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Festival, by H P Lovecraft Audiobook Audio Book Horror Occult Goth...

One of the ways in which I enjoy the weird fiction of H. P. Lovecraft is to listen to audio readings of the stories found on YouTube.  To listen to Lovecraft's prose is one way in which to discover its beauty, its poetry, its excellence.  I listen'd, this morning, to this reading of "The Festival," inspir'd by a re-reading of Essential Solitude: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth.  In a letter by Lovecraft of 14 November 1931, we find:

"The plot I am now experimenting on concerns another fictitious Mass. town--'Innsmouth'--which is vaguely suggested by the ancient & almost dead city of Newburyport.  Of course, there is no sinister, un-human shadow over poor old Newburyport--but then, there never was a festival of worms at Marblehead (Kingsport)!"

That phrase--"A festival of worms"--struck a cord with my imagination, & I now have a hankering to write a wee tale thus entitled, set in Kingsport.  It is one of the pleasures of listening to a Lovecraft text that certain words or phrases pop out, as they don't when I am silently reading ye text.  Listening to this story this morning, I was impress'd again at its dream-like quality, and it occurred to me that it may indeed be a dream narrative.  There are other tales that strike me as such--"The Outsider" and "The Music of Erich Zann" being two such--in which the things that happen seem so outlandish and unlikely that the narrative can only be a recollection of dream.  "The Festival" is a favourite of mine, and it has had a profound effect on my own Lovecraftian weird fiction.  I am obsess'd with using, over and over again, certain images from it, such as ye antique grimoire, the spinning wheel, and the mask.  And so I am slowly dreaming a wee idea that I hope I will be able to write out, a tale set in Kingsport, "A Festival of Worms."

The writing goes well.  Some friends requested that I write a wee thing that they can publish as separate chapbook, & this inspir'd to finally write an idea that has been itching at ye back of my brain for quite some time, a story set in that region of secret worship evoked in "The Call of Cthulhu," the place where lies a hidden lake with its formless white inhabitant, and where Black Winged Ones perform ritual murder.  I completed the polish of my new story to-day, at 3,000 words.  I wanted the tale to be that length, as my last publish'd chapbook, JESTER OF YELLOW DAY, was too wee, being little more than 1,000 words.

I continue to be entranc'd by The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft!!!

Ye above illustration is by Pete Von Sholly, for ye forthcoming volume THE CALL OF CTHULHU in ye PS Publishing LOVECRAFT ILLUSTRATED series.   This scene is ye setting for my newly completed weird tale.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


I've been trying this morning (Thursday, 9/25/14) to record another vlog shewing more of ye tome, but YouTube keeps fucking up and my recordings won't complete.  Very annoying.  I wanted to actually discuss, on video, some of ye annotations.  The approach is similar to that of Klinger's THE NEW ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES, in that Holmes is treated as a historical figure and the short stories and novels are in fact historical recordings of actual events.  This approach is also employ'd in YE NEW ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT. For the most part it works and does indeed bring out aspects of the stories that are of interest.  I have found one note, however, that completely mystifies me, on page 12, for "The Statement of Randolph Carter".  The long note reads, in part, "More of Carter's history is given in 'Through the Gates of the Silver Key,' written by Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price . . . However, this tale is thought to be largely the work of Price and must be regarded as an unreliable source of information."  This is pure nonsense--the story as we have it is almoft entirely the writing of H. P. Lovecraft, so I don't understand this note at all.  Moftly, however, the notes are extremely informative and entertaining.  In one note for "The Hound," many lines from Clark Ashton Smith's poem "The Eldritch Dark" are quoted.  

There has been so much online chatter concerning the World Fantasy award, Lovecraft's racism, and what a "bad" writer Lovecraft was.  I'm hoping that the popularity of THE NEW ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT (& I expect ye book to be very popular indeed) will help to shift ye discussion to the excellence of Lovecraft's prose and ye originality of his imagination.  Klinger has scheduled many signing and readings in various cities, and some of these will include guests such as Peter Straub, Neil Gaiman and S. T. Joshi, with whom Klinger will discuss Lovecraft and his place in Literature.

Monday, September 22, 2014

If I vanish for a wee while.........

If I vanish for a wee while from ye Internet, it is because my copies of YE NEW ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT have finally arriv'd.  My plan, my keen desire, is to enter into an intense study of the book, to examine Lovecrft's texts as I have never scrutinized them afore, and to makes notes in my ornate Commonplace Book on anything that particularly strikes me.  I want to be utterly consum'd in this fresh new study of the tales that are in this book, to approach them again as a student and to let them teach me the art of good writing.  Lovecraft is the world I want to live in entirely for the weeks (or months) requir'd for such an examination of the texts.  I then hope to use what I have glean'd in ye crafting of 50,000 words of new weird fiction for my forthcoming collection from Centipede Press.  Nu, I won't be active here or at Facebook if I can bring this plan to fruition.  I am hoping that my copies of the book will arrive in to-day's poft.  If so, I will add a wee video to this blog shewing ye hardcover edition of the book in all its nameless glory.  Shalom.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Wilum Pugmire: Splintered Kiss

Lovecraft is my aspirin

Oy, I have such a headache.  I need to stop reading all of these blogs and Facebook comments regarding H. P. Lovecraft and the World Fantasy Award.  I am too emotionally entangled to approach the subject without subjectivity.  I am too huge a Lovecraft freak not to want to defend his writing, defend it to people who don't read him and couldn't care less about his work.  Listening to ye new Streisand cd helps to calm my soul--but the real balm will come from working on a new Cthulhu story that I am writing for Paula Guran, and thus to immerse myself into that rich and wonderful Lovecraftian realm that brings such perfect joy, such eldritch bliss.
The writing of a new Mythos story brings me such keen pleasure because it returns me to Lovecraft's fiction, the world I love more than all others.  Because the story is for a book that has "Cthulhu" in its title, I want my story to be linked to "The Call of Cthulhu"; & so I am returning to an old idea that I had set aside, the idea of a wee tale set near the haunted lake mention'd in Part II of ye tale, "...a hidden lake unglimpsed by mortal sight, in which dwelt a huge, formless white polypous thing with luminous eyes; and squatters whispered that bat-winged devils flew up out of caverns in inner earth to worship it at midnight. ... It was nightmare itself, and to see it was to die.  But it made men dream."  But it made men dream -- that is the thing that inspir'd me to have my main character a child of Sesqua Valley; for ye shadow children of the valley, it is said, do not dream, it is not in their nature to do so.  But this particular child wants very much to dream--to dream horribly.  Nu, she seeks out this hidden lake "unseen by mortal eyes," and of course she will not die, for she isn't mortal, being a spawn of Sesqua's shadow and mist.  That gives me something to work with, and from it I hope to conjure a Lovecraftian weird tale that is rich in mood and nameless mystery.

Okay, time to get offline and get to work.  Shalom.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

THE VARIORUM LOVECRAFT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Edited by S. T. Joshi
1,600 pages in three volumes
Limited edition: 500 sets only
November 2014


In the 1980's, S. T. Joshi prepared revised editions of H. P. Lovecraft's stories for Arkham House.  Basing his work on consultation of manuscripts, early publications, and other sources, Joshi corrected thousands or errors in the existing texts of Lovecraft's fiction, allowing readers to appreciate the stories as Lovecraft originally wrote them.

In the thirty years that have followed, Joshi has continued to do research on the textual accuracy of Lovecraft's stories, and this comprehensive new edition is the result.  For the first time, students and scholars of Lovecraft can see at a glance all the variants in all relevant appearances of a story--manuscript, first publication in magazines, and first book publications.  The result is an illuminating record of the textual history of the tales, along with how Lovecraft significantly revised his stories after initial publication.

Along the way, Joshi has made small but significant revisions to his earlier corrected texts.  He has determined, for example, that Lovecraft slightly revised some stories when a reprint of them was scheduled in Weird Tales, and he has altered some readings in light of a better understanding of Lovecraft's customary linguistic usages.

The result is the definitive text of Lovecraft's fiction--an edition that suspersedes all those that preceded it and should endure as the standard text of Lovecraft's stories for many years.

[Volume 1]
In this first volume, Lovecraft's earliest stories are printed in chronological order by date of writing.  Included are such early triumphs as "Dagon" and "The Outsider," along with the many tales Lovecraft wrote under the inspiration of Lord Dunsany.  The celebrated "Herbert West--Reanimator" and "The Rats in the Walls" show Lovecraft experimenting with longer narratives--a tendency that will culminate in the novelettes and novellas of his final decade of writing.

[Volume 2]
In this second volume, the tales that Lovecraft wrote immediately after returning to his native Providence, R. I., from two years of "exile" in New York, are presented.  The landmark tale "The Call of Cthulhu" was only the tip of the iceberg of a flood of stories he wrote in 1926-27, which include the two short novels The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.  "The Colour out of Space" is a pioneering tale that initiates Lovecraft's distinctive melding of horror and science fiction, while "The Dunwich Horror" and "The Whisperer in Darkness" are rich novellas simultaneously evoking terrors from outer space and the brooding darkness of the New England backwoods.

[Volume 3]
In this final volume, the tales of Lovecraft's final years are presented.  The Antarctic novella At the Mountains of Madness is perhaps Lovecraft's most finished work, a superb fusion of weirdness and science fiction that he referred to as "cosmicism."  "The Shadow over Innsmouth" is a chilling evocation of the terrors inherent in a lonely New England backwater, while "The Thing on the Doorstep" and "The Haunter of the Dark" feature physical horrors with cosmic implications.  "The Shadow out of Time" is the culmination of Lovecraft's portrayal of the vast vistas of space and time--his signature contribution to literature.

S. T. Joshi is a leading Lovecraft scholar and author of H. P. Lovecraft: The Decline of the West (1990), I am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft (2010), Lovecraft and a World in Transition (2014), and other critical and biographical works.  He has also done significant research on such writers as Lord Dunsany, Ambrose Bierce, Arthur Machen, and Ramsey Campbell.

will be published in celebration of the 125th anniversary of
H. P. Lovecraft's birth.

Editor S. T. Joshi presents all the relevant textual variants from all the stories
that Lovecraft wrote over his short literary career.

The first three volumes, available in November 2014 exclusively as a set,
collect all of Lovecraft's canonical tales.  
A fourth volume, 
H. P. Lovecraft's Revisions and Collaborations: A Variorum Edition,
is scheduled to appear in 2015 and will be offered for sale disparately.

features Smythe-sewn signatures and illustrated dust wrappers, with each copy individually shrink-wrapped.  All Hippocampus Press limited editions are printed on 60# offset paper,
acid free and elemental chlorine free.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Monstrous Aftermath

I don't seem to be able to get far into any new thing I begin.  It's not writer's block but rather a deep-rooted apathy toward work, I think.  Laziness and lack of inspiration.  Of course, it is ill-timed, as I want to have a new book out from Hippocampus Press.  Thus I've been gathering some things that have not been collected in any book of mine, and I think they will help round out a wee collection of about 60,000 words--still a very short book, but large enough.  I have decided I want to call this book Monstrous Aftermath, a title I was gong to use for my proposed second book from Centipede Press.  "Monstrous aftermath" is from Lovecraft's sonnet, "The Howler," in Fungi from Yuggoth (where the word "monstrous" occurs frequently).  Because the main portion of the new book is my revised/expanded version of "Some Unknown Gulf of Night," a work entirely inspir'd by Lovecraft's sonnet cycle, I wanted the book's title to reflect those sonnets.  I plan on writing one new story of 3,000 words or so, entitled "Monstrous Aftermath," that will also be inspired by E'ch-Pi-El's sonnet cycle.  Thus far, the Contents I envision for this new book is thus:

1.) "Within Your Unholy Pit of Shoggoths" (1,750 words)
2.) "Your Weighing of My Heart" (1,325 words)
3.) "A Shadow of Thy Own Design" (not yet written; hoping it to be around 3,000 words)
4.) "The Tomb of Oscar Wilde" (1,600 words)
5.) "An Ecstasy of Fear" (11,600 words)
6.) "Darkness Dancing in Your Eyes" (1,680 words)
7.) "Beyond the Wakeful Senses" (1,800 words)
8.) "Half Lost in Shadow" (2,670 words)
9.) "Circular Bones (sequence of three sonnets)
10.) "Jester of Yellow Day" (1,130 words)
11.) "This Splendor of the Goat" (10,900 words)
12.) "Monstrous Aftermath" (2,425 words)
13.) "An Element of Nightmare" (3,630 words)
14.) "Some Unknown Gulf of Night" (40,000 words)

That's a little over 20,000 words not including "Gulf".  So, all in all, a book of about 60,000 words total.   And I have a hankering to write one more new wee thing, to bring story count to 13--my favourite number.  Still a short book, but long enough for one that is overtly poetic and decadent.  It wou'd be cool if the book cou'd be publish'd in time for NecronomiCon 2015--but that may be unrealistic.  We shall see.  I've added two longish novelettes that were in Bohemians of Sesqua Valley, and I think they will go well with the shorter pieces.  I haven't included "A Quest of Dream" from that book because Laird Barron is reprinting it in Year's Best Weird Fiction.  All in all, this new book will be an excellent representation of my new writing from ye past few years.  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Reality or No?

"The imaginative writer devotes himself to art in its most essential sense."  --H. P. Lovecraft (Collected Essays 5, pg. 47).

H. P. Lovecraft consider'd ye writing of weird fiction an art form and saw himself as a literary artist.  His use of the word "art" to describe his genre and his participation in it is everywhere in his correspondence.  In the group of essays that have been publish'd as In Defense of Dagon, Lovecraft's views on supernatural fiction as art are part of his main focus.  The essay is available in Volume 5 of Lovecraft's Collected Essays (Hippocampus Press 2006--still available for $20 in its soft cover edition), where we find this well-known statement:

"I could not write about 'ordinary people' because I am not in the least interested in them.  Without interest there can be no art."

One aspect of Lovecraft's art that fascinates me more and more is his blending of reality and dream, of what is real with what is hallucination.  As S. T. Joshi has pointed out, very few of what are known as Lovecraft's "dream cycle" tales are actually set in any kind of dreamland.  The classic tale of this kind is "The Outsider," the plot of which defies logic, and which some critics have suggested is a dream narrative.  Yet that story is an obvious and outrageous example, and there are others where the borderland between real and unreal is expressed with superb subtlety.

In "The Statement of Randolph Carter," something very real seems to have happened to Carter's friend, Harley Warren, so that the authorities have grown alarmed and bring Carter in for questioning.  Yet what do we make of this:  "You say to me that there is nothing in the swamp or near it in which could form the setting of that frightful episode.  I reply that I know nothing beyond what I saw.  Vision or nightmare it may have been--vision or nightmare I fervently hope it was--yet it is all that my mind retains of what took place in those shocking hours after we left the sight of men."  Perhaps there are any number of "explanations."  Perhaps the occult studies of Harley Warren, or the book that he carried with him on that fateful night, alerted him to the secret location of this unknown antique necropolis.

"The place was an ancient cemetery; so ancient that I trembled at the manifold signs of immemorial years.  It was in a deep, damp hollow, overgrown with rank grass, moss, and curious creeping weeds, and filled with a vague stench which my idle fancy associated absurdly with rotting stone."

This seems a solid description of a place visited; and yet so skillful is Lovecraft's art that he places into it the word "fancy," which may cause us to pause and reconsider the veracity of the visit, of the mind that holds the memory of this realm.  

A similar spectral realm is described in "The Music of Erich Zann."  For most of my adulthood I have considered this a story set in reality, a very weird reality but solid nonetheless.  We have no reason to doubt that the narrator actual dwells in the haunted house in a street in France, that the fellow he meets performs in an actual band somewhere in an actual city.  And yet the story's opening paragraph should have alerted me to something queer, something illogical:

"I have examined maps of the city with the greatest care, yet have never again found the Rue d'Auseil.  These maps have not been modern maps alone, for I know that names change.  I have, on the contrary, delved deeply into all the antiquities of the place; and have personally explored every region, of whatever name, which could possibly answer to the street I knew as the Rue d'Auseil.  But despite all I have done it remains an humiliating fact that I cannot find the house, the street, or even the locality, where, during the last months of my impoverished life as a student of metaphysics at the university, I heard the music of Erich Zann."

What can this possibly mean?  How can a street vanish--unless it never existed in the first place?  Was the story based on a dream of Lovecraft's?  Here is a rather long quote from a letter to Frank Belknap Long, 8 February 1922 (text from Selected Letters I, pages 166/67):

"I enclose two stories you have not previously seen.  One is the long-promised Randolph Carter, and the other is my latest.  Please return both.  The 'Carter' thing is an actual dream, with Loveman and myself as characters.  He is 'Warren' and I am 'Carter'.  I dreamed that we stood in a strange and terrible graveyard in a swamp, and that we bore peculiar instruments.  Then we opened a grave--and the things told in the story happened.  I woke up transfixed with terror, and immediately wrote the story.   . . . Erich Zann I wrote only recently.  It has horror--the horror of the grotesque and visionary--but it does not 'grip' like Randolph Carter.  It is not, as a whole, a dream, though I have dreamt of steep streets like the Rue d'Auseil."

There are points of interest in this.  When Lovecraft says that the story is not, in whole, a dream, he must be referencing it against "The Statement of Randolph Carter," a story that is entirely based on a dream.  But what doies HPL mean when he says of "The Music of Erich Zann" that it contains the horror of the grotesque and "visionary"?  Who has the vision?  Is it the narrator, who peeps out the window of Zann's room and envisions a realm of cosmic nightmare?  What is the hallucination in this story--the entire tale and its setting, or that moment of looking out a window and seeing "...only the blackness of space illimitable; unimagined space alive with motion and music, and having no semblance to anything on earth"?

Of all of Lovecraft's works, At the Mountains of Madness has always seemed to me one of the stories set absolutely in the land of the real.  Mention f myth is brought into the tale, but everything witnessed is absolutely real.  So I was rather staggered, this morning, while re-reading volume one of Essential Solitude, to find this is a letter of 1931:

"Now as to the end of the thing--of course I am not satisfied myself, but I am very oddly unable to decide whether more or less definiteness is needed.  Remember Arthur Gordon Pym.  In my tale the shoggoth provides a concrete & tangible climax--& what I wished to add was merely a vague hint of further spiritual horrors--as Poe hinted with his white bird screaming 'Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!"  I wanted to leave the actuality of the glimpse very unsettled, so that it might easily pass off as an hallucination.  Possibly I ought to have left it vaguer still--& then again I had an idea that the thing ought to be developed at full length--perhaps as a sequel to the present thing, or perhaps as an expansion of that thing to full book length . . ."

The more I study Lovecraft's work and life as an artist, the more I am impress'd by his serious approach to Literary Art, to the workings of his mind, and to the execution of his excellent fiction.  He is indeed a classic of American Literature, deservedly so.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Charles Dexter Ward

oy, old age........
I am at page 410 of Lovecraft and a World in Transition, and as I devour'd the marvelous essay on The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, I ask'd myself, "Why have I never seen this essay before??!!"  Reading the essay made me ache to begin a new reading of the novel, and so I got out me hardcover of the annotated edition from University of Tampa Press -- and, of course, this essay that I had "never read before" is the Afterword of that book, & I have read it more than once.

I remember watching the 1992 film version, The Resurrected, and thinking that Chris Sarandon as Curwen was a stunning portrayal--and it occur'd to me that part of the power of his performance came from the fact that it was true to the character as Lovecraft wrote it.  This helps to confirm my belief that Lovecraft was indeed capable of creating memorable characters, people that stay within one's imagination and are effective as story props.  Lovecraft's characters are, in fact, perfect for the part they play in the story; any elaboration of them in an attempt to bring them more to life wou'd have been an artistic error.  We need not know more about Erich Zann to be moved by the mystery of his existence, that existence wherein he seems to exist half in the real world and half in dream.  Indeed, "The Music of Erich Zann" is one of those fabulous tales that leave one questioning--was it real, or a dream?  Does this fantastic street and the house of nightmare where the story takes place historical fact, or is the entire story a confused retelling of what was naught but dream?  And what a seductive dream--for although the narrator flees the realm in terror, he is soon consum'd with trying to relocate, to return to nightmare.

Some clueless twat at alt.horror.cthulhu, who obviously has no understanding of Lovecraft, wrote "Lovecraft wrote simple prose, albeit in a depressed, possibly mentally infirm, mien--he never contemplated the deviant evolution which followed.  Fans and mimics changing the tenor of his stories which were written for money with which to pay rent and buy food."  Everything in that statement is stupidly false, and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is but one example of why.   The story, Lovecraft's lengthiest work, was not written for money, was never polished and submitted to a publisher, and is written in a gorgeous style that is anything but "simple."  I imagine Lovecraft wrote for the reason I write--we are compelled to do so.  We are, first and foremost, writers, and to write is our existence.  There is next to no money in it.  This short novel is one of the many pieces that HPL compos'd after returning to Providence from two years in New York, and he thought so little of it that he couldn't be bothered to type and submit it to publishers, even though they asked him for something longer than short stories.  We are lucky that Grandpa didn't ultimately destroy the manuscript, as he destroy'd so may other experiments that he consider'd failures.  

The novel pulls me into it, each time I return to it.  I was so temp[ted to read it in the ARC I received of The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft, where it is amply illustrated and annotated by editor Les Klinger; but I decided I wanted to wait and read the novel in the actual hardcover edition of Klinger's book, so I am re-reading the hardcover from U of Tampa Press.  I am always struck by the hints concerning Yog-Sothoth and black magick.  That Ward is a novel of black magick cannot be deny'd, containing a similar kind of alchemy to that found in "The Dunwich Horror."  This is ageless magick, spawn'd Outside mortal time & space, incomprehensible and fatal to humankind.  Whatever Yog-Sothoth is, he/it is absolutely not a mere alien from outer space (indeed, none of Lovecraft's daemons or monsters can be so simply defined, they are far too  original and contain aspects of Outsideness that are more than "cosmic").  

Ah me--how I wish sometimes that I was an actual scholar, so that I cou'd explain with precision why The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is a great work of art.  I can express only my passion for it, as a fan.  Happily, there are others who understand why Lovecraft is excellent Literature.

Friday, September 5, 2014

some distant baying sound

To ye right, I am in ye Dutch churchyard on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn that inspir'd H. P. Lovecraft to write "The Hound."

"From one of the crumbling gravestones--dated 1747--I chipped a small piece to carry away.   It lies before me as I write--& ought to suggest some sort of horror-story.  I must some night place it beneath my pillow as I sleep . . . who can say what thing might not come out of the centuried earth to exact vengeance for his desecrated tomb?"  (Lovecraft to Lillian D. Clark, 29 September 1922)

I love "The Hound," and think it a very effective tale--& it is so frustrating to be so lacking as any kind of literary critic that I fail either to understand that the story was not meant seriously, or to point out why indeed it was a serious early effort by E'ch-Pi-El.

"'The Hound' has been roundly abused for being overwritten; but it has somehow managed to escape most critics' attention that the story is an obvious self-parody.  This becomes increasingly evident from many literary allusions and also from such grotesque utterances as 'Bizarre manifestations were now too frequent to count.'  And yet, the story is undeniably successful as an experiment in sheer flamboyance and excess, so long as one keeps in mind that Lovecraft was aiming for such an effect and was doing so at least partially with tongue in cheek."  (S. T. Joshi, Notes on "The Hound" in THE CALL OF CTHULHU AND OTHER WEIRD STORIES, Penguin 1999, pg. 378)

Is it so obviously a self-parody?  I have not found anything in Lovecraft's correspondence that suggests he considered it such, and his latter dismissal of the story as an artistic failure seems to indicate that it was meant as a piece of serious fiction, else why would Lovecraft consider it a failure?  In a letter to Derleth from February 16, 1933, Lovecraft refers to "The Hound" (and "The White Ship") as "unutterable crap."  In other letters to Derleth he refers to it as "my miserable old tale." In a letter to Derleth of September 26, 1929, Lovecraft writes:  "There is a quality of cheap melodrama--extravagance, floridity, unrestraint--in my style which needs ironing out, although it has decreased of itself since my 'Hypnos" & 'Hound' period."  This statement surely suggests that the writing of "The Hound" was as sincere an effort as "Hypnos," a story that no one thinks is self-parody.  If the tales prose was meant to be unrestrained and flamboyant, Lovecraft would not then criticise the story for it being so.

To Clark Ashton Smith, October 17, 1930:
"Enclosed is The Hound, as requested, although I consider this one of the poorest jumbles I have ever produced.  It was written in 1922, before I had begun to prune down the verbal extravagances of my earlier prose.  There is too much sonorous rhetoric & stock imagery, & not enough substance, in this piece of junk."

So, no -- it is not obvious that the story is self-parody--just the opposite.

For me, the narrative style works perfectly; for the tale is told by one who has suffered a profound shock of horror, by one who is close to suicide.  Thus the fevered prose, reflecting the narrator's mental state, is exactly right.  I find much poetry in the prose, such as in the opening paragraph:

"In my tortured ears there sounds unceasingly a nightmare whirring and flapping, and a faint, distant baying as of some gigantic hound.  It is not a dream--it is not, I fear, even madness--for too much has already happened to give me these merciful doubts.  St. John is a mangled corpse; I alone know why, and such is my knowledge that I am about to blow out my brains for fear I shall be mangled in the same way.  Down unlit and illimitable corridors of eldritch phantasy sweeps the black, shapeless Nemesis that drives me to self-annihilation."

Is that paragraph overwritten?  I find it exactly right, a perfect opening to a tale of dark Gothic horror.  The poetry of "sounds unceasingly" and "unlit and illimitable" is beautifully effective.  The paragraph tells us everything we need to know about the emotional state of the person who will tell his tale.  (I say "his," as most assume that the narrator is male; but in my sequel to the story, I have transformed Lovecraft's narrator into a woman).

Perhaps I am wrong, blinded by my adoration of the story, and thus cannot see what is "obvious" to others--that the story is a young Lovecraft mocking his style.  Why so serious an artist would do so at such an early period of his writing career (the story was not written for publication, as Weird Tales was not yet in existence when Lovecraft wrote the story; but it was one of the first tales that he submitted to that periodical), I fail to comprehend.  Perhaps some of y'all can educate me?

Boy George Feel The Vibration (Kinky Roland Remix)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tits and White Apes

One of ye perpetual joys of writing Lovecraftian weird fiction is returning to Lovecraft's stories and finding their buried treasures of incident and suggestive moments.  These are the incidental gems that one can miss in a reading of the Works, but for we who hunt for them, they are ingots of inspiration.  Such a moment can be found in one of my favourite tales, "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family."   Lovecraft's stories often containing wee portions that are so intriguing and suggestive that an imaginative writer could take those portions and weave an entire novel from them; and the early portion of "Arthur Jermyn" that relates some of the family history is such a portion, painting a family portrait that is fascinating and frightful.  The bit that has inspir'd me is thus:

"Sir Alfred Jermyn was a baronet before his fourth birthday, but his tastes never matched his title.  At twenty he had joined a band of music-hall performers, and at thirty-six had deserted his wife and child to travel with an itinerant American circus."

His wife and child.  Now that intrigues me, and I have oft shut my eyes so as to imagine the fate of that child of whom we know nothing.  Did the curse of Jermyn hereditary madness and bestiality betray itself in this child's physiognomy and behavior?  Did the child go on to breed others of their kind?    This idea began to itch inside my brain and whisper, "There's a story here."  I knew that my Jermyn offspring wou'd be female, and that she would be extremely sensual, an animal of lust.  Her face would be awful, but she would have an alluring figure and gorgeous tits.  Men would be captivated, drawn to the thing that they found repulsive.  The tweaking of Lovecraft's theme is not

but rather, "Knowing what she is, she celebrates her heritage of madness, sin and murder.  She wears her grotesque nature as a badge of unholy honour, and laughs at the horror her face inspires."

So that was my initial inspiration, for this story that I will soon begin writing and whut will be one of the new original works in my forthcoming book from Hippocampus Press.  But I needed a setting, and as I reflected on this I thought of the beginning of Lovecraft's "The Picture in the House," where a bloke is journeying by bicycle through Miskatonic Valley and has to stop at what looks like an abandoned house when caught in a violent storm.  This has me thinking of setting my story in Miskatonic Valley, with my monkey girl cycling into a ramshackle barn so as to escape a sudden tempest.  There will be aspect of the barn and its contents that are disquieting.  She finds a loft on which there is a makeshift cot, and removes most of her wet clothing and then reclines to nap, with the sound of storm serving as lullaby.  She wakens to find streaks of sunlight streaming through distant portions of roof or wall that are damaged, relishing the warmth of sunlight on his naked breasts.  And there is a bloke not too far from her, who had obviously been watching her sleeping.  And he will have some queer picture in his house to which my woman relates with impious glee.  Or some such thing.  I see the story told in first person by my woman.

This is the way that Lovecraft, and my obsession with his work, and my never-ending study of his superb weird fiction, continues to inspire me as an artist.  I love it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sudden New Book

What do you do when you feel gay??  I listen to Cher while apply Dior lipstick.  I don't know about y'all, but for me dance music is a form of celebration, and dancing is liberating.  I'm trying to do more in-house dancing as a form of exercise.

I was suddenly overwhelm'd, yesterday morning, with a sense of Lovecraftian euphoria, mainly because of
ye arrival of this fabulous new book collecting all of S. T.'s essays on H. P. Lovecraft.  And when I feel this euphoria, it has to manifest itself creatively, and so I was overwhelm'd with an urge to have my new version of Some Unknown Gulf of Night publish'd sooner than originally anticipated.  So yesterday morning I pitch'd ye idea to a publisher, and we are now proceeding to plan the book.  To differentiate the book from the earlier edition of Gulf, I will write 20,000 or 30,000 words of new material in the form of short stories that will be the completely new material in the book, stories set primarily in Sesqua Valley and Providence, methinks, with probably a new Enoch Coffin tale set in Boston.  I am feeling a sudden resurgence of creative energy now that summer is over and the days are cooler, so I intent to be writing like a fiend for ye remainder of this year.  I have much work to do.

The new version of Some Unknown Gulf of Night is a complete revision of ye entire text, with more than a third of the original material replaced with new original text, all of which has added about 7,000 words to ye whole, bringing it up to 40,000.  I consider my finest, most concentrated work, a true homage to the genius of H. P. Lovecraft.

Okay, back to my exercise programme.  Sing it, Cher!