I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that as I’ve gotten older I’ve developed somewhat of a distance to H.P. Lovecraft’s writing, even though they are possibly the most influential prose on my person from my younger days. It’s not the concepts, it’s the actual writing. Often it is just… bad.
Recently I chronicled here how as a teenager into music, after heavy metal references to his work I tracked down a copy of The Lurker At The Threshold which I consumed with voracious wonder, only to find out later that it was not actually a Lovecraft novel but one penned by his consummate friend and accomplice August Derleth. That didn’t matter though, because Lurker set my antennae for the dark and dreadful style of the master and it wasn’t too long before I was able to track down some musty old paperbacks and a collection or two and read most of the man’s writings.
At that time most of this experience occurred in a bit of a vacuum for me. It was pre-internet and Lovecraft’s stuff, although popular with the horror and sci-fi intelligentsia, was largely unrecognized by the public. Not a lot of my friends were into him and thus, the revelatory experience associated with his meta-concepts occurred to me and me alone within my consensual sphere. Sure, Lovecraft’s influence was there in popular culture, i.e. John Carpenter’s In The Mouth Of Madness, Stuart Gordon’s Reanimator or Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea’s The Illuminatus Trilogy!, yet as present as Lovecraft was in the background the cultural zeitgeist did not quite swung around to him until some time later.
From this uprising over the last decade or so I’ve found some veritable gems, such as Donald Tyson’s Alhazred novel, which essentially takes Lovecraft’s own ‘biography’ of Al Azif author (i.e. the dread Necronomicon) Abdul Alhazred and turns it into ~ 700 pages of fabulous autobiography. Tyson also did a Necronomicon that attempted to finally illuminate what the book would have contained. Add to this Alan Moore continuous exposition and incorporation of Lovecraftian themes into his work and you start to see how the newer writers could almost be seen to ‘outshine’ the master. Or as that cunt sting might say, ‘the servant becomes the master’.
In some ways it is the most natural thing that as writing has become more sophisticated an enterprise over time older works might start to feel… cumbersome and more than a little niche. However, it is a dangerously ignorant thing to turn our back on the past, and regardless of current standards/flavors disregard our literary heritage.
So I’m going back to Lovecraft. Back to the dark and incestuous grottoes of rural and mountainous Appalachia, back to Arkham and The Miskatonic; back to Innsmouth and Kaddath, Irem and Sarnath.
Beginning today I’m going to traverse my old withered Dell Rey paperbacks
and the ill-bound but nonetheless exhaustive tome The Necronomicon
and I am going to read every Lovecraft story from the beginning and what’s more take notes. This is no slight task and I prepare for it knowing full well it may take quite a bit of time and patience. Still, After already reading several stories today I find that, as I’ve always known, Lovecraft’s prose is definitely best reserved for a certain mood, and ladies and gentlemen I do appear to be in that mood, because currently my palette appears perfectly tuned in to the man’s work and I’ve fallen in love again with the master of horror himself. Insights, expositions and allusions may follow in the coming weeks, but until then let the N’rlagh r’yruleh begin and all hail great Cthulhu!!!