He: The Complete Lovecraftian #43

New York, New York; the big apple, the land of dreams, where the canyon walls are made of concrete and glass, full of life and people of all creed and custom, the melting pot of the western world. Who could not love it…

Well, Howard Phillips Lovecraft for one… Old tentacle hugger hated the place and after a couple of years there he could not wait to run back to the small-town of Providence, Rhode Island where he was born raised and in the fullness of time died. His brief life in New York was as unhappy as his brief marriage, which was the reason he moved to New York in the first place. His matrimonial problems may have had much to do with how he felt about big city life, but never a man for self-analysis old H.P. blamed the city for his woes more than he blamed himself, and just in case anyone was unsure of his opinion on the matter the first half of ‘He’ goes to great lengths to complain about New York as much as is humanly possible. If that’s your idea of a good read, then good luck to you, but personally I dislike the thinly veiled wallowing in self-pity and NY hate fest that is the first half of this story. Suffice to say, H.P. never bought one of these T-shirts…

Image result for i love ny

If, and I do mean if, you can drag your self through that first half of ‘He’ then it is, however, worth the pain. The second half of the story is far more interesting and revolves around a meeting between the narrator and a strange individual on a park bench in Greenwich Village. The strange individual, the ‘He’ of this tale, is dressed as if he has stepped out of the 18th century, and he offers to take the narrator on a tour of  the parts of the city few even know of, the back alleys and long forgotten courtyards boxed in on all sides, which you can only get to via the buildings containing it. And because its exactly what you do when you hate the city and a strange man dressed out of time comes up to you offering to take you down the back alleys, off the narrator goes, following his odd guide through the darkness…

Yes… Alright… that does seem a stretch, but since when were Lovecraft’s narrators entirely the sanest of people…

Eventually, ‘He’ takes the narrator to his house, a strange building that itself seems older than it should be, and there hs starts to tell the narrator his tale. He is indeed a man out fo time, and he talks of a bargain he struck with the natives of the land, back when the land was still open hillsides and New York was still called New Amsterdam… A bargain struck for secrets and rituals of power. A bargain he paid for in blood when having got all he wished he dispensed of his debt to the natives in the finest traditions of colonialism, and with a little-poisoned rum…

greenwich-1900-new-small1

‘He’ shows the narrator visions of the past and the future, visions of a future for the city that so terrify the narrator his screams are enough to wake the dead… Which, this being a Lovecraft tale of betrayal and dark power’s gained from ancient tribal wisdom, the dead in this case have a bone or two to pick once awakened…

The second half of ‘He’ is wonderfully written, and wonderfully envisioned. It is one of the better short tales that Lovecraft ever wrote. It has pace, drama and a growing sense of unease about it that build up momentum as it moves to its climax. It has craft, it has guile and it has an edge to it that Lovecraft occasionally lacks in some other tales of this era. Frankly, I love the second half of this tale. The first half is however awful…

So skip the first half is my advice, and that first half is why this just gets three tentacles, each of them earned in the second half, it would have been six if I had not had to sit through his melancholy mopping around New York like a bad Emo want to be with a personality bypass…

3out 6

Further Lovecraftian witterings as ever can be found here

BTW I have never been to New York, and do not own an I Love N Y Tshirt. So what do I know, Lovecraft may be right about the Big Apple, but I don’t really care for his opinion on the matter, and sure as hell don’t want to read it ever again…

This entry was posted in cthulhu, Goth, horror, Lovecraft, mythos, Nyarlathotep, reads, rites and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to He: The Complete Lovecraftian #43

  1. Pingback: Cool Air: The Complete Lovecraftian #46 | The Passing Place

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