A year ago I discovered an oddly entertaining fact. I was born on the day Howard Philip Lovecraft died. Why I found this oddly entertaining is a long story, but in essence, I’ve joked for a long time that I was born the day Julius Caser was assassinated, but my birth and his murder were unrelated. Which of course, is evident due to there being almost two thousand years between these events, but why let the obvious flaw in the logic get in the way of a good anecdote?
This day, or to be more correct date, is the Ides of March, or the 15th. Which is also not entirely correct as the term Ides refers to the first full moon of a given month and actually falls between the 13th and 15th it just so happens when Julius got knifed in the back by half the senators of Rome it fell on the 15th that year.
If you want another odd fact about the 15th of March, if you ex-press all time, from the birth of the universe to a week last Tuesday, as a single year, (the big bang happening at 00:00 on January the first and it now being midnight on the 31st of December) then the sun and by extension the whole solar system was born on, you guessed it, the Ides of March. Though of course there was no moon at the time, full or otherwise.
So Caser dies, the sun is born, I’m born, and Lovecraft dies, all on the 15th of march, and it’s always a full moon…
Werewolves, I’m just saying…
None of this is the reason I found the date of Lovecraft’s death oddly entertaining. The reason I found it entertaining was simply be-cause I had spent almost three years by this point writing a blog about Lovecraft and only just bothered to look up when he died, and lo and behold, it was on the ides…
As to why I had spent three years writing a blog about Lovecraft, that’s another story entirely. The origin of my Lovecraft blog, which was based on the premise that I would read each story in the order he wrote them then write about that story is simple enough. I had, like many writers before me, for a long time been enamoured of the strange worlds of Lovecraft’s mythos and all the things his writing has led to, but I’d actually read very little Lovecraft. Then my girl-friend bought me a folio edition of the complete works for Christ-mas. Now all things considered had she bought it for me as a birth-day present and presented it to me on the Ides it would have made for a better story, but we work with what we have, and this is non-fiction.
But having been presented with a folio edition of the complete works of Old Tentacle Hugger what possible excuse did I have not to read them?
Well, plenty of reasons, not least of which is that for all his imaginative genius for peculiar ideas, strange worlds and bizarre creations, Lovecraft’s writing is, well, Lovecraft’s writing. Dry to the point of arid at times, Lovecraft could, as one wag put it to me once, write the humanity out of anything. But the problems with his style are minor compared to other issues with Lovecraft’s stories He was a misogynistic, racist, right-wing, homophobe who had no compunction against expressing his less than desirable political leanings in his writing, be it fiction or a considerable amount of non-fiction essays on a multitude of subjects.
It’s an unfortunate truism that for many modern readers the most horrifying aspect of Lovecraft’s stories are not descriptions of cos-mic isolation, the elder gods, the deep ones, or his general nihilism. What horrifies modern readers is instead the political leanings of the writer and so many choose to avoid his work entirely. This is some-thing of a shame because there is much to love about it. If that is you can pick a path between the dross, the over written, the dull and the distasteful, to the gems buried among them.
What I needed, I determined, was for someone who had read the complete works and filtered them through the eye of a modern reader. Someone who could point out the stories to avoid, the ones that need to be read, the little-known gems and the overblown twaddle. Someone who could perhaps supply the odd, interesting fact that I could borrow to sound knowledgeable, and who knew which stories have most influenced various bits of modern culture, artist, writers and musicians. Someone who had perhaps supplied a simple ranking system as a guide, say in quantities of tentacles, so I could see at a glance which stories were worth reading and which I should avoid like a blood splattered copy of the Necronomicon.
Sadly, no such guide appeared to exist. There were plenty of academic texts on Lovecraft, but they all seemed to be trying there hardest to be ‘worthy’ or written by self-styled Lovecraftian scholars. Which is to say they all seemed either assured of their own cleverness or written by the same kind of devoted fanboy that would tell you despite all evidence and that song about the lawnmower, that every Genesis album was a masterpiece…
So, I was stuck with three things, a blog in need of content, a folio edition of the complete works of H. P. Lovecraft and no guidebook to the dark twisted woodland path that is his works. Frankly at that point I had no choice, if I couldn’t find a readable guidebook, I’d just have to write one…
So I did…
However, as you may have noticed I’ve just released the latest Hannibal Smyth novel, so I’ve now found myself up against a hard deadline I expected to breeze for the release of the Lexicomicon. In fact I have less than a week to get it all together to be sure to meet my publishing date. (*which you are in full procession of the facts to take a wild guess at.)
I should make it. I’m reasonably sure I will make it. I just might be driven insane in the process and start jabbering at the moon… But that’s what you get for, a failure to beware!
*Lexicomicon: A Bluffers Guide to the Writings of H. P. Lovecraft will be released on the 15th of March…
This is what the world needs. Will there be a skin bound special edition that is full of alien wasps, though?
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Sadly this is not one of the printing options offer by POD, which is clearly an oversight on the publishers half.
The only skin of offer is processed tree skin, and while I did ask about the possibilities of psychotropic ink but for legal reasons you are only allowed to alter the minds of your readers through the power of your words alone.
This seems somewhat short sighted in my opinion, lick-able covers impregnated with LCD could only enhance the experience I am sure
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