Regular readers will be aware I review indie books when I read them. Or at least do if I love the books. If I don’t I keep quiet about it, because if I don’t like something it doesn’t mean others won’t and frankly life is too short for negative bullshit.
The world is a dark scary place full of evil corrupt things that seek to make peoples lives a misery, I’ll be damned before I add to that. If I review someones hard work, blood, sweet , tears and art, its because I love it and think more people need to know about it. If I don’t like something, I keep that to myself.
Of course, my innate paranoia means that whenever someone doesn’t post a review or tell me they love one of my own books I automatically assume everyone hated it… But such is the cross one bares when one puts slithers of your soul out into the world in the hope people will find some joy, or meaning, or whatever, in them. You just have to hope they do and try to ignore any negative bullshit that arises from doing so (because there are always people who will be negative about it).
Anyway, once in a while someone posts a review that helps make it all worth while. Sometimes I even feel the need to share such a review with a wider audience, despite been the worlds lest self focused self publisher who would rather talk about other great indie authors than myself. This is one such time, one of my piers the incomparable Mat McCall who’s books are an absolute joy btw and reviews for which can be found here, here and here, wrote this about my somewhat eccentric non-fiction work , the Lexinomicon.
The Lexicromicon by Mark Hayes
A review by Matt McCall
Okay, so I’m a Lovecraft… liker… I can’t say I’m a fan, but I have found myself drawn to his milieu over and over again.
I like most of my generation first encountered Lovecraft’s stories through the RPG “Call of Cthulhu,” and ever since, like so many authors, have found myself drawn into the dark insanity of the worlds he created. The reason I can’t say I’m a fan is that I have only read a few of his stories, in their original form. Oh yes, I’ve read the graphic novels, watched the films, read a biography, and watched a couple too, etc but not sat down and read everything he wrote in his short and generally unfulfilled and unhappy life.
Why? Because some of what I have read has been excellent and some of it is utter stodge, the story is lost in layers of extravagant verbosity and obscure rambling sentences.
I have always wanted a guide to the best of Lovecraft, something, as an author myself, that will point me to the ‘meaty bits.’ The really good ideas, the core of the Mythos, without having to wade through the chaff. I suppose there exists out there several worthy academic treatises that may have served as guides, but life is too short to wade through those things and they are often as dry as rice cakes with a topping of shredded cardboard.
And so, when Mark told me of his project and upcoming book, a The Lexicromicon A Bluffers Guide to the Writings of H.P. Lovecraft, I was truly interested. Mark, I hope he doesn’t mind me saying, is a fan. Not a blind adherent, he is more than able to cite the issues with old Howard Phillips’ work; his racism, insular attitudes, sexism, and repressed homosexuality, without it clouding his judgement of the quality of Lovecraft’s work. And how that quality varied throughout HP’s short writing life. There are gems of utter genius to be discovered deep in the piles of rat poo, and it is those gems that have kept HPL’s light alive throughout this century.
And so, Mark challenged himself to read all HPL’s published works and comment on each, an exploration over decades, that saw a blog evolve into a book. I fear Mark may have lost a few sanity points on the journey, but, like us all, he probably wasn’t playing with a full set, to begin with.
The result; well, it’s a triumph, as far as I am concerned. I loved it. Written in Mark’s inimitable accessible sardonic style it is a joy to read. This is a great guide to what should be read and what should be avoided at all costs. It’s full of titbits, asides, and meanderings, and is, in many places, laugh-out-loud funny. However, it is touched with sadness at what, or more rightly who, HP could have been having he been born at a later age outside of his musty cloistered environment in a more challenging age. In his short career, H P Lovecraft was a major innovator in Science Fiction and Horror, but born thirty or forty years later, in a more permissive and enlightened age, with that imagination, he could have been one of the great titans of both genres.
I would heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in Lovecraft’s works or just in the man himself.
I’d love Mark to write more guides like this to other authors, maybe King or the likes.
Wasn’t that lovely, I mean apart from the suggestion at the end that I read the complete works of Stephen King… I mean seriously that never going to happen… I love you Mr McCall but seriously King has as many 500 page novels as Lovecraft wrote short stories…
Edgar Alan Poe’s complete body of work on the other hand….
But anyway, you can buy the Lexinomicon on Amazon and elsewhere, if your interested. Its available on kindle, though the print version has all the fabulous artwork and graphics that the kindle doesn’t really allow for, so I recommend the print copy, for you, or the geek in your life.
Mat thinks it’s worthy a read, I’d be a fool to argue clearly, he has a pirate hat…