Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Book review - H.P Lovecraft: Tales

Okay, so this collection was a bit of a slog and I didn’t actually finish it: I read seventeen of the twenty-two short stories, skipping four stories entirely and giving up on one before reaching the end. In hindsight, these may have been more enjoyable a few at a time and are not necessarily best read en masse: there is much repetition throughout these Tales, especially in the later stories, as Lovecraft develops his Cthulhu Mythos. I preferred his non-mythology stories: "Cold Air" and "Herbert West: Reanimator," both about reanimating the dead; "The Thing on the Doorstep," about a body-snatching succubus; and "Pickman’s Model," set in a very scary version of Boston’s North End.

A precursor to the modern horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft preferred the “tell” method of storytelling rather than “show,” which may have been a sign of those more innocent times (all these “weird stories” having been written between 1919 and 1935). Lovecraft’s influence on Stephen King is clear, however, and off the top of my head I can think of several short stories of King’s that actually incorporate the mythology invented by Lovecraft: "Jerusalem’s Lot" from Night Shift; and "Crouch End" from Nightmares and Dreamscapes. [Note: this post was originally written longhand on a piece of paper last week while I was far away from any Internet; this Wikipedia article, found just today, more than supports my King-loves-Lovecraft theory - see the Influences section.]

Random thoughts: I did find that I was able to guess the twist in many of these stories (he’s already dead! it was the doctor! the monster is real!) which is something I don’t usually do, preferring to go the “willing suspension of disbelief” route. Judging from the author’s photo on the book jacket, Lovecraft seems to have based many of his characters on himself: blond, blue-eyed, pale, slender, scholarly, reclusive (possibly more than a little odd). And, on a final note, a full seventeen of the twenty-two Tales in this collection were told in the first person. Now, that’s weird.

Second book finished/first book started on vacation, finished on 08/20/07.

No comments:

Post a Comment