I had the pleasure of reading Edward Parnell’s Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country, which was published last year in hardcover and is now out in paperback. It is a splendidly evocative account of the author’s travels around Great Britain to look up sites that inspired some classic works of weird fiction and film. I’ve just written a review of it, and it can be found here: http://stjoshi.org/review_parnell.html.
I am in receipt of two fine books published by Handheld Press—a firm in England, although their books are available on the US Amazon site and possibly in bookstores over here. One of them is Women’s Weird 2: More Strange Stories by Women, 1891–1937, edited by Melissa Edmundson (https://www.amazon.com/Womens-Weird-1891-1937-Handheld-Classics/dp/1912766442/). This anthology has fine stories by Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Marjorie Bowen, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, and several lesser-known writers, such as Edith Stewart Drewry, Lettice Galbraith, and Bithia Mary Crocker. The other book is James Machin’s British Weird: Selected Short Fiction, 1893–1937 (https://www.amazon.com/British-Weird-James-Machin/dp/1912766213/ ). This anthology contains—aside from well-known stories by E. Nesbit (“Man-Size in Marble”), Algernon Blackwood (“The Willows”), John Metcalfe (“The Bad Lands”), and others, several obscurer items, including “Randalls Round” by Eleanor Scott and “Lost Keep” by L. A. Lewis. It also includes both a story (“Mappa Mundi”) and an essay on weird fiction (dating to 1933) by Mary Butts. Both volumes are well worth acquiring!
Carl E. Reed, whom readers may know from his scintillating contributions to Spectral Realms, has now released a digital spoken-word album, Inflections in Horror (https://carlereed.bandcamp.com/album/inflections-in-horror-the-weird-worlds-of-carl-e-reed), containing an interesting mix of poetry, essays, and other matter. Go give it a listen!
I have just finished assembling a volume of Arthur Machen’s literary essays, entitled Hieroglyphics and Other Essays. It includes not only the 1902 treatise, Hieroglyphics: A Note upon Ecstasy in Literature, but an extensive array of shorter essays on philosophy, on the principles of literary criticism, and on individual authors whom Machen regarded highly. A section on “Fantasy, Horror, and the Occult” reprints Machen’s numerous essays and reviews on these subjects. Expect this volume to appear from Hippocampus Press next spring.
As for the results of a certain recent election—all I can do is echo what Ambrose Bierce said in 1912 when he learned that Theodore Roosevelt (whom Bierce despised, and who was running a third-party candidacy on the Bull Moose ticket) had lost the election to Woodrow Wilson: “The defeat of Teddy fills the soul of me with a great white peace.” And that is all I will say!
I was thrilled to receive copies of Penumbra: A Journal of Weird Fiction and Criticism, one of several new Hippocampus Press publications. I had worked hard on this first issue for more than a year, soliciting contributions—fiction, essays, and poetry—from many leading authors. On top of which, there is a superb cover illustration by Dan Sauer. Here is the publisher’s web page for the annual: https://www.hippocampuspress.com/journals/penumbra/penumbra-no.-1. In all there are ten stories (one of them a “classic reprint”), twelve articles, and six poems. Not to be missed! I have a limited number of copies that I would be happy to part with for $15, on the usual terms.
Two other books from Hippocampus Press have come in:
Mark Samuels, The Age of Decayed Futurity: The Best of Mark Samuels
Charles Hoffman and Marc Cerasini, Robert E. Howard: A Closer Look
Samuels’s book (which, I understand, has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly) is a splendid volume that features many of his best stories as well as an introduction by Michael Dirda (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/other-authors/fiction/the-age-of-decayed-futurity-the-best-of-mark-samuels). The other book is an extensive revision and expansion of the authors’ book on Howard for the Starmont Readers Guides series (1987), and now incorporates much new information culled from recent scholarship on Howard (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/robert-e.-howard/robert-e.-howard-a-closer-look). I can offer these books for $15 each also.
Another book has wended its way here: Joshua Rex’s story collection What’s Coming for You (https://www.amazon.com/Whats-Coming-You-Joshua-Rex/dp/1735454109). This is the author’s first collection, and I was so impressed with it that I was happy to do some light copyediting for it. It offers ten tales of wide-ranging tone and subject-matter, but they are all meticulously written and contain powerful weird effects. I have just a few spare copies that I will let go for $10 each.
The new issue of Fungi (formerly Fungi Quarterly), edited by Pierre Comtois, has arrived here (http://www.pierrevcomtois.com/fungi-magazine.html). This is issue 23 (2020), and among many other choice items it contains a little section commemorating Wilum Pugmire and Sam Gafford. I wrote a brief memoir, “My Friend, Wilum Pugmire,” and Jason Eckhardt wrote a “Sam Gafford Appreciation.” There is also a story by Wilum (“Piece of Stone”) and one by Sam (“Spyder, Spyder”). I have no spare copies to offer, but I hope interested readers will make an effort to secure this fine issue.
I appear to be becoming a celebrity in Brazil. About two weeks ago I participated in a podcast with Marco Collares among others, discussing Lovecraft and other authors of weird fiction. On November 14, I will participate in a podcast with Professor Emilio Soares Ribeiro on a somewhat more scholarly discussion of weird and Gothic fiction. Ribeiro has prepared a fine poster for the event:
Also, he has assembled a tempting little video advertisement for it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNBXtUuRPjU&t=5s.
The event will be available on the O GÓTICO E SEUS MONSTROS YouTube channel, at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZWdN0b58SdHuGz5fF_YOGQ.
Then, on November 18, I will participate in yet another podcast in Brazil. More information on this later.
On November 1, I will be on a podcast about Lord Dunsany with Wendolín Perla, editor of Perla Ediciones in Mexico City. This podcast will be taped and uploaded later. Perla Ediciones has recently prepared some very impressive translations of Anglophone weird fiction: Arthur Machen’s La casa de las almas (a translation of The House of Souls, with a prologue by Guillermo del Toro and an epilogue by me), and Lord Dunsany’s La hija del rey del País de los Elfos (a translation of The King of Elfland’s Daughter), with a prologue by Neil Gaiman and an epilogue by me. Here is the publisher’s website: https://perlaediciones.com/.
I cannot end without acknowledging a touching article on Lovecraft by Kieran Setiya. That name may not evoke any memories in most readers, but he wrote a few trenchant articles on Lovecraft that I published in Lovecraft Studies in the 1990s. This British scholar has now gone on to become a professor of philosophy at MIT, and he recently wrote a charming article, “Lovecraft and Me,” in a recent issue of the prestigious Yale Review (https://yalereview.yale.edu/lovecraft-and-me). I am mentioned here and there in it, but that is the least of its virtues. It is a poignant acknowledgment of the effect that Lovecraft’s work had on this brilliant scholar.
Books continue to roll off the press from Hippocampus, but there remain delays in the distribution of these books from our printer. But I can announce—momentously—that our two-volume edition of Lovecraft’s Letters to Family and Family Friends (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/h.-p.-lovecraft/collected-letters/h.-p.-lovecraft-letters-to-family-and-family-friends) is now out, and I have received some spare copies. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this set, it contains the totality of Lovecraft’s surviving letters to his mother (Sarah Susan Lovecraft), his two aunts (Lillian D. Clark and Annie E. P. Gamwell), and certain family friends (mostly friends of Annie) such as Marian F. Bonner, Mayte E. Sutton, and a few others. There are also some delightful letters by Lovecraft’s grandfather, Whipple Van Buren Phillips, to the boy Lovecraft (1893–95).
All told, this set—consisting of 1050 pages of letters, along with more than 50 pages of commentary and bibliography (aside from the annotation of individual letters)—constitutes the largest single publication of Lovecraft’s letters to date. And they are some of his most distinctive, going into incredible details about the particulars of his daily life, especially during his difficult New York years (1924–26). Want to know what kind of toothbrush Lovecraft used? You can find it here! I am prepared to sell the set for the discounted price of $50. (I will not be offering the volumes individually, nor will Hippocampus. You may be able to buy the volumes individually on Amazon.)
I also received copies of the new Lovecraft Annual, an unusually large issue containing all manner of good material. I will let my few spare copies go for $10 each. I don’t have very many! And I also received copies of the new Spectral Realms, which I will let go for the bargain price of $5 if anyone buys either the Letters to Family or Lovecraft Annual.
I have now received copies of Volume 1 of the Czech translation of The Annotated Revisions and Collaborations, this volume entitled Hemzivý Chaos a jiné príbehy (see previous blog for the link to the publisher’s website). And I can offer this volume for $10 to anyone who is interested.
Roderick Bradford, editor-in-chief of the Truth Seeker, was encouraged by the fact that a few of my readers purchased copies of (or subscriptions) to the magazine, which just published by article, “H. P. Lovecraft’s Racism and Recognition.” Mr. Bradford is now generously allowing readers of this blog free access to the issue containing the article. On the the magazine’s website (http://thetruthseeker.net/) navigate to the Issues page and choose Issues from the Publications/Issues menu. There you may click on the cover or download link for the September–December 2020 issue, and when prompted use the password (granite). All thanks to Mr. Bradford for his kindness!
Lots of other projects are in the works. One exciting item is a new collection of Ken Faig’s writings on some of the more obscure corners of the Lovecraftian world. Some of these writings have been published in very limited editions by Ken himself as part of his “Moshassuck Monographs” series, but we intend to gather them and others together into a solid volume that will display the depth of Ken’s researches.
I am back a little sooner than I expected, to announce a number of important developments. First is the publication of the September–December issue of the Truth Seeker, which contains my article “H. P. Lovecraft: Racism and Recognition.” The article is not available online, but those of you who wish to secure an issue can get it here: http://thetruthseeker.net/. The editor of the magazine, Roderick Bradford, specifically asked me to write this article in the wake of the (apparently fleeting) controversy regarding the Lovecraft bust at the Providence Athenaeum; but the article may also be of relevance in reference of the portrait of Lovecraft implied in the HBO miniseries Lovecraft Country (although the effect of this program is also likely to be ephemeral).
I have now secured one spare copy of Leah Bodine Drake’s The Song of the Sun, one of the most impressive books ever published by Hippocampus Press (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/other-authors/poetry/the-song-of-the-sun-collected-writings-by-leah-bodine-drake). I am happy to let this copy go for $50.
And I have received a most distinctive item—nothing less than a Czech translation of my edition of The Annotated Revisions and Collaborations of H. P. Lovecraft. The copy I have received is a translation of volume 2: Smycka Medúzy a jiné príbehy, published by Argo. Here is the publisher’s web page about Lovecraft: https://argo.cz/autori/lovecraft-howard-phillips/. You can see from it that volume 1 of my edition has been translated also, but I have not received copies of this as yet. If anyone cares to have this (for us) unusual item, I have several spare copies that I would be happy to dispose of for the nominal price of $10.
And I cannot end this blog without expressing my deep sadness for the passing of Gale Sayers, the great halfback of the Chicago Bears. I have vivid memories of his incredible feats on the gridiron as I watched them as a child on our tiny black-and-white television in Urbana, Illinois. He was drafted by the Bears in 1965, along with the formidable linebacker Dick Butkus; and although the team remained mediocre, these two players were worth watching on their own. I continue to believe that Sayers was the most electrifying running back ever to play the game. Here is the New York Times obituary on him: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/23/sports/football/gale-sayers-dead.html. Peace be to his shade!
I see that it has been nearly a month since my last blog—where has the time gone? There is not a great deal to report, but I did wish to reassure everyone that my wife and I are continuing to lead our lives as best we can even in the midst of the wildfires that are plaguing the West Coast. These fires were nowhere close to us, but for a time the smoke from them did drift our way, rendering our air quality among the worst in the world. We saw eerie sights of the sun glowing a flaming orange at sunset. But some welcome rain has dissipated much of the smoke, and life is returning to normal (or what passes for normal in these troubled times).
It appears that several Hippocampus Press items have been published—among them the huge two-volume Letters to Family and Family Friends, the new Lovecraft Annual, and David E. Schultz’s monumental compilation of the writings of Leah Bodine Drake, The Song of the Sun—but a slowdown at our printer has resulted in a several-week delay in our expected receipt of copies. This slowdown appears to affect only the US branch of the printer; I have heard that overseas customers or contributors have received some of these items already. Well, they will show up here eventually. I am not aware that the inaugural issue of Penumbra has actually been sent to the printer; but even if it has, I do not expect copies until mid-October or so.
I see that the signed/limited edition of Nightmare’s Realm is out at last—only three years after the release of the trade edition (https://darkregions.com/products/nightmares-realm-new-tales-of-the-weird-and-fantastic-preorder?variant=35694956877). If I read the publisher’s notice correctly, it appears that only four copies are left. If anyone is interested in my own copy, I might be persuaded to part with it for a substantial discount off the retail price. It is a fine slipcased edition well worth securing.
I participated in an audio documentary on Michael Shea assembled by Henrik Möller (https://soundcloud.com/henrik-moeller-180995804/113-michael-shea-horror-writer). I have actually not heard this myself as yet, but Henrik has done good work of this sort in the past, and I am confident this is a fine product. He informs me that Laird Barron and Marc Laidlaw also participated. The first two and a half minutes are in Swedish, the rest in English.
James Goho has published his book Caitlín R. Kiernan: A Critical Study of Her Dark Fiction with McFarland (https://mcfarlandbooks.com/product/caitlin-r-kiernan/). I published several chapters of this book in various issues of Weird Fiction Review, and I am certain this is a pioneering and incisive study. It is, of course, the first book to be solely devoted to Kiernan’s work.
I myself continue to work diligently on various projects: my ongoing edition of H. L. Mencken’s collected essays and journalism (volume 33 has just been uploaded to Amazon’s self-publishing platform); ongoing editions of Lovecraft letters (Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner and Others, Letters to Hyman Bradofsky and Others, Letters to Woodburn Harris and Others, Letters to Richard F. Searight and E. Hoffmann Price, etc.); my Recognition of H. P. Lovecraft, now nearly finished; and a few other projects I don’t care to mention at the moment. Never a dull moment around here!
I cannot help ending on a delightfully frivolous note. As many of you know, detective fiction is one of my great passions—and so are detective/crime/suspense films and television shows (not to mention my truly guilty pleasure—true crime shows). I richly enjoyed the Inspector Morse TV shows produced in England between 1987 and 2000, based on the novels of Colin Dexter and starring John Thaw as the crusty old police detective working in the Oxford area. In recent years, ITV has initiated a series called Endeavour, featuring a young Morse (well played by Shaun Evans) as he is just entering into his career as a detective. These are superb broadcasts, impeccably acted, with complex plots and fine cinemetography—but that is all beside the point.
In the second episode of Season Two, entitled “Nocturne,” there is a fleeting incident that will be of interest to us. Morse, after interviewing an American couple tangentially associated with a criminal investigation, casually announces that the couple comes from “Kingsport, Massachusetts.” Yog-Sothoth Neblod Zin! I had to press the “pause” button, saying to the wife, “Did I really hear what I thought I heard?” Indeed so! Nothing more is made of this, and the episode itself—although it vaguely suggests the supernatural in its hints of ghostly presences in a girls’ school—has nothing else weird or Lovecraftian about it. This show was created by Russell Lewis, about whom I know nothing—aside from the fact that he has read at least some of the tales of H. P. Lovecraft!
While clearing out some excess material in my basement lair, I came upon a sheaf of (mostly) Hippocampus Press books that I’d forgotten I had. So I am now prepared to offer them in a sort of mini fire sale. The following titles are all available for only $10 each:
And the books that I’ve mentioned in some recent blogs are still available in limited quantities, so I’ll offer them at an immediate discount of $10 each:
To those who purchase any of the above, the following books of poetry are only $5:
I was happy to have edited and published a title that has long been on my horizon: Huxley and Gladstone on Genesis (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08FP5TY5B). This is a reprint of a debate between William Ewart Gladstone (the four-time British prime minister who, like our own William Jennings Bryan, became a fundamentalist Christian toward the end of his life) and the great anthropologist and philosopher Thomas Henry Huxley over the veracity of certain details in the Book of Genesis. The debate appeared in the pages of the Nineteenth Century, a leading British intellectual journal, in the 1880s; a few years later, the debate resumed, with the focus being the ludicrous story of the Gadarene swine (the story, as recounted in the three Synoptic Gospels, of how Jesus purportedly expelled demons from a madman and thrust them into the bodies of pigs, who at once drowned themselves in a body of water). Most of Huxley’s various essays were reprinted in his own books published toward the end of his life, but I do not believe Gladstone’s essays have ever been reprinted; and, of course, the essays don’t make much sense unless you read them as part of this debate. I have added an introduction, but otherwise have not done much in the way of commentary.
The beginning of the HBO miniseries Lovecraft Country, directed by Jordan Peele, has led to a certain activity on my part, as I have been called to comment on Lovecraft and related issues. I conducted an entertaining podcast with John Brooks, and it is now live (https://cms.megaphone.fm/channel/hardtobelieve?selected=CCPN5880253297). I have just been interviewed by Alexander Adams for an article he will write for a magazine called the Critic. I myself wrote an article, “H. P. Lovecraft: Racism and Recognition,” for the Truth Seeker for September.
As for the miniseries itself—I do not have HBO so I cannot comment on it, but initial reviews seem to be quite mixed. I contributed to an assessment that my friend Michael Washburn gave for the online journal Book and Film Globe (https://bookandfilmglobe.com/television/tv-review-lovecraft-country/). This does not make me very keen on seeing the show.
Speaking of podcasts, my two colleagues Clint Smith and Curtis M. Lawson participated in a podcast in which I appear to be discussed (https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/wyrd-transmissions/ep-23-skeleton-melodies-and-2wEeSNXhuHF/). I actually haven’t listened to this myself, but it seems that my assistance to both writers (which I was and am entirely happy to provide, given the striking talent they exhibit) is cited.
On Lovecraft’s 130th birthday last Thursday, I participated in a video birthday greeting (filmed by Mary on her smartphone) at the request of En la Noches de los Tiempos, a Mexican-Ecuadorian initiative focused on celebrating Lovecraft’s birthday (http://enlanochedelostiempos.com/felicidades-lovecraft/). At a minimum, this shows how Lovecraft’s life and work continue to attract devotion worldwide.
Another such token is the appearance of a Russian translation of Lovecraft’s essay “Vermont—A First Impression” in the online magazine Darker Magazine (https://darkermagazine.ru/page/vermont-a-first-impression). In the same issue is a Russian translation of my essay “Autobiography in Lovecraft” (https://darkermagazine.ru/page/autobiography-in-lovecraft). Thanks to Artem Ageev for the translation!
Finally, in the category of “What the—?”, a colleague in Italy, Adriano Monti-Buzzetti, a journalist and novelist, has found a mention of a “Lovecraft, Howard P.” in the city directory of Los Angeles for 1917! If anyone can explain how this entry (which lists Lovecraft as a “boilermaker” [!!!]) came to be, I would be most grateful!
Section of the 1917 Los Angeles city directory showing one Howard P. Lovecraft. (Click for the full page.)
I am happy to announce the publication of still more new books from Hippocampus Press. I believe the publisher has decided that, during this period of enforced inactivity that many of us find ourselves in, we don’t have much to do except read. So Hippocampus is trying to clear up quite a backlog of books that have been ready (or nearly ready) for some time. The items that have come in are these (I give the discount price that I am offering)
Letters to Alfred Galpin and Others is a radically expanded edition of Letters to Alfred Galpin (2003), now including the letters to Adolphe de Castro, John T. Dunn, Edward H. Cole, and others. It has an abundance of writings by these correspondents.
The paperback edition of Dawnward Spire has long been in the works, and we’ve issued it now because the hardcover edition is just about exhausted. This paperback edition includes one or two scraps of correspondence (a postcard of two) that came to light after the hardcover edition appeared.
Clint Smith’s second story collection—following Ghouljaw and Other Stories (2014)—is an exceptional piece of work, with tales featuring a wide array of themes and motifs, and including a superb novella, “Haunt Me Still,” previously unpublished.
I see that I still have two copies of Lovecraft’s Letters to Donald and Howard Wandrei and to Emil Petaja, which I am happy to offer for $15. And I have a copy of my recent anthology Apostles of the Weird, which I will let go for $20.
Those who purchase any of the items above can have the new issue of Dead Reckonings (No. 27, Spring 2020) for only $5. This contains two contributions by me: 1) a review of recent issues of two fanzines, Obadiah Baird’s The Audient Void and Graeme Phillips’s Cyäegha; 2) a review of Ramsey Campbell’s novel The Kind Folk. There is also Gary Fry’s sensitive review of my novella Something from Below.
My Recognition of H. P.Lovecraft has reached nearly 70,000 words, and I imagine it will come in at 90,000 or at the very most 100,000 words when it is done. Of course, I could have gone into considerably greater detail on all the matters covered in the book, but that would have resulted in a treatise nearly as long as I Am Providence! The basic outline of the book is as follows:
I am almost through chapter 7. Chapter 8 will take quite a bit of preliminary research, since I can no longer use my bibliography (Univ. of Tampa Press, 2009) as a reference because that book contains no material after 2007.
I continue to be busy on various fronts—both in relation to Lovecraft and other issues. I was pleased to have brought back into print my anthology Documents of American Prejudice (Basic Books, 1999), which didn’t get much attention when it came out; but the times have changed, and I thought it would be a good idea to bring it out again under a different title and slightly different contents as Racism in America: A Documentary History: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08CPDK3ZD. I put a lot of work into this anthology at the time, so I hope it engenders some interest now. It could hardly be more timely.
On the Lovecraft front, I have plunged into the treatise that I have been promising for years to write: The Recognition of H. P. Lovecraft: His Rise from Obscurity to World Renown. In this month alone I have written about 50,000 words—and I’m only up to the year 1980! Lots more to cover, but I should easily finish this by the end of the year, if not sooner. I have had to do some refreshing of my memory in regard to various works of Lovecraft criticism in the past. For example, I ended up purchasing some 1960 issues of Fantasy & Science Fiction that had two charmingly scornful reviews of Lovecraft by Damon Knight, including the notorious “The Tedious Mr. Lovecraft” (August 1960). In fact, the reviews were not quite as abusive as I’d expected, and the bulk of the criticism was apparently based on Knight’s reading of the Derleth “posthumous collaboration” “The Shuttered Room”—not very representative of Lovecraft at his best! But no one knew at the time how deceitfully Derleth was passing off these works as partial manuscripts by Lovecraft that he only “completed.”
I am writing afterwords to five out of the six volumes of a proposed omnibus of (nearly) the entirety of Lovecraft’s fictional work (along with some essays and letters) to be published by the French publisher Mnémos. (This same publisher published a three-volume edition of Clark Ashton Smith’s work a few years ago.) The translations into French will be based on the most up-to-date version of the Lovecraft texts as I have established them. Apparently the set may come out very soon—even later this year, or early next.
Jerad Walters and I continue to tinker with the contents of the Frank Belknap Long volume for the Centipede Press Library of Weird Fiction. We have now decided to reprint the weird novel The Night of the Wolf (1972) and the mystery/suspense novel The Horror Expert (1961) as separate books; the Library of Weird Fiction volume will still contain two short novels (The Horror from the Hills  and Journey into Darkness ). Also, I assented to Jerad’s decision to include some “weird menace” stories (which I initially did not wish to include at all) in the volume.
I was pleased to read the manuscript of Usman T. Malik’s first story collection, Midnight Doorways, a relatively slim volume of seven stories (a few of them, however, of novella length) that will soon be published in Pakistan. I had not read much of Usman’s work before and was struck by the mellifluousness and emotive power of his prose and by the vividness with which he brings Pakistani culture to life (most of the tales are set in Lahore). I was happy to write a blurb for the book.
I have pretty much completed my work on Ramsey Campbell’s second essay collection, Ramsey Campbell, Certainly. The book contains dozens of essays, reviews, and memoirs that Campbell has written over the past two decades. I shall be listed as editor of the volume, and I believe it will come out next spring from PS Publishing, in conjunction with my own revised treatise on Campbell, now titled Ramsey Campbell, Master of Weird Fiction.
I found much interest in an online article on Lovecraft written by my friend Michael Washburn. Here it is: https://bookandfilmglobe.com/creators/memories-of-the-lovecraft-wars/.
And in the category of “Aw, how cute!”—Greg Lowney has discovered a photo of Wilum and his sister Linda in a book from his library. Enjoy!
I have at last obtained copies of several of the new Hippocampus Press publications—specifically, two new volumes in the Classics of Gothic Horror series edited by me, May Sinclair’s If the Dead Knew (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/other-authors/fiction/if-the-dead-knew-the-weird-fiction-of-may-sinclair) and Back There in the Grass, the collected weird tales of Irvin S. Cobb and Gouverneur Morris (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/other-authors/fiction/back-there-in-the-grass-the-horror-tales-of-irvin-s.-cobb-and-gouverneur-morris). I received an unusually generous supply of copies of these books, so I will be happy to dispose of them at the bargain rate of only $10 each.
I also have some copies of Donald Sidney-Fryer’s A King Called Arthor (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/other-authors/fiction/a-king-called-arthor-and-other-morceaux-by-donald-sidney-fryer), a fascinating mix of fiction, essays, and poetry. I’ll let this go for $10 also.
Hippocampus is preparing to release a number of additional titles very soon, including a huge two-volume edition of Lovecraft’s Letters to Family and Family Friends (initially planned as a big hardcover book, but that plan is now unfeasible), Eccentric, Impractical Devils (a volume of the letters of August Derleth and Clark Ashton Smith), Lovecraft’s Letters to Alfred Galpin and Others, etc. etc. etc. It may be a while before I get copies of these titles, but they will come eventually.
My colleague Miguel Fliguer has come through on his promise to translate some of Wilum Pugmire’s work for his online magazine, Circulo de Lovecraft. Issue no. 15 contains Wilum’s story “In Dark of Providence,” and also features a translation of Bobby Derie’s article “W. H. Pugmire: The Queen of Gothic Horror.” Here is the link to the website: https://lektu.com/l/circulo-lovecraft/circulo-de-lovecraft-no15/14125.
I have received a copy of Cadabra Records’ newest release, Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror, for which I wrote the liner notes (https://cadabrarecords.com/products/h-p-lovecrafts-the-dunwich-horror-2x-lp-set-read-by-andrew-leman-score-by-chris-bozzone-edition). Alas, I only have the one copy, so interested individuals will have to purchase this directly from Cadabra. I have just written liner notes to two stories by Ambrose Bierce that will soon be recorded: “The Boarded Window” and “An Inhabitant of Carcosa.”
For no particular reason, I have renewed one of my old interests—English history. I have for many years had on my shelves (now relegated, alas, to my shed) various volumes of the Oxford History of England. I don’t know that I have ever read these books. My interest may have been kindled by my fascination with the superb Netflix TV series The Crown, chronicling the early years of the reign of Elizabeth II. Mary and I have richly enjoyed the first two seasons of this show; the third season is not yet available on DVD, only on streaming, which we don’t have. The series has also re-ignited my inveterate Anglophilia, which in my early years was significantly augmented by HPL’s own similar passion. I am now reading G. O. Clark’s The Reign of Elizabeth (1936). [The book obviously refers to Elizabeth I, not Elizabeth II.] No doubt this work is somewhat outdated; but it is written with a lively prose and a narrative drive that make it compelling reading. I will need to purchase some of the volumes in the series that I am missing, but that is easily done. And I may even, at a later stage, re-read some of the classic multivolume histories that I read as a youth—James Anthony Froude’s History of England (1850–70; covering the Tudor period), Samuel Rawson Gardiner’s History of England (1883–1904; covering the period 1603–1660), and Thomas Babington Macaulay’s incomplete History of England (1848; covering the period 1685–1702). Idle entertainment for an old man!
In the category of “blasts from the past,” my friend Margaret (Miggy) Hall of Scotland has sent me a photograph of myself and her during one of her visits to me. This photo was taken in May 2001.
Speaking of photos, the mystery of the photo of the person accompanying Ramsey Campbell in that photo that Wilum had in one of his books has been solved! (See my blog of December 11, 2019.) A colleague has informed me that it is one Peter Smith, an occultist of the 1980s and 1990s who was involved in a group that called itself the Esoteric Order of Dagon. My informant does not know when or where the photo was taken.
As I celebrate my 62nd birthday (June 22), I pause to reflect on the other luminaries who share this date. Previously I had believed that only the old hack H. Rider Haggard and the mediocre singer/actor Kris Kristofferson were born on this day; but my diligent wife has dug up several other folks, much more notable in various regards, than these. Even if we put aside the dubious John Dillinger, we find that such figures in the entertainment field as the director Billy Wilder, the actor Klaus Maria Brandauer, the musician Todd Rundgren, and (hold on to your hats!) the supremely talented Meryl Streep were all born on June 22! As for other writers, it is most amusing to find that I share a birthday with none other than the late Octavia Butler, whose name came up in a Lovecraftian context some years ago. In the world of politics, we find the veteran legislator Diane Feinstein—and also (drum roll, please) Elizabeth Warren. Hot dawg! Can’t get better than that.
As a way of celebrating my birthday, I have decided to hold yet another of my occasional fire sales of books that have been sitting around here for a while. The following titles are available for the bargain price of $10; two of them are available for $18; three for $25. Please note that in several cases I have only one spare copy of the item in question!
Those who purchase any of the above items can secure any of the following for a mere $5:
I also have copies of the signed/limited edition of Gothic Lovecraft available for $25.
In regard to my own activities, I continue to work on numerous projects. I recently read Frank Belknap Long’s two short novels, Journey into Darkness (1961) and The Night of the Wolf (1972), and found both of them highly creditable. The former was marketed as science fiction, but it is clearly a weird tale—and may have been directly inspired by “The Colour out of Space” (Lovecraft is mentioned by name in the text, and a sadly erroneous plot summary of that story is provided). Both of these novels will now be reprinted in a volume of Long’s work in the Centipede Press Library of Weird Fiction.
I continue to help promote the work of W. H. Pugmire. Recently I gave permission to Mike Cuellar, who runs the Weird Tales Podcast, to read Wilum’s story “The Zanies of Sorrow” on his podcast. He recently did so. Here is a link: https://theweirdtalespodcast.podbean.com/e/the-zanies-of-sorrow-by-w-h-pugmire/.
Just now I have learned that an interview I conducted with Guillaume Sowinski for a French website has gone up. Here it is: https://medium.com/@associationmiskatonic/les-indicibles-entretiens-9-10f99e9bb4f2.
My colleague, the publisher Vince Emery, has just issued a delectable item: nothing less than George Sterling’s Babes in the Wood (http://www.emerybooks.com/babes/babes-in-the-wood.htm). These are six stories that Sterling published in Popular Magazine in 1914; they were elaborations of the primitive-world setting and characters used in Jack London’s novel Before Adam (1906)—which, incidentally, might have exercised a minimal influence on Lovecraft’s “Beyond the Wall of Sleep.” The Sterling stories are all entertaining and have never been reprinted; but the chief virtue of this book is Emery’s own extensive 60-page introduction, which provides thorough background on Sterling’s relations with London, the writing of the stories, and other relevant matters.
As for my own work, I only now learned through a colleague in Brazil that the abridged version of my Lovecraft biography, A Dreamer and a Visionary: H. P. Lovecraft in His Time (Liverpool University Press, 2001), was translated into Portuguese by the Brazilian publisher Hedra (https://www.amazon.com/Vida-H-P-Lovecraft-Portuguese-Brasil/dp/8577153983). I confess that I do not have any recollection of this project, and I see nothing about it in my blogs for 2014. Possibly this was something the UK publisher arranged with Hedra. Anyway, I suppose I shall have to secure the item somehow—but it isn’t cheap!
And here is an announcement of another major project on which I have been working for some time:
Centipede Press is proud to announce the forthcoming publication of Powers of Darkness, the first complete translation of a Swedish version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which appeared in a Swedish newspaper in 1899-1900. The book has been translated by Rickard Berghorn and edited by S. T. Joshi and Martin Andersson. This title is in production, and will be published in January 2022.
At almost 300,000 words, Powers of Darkness (Mörkrets makter) is almost twice as long as the standard text of Dracula published in 1897. In addition, it contains numerous scenes not included in the 1897 text, along with a new ending and significant alterations of character names (Jonathan Harker becomes Thomas Harker; Dracula himself is referred to as Mavros Draculitz). This edition of Powers of Darkness should not be confused with a book of the same title published by Abrams in 2017, which was an English translation of a highly truncated Icelandic translation of Dracula that is about half the length of the 1897 text.
There is a strong possibility that this version of Dracula was founded on an early version of the novel that found its way to Sweden in the 1890s. This version does not survive in English, and Berghorn in his lengthy introduction makes a plausible conjecture as to who the Swedish translator could have been. The translator may have added scenes and episodes to the text (especially passages where it is suggested that Dracula is conducting a fascist political conspiracy).
The text has been translated by Rickard Berghorn, a leading Swedish scholar and publisher of weird fiction, and edited by S. T. Joshi and Martin Andersson, who are both experts on the weird fiction of the turn of the 20th century. As John Edgar Browning has written: “Mörkrets makter (Powers of Darkness) is among the most important discoveries in Dracula’s long history.” Now, more than a century after its initial publication, it appears unabridged in English for the first time. No advance orders or notifications are being at this time, but we will keep you posted on progress. Thank you!
Before getting to the news of the day, I wish to announce yet another new version of the listing of books from the library of W. H. Pugmire (http://sesqua.net/pugmire-book-sale.html). This new listing now includes his holdings of mystery fiction, reference works, and art books, along with new titles in poetry, general fiction, and other existing categories. There are some highly intriguing and rare pamphlets of weird fiction, including David Barker’s early novel Death at the Flea Circus (2017). Come and get ’em!
I am happy to announce the publication by Sarnath Press of another volume of my miscellaneous essays on weird fiction, this one entitled The Advance of the Weird Tale. The items in the book are as follows:
A certain number of these items are taken from the many entries I wrote for Supernatural Literature of the World (Greenwood Press, 2005). I rather like these pieces, and I will include many of the shorter entries in my next volume, tentatively entitled The Progression of the Weird Tale. I do not have any spare copies of this book and am not likely to get any, so interested readers had best order directly from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088T7BTK6).
Another book that has sneaked its way into print is Varieties of Crime Fiction. I finally got all of two copies from the publisher, Wildside Press. Inexplicably, there is not yet a page for this book on the publisher’s website, although there is an Amazon entry (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1479445460), which states that the book actually appeared in September 2019. I am obliged to accept this statement—but am fearful that this book (which I spent a good three years writing, off and on) will imitate one of David Hume’s philosophical treatises and “fall deadborn from the press.” Let’s hope my legions of fans make me eat my words! I have one spare copy of the book that I would be happy to sell to an interested customer for $15.
I recently had an article on Lovecraft published in the Truth Seeker, “the world’s oldest freethought publication,” founded in 1873. Lovecraft himself refers to it in a letter to Maurice W. Moe (May 15, 1918), where, in a debate over an article on atheists and agnostics that Moe had written, he writes: “The ‘agnostic’ of your essay must have been a very utilitarian agnostic (that such ‘utilitarian Agnostics’ do exist, I will not deny. Vide any issue of The Truthseeker! But are they typical?)!” The May–August 2020 issue published my article “H. P. Lovecraft: Denier of God—Creator of Gods” (http://thetruthseeker.net/). This is in fact the introduction to my compilation, Lovecraft: Against Religion (2010). But the layout of my article, and the illustrations accompanying it, are worth the price of admission all by themselves! The title was brilliantly devised by the magazine’s editor, Roderick Bradford. The issue can be seen in pdf format through the magazine’s website. The password is: Sun.
I recently had occasion to read Osbert Sitwell’s The Man Who Lost Himself (1930). I did so only because it was among the books that Lovecraft listed in his “Weird &c. Items in Library of H. P. Lovecraft.” I own the book myself (I obtained it from the Strand Bookstore in New York ages ago, for all of $3). How is this a “weird” novel? Well, I’m scratching my head about that myself. It is the account of a writer, Tristram Orlander, who begins life as a poet and gains some celebrity among the literati; but after an unsuccessful love affair leads to a nervous breakdown, he spends many months overseas, mostly in Spain. The first-person narrator, who accompanied Orlander on his trip, tells of how Orlander reported seeing an older version of himself in a hotel in Granda. It takes a very long time for this “weird” scene to occur.
Decades pass. Orlander becomes a successful (but, from a purely aesthetic perspective, mediocre) novelist. He returns to Granada—and (somewhat predictably) meets the younger version of himself in that same hotel. He dies soon thereafter. I will not say this is a bad novel; it is, in a sense, a tour de force, in that it is entirely made up of narration, with not a single word of dialogue or even monologue. But the weird elements are so attenuated that I am quite puzzled why Lovecraft regarded it as a weird tale. I have not been able to locate any passage in Lovecraft’s letters where he discusses the work.
I was delighted to receive copies of the second (and last) volume of the German translation of I Am Providence, titled H. P. Lovecraft: Leben und Werk (“H. P. Lovecraft: Life and Work”), translated by Andreas Fliedner. Here is the publisher’s web page about the book: https://golkonda-verlag.de/produkt/s-t-joshi-h-p-lovecraft-leben-und-werk-2/. It pleases me that this book is now available in French, German, and Italian (although only the first volume of the Italian edition—Io sono Providence—has been published, with two more to go). I have one spare copy of Leben und Werk that I will be happy to part with for $20.
The French edition (Je suis Providence) has apparently been a big hit in France. On top of which, it has recently won two awards: the Special Imaginales Award (granted by the convention—Les Imaginales—that I attended last year around this time) and the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, which Christophe Thill (who supervised the ten translators who worked on the book) states is “a prestigious award given by a panel of writers and critics.”
I have been busy in other ways. On May 5, I had a three-hour interview with Tim Weisberg of the radio station Midnight Society (https://midnight.fm/2020/05/03/tuesday-may-5th-guest-s-t-joshi/). It was a wide-ranging discussion of matters chiefly pertaining to Lovecraft, covering his atheism, his political views, and many aspects of his work. All very entertaining! I may go back on the show at some later date.
I see that Dark Regions Press has at long last issued the signed/limited hardcover edition of Michael Shea’s Demiurge, a volume of his complete Cthulhu Mythos tales edited by me (https://darkregions.com/products/demiurge-the-complete-cthulhu-mythos-tales-of-michael-shea-edited-by-s-t-joshi). It is not cheap, but it’s an exceptionally handsome book that every collector should own. I may mention that Hippocampus Press has contracted with Linda Shea to issue Michael’s superlative (and unpublished) Lovecraftian novel Mr. Cannyharme—which is nothing less than a vast expansion of Lovecraft’s “The Hound,” set in the gritty world of 1960s San Francisco. We should be able to get the book out later this year in an attractive hardcover edition.
I have just read a most interesting volume: The Flock of Ba-Hui by “Oobmab” (read the name backwards to understand its significance), which is nothing less than a collection of four long stories written by a Chinese author who has been inspired by Lovecraft. It is issued by a British publisher, Camphor Press (https://camphorpress.com/books/the-flock-of-ba-hui/). The translators, Arthur Meursault and Akira, have done a splendid job in rendering these stories into English; but the highest praise should go to the author, whoever he is (the translators identify him as male, but provide no other details), for fusing Lovecraft’s distinctive vision with the distinctive topography, history, and culture of China. I will be writing a review of the book for the Lovecraft Annual.
I am happy to announce the publication, through Sarnath Press, of a substantial volume of the stories (weird and otherwise) of William Waldorf Astor (1848–1919). Astor was an exceptionally interesting fellow: born in the U.S., scion of one of the wealthiest families in America (whose grandfather, John Jacob Astor, helped to endow the New York Public Library), but who developed a distaste for his native land—not surprisingly—and emigrated to England, where he eventually became the first Viscount Astor. Along the way, he developed a hobby of writing short stories, all published in the Pall Mall Magazine, which he founded in 1893. A good many of these stories are weird, featuring such elements as ghosts, reincarnation, and other motifs; most are set in Europe, especially Italy (Astor was the U.S. minister to Italy for the period 1882–85), and involve either the ancient world (Greece, Rome, Egypt), or the Italian Renaissance. Several tales are set in modern-day Italy or France.
Astor published a volune of his stories, Pharaoh’s Daughter and Other Stories (1900), but, aside from including only a few of his weird stories (several of which were written after the book’s publication), it included some historical tales that to my mind do not represent him to best advantage. Astor also wrote some full-length historical novels, mostly set in Renaissance Italy, but I have not read these.
My volume, The Ghosts of Austerlitz and Others, contains sixteen of Astor’s best stories, and a majority of them are weird. Among the best are “The Ghosts of Austerlitz,” “Monsieur de Néron” (about the reincarnation of the Emperor Nero in Paris in the 1890s), “The Vengeance of Poseidon,” and “The Beloved of Amon-Ra.” The book is a robust 358 pages. Here is the Amazon page for the print edition: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087HC3MSN. It is available in a Kindle edition also. I do not have any spare copies of this book, but I hope readers will purchase it directly from Amazon. I have written a substantial bio-critical introduction and added a full bibliography of Astor’s writings.
Otherwise, I continue to work on the editing of Lovecraft’s letters. I am hopeful that Letters to Alfred Galpin and Others will soon be in print from Hippocampus Press. The enormous Letters to Family and Family Friends should also appear (as a two-volume paperback, not as a hardcover—a luxury in this difficult time). Later this year we should be publishing Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner and Others (including letters to Arthur Harris, James Larkin Pearson, Winifred V. Jackson, Arthur Leeds, and Paul J. Campbell).
I have been asked by Centipede Press to assemble a volume of Frank Belknap Long’s best tales for the Centipede Press Library of Weird Fiction. In some sense this will be an abridgment of the immense volume of Long’s work that appeared from Centipede in 2010; but, while I will indeed use a number of stories from that book, I have selected several others that were not included. I will exclude stories that are purely or largely science fiction, “weird menace,” or otherwise non-weird. In re-reading Long’s work, I find it a bit more notable than I had assumed. He himself regarded his later story “Cottage Tenant” (1975) as his best tale; whether it is or not, it is quite a fine narrative, and there are several other later tales that are more than creditable. But the bulk of the volume will include stories that Long published in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.
I was of course sorry to hear of the passing of Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., at the age of sixty-four. Our relationship began rockily, as I wrote an unduly harsh review of his Lovecraftian novel Nightmare’s Disciple (1999), which purportedly led to his giving up writing for a time. But I met him at the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in 2007, and he presented me with the first of a new line of writing, “Carl Lee and Cassilda,” which fused an adept use of the King in Yellow mythos with scintillating, impressionistic writing reminiscent of Hubert Selby and others, but was very much his own. I was pleased to shepherd several collections of these tales into print with Hippocampus Press. I met Joe again in Berlin in 2013 as part of a cruise that my wife and I were on. He was a distinctive personality, and the core of his work will survive.
I trust everyone is keeping safe and healthy. If you are sitting at home idle, now is an excellent time to catch up on your reading! To that end, I am holding another sale of books from the library of W. H. Pugmire. I will once again offer a 50% discount on all books on the current list, which can be found here: http://sesqua.net/pugmire-book-sale.html. This discount will now be in effect in perpetuity. In addition, I am discounting all books in the “Poetry, Poems, and Poets” and “General Literature” list costing $10 or less to $1 (plus appropriate postage). You can’t beat that!
On the personal front, I am delighted to note that my friend and colleague Rickard Berghorn has reprinted my 21st-Century Horror as a hardcover book, with a splendid dust jacket illustration by Nicolas Krizan: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/21st-century-horror-s-t-joshi/1130224394. The book is also available for purchase through the Evil Empire (i.e., Amazon worldwide). I would think the book is worth getting just for the dust jacket art! I have one spare copy, which I am happy to offer for $20.
Meanwhile, a grand total of five of my books have apparently been published, but I have received copies of none of them! They include the two anthologies from PS Publishing that I mentioned in my last blog (Apostles of the Weird and His Own Most Fantastic Creation); in addition, two more volumes of my Classics of Gothic Horror have appeared from Hippocampus Press, May Sinclair’s If the Dead Knew (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/other-authors/fiction/if-the-dead-knew-the-weird-fiction-of-may-sinclair) and the long-awaited (by me, at any rate) volume of the combined weird stories of Irvin S. Cobb and Gouverneur Morris, Back There in the Grass (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/other-authors/fiction/back-there-in-the-grass-the-horror-tales-of-irvin-s.-cobb-and-gouverneur-morris). I read the signature stories of both of these authors—Cobb’s “Fishhead” and Morris’s “Back There in the Grass”—as a teenager in Alfred Hitchcock anthologies, so I am thrilled to present their complete weird writings, which I selected through careful examination of their numerous short story collections at the New York Public Library two or three decades ago.
Finally, my Varieties of Crime Fiction appears to be out. I find the following page on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Varieties-Crime-Fiction-S-Joshi/dp/1479445460), which actually indicates that the volume came out last September; but the book is not listed on the website of the publisher, Wildside Press, and I have received no copies. So I have no idea what is going on. I have a feeling that, as with one of David Hume’s philosophical treatises in the 18th century, this book will “fall dead-born from the press.”
I am happy to announce the publication by PS Publishing, after considerable delays, of two of my anthologies of original fiction: Apostles of the Weird and His Own Most Fantastic Creation. Here is the description of them from PS’s weekly newsletter: https://preview.mailerlite.com/n4g4d4. The newsletter does not give the full table of contents of the books, so I shall provide them here. Here are the stories in Apostles of the Weird:
|Death in All Its Ripeness||Mark Samuels|
|Introduction||S. T. Joshi|
|Come Closer||Gemma Files|
|Widow’s Walk||Jonathan Thomas|
|The Walls Are Trembling||Steve Rasnic Tem|
|The Zanies of Sorrow||W. H. Pugmire|
|This Hollow Thing||Lynda E. Rucker|
|The Outer Boundary||Michael Washburn|
|Black Museums||Jason V Brock|
|The Legend of the One-Armed Brakeman||Michael Aronovitz|
|Lisa’s Pieces||Clint Smith|
|Everything Is Good in the Forest||George Edwards Murray|
|Three Knocks on a Forsaken Door||Richard Gavin|
|The Thief of Dreams||Darrell Schweitzer|
|Axolotl House||Cody Goodfellow|
|Night Time in the Karoo||Lynne Jamneck|
|Porson’s Piece||Reggie Oliver|
|Cave Canem||Stephen Woodworth|
His Own Most Fantastic Creation (a volume of stories that feature Lovecraft as a fictional character) are as follows:
|Introduction||S. T. Joshi|
|Death in All Its Ripeness||Mark Samuels|
|Worlds Apart||Donald R. Burleson|
|Witch’s Ladder||Donald Tyson|
|How Could It Be Elsewise?||Richard Gavin|
|A Gentleman of Darkness||W. H. Pugmire|
|The Feverish Stars||John Shirley|
|The Basilisk||David Hambling|
|Captured in Oils||Simon Strantzas|
|Persistence of Memory||Jason V Brock|
|Dreams Are Forever||Scott Wiley|
|A Meeting Beneath the Moon||Mark Howard Jones|
|The Return of the Night-Gaunts||Darrell Schweitzer|
|The Gilman Woman||Stephen Woodworth|
|In His Own Handwriting||S. T. Joshi|
|Avenging Angela||Jonathan Thomas|
I have not yet received any copies of these books, but hope to soon—and will offer any spare copies I have to interested customers.
Speaking of Lovecraft, I was interested to receive copies of a book entitled Les Carnets de Lovecraft: Dagon (which can loosely be translated as “Lovecraft’s sketchbooks”), illustrated by Armel Gaulme (Bragelonne, 2019). This proves to be an exhaustively illustrated edition of the story “Dagon,” with a paragraph or so of text on the verso and a line drawing by Gaulme on the recto. I now see that the publisher has also issued a volume of this same sort for “The Nameless City.” Indeed, the publisher’s array of Lovecraftian publications (which includes a translation of Black Wings I under the title Chroniques de Cthulhu) is impressive: https://www.bragelonne.fr/catalogue/collections/les-grands-anciens/. I have one spare copy of Carnets and would be happy to let it go for a mere $10.
Another volume of great interest is Donald Tyson’s The Skinless Face and Other Horrors, just published by Joe Morey’s new press, Weird House (https://www.weirdhousepress.com/product/the-skinless-face/). This large (401 pp.) and superbly designed hardcover book contains fourteen of Tyson’s Lovecraftian stories, several of which I published in the Black Wings series and elsewhere. An incredible bargain at the price!
I have now received copies of the Clark Ashton Smith bibliography that I compiled with David E. Schultz and Scott Connors. This 586-page compilation was years in the making—and sports a superb cover illustration by Jason Van Hollander. I still have two copies for sale at $25.
In terms of my own work, I have been spending a great deal of time on a vastly augmented edition of R. H. Barlow’s weird fiction and poetry (to which we are now adding his essays and other nonfiction). The original edition was one of Hippocampus Press’s earliest volumes: Eyes of the God (2002). Now that book has been expanded to more than twice its size, coming to close to 550 pages and including a number of unpublished works of fiction and much other matter, including several essays on Barlow written in the 1950s and 1960s. Expect this volume later this year (I hope)!
I am slogging through the index to Born under Saturn: The Letters of Clark Ashton Smith and Samuel Loveman. This volume will appear subsequent to Eccentric, Impractical Devils: The Letters to Clark Ashton Smith and August Derleth, which may appear in the coming weeks. The Smith-Loveman letters are of consuming interest in their detailed discussions of poetry and general literature—not only their own work but the work of Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Symons, and of course their mutual friend George Sterling.
I was delighted to appear on a podcast with the brilliant young writer Curtis M. Lawson. We spoke for well over an hour on a wide range of subjects—weird fiction, atheism, music, and much else. Here is a link to an audio of the broadcast: https://www.spreaker.com/user/12166256/wyrd-transmissions-episode-2. I believe Curtis is working on uploading a video as well.
And so, as the strange and disorienting period of history continues, I and my household remain healthy and productive.
On a melancholy note, let us all remember that March 26 is the first anniversary of the passing of William Hopfrog Pugmire. But he and his work continue to live and flourish in our memories!
We are, to be sure, living in strange times. I am writing while the coronavirus seems to be spreading inexorably around the globe—although it would appear that fear and even hysteria are spreading even faster. As I am living in (or, more precisely, near) one of the epicenters of the virus, I feel obliged to say something about what has been happening around here.
In the first place, it should be noted that the severest outbreak in this area has been restricted to a nursing home in Kirkland, a separate city quite a distance away (on the other side of Lake Washington)—and in a facility that, apparently, had previously come under criticism for failure to contain exactly this kind of spreading of infection. That said, it does not do to be either overly cautious or excessively reckless in one’s words and actions. Mary tells me of an isolated case (in another nursing home) only fifteen blocks from this house.
Nevertheless, we are attempting to lead our lives as normally as possible—with, of course, due precautions. We went to the theatre (Seattle Repertory Theatre) on Sunday, March 8, where we saw the powerful August Wilson play Jitney. But the very next evening, at my usual choir practice, it was reluctantly decided that the Northwest Chorale would cancel its spring concerts (May 9 and 16), simply because of potential dangers in large groups of people rehearsing week after week. In my judgment this was a somewhat hasty and ill-advised decision—but given that a fair number of our choir members are elderly, I suppose an excess of caution is not unwarranted. No doubt you have heard that the University of Washington has temporarily suspended in-person classes for all students, although I see that the libraries are still open.
Meanwhile, I carry on as well as I am able. I have just issued, through Sarnath Press, a combined edition of R. H. Barlow’s two early periodicals, The Dragon-Fly (1935–36) and Leaves (1937–38) (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0851LL4QM). [Please forgive the fact that the cover has no type on it; the various other cover templates that Amazon offered would have resulted in a poor reproduction of the photograph, such as having Barlow’s head being cut off.] These important periodicals contained all manner of work (much of which was unpublished at the time) by Lovecraft, C. L. Moore, Donald Wandrei, August Derleth, J. Vernon Shea, and numerous others. I had momentarily considered a facsimile reproduction, but Leaves in particular would have reproduced very poorly (it was run off on mimeograph, and there was a lot of bleed-through from the other side of the page), so I reset the entire text. David E. Schultz lent a huge amount of effort in the undertaking and should really have been listed as a coeditor. I have several spare copies of the publication available for sale at the bargain price of $15.
I have just received a number of copies of The Best of Black Wings from PS Publishing (https://www.pspublishing.co.uk/best-of-black-wings-trade-paperback-edited-by-s-t-joshi-4913-p.asp). This well-produced paperback has lots of fine stories by Jonathan Thomas, W. H. Pugmire, John Langan, and numerous other contributors to the six volumes of the Black Wings series. I would be happy to sell these at $15 each to interested customers.
I am in receipt of a fascinating item: Lovecraft’s Notes and Commonplace Book, a facsimile by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society of the Futile Press edition of 1938, as edited by R. H. Barlow (https://store.hplhs.org/collections/frontpage/products/the-notes-and-commonplace-book-of-h-p-lovecraft). This booklet is reproduced (I believe) in the exact dimensions of the original. As a bonus, the Historical Society has added a facsimile of Barlow’s typescript of Lovecraft’s “Weird Story Plots,” a series of plot synopses of major works of weird fiction that were written in 1933 as Lovecraft was struggling to regain his inspiration (and confidence) as a fiction writer. This document was not published until it appeared in my edition of Lovecraft’s Collected Essays, Volume 2 (2004), and is still quite little known. This whole booklet is well worth the price!
I was delighted to read Ramsey Campbell’s new novel, The Wise Friend (Flame Tree Publishing), and write a review of it for the next Dead Reckonings, which should be out in a few months. The novel is one of Ramsey’s quieter efforts, perhaps, but it contains a sense of dread and unease that is virtually unmatched in his work. Go read it!
My work continues to be published abroad. I have just received a copy of an edition of Lovecraft in modern Greek for which I wrote the introduction. This is actually the third volume of what announced as a fifteen-volume edition of Lovecraft’s fiction, this one titled ΤΟ ΧΡΟΜΑ ΑΠΟ ΤΟ ΔΙΑΣΤΗΜΑ, containing “The Colour out of Space” (the title story) and two other tales. The publisher is Brainfood in Athens, and the book dates to 2019. I believe my introduction will now be featured in the remaining volumes of the series.
Black Wings IV has been translated into Czech (as the three previous volumes have been) as Cerna krídla Cthulhu 4 (Euromedia, 2019). It would appear that this publisher is now contemplating a translation of my biography, I Am Providence.
Henrik Möller has been diligently interviewing the “Providence Pals” (Jason Eckhardt, Donald R. Burleson, myself, and others) for a podcast; he is waiting for Marc Michaud to recover from a recent bout of illness (which he is doing, albeit slowly) to issue a major podcast. In the interim he has released a podcast of an interview with Steve Mariconda that I daresay is full of enlightenment: https://soundcloud.com/henrik-moeller-180995804/101-secrets-of-lovecrafts-prose-style-steven-mariconda. Happy listening!
Several tempting new books have appeared, or are about to appear, from Hippocampus Press. First up is Stephen Woodworth’s long-delayed and exemplary collection of short stories, A Carnival of Chimeras (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/other-authors/fiction/a-carnival-of-chimeras-by-stephen-woodworth). For years I have found Stephen’s stories to be among the most scintillating and powerful contributions to my Black Wings series, and in this book there are several luminous Lovecraftian tales, including “Revival,” “Voodoo,” “A Tour of the Catacombs,” and others. Stephen excels in all types of weird fiction, and his prose is among the most fluid and evocative of anyone writing in the field today.
Then there is the Clark Ashton Smith bibliography (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/clark-ashton-smith/nonfiction/clark-ashton-smith-a-comprehensive-bibliography), co-compiled with David E. Schultz and Scott Connors, another long-delayed book but out at last, at close to 600 pages. This is the first comprehensive bibliography of works by and about Smith since Donald Sidney-Fryer’s Emperor of Dreams (1978), and I will say that it required an immense amount of effort on the part of the three co-compilers. This is the eighth bibliography I have published (following those for Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany, Ramsey Campbell, Ambrose Bierce, Gore Vidal, H. L. Mencken, and William Hope Hodgson). My bibliography of George Sterling (co-compiled with Alan Gullette) may appear later this year, in conjunction with my edition of the joint correspondence of Sterling and Ambrose Bierce. Anyway, the Smith bibliography is an invaluable source for the study of this pioneering author, who is finally receiving his due as a poet and fantaisiste.
And of course there is the twelfth issue of Spectral Realms, with an extraordinarily enticing cover design by Dan Sauer, using a work of art by Albert Joseph Pénot that dates to around 1890 (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/journals/spectral-realms/spectral-realms-no.-12). I urge readers to indulge in this extraordinary bounty of weird poetry, which includes exceptional work by Christina Sng, Leigh Blackmore, Wade German, Nicole Cushing, K. A. Opperman, Ashley Dioses, and many others, including my beloved spouse. I also have a review of Wade German’s new collection, The Ladies of the Everlasting Lichen and Other Relics (Mount Abraxas Press, 2019). The volume (only 88 copies of which were printed) is already out of print, but a new and expanded edition will appear next year from Hippocampus.
I have only a limited number of copies of the Woodworth volume, and my copies of the Smith bibliography have not arrived yet. I am prepared to let these go for $15 and $25, respectively, and will toss in a copy of Spectral Realms for only $5 for any who purchase either of these books; if you purchase both, you can have Spectral Realms for free.
I am working hard on several other projects, including the joint correspondence of Smith and Samuel Loveman, not to mention enormously expanded editions of our previous editions of the writings of Loveman (Out of the Immortal Night) and R. H. Barlow’s Eyes of the God. The Loveman volume may appear quite soon, while the Barlow book will probably appear late this year or early next.
Among volumes of Lovecraft’s letters, the Letters to Alfred Galpi and Others (including letters to Edward H. Cole, Adolphe de Castro, and John T. Dunn) is imminent. Within the next few months we will release the enormous Letters to Family and Family Friends, probably in a two-volume paperback edition of about 600 pages each. This will be one of the most remarkable volumes in the series, containing his complete letters to his aunts, covering his critical New York years (1924–26) but also his extensive travels in the later 1920s. A volume of Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner and Others (also containing letters to Arthur Harris, Winifred V. Jackson, and others) is also in the offing.
I have been quite remiss in posting notices of recent publications on the Sarnath Press page of this website, but I believe my talented webmaster has now updated the list. Many choice items are available! I may have one or two copies of some of them here, but the majority of them will have to be ordered from Amazon.
I am here to make a momentous announcement: For the entire month of February, all books from the library of W. H. Pugmire will be offered at 50% off the list price! There are many choice (and collectible) items still available, and it would behoove all interested parties to put in a request to purchase them as soon as possible. So don’t hesitate to contact me if any item appeals to you. Here is a link to the most current version of the website: http://sesqua.net/pugmire-book-sale.html.
Among my own projects, I can announce that I have a few copies available of my edition of the Bram Stoker volume in the Centipede Press Library of Weird Fiction (http://www.centipedepress.com/masters/stokerlwf.html). I am prepared to let these copies go for the bargain price of $40.
I am pleased to see that two books in which I was involved have made the preliminary ballot of the Bram Stoker Awards (http://www.thebramstokerawards.com/news/the-2019-bram-stoker-awards-preliminary-ballot/). One is Curtis M. Lawson’s scintillating novel Black Heart Boys’ Choir, for which I wrote the foreword. (I still have a number of copies of this book available for $10 a copy.) I am now reading a new work by Lawson, a novella written in collaboration with Dave Rinaldi entitled Those Who Go Forth into the Empty Place of Gods (https://www.amazon.com/Those-Forth-into-Empty-Place/dp/1713299844/). I am not quite finished with it, but so far it is proving to be a highly engaging work of over-the-top horror fused with Lovecraftian cosmicism. Well worth securing in its own right!
The other book that made the Stoker ballot is Kyla Lee Ward’s scintillating poetry collection The Macabre Modern and Other Morbidities, for which I wrote the afterword. Best wishes to both Curtis and Kyla on making the final ballot and actually winning the award! I see that John Langan’s Sefira and Other Betrayals, which Hippocampus Press published, has made the preliminary ballot, and a number of poets who appear regularly in Spectral Realms—Frank Coffman, Deborah L. Davitt, and Marge Simon—have poetry collections on the preliminary ballot.
I continue to be busy with Hippocampus Press projects. Within days or weeks, we shall see the appearance of Spectral Realms #12, Stephen Woodworth’s superlative story collection A Carnival of Chimeras, and—at long last—the Clark Ashton Smith bibliography assembled by David E. Schultz, Scott Connors, and myself. Stay tuned for further announcements of these and other projects!
The long gap between this blog and its predecessor is only partly the result of my own indolence and the general hubbub of the holiday period. My webmaster, Greg Lowney, took an extended vacation (Dec. 19–Jan. 11) to China, to see his son (who is working for the State Department), and so I was unable to update my website in any fashion—not that there was any urgency to do so. I am looking forward to meeting Greg (at a scheduled dinner of our local “gang” of weird fiction devotees on Jan. 25) to get the lowdown on his trip to the Far East.
My big news (if it qualifies as such) is the publication of 300 Books by S. T. Joshi via my Sarnath Press imprint (https://www.amazon.com/300-Books-Joshi-Comprehensive-Bibliography/dp/165465406X/). In conjunction with this volume, I have assembled a volume entitled Bits of Autobiography and Interviews (https://www.amazon.com/Bits-Autobiography-Interviews-Compiled-Joshi/dp/1654636320/), with my ugly mug on the cover. The great bulk of the book consists of interviews (most of them online) I have given over the decades, from the early 1990s to the present day. Both books are priced at $15.95, but I will very soon have a supply of copies in hand, so I’m prepared to sell them for $15.00 each on the usual terms (i.e., media mail postage covered by the price). Should some masochists wish both volumes, I am prepared to let them go for a total of $25.00.
Another highly enticing item is the issuance of a complete audiobook of Lovecraft’s complete revisions and collaborations (essentially, the texts contained in volume 4 of the variorum edition of Lovecraft’s Complete Fiction): https://www.hplhs.org/collaborations.php. Now you can have HPL’s complete fiction in two convenient thumbdrives! I have always found that hearing a Lovecraft story heightens my appreciation of it and provides new insights that a mere reading cannot always supply.
A colleague informs me that BBC Radio has followed up its production of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward with a version of “The Whisperer in Darkness”: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06spb8w/episodes/player. This will in turn be followed by a version of “The Shadow over Innsmouth.” I have no idea of the quality of these productions, but the mere fact that the BBC is undertaking them is an important sign of Lovecraft’s worldwide celebrity.
My essay on Michel Houellebecq from Lovecraft Studies No. 12 (2018)—“Why Michel Houellebecq Is Wrong about Lovecraft’s Racism”—has now appeared in a Polish translation by Mateusz Kopacs: https://www.hplovecraft.pl/2020/01/09/s-t-joshi-dlaczego-houellebecq-myli-sie-co-do-rasizmu-lovecrafta/. Kopacs has added some further criticisms of Houellebecq, covering issues I did not address in my short piece. It appears that Houellebecq carries far greater weight in Europe as an “authority” on Lovecraft than he deserves, and Kopacs and others believe it is long overdue that the record be set straight on Houellebecq’s distortions and misinterpretations of Lovecraft, especially on the racism angle (he was the one who has most notably propounded the false view that the entirety of Lovecraft’s writing is infected with racism).
On a more personal note, I may mention that I dusted off my violin (thanks in no small part to my wife’s purchase of a new bow for it) and participated in my choir’s “Messiah Sing-along/Play-along” on December 28. I was assured that I would be only one of several violinists playing at the event. What was my alarm when I discovered that there was only one other violinist—and he opted to play the second violin part, since I only knew the first violin part! There is a key section in the finale (“Amen”) where the first violins are playing all by themselves for about four bars—a petrifying experience for someone so out of practice as I was. Even though I thought I was horribly out of tune, this was nothing more than a fundraiser for our choir and not a “performance” in any meaningful sense of the term. Perhaps next time I will do more practicing ahead of the event—or, better still, not play at all!