I recently received from Steve Mockus, an editor at Chronicle Books in San Francisco, an exquisite statuette of Cthulhu that is now being offered for sale (http://www.chroniclebooks.com/cthulhu-the-ancient-one-tribute-box.html). It is a splendidly evocative item that, although small, captures the essence of Lovecraft’s vision for his extraterrestrial entity. And, of course, it is one more sign of Cthulhu’s status as a pop culture icon.
I recently attended the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon (October 7–9), and found it a most engaging event. I did not actually see very many of the films, as I was occupied with appearing on two panels and in fraternising with the many interesting guests; but I did catch a splendid Hungarian short film (44 minutes) of From Beyond that certainly ranks among the better Lovecraft adaptations of recent years. Let’s hope it appears on the DVD that the festival will presumably produce in a few months’ time.
But the event was really a chance to touch base again with all manner of colleagues, old and new. The festivities, indeed, began even before the event, because Derrick Hussey of Hippocampus Press and Jonathan Thomas of Providence, R.I., dropped in on our home in Seattle on October 4. I did my best to show them some of the high points of our fair city, even though the weather was a bit problematical and I myself am not in any sense familiar with the chief tourist attractions of Seattle. Then, on the late morning of the 7th, we drove down to Portland, where we met with such luminaries as Adam Bolivar, K. A. Opperman, Ashley Dioses (who has submitted the final version of her poetry volume, Diary of a Sorceress, for eventual publication by Hippocampus Press), Jason & Sunni Brock, D. L. Myers, Wade German, and many others.
One very interesting individual I met at the festival was Mark Devendorf, who is working on a documentary on Arthur Machen. He has already talked with Ramsey Campbell and other notables, and plans to speak with Alan Moore, Clive Barker, and Guillermo del Toro. I was happy to sit down with him and his wife (who is assisting in the project) for about an hour, generally discussing Lovecraft’s views of Machen and the influence of Machen’s work on Lovecraft.
I was also pleased to talk briefly with Michael Griffin, who acknowledged that my recent review of his book The Lure of Devouring Light was, as it were, “fair and balanced”—exactly what I had intended. However, the eminent Scott Nicolay withdrew from the festival at the last moment, maintaining that I, Jason Brock, and others had created a “hostile environment” for him. Do I hear some tiny violin playing in the background? It must be my imagination. Let me also have a show of hands: how many people feel that Mr. Nicolay is entirely blameless in fomenting the acrimony that currently plagues our little field? Not many hands raised up, I see. In any case, Mr. Nicolay’s decision brings all manner of common adages to mind: “The pot calling the kettle black” … “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen” … “You reap what you sow.” And so on and so forth.
On this same approximate subject, I found a recent op-ed article in the New York Times by Lionel Shriver very illuminating: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/23/opinion/will-the-left-survive-the-millennials.html. Her pungent words on the curse of identity politics, especially as applied to literature, are worth careful attention among our self-righteous moral crusaders.
I recently completed the November/December 2016 issue of the American Rationalist—the 33rd issue I have edited. For this issue I wrote what I hope is a reasonably interesting autobiographical piece, “Living in a Religious Society,” which provides some background on my own encounters with religion and the religious in the course of my life. You can read the article here. I will elaborate upon these points in my forthcoming memoir, What Is Anything? Memoirs of a Life in Lovecraft, which I expect to begin writing early next year.
I am happy to announce the completion of Black Wings VI: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror. I am on the verge of submitting the book to the publisher (PS Publishing), and present the table of contents here:
|Pothunters||Ann K. Schwader|
|The Girl in the Attic||Darrell Schweitzer|
|The Once and Future Waite||Jonathan Thomas|
|Oude Goden||Lynne Jamneck|
|Carnivorous||William F. Nolan|
|On a Dreamland’s Moon||Ashley Dioses|
|Teshtigo Creek||Aaron Bittner|
|Ex Libris||Caitlín R. Kiernan|
|You Shadows That in Darkness Dwell||Mark Howard Jones|
|Mask of the Imago||John Salonia|
|The Ballad of Asenath Waite||Adam Bolivar|
|The Visitor||Nancy Kilpatrick|
|The Gaunt||Tom Lynch|
|Missing at the Morgue||Donald Tyson|
|The Shard||Don Webb|
|The Mystery of the Cursed Cottage||David Hambling|
|To Court the Night||K. A. Opperman|
|To Move Beneath Autumnal Oaks||W. H. Pugmire|
|Mister Ainsley||Steve Rasnic Tem|
|Satiety||Jason V Brock|
|Provenance Unknown||Stephen Woodworth|
|The Well||D. L. Myers|
The works by Ashley Dioses, Adam Bolivar, K. A. Opperman, and D. L. Myers are poems. I had held an informal contest among these poets to see who could write the most evocative poem; but they all submitted outstanding work, and I felt it unfair to pick just one winner. So they are all included! The book is not likely to appear any earlier than the fall of next year.
I was interested to read Michael Griffin’s debut short story collection, The Lure of Devouring Light (Word Horde, 2016), which has been receiving much attention of late. It has some meritorious work, but perhaps not as much as its cheerleaders would like to think. I have written a review of it here.
I am in receipt of a number of new Hippocampus Press publications and can offer them to interested customers at a slight discount from the list price. Here is what has come in:
Get ’em while they’re hot!
I was pleased to see that the celebrated artist and writer Alan Moore dropped my name flatteringly in an interview he recently conducted with the New York Times. Here is the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/11/books/review/alan-moore-by-the-book.html. The mention of me appears only in the online edition; a truncated version appeared in the print edition.
I was saddened to hear of the death of the great conductor Neville Marriner at the age of ninety-two. He founded the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields, one of the finest chamber orchestras performing Baroque music in the 1960s and thereafter. Although I generally prefer the recordings of the great Italian chamber orchestra I Musici where such composers as Vivaldi and Albinoni are concerned, I am devoted to Marriner’s recordings of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti and other works, and I will continue to treasure the many LPs I own featuring his deft and innovative conducting.
I have just received a bumper crop of copies of Black Wings V: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror (PS Publishing, 2016). I see that this trade hardcover edition sells for £25.00 in the UK, which would come to about $33.00 in the US. So in order to dispose of these copies quickly, I am prepared to offer them at the cut rate of $25.00. If customers wish to purchase two copies, they are welcome to do so—but no more than two, please. I will be happy to sign or inscribe the copies as desired. I will cover postage for US customers; overseas postage will have to be negotiated. This is a fine volume of all-original tales, so get your copy soon! As a reminder, I will print the table of contents once more:
|Plenty of Irem||Jonathan Thomas|
|Diary of a Sane Man||Nicole Cushing|
|The Woman in the Attic||Robert H. Waugh|
|Far from Any Shore||Caitlín R. Kiernan|
|In Blackness Etched, My Name||W. H. Pugmire|
|The Walker in the Night||Jason C. Eckhardt|
|In Bloom||Lynne Jamneck|
|The Black Abbess||John Reppion|
|The Quest||Mollie L. Burleson|
|A Question of Blood||David Hambling|
|Red Walls||Mark Howard Jones|
|The Organ of Chaos||Donald Tyson|
|Seed of the Gods||Donald R. Burleson|
|Fire Breeders||Sunni K Brock|
|Casting Fractals||Sam Gafford|
|The Red Witch of Chorazin||Darrell Schweitzer|
|The Oldies||Nancy Kilpatrick|
|Lore [poem]||Wade German|
I am thrilled to announce that plans to erect a full-size statue of H. P. Lovecraft near his birthplace (454 Angell Street) in Providence, R.I., are proceeding well. But the statue, to be designed by Gage Prentiss, necessarily requires considerable funding, and so I encourage all interested persons to contribute as generously as they can to the venture: https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/the-lovecraft-providence-statue-project. With luck, the statue can be unveiled at next year’s NecronomiCon.
I see that my edition of the letters of H. P. Lovecraft to R. H. Barlow, O Fortunate Floridian (2007), has now appeared in a paperback edition from the University of Tampa Press (https://www.ut.edu/TampaPress/pressDetail.aspx?id=32212256041). This is an exceptionally interesting batch of letters, among the most revealing that Lovecraft ever wrote; it provides much more insight into Lovecraft’s life and mind than, say, his letters to August Derleth. I have received no copies of this book, so readers are urged to order from the publisher.
I have received a copy of a splendid edition of Clark Ashton Smith’s Averoigne Chronicles from Centipede Press (http://www.centipedepress.com/horror/averoigne.html). This book has been edited and produced with the publisher’s usual meticulous attention to detail, and is well worth purchasing. I have only this one copy, as I was not involved with the compilation. Better order from the publisher soon!
A volume of essays on Shirley Jackson, Shirley Jackson, Influences and Confluences, edited by Melanie R. Anderson and Lisa Kröger, has finally appeared from Routledge (https://www.routledge.com/Shirley-Jackson-Influences-and-Confluences/Anderson-Kroger/p/book/9781472481894). The book is appallingly expensive, so readers are advised to secure it from a library. It contains my original essay “A Failed Experiment: Family and Humanity in The Sundial”—a piece that allows me to express approbation for Jackson’s pungent and welcome misanthropy.
John H. Stanley, longtime curator of the Lovecraft Collection at the John Hay Library, who has devoted much of his time in hunting down foreign editions of Lovecraft, has just informed me that my H. P. Lovecraft: A Life (1996) has just appeared in a Russian translation (https://fantlab.ru/edition169170)! This is news to me, as I never gave permission for such a thing. This 1280-page book, translated by someone named M. Fazylova, was—incredible as it may seem—self-published in an edition of 30 copies! Most extraordinary. I cannot imagine anyone going to such trouble to produce a pirated edition of a work of so few copies.
John C. Tibbetts’s monograph The Gothic Worlds of Peter Straub has just appeared from McFarland (http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/book-2.php?id=978-1-4766-6492-7). I had initially commissioned this book for my Studies in Supernatural Literature series with Rowman & Littlefield, but the book (at that time not yet entirely written) was cancelled when the publisher cancelled the series. So I am thrilled that it has now appeared. I have not read the full text, but I am confident that it is a splendid piece of work.
I understand that a certain individual named Scott Nicolay has stated his regret at being unable to be in Providence for Lovecraft’s birthday on August 20—for if he had been, he would have taken the occasion to urinate on Lovecraft’s grave. Mr. Nicolay can take comfort in the fact that, upon his own demise, he will not suffer a similar fate; for he will be so utterly forgotten that no one could take the trouble to engage in such puerile desecration. When he dies, it will be as if he had never lived.
I am in receipt of some copies of another spoken-word LP of HPL’s stories, this one containing “The Lurking Fear” as read by Andrew Leman. I wrote the liner notes. As with the previous recording (containing “The Hound” and “The Music of Erich Zann”), this one was issued by Cadabra Records (https://cadabra-records.myshopify.com/collections/frontpage/products/h-p-lovecraft-the-lurking-fear-read-by-andrew-leman). The list price is $27.00, and I will be happy to let my three spare copies go for $20 (I will cover media mail postage). These recordings seem to go out of print pretty quickly, so don’t delay in putting in your order!
Speaking of Cadabra Records, my 45-rpm vinyl recording of Clark Ashton Smith’s Inferno and Other Poems seems to have been well received, if the following review in Rue Morgue is any indication: https://ninecircles.co/2016/08/11/clark-ashton-smiths-inferno-read-by-s-t-joshi-sound-by-theologian/. I’m glad to see that the reviewer thinks I have brought an “epic dignity” to Smith’s poems! I still have a few copies of this item available, which I will be happy to let go for $10.
Continuing on the theme of recordings, my choir, the Northwest Chorale, will soon be issuing another CD, this one containing works by Franz Joseph Haydn that we performed last May. They are the Part Songs (13 songs for 3 or 4 voices—we performed 8 of them) and the spectacular Lord Nelson Mass, with a small but powerful orchestra featuring lots of trumpets and drums and such. Strictly speaking, neither I nor the choir can legally “sell” this recording, but I might be prepared to make it available to interested individuals who offer a modest “donation” of, say, $10.
But enough of unseemly commercialism! Let us move on to more substantive matters.
I daresay this is already old news, but a splendid article on Lovecraft—specifically related to his ties to his native city of Providence, R.I.—has just appeared in no less august a venue than the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/14/travel/hp-lovecraft-providence.html). The article first appeared online on August 10, then in print in the travel section of the August 14 issue. It does not mention me (staggering oversight, I admit), but that’s okay. Note how it properly deals with the issue of Lovecraft’s racism in one small paragraph. Let’s hope for more sane and balanced coverage of this sort! The article was presumably designed to anticipate the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Providence, which will run from August 19 to 21 (http://www.hplfilmfestival.com/events/h-p-lovecraft-film-festival-%E2%80%93-providence-ri-2016). I myself will be attending, as usual, the film festival in Portland, Oregon, in early October (http://hplfilmfestival.com/hplfilmfestival-portland-or)—the only convention I will attend this year.
I have been asked to write afterwords to three volumes of Clark Ashton Smith’s work that will be issued in a French translation by a leading French publisher, Mnémos. I will be working closely with Scott Connors on the project, as he will be writing introductions. In preparing for this work, I have been rereading much of Smith’s fiction, as I seem to have the devil of a time keeping the details of his stories in my memory; and in the course of this rereading I am finding my opinion of Smith’s fiction rising a bit. I still believe he was inferior to Lovecraft as a fiction writer, and strongly believe that his fiction is generally inferior to his poetry; but his tales have more merit than I realised.
Otherwise, I continue to work on (a) Lovecraft’s Family Letters (containing letters to his mother, aunts, and others), and (b) a complete index of proper names to Lovecraft’s fiction, keyed to the new variorum edition (including Volume 4, containing his revisions and collaborations, which should be out later this year or early next). This index is, amidst the inevitable tedium, proving to be rather amusing in some senses. One could fashion a really, really hard Lovecraft quiz along these lines:
And so on and so forth!
My attention has been drawn to Paula Guran’s anthology The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu (Running Press, 2016). I will review the actual contents of the book in a separate review; for now I wish to address some peculiar features of her introduction, titled “Introduction: Who, What, When, Where, Why …”
I do not believe Paula Guran is unalterably hostile to Lovecraft; if that were so, it would turn her compilation of several Lovecraftian anthologies into lamentable instances of opportunism; and I would never wish to believe that of her. Her introduction, aside from a fair sprinkling of errors and some hilarious typos (“Lovecraft started school in 1889”—a year before he was born!), is on the whole neutral and generally praiseworthy in singling out Lovecraft’s distinctiveness as a writer of weird fiction.
But, to be honest, it reads largely like a freshman English term paper. Guran dutifully quotes various authorities—real or self-styled—but fails to subject these remarks to any kind of critical scrutiny. It is as if the mere fact that these individuals (I am one of them) said something about Lovecraft makes it true. What is really going on here is that Guran is cherry-picking quotations from “authorities” to bolster her own preconceptions about Lovecraft.
Guran gets herself into trouble when she discusses Lovecraft’s “personal beliefs,” which she finds “racist, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic.” Let it pass that there are plenty of other “personal beliefs”—atheism, devotion to the past, interest in science, a quest for imaginative liberation—that strike me as far more significant to Lovecraft’s life, work, and thought than those Guran cites. I will address her comments on Lovecraft’s racism presently; what I now wish to focus on is Guran’s fostering of yet another canard about Lovecraft: “He may not have hated women (misogyny), but he does seem to have feared them (gynophobia).”
In all frankness, Guran doesn’t know enough about Lovecraft to make such a judgment. Indeed, I cannot imagine what evidence Guran could bring forth to support the charge—for in fact she does not bring forth any. This general opinion has been promulgated lately by others who are not Lovecraft scholars, whether it be openly hostile critics such as Charles Baxter or those who are at least nominally less hostile, such as Joyce Carol Oates. But it is a canard nonetheless, and there are massive amounts of evidence in Lovecraft’s life that militate against it:
Perhaps Guran is thinking of the general absence of women characters in Lovecraft’s work—but if that is so, then many other literary works (such as the Sherlock Holmes tales) would be open to the same criticism. What of films like Twelve Angry Men or John Carpenter’s The Thing, which feature no women characters?
Or is Guran thinking of the few women who do appear in Lovecraft’s fiction? Well, let’s take Lavinia Whateley in “The Dunwich Horror.” It strikes me that Lovecraft extends a certain subdued sympathy toward her: she is clearly the unwilling pawn of her own father, Wizard Whateley, who caused her to be raped by Yog-Sothoth; and her murder at the hands of her own son, Wilbur, is meant to be seen as another black mark on his character.
There is, of course, the infamous comment in “The Thing on the Doorstep” about Asenath Waite: “Her crowning rage, however, was that she was not a man; since she believed a male brain had certain unique and far-reaching cosmic powers.” But it should be noted that (a) this comment is uttered by the first-person narrator, Daniel Upton, and it would be an elementary critical error to attribute such a view to the author; (b) Asenath’s body has in fact been taken over by the mind of her own father, Ephraim Waite; and (c) Ephraim/Asenath is not even human, but a denizen of Innsmouth, and this is the real reason why he/she wants a fully human body (as her husband, Edward Derby, states unequivocally later in the story).
But let us move on to the racism issue. It is not sufficient for Guran to state the truth that Lovecraft was a racist; she feels the need to go on to make it a central, indeed an all-encompassing, feature of Lovecraft’s entire literary work. What evidence does she offer for this assertion? Very little, so far as I can see. Instead, she quotes China Miéville quoting Michel Houellebecq. This is part of a quotation from Miéville’s “published correspondence”: “[The] depth and viciousness of Lovecraft’s racism is [sic] known to me…It goes further, in my opinion, than ‘merely’ being a racist—I follow Michel Houellebecq…in thinking that Lovecraft’s oeuvre, his work itself, is inspired by and deeply structured with race hatred.”
So there we have it: Guran quoting Miéville citing Houellebecq. If this is anything but an instantiation of the old adage that if you repeat a lie often enough, people start believing it, I don’t know what is. What, in fact, is the evidence that Guran/Miéville/Houellebecq put forth? Well, there’s the racist story “The Horror at Red Hook.” Fine; but Lovecraft wrote sixty-odd stories in his career. I myself can identify only three other tales that are structured on racism: “The Street,” “Arthur Jermyn,” and “The Shadow over Innsmouth.” Only the last is a major story of Lovecraft’s—and it has served as a source of inspiration for dozens of writers who are manifestly not racists, ranging from Caitlín R. Kiernan to Ramsey Campbell to Brian Stableford to Brian Hodge.
Here are some other statistics that may be relevant:
Guran maintains that “Miscegeneation, racial impurity, ethnic xenophobia, ‘mental, moral and physical degeneration’ due to inbreeding, interbreeding with non-human creatures—spawn of degenerate women who consorted with the abhorrent—these were all integral to the fiction Lovecraft produced.” Well, the devil is in the details, isn’t it? Take three tales of “degeneration” and “inbreeding”: “The Lurking Fear,” “The Rats in the Walls,” and “The Dunwich Horror.” Is it not obvious that in each case we are dealing with white families or towns? (There are, so far as I can tell, no ethnic minorities in Dunwich.) On the strength of these stories, a plausible case could be made that Lovecraft was prejuduced against white people.
The miscegenation/inbreeding theme is not at all widespread in Lovecraft’s fiction. Where does it (or racism in general) figure in some of Lovecraft’s greatest narratives—“The Call of Cthulhu,” “The Colour out of Space,” “The Whisperer in Darkness,” At the Mountains of Madness, “The Dreams in the Witch House,” “The Thing on the Doorstep,” “The Shadow out of Time”? Some of these stories may have racist elements in passing—but no more so than, say, the work of Raymond Chandler, in whose stories we can find African Americans compared to gorillas or a character repeatedly referred to as a “little Jap.” But I hear no towering condemnations of Raymond Chandler as a racist/xenophobe whose work must be banished from the canon of American literature.
Guran also maintains that “Lovecraft’s prejudice seems, at the very least, somewhat more pronounced than many of his contemporaries.” (I will bypass the dubious grammar of that sentence.) This is also a common view among those who don’t know very much about the historical period in question, but it is also false. An examination of my Documents of American Prejudice (Basic Books, 1999) will show conclusively that, in comparison to the astounding vitriol that was produced in his day, Lovecraft’s words are as mild as baby shampoo—and those screeds can be found in books and magazines of very wide distribution, as opposed to the private correspondence where most of Lovecraft’s racist discussions occur.
Guran concludes her discussion with the remarkable utterance that Lovecraft chose to infiltrate his stories with racism “to alarm and distress the primarily male, supposedly ‘superior’ possessors of light-skinned Nordic genes. One must assume Lovecraft never considered anyone else as a potential reader.” So now Guran reveals the enviable ability to read the mind of a dead man! I once again overlook the fact that Lovecraft knew—and appreciated the fact—that he had many female readers. At least two other points can be made:
Over the decades Lovecraft was criticised for all manner of things by all manner of critics, ranging from Edmund Wilson to Colin Wilson to Brian W. Aldiss; but none of them, until recently, have focused single-mindedly on Lovecraft’s racism, even though his views have been known since the 1940s. Edmund Wilson, writing his hostile review-article on Lovecraft (“Tales of the Marvellous and the Ridiculous,” New Yorker, November 24, 1945) only a few months after the end of World War II (and the Holocaust), said not one word about Lovecraft the racist. And not one actual Lovecraft scholar—Donald R. Burleson, David E. Schultz, Steven J. Mariconda, Robert H. Waugh, and a dozen others one could name—has interpreted racism as central to Lovecraft’s work. But we are now asked to believe that a Frenchman who has done no original research on Lovecraft and an Englishman in similar circumstances are suddenly endowed with the transcendent insight that allows them to deliver a magisterial condemnation of Lovecraft on this subject. Once again, the mere fact that somebody says something doesn’t make it so.
I am endlessly surprised that commentators don’t pay much attention to Lovecraft’s atheism. This is really the key to understanding both his philosophical thought (mechanistic materialism) and his literary expression of that thought—what we (and he) call cosmicism. It is telling that Guran doesn’t quote Lovecraft’s most famous utterance about his own work—an utterance whose essence is atheism and the rejection of conventional (Christian) morality:
“Now all my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance in the vast cosmos-at-large. … To achieve the essence of real externality, whether of time or space or dimension, one must forget that such things as organic life, good and evil, love and hate, and all such local attributes of a negligible and temporary species called mankind, have any existence at all. Only the human scenes and characters must have human qualities. These must be handled with unsparing realism, (not catch-penny romanticism) but when we cross the line to the boundless and hideous unknown—the shadow-haunted Outside—we must remember to leave our humanity and terrestrialism at the threshold.” (Letter to Farnsworth Wright, 5 July 1927; Selected Letters 2.150.)
This passage has been quoted over and over again in many different venues, but Guran does not cite it—presumably because it all but refutes her contention that it is racism (as opposed to atheism) that is at the heart of Lovecraft’s work.
I am not singling out Paula Guran for specific censure; the flaws in her introduction are representative of the flaws in the thinking of many commentators who are forced to rely on second-hand sources for their understanding of Lovecraft. They find the same opinions expressed by a multitude of critics (who are themselves not specialists on Lovecraft), and therefore assume that such views have become self-evident truisms. Because they are not specialists, they do not have the time or resources to conduct original research to verify whether these views are actually sound. That is why so many lies and half-truths and canards about Lovecraft are now abroad. And Lovecraft is not alone in being treated in this fashion; one could just as plausibly maintain that the entirety of T. S. Eliot’s work is defaced by anti-Semitism, or that the entirety of Jack London’s work is defaced by prejudice against Asians, or that the entirety of Roald Dahl’s work is defaced by both racism and anti-Semitism.
The bottom line is this: Racism is not at the root of Lovecraft’s life, work, and thought, and those who attempt to maintain such a thing do so in defiance of the mountains of contrary evidence found in his stories, essays, poems, and letters, and in the accounts of nearly all who actually knew and met him. Whether the Lovecraft-haters (and I certainly do not regard Paula Guran as one of them) can ever consider such evidence in an unbiased and unprejudiced manner is an open question.
I, for one, am beginning to doubt it.
Once again, apologies for my long delay in producing a new blog. Things are hectic as always, in part due to a lengthy trip (July 14–24) to the Midwest that Mary and I undertook. Our mission was tripartite: (1) to see my 88-year-old mother, who is now ensconced in an “independent living” unit at Westminster Village, a retirement community in Muncie, Indiana; (2) to participate in my 40th high school reunion (I am class of 1976, Burris Laboratory School); and (3) to take in the Fossil Convention in Madison, Wisconsin, in the company of Kenneth W. Faig, Jr., David E. Schultz, and their charming wives.
My reunion was, however, a bit of a disappointment, as only five other people from my class attended. Admittedly, my senior class only consists of 73 people (of whom 5 have already bitten the dust!), but I expected a greater turnout than this. Where’s your school spirit, people? Still, I was delighted to see such old friends as Edward Alexander (now head of the entire Burris Laboratory School Alumni Association), Randy Lykens, Jeff Johnson (who actually did not graduate with our class but who was around for most of my junior high school and high school stint), and others. I also was interested in a talk given at the reunion by Dawn Miller, the current principal of Burris. I was, however, saddened to see that, aside from the yearbook, school publications at Burris have been all but eliminated. Is there a possibility that I could assist in reviving my old “literary magazine,” The Forum, at long distance???
The venture to Madison was a delight, although the weather was an appalling mix of high temperatures and even higher humidity. David E. Schultz pressed me into service to do research on various fronts at the University of Wisconsin Library and the Wisconsin Historical Society Library, chiefly on the poetry of Leah Bodine Drake. We have now assembled more than 300 pages of her collected poetry, fiction, and other writings, with more to come (especially after David makes a trip to the University of Kentucky library to consult the Leah Bodine Drake Papers, which contains several scrapbooks full of all sorts of literary matter).
My publications have been slow to appear, and I still seem to have nearly twenty-five books forthcoming. I understand, however, that the hardcover edition of Black Wings V has appeared from PS Publishing—one person who advance-ordered the volume received it so early as June 21. But no copies have apparently been sent to the editor or the contributors. Patience is, however, a noble Christian virtue, and so I wait quietly for my copies to arrive.
Gothic Lovecraft should also be out soon, although I see nothing about it on the Cycatrix Press website or anywhere else. And there are my six volumes of my Classic Weird Fiction series due out from Dark Regions Press, which is also publishing my anthologies The Red Brain: Great Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos and Nightmare’s Realm. Centipede Press is still working on ten to twelve of my books; the one most likely to appear in the near future is a collected edition of the stories of John Metcalfe, in the Masters of the Weird Tale series.
Curtis Brown, the agents of Lord Dunsany, have at last given permission to Hippocampus Press to publish The Ghost in the Corner, a volume of Dunsany’s uncollected and unpublished stories, edited by myself and Martin Andersson. We are reading proofs at this moment. This volume will be followed, perhaps as early as next year, by an immense edition of Dunsany’s Collected Plays, which may run to about 1000 pages.
Many other projects in the works. Currently my time is largely taken up with (a) preparing an index of proper names for the Hippocampus variorum edition of Lovecraft (which will be published in Volume 4 of the edition, containing HPL’s revisions and collaborations), and (b) editing and annotating HPL’s Family Letters (which will include his letters to his mother, his two aunts [Lillian D. Clark and Annie E. P. Gamwell], a few postcards to his wife Sonia, and sundry other letters). No rest for the weary!
Egad! It has been nearly a month since I last appeared before you! I’m not sure what has kept me so occupied, unless it be my ongoing work (now abated for a time) on the immense Lovecraft/Clark Ashton Smith letters, which will be titled Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. (The title, brilliantly devised by David E. Schultz, is an adaptation of two of the more memorable lines in Smith’s poignant elegy “To Howard Phillips Lovecraft”: “How hast thou wandered hence /…beyond the dawnward spires of Providence? /…For even upon / this lonely western hill of Averoigne …” This book, which will exceed 700 pages, is on track to be published later this year.
Not to be outdone, I have now begun working on the immense task of editing Lovecraft’s letters to his close family members—his mother (Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft) and his aunts (Lillian D. Clark and Annie E. P. Gamwell). There are only 2 or 3 letters to his mother, but the letters to his aunts—which come to about 450,000 words—are among the richest treasure-houses of information about Lovecraft’s daily life (especially during his New York years) and his travels that one is likely to find. But the task of editing and annotating them is staggering. We expect to issue these letters in two huge volumes in late 2017 or early 2018. There will be other letters volumes appearing in the interim.
This is somewhat old news by now, but a Lovecraft devotee in Hungary, Jószef Tomasics, who runs a Lovecraft website called The Black Aether, has posted an interview of me. There is a version in my original English (http://www.theblackaether.com/2016/06/18/s-t-joshi-interview/) as well as in a Hungarian translation (http://www.theblackaether.com/2016/06/18/s-t-joshi-interju/). Mr. Tomasics has also sent me some valuable information on previously unknown Hungarian translations of the work of Clark Ashton Smith, for the new bibliography that Scott Connors, David E. Schultz, and I are on the verge of completing.
I recently saw a preliminary version of a documentary on Ambrose Bierce that Kirk Whitham has prepared. It is a fine piece of work, running to about 58 minutes. I appear extensively in the film, along with one other Bierce scholar (of whom I have never heard, and whose name I cannot now recall). I can’t remember the title of the documentary (I do not have it at hand, as I lent my copy to Wilum Pugmire), but once it is commercially released, I’ll let everyone know.
I have heard that Black Wings I will be translated into French by the publisher Bragelonne. I confess that I have never heard of this publisher, but I will assume they are a significant concern. I have no idea when the translation will appear, as Titan Books has just begun negotiating terms for the project.
Speaking of Black Wings, I understand that at least one reader has received a copy of Black Wings V that he advance-ordered from the publisher, PS Publishing. So far, my copies have not come—but you can be assured that I’ll let you know the moment they do!
I am happy to announce the completion of my anthology Nightmare’s Realm for Dark Regions Press. It came to about 90,000 words. I will not print the table of contents here, as my publisher chided me for printing the list of stories in The Red Brain in my last blog (alert readers will have noted that this part of my previous blog was quickly deleted). So I will wait until I have the publisher’s word that I can make the announcement.
I am also coming close to finishing Black Wings VI (I have about 80,000 words in hand) and the first issue of Nemesis (about 64,000 words in hand—I’m looking for 80,000). And more anthology ideas are bubbling to the surface. Jason V Brock and I are in the early stages of hatching what we believe will be a very exciting anthology (or perhaps a series of anthologies)—but more on this later!
I still have some copies of the new Hippocampus Press books that I announced last time, including 1 copy of HPL’s Letters to J. Vernon Shea and Others, 2 copies of Cody Goodfellow’s Rapture of the Deep and Other Lovecraftian Tales, 2 copies of Donald Sidney-Fryer’s Hobgoblin Apollo, and 4 copies of Don Swaim’s The Assassination of Ambrose Bierce. I am prepared to offer the latter 3 volumes at a discount: 2 for $25, 3 for $35. Get ’em while they’re hot!
(Updated June 14, 2016)
I have received a shipment of new Hippocampus Press books from the printer. The titles are as follows, and I can offer them to interested readers at the prices given in parentheses:
An edition of Robert E. Howard’s Lovecraftian stories has just appeared in a Portuguese translation from a leading publisher in Brazil. I wrote an introduction specifically for this edition, and have just received a copy of it. I have no spares to pass out, but interested readers may be able to secure copies either from the publisher (http://loja.sitelovecraft.com/) or from some other venue. The publisher’s site also lists books by Lovecraft and Robert W. Chambers (a translation of The King in Yellow).
Marc Severson has added to his “Chaos” series of Lovecraftian novels by publishing a second volume, The Streets of Chaos. I have not read this work, but I daresay it is as interesting and vivid as its predecessor. Here is a page describing the work: https://www.createspace.com/6288968.
I have written three reviews for the 19th issue of Dead Reckonings (supposedly a “Spring 2016” issue), but it seems to be delayed and I have no idea when it will appear. I reviewed Jacqueline Baker’s superb novel about Lovecraft, The Broken Hours (Talos Press, 2016), Ross E. Lockhart’s mediocre anthology Cthulhu Fhtagn! (Word Horde, 2015), and Orrin Grey’s creditable story collection Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts (Word Horde, 2015). At the risk of inviting more opprobrium at my less-than-reverential treatment of certain hallowed figures in our field, I will make the review of the Lockhart volume available here (http://stjoshi.org/review_lockhart.html).
I am working hard on the Lovecraft/Clark Ashton Smith correspondence, a volume that will exceed 700 pages and will be full of all manner of good stuff. Let’s hope my colleague David E. Schultz and I can wrap up all the remaining details and get it out late this year!
Dover Publications is churning out my volumes one after the other. I now have in hand my anthology The Cold Embrace: Weird Stories by Women (http://store.doverpublications.com/0486805050.html), a book that spans about a hundred years of weird writing, from Mary Shelley’s “Transformation” (1830) to May Sinclair’s “Where Their Fire Is Not Quenched” (1922), and including stories by E. Nesbit, Gertrude Atherton, Edna W. Underwood, and Virginia Woolf. These stories are all in the public domain. Dover had originally planned to have me compile one or two further anthologies of weird work by women writers, bringing the series all the way down to the present day; but the editor I was working with at Dover, Drew Ford, has left the company, and I am not sure whether they wish me to do any further work. Well, at least this book got out! I have many copies available and would be happy to offer it to interested customers for $10.
This Dover volume was my 229th published book; unexpectedly, my 230th (previously unaccounted for) is H. P. Lovecraft: Early Stories, coedited with Steven Philip Jones and published by Caliber Comics. (I cannot find a listing of this book on the publisher’s website or anywhere else.) I had provided my corrected texts to Jones and did not expect to be listed as an actual coeditor; but there it is. The book contains nine stories, from “The Alchemist” (1908) to “The Lurking Fear” (1922), each illustrated by a different artist. Quite a striking volume in its way! I have only one spare copy, so if anyone wants this for $10, I will be happy to let it go.
I now have in hand multiple copies of my 45-rpm vinyl recording of Clark Ashton Smith’s poems, Inferno, as previously announced. The publisher’s website rather confusingly lists three different states of the item, and I’m not even certain which state I have. But in any case, the item is very choice, so customers are welcome to it for $10. If they wish to purchase this in conjunction with the recently issued Fungi from Yuggoth CD (of which I still have a fair number of copies), they can get both items for $20.
Mary and I spent a harried six days on the East Coast, first in Philadelphia, where my niece Anjeli Elkins was graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, then in New York City, where I met many members of the Lovecraft/weird fiction gang. Our time in Philadelphia was very brief, and we had no time to look up colleagues such as Darrell Schweitzer or Michael Aronovitz amidst the rush of graduation- and family-related activities. In New York we were delighted to meet Derrick Hussey, Stefan Dziemianowicz, Fred Phillips, Steven J. Mariconda, T. E. D. Klein (who, now that he is officially retired from Condé Nast, promises to finish his second novel, Nighttown, suspended about thirty years ago!), and many others. All great fun!
The trip was sandwiched between the two performances of my choir, on May 14 and 21. The second performance was recorded, and it was a splendid performance indeed. We performed works by Franz Josef Haydn—namely, his “part songs” (13 songs written for 3 or 4 voices—we performed 8 of these, all in German) and his great Lord Nelson Mass, a rousing piece with lots of trumpets and drums. We will perform the part songs again at our local Folklife festival on May 29. May 30 will be the annual Joshi-Wilson cookout, where such luminaries as W. H. Pugmire, Jason & Sunni Brock, and others should be in attendance.
Lovecraft continues to flourish in the media, as witness a new CD of H. P. Lovecraft’s Fungi from Yuggoth and Other Poems, read by longtime HPL devotee William E. Hart, with spectacular music by Graham Plowman. I wrote the liner notes. Aside from the sonnet cycle, a dozen additional poems (including “Despair,” “Nemesis,” and “The Ancient Track”) are included. Here is a page from the website of the publisher (Fedogan & Bremer) about the item: https://cthulhuwho1.com/2016/04/11/pre-order-h-p-lovecrafts-fungi-from-yuggoth-and-other-poems-cd-now-for-only-12-95/. I already have some copies that I would be happy to let go for $15 to interested customers.
On a related media note, I have received a demo of the 45-rpm vinyl recording of my reading of Clark Ashton Smith’s “Inferno” and four other poems. I find, however, that I do not have the adaptor that will allow me to listen to the item on my turntable. But I’m sure it sounds fabulous! I believe the official release will occur soon; indeed, I now see that the item is cited on the website of Cadabra Records: http://www.cadabrarecords.com/2016/04/clark-ashton-smith-inferno-read-by-s-t-joshi/. I imagine I will get some spare copies to pass on to customers.
I have received some copies of a leatherbound edition of Lovecraft’s The Complete Cthulhu Mythos Tales (Barnes & Noble, 2016; http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-complete-cthulhu-mythos-tales-hp-lovecraft/1115399083?ean=9781435162556). This is actually a reissue of a paperback edition that came out in from Fall River Press in 2013. I did not actually edit the book, but I did consult with the in-house editor, noted weird scholar Stefan Dziemianowicz, about the selection. This new edition looks superb, and also includes a separate poster (“Cthulhu Rising”) by British artist John Coulthart. The list price is $20, so I will be happy to dispose of my two spare copies for $15.
Darin Coelho, who is diligently working on a documentary on Clark Ashton Smith (and came to Seattle to interview me about it a while back), is now undertaking a campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds for the venture: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/clark-ashton-smith-the-emperor-of-dreams#/. I urge everyone to support this project, as it promises to be a splendid production.
As for my own projects, some of them are at last lumbering toward publication. I have seen proofs of my large edition of the complete short stories of John Metcalfe from Centipede Press, although the publisher is not certain whether the book will be part of the Masters of the Weird Tale series or my Library of Weird Fiction series. And I have seen proofs of Gothic Lovecraft, which should be out later this year from Cycatrix Press.
I have also seen proofs of Black Wings V from PS Publishing, and the publisher’s latest newsletter has a flattering writeup of the book. It is now available for preorder: http://www.pspublishing.co.uk/black-wings-v-hardcover-edited-by-s-t-joshi-3931-p.asp. I have already collected nearly half the contents for Black Wings VI, although (with the publisher’s permission) this volume may run a bit longer than its predecessors, as it may be the last in the series for a while. I intend to compile a non-Lovecraftian anthology, Apostles of the Weird, for PS after I finish Black Wings VI.
One of the relatively few trips I will take this year for literary purposes will occur in July, when I attend the Fossil Convention in Madison, Wisconsin (http://www.thefossils.org/ajconference.html). The Fossils are the alumni association for amateur journalism, and I will participate on a panel discussion on Lovecraft and amateur journalism with Kenneth W. Faig, Jr., and David E. Schultz. It should be great fun! One week before that, I will be in Muncie, Indiana, attending my fortieth high school reunion. Egad! I attended my thirtieth in 2006 and had a hugely entertaining time. I have very vivid memories of my high school years—no doubt they will be extensively chronicled in the “Lovecraftian memoirs” I will begin writing presently. The book—What Is Anything? Memoirs of a Life in Lovecraft—will appear around the time of my sixtieth birthday in June 2018. As a dubious character says in “The Whisperer in Darkness”: “Expect great revelations!”
I have now received an abundance of copies of my second recent Dover book, Edward Lucas White’s The Stuff of Dreams: The Weird Stories of Edward Lucas White (http://store.doverpublications.com/0486806154.html). This is of course a paperback reprint of an extremely limited hardcover edition published by Arcane Wisdom in 2013. I would be happy to let copies go for $10.
In fact, given that customers did not exactly rush to purchase my previous offerings of Spectral Realms #4 and Maurice Level’s Thirty Hours with a Corpse, I will now offer a package deal: all three items for a mere $20! Come and get ’em!
One other book I can offer is a paperback edition of A Much Misunderstood Man: Selected Letters of Ambrose Bierce, just released by Ohio State University Press. The hardcover edition (still technically in print from the publisher, at a pretty high price) came out in 2003. (Some used copies of the hardcover edition are going for $300 or more.) Absurdly, neither the publisher’s website nor any of the standard online book venues list the paperback edition as yet, so I do not know what its price is. But I have a few copies that I would be happy to dispose of for $20 each.
I have finally received copies of volumes 7, 8, and 9 of the “Lovecraft Illustrated” editions published by PS Publishing. These are The Call of Cthulhu, The Colour out of Space, and The Whisperer in Darkness (here is the publisher’s web page for the first of these: http://www.pspublishing.co.uk/the-call-of-cthulhu-hardcover-by-h-p-lovecraft-3735-p.asp). Aside from scintillating illustrations by Pete Von Sholly, each volume contains a number of associational items that provide insights into the story in question. I received only one copy of each volume, so I cannot offer any copies to customers. But I trust that people can order them directly from PS or from a distributor in the US or UK.
Don Swaim reports receiving copies of his novel The Assassination of Ambrose Bierce: A Love Story from Hippocampus Press (http://www.hippocampuspress.com/mythos-and-other-authors/fiction/the-assassination-of-ambrose-bierce-by-don-swaim). I myself have not received any copies as yet, but I can wholeheartedly recommend this vivid and compelling imaginative flight, which envisions what might have happened to Bierce after he disappeared in Mexico in late 1913, and also provides flashbacks to key events in Bierce’s earlier life. I wrote an introduction to the book.
I was delighted to hear from Nic Wassell, director of Strange Day Films, who is working on an adaptation of the Barlow-Lovecraft story “The Night Ocean” under the title The Distant Sea. Nic reports that “It’s a loose adaptation to be sure, but we’re really committed to trying to capture the mood and atmosphere evoked in the story.” As this story is one of my personal favourites, I wish him all the best. Nic is starting a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the film, and I urge interested persons to support the venture (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1787624857/the-distant-sea-short-film).
Work continues for me on many fronts: my anthologies The Red Brain (Dark Regions Press), Nightmare’s Realm (Dark Renaissance Books), and Black Wings VI (PS Publishing); my editions of Lovecraft letters (the letters to J. Vernon Shea and others will soon be out; work is progressing on the letters to F. Lee Baldwin, Duane W. Rimel, and Nils Frome, as well as the Lovecraft/Clark Ashton Smith letters); my usual array of magazines (I have just completed my 30th issue of the American Rationalist, and I am in the midst of assembling the 5th issue of Spectral Realms, the 7th issue of Weird Fiction Review, and the 10th issue of the Lovecraft Annual [which will have an index to issues 1–10]); and so on and so forth.
Meanwhile, none of my twenty-seven forthcoming books are published yet!
Let it not be thought that I am unwilling to admit my errors when they are pointed out to me. After posting my previous blog regarding the newly discovered chapters of the Houdini-Lovecraft-Eddy manuscript of The Cancer of Superstition, my colleague Marcos Legaria pointed out to me that he had evidence that the actual chapters (in addition to the synopsis) were also ghostwritten by Lovecraft, rather than Eddy. The handwritten manuscript of these chapters were apparently once in the possession of John Vetter, the author of the article “Lovecraft’s Illustrators,” published in The Dark Brotherhood and Other Pieces (Arkham House, 1966), where the synopsis and the first chapter of Cancer appeared. The matter is not absolutely clear-cut, and the whereabouts of the handwritten manuscript are now unknown; but my feeling, after re-examinining that first chapter as published in Dark Brotherhood, is that the text was in all probably written by Lovecraft, not Eddy. Relatively few examples of Eddy’s nonfictional prose are extant (the piece “Walks with H. P. Lovecraft” in Dark Brotherhood doesn’t offer much evidence, and in any case it was probably revised by August Derleth), but my feeling is that Eddy was not capable of writing the Cancer chapters, even if the raw data for those chapters came from elsewhere (as undoubtedly it did). So I think that, at least provisionally, we can consider both the chapters and the synopsis as largely the work of Lovecraft. (Eddy may well have typed the existing typescript, of course.)
I finally have copies of Spectral Realms #4 (Winter 2016), and a fine-looking issue it is. I am happy to offer copies to interested customers for the bargain price of $10 a copy (the list price is $15).
Another item that has come in is my edition of Maurice Level’s Thirty Hours with a Corpse and Other Tales of the Grand Guignol (Dover) (http://store.doverpublications.com/0486802329.html). This is a truncated version of my edition of Level’s Tales of the Grand Guignol (Centipede Press, 2011). This edition omits the two novels (The Grip of Fear and Those Who Return) I had included in the Centipede volume. I have a ridiculous number of copies of this book, so I can dispose of these at $10 per copy also.
My colleague Marc Severson has just published an entertaining Lovecraftian novel, Chaos Territory, as a Kindle book (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01D9995WC). I read a previous version of this and found it most engaging, and I am confident this expanded version is even more engaging. I see that it is the first volume of a series. Severson combines Lovecraftian elements with the Wild West and other elements in a manner that is most distinctive, and am I confident others will be as entertained by this work as I was.
PS Publishing has signed up Pete Von Sholly to produce three more volumes in the “Illustrated Lovecraft” series—covering “The Mound,” “The Thing on the Doorstep,” and “The Haunter of the Dark.” (Volumes 7, 8, and 9 of the series—The Call of Cthulhu, The Colour out of Space, and The Whisperer in Darkness—are supposedly out, but I have not yet received any copies.) Now Pete Crowther of PS Publishing says he will eventually issue all the Lovecraft stories in illustrated form—although subsequent volumes are likely to include several stories rather than a single one. As with previous volumes, we will try to include interesting articles on the stories or previous works that influenced the Lovecraft stories. For example, the volume containing “The Haunter of the Dark” will include Hanns Heinz Ewers’s “The Spider.”
I had forgotten to mention a curious detour into media celebrity on my part. During my trip to Muncie (Feb. 24–March 6), I was interviewed by Ekaterina Eremenko, a Russian filmmaker who is working on a film about Antarctica (chiefly focusing, I believe, on some Russian expedition there). She had wished me to discuss the relevance of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. When I told her that I would probably be unavailable for the brief time (early March) when she would be in the United States, she replied that, by coincidence, she was showing some of her films at IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis) at that very time! I requested that she come up to Muncie, since I was too busy to come to Indianapolis. She and a cameraman did so, and we had an entertaining interview. I also read substantial portions of the novel, which will evidently be used as background somehow. Anyway, I will wait to hear of the progress of this film (which I believe will be in English, as at least one previous film of hers is).
There has been much talk lately about the “discovery” of a Lovecraft manuscript called The Cancer of Superstition, which he was ghostwriting for Harry Houdini in the months before Houdini’s sudden death on October 31, 1926, derailed the plans and caused the project to be dropped. Here is a site talking about the manuscript: https://www.finebooksmagazine.com/fine_books_blog/2016/03/found-lovecraft-manuscript-with-connection-to-houdini.phtml. But what has been overlooked by most commentators is the fact that this manuscript is not “unpublished”: at least some of it appeared in The Dark Brotherhood and Other Pieces (Arkham House, 1966), where one chapter along with a synopsis were printed. What is more, although the synopsis was apparently written by Lovecraft, August Derleth—who assembled The Dark Brotherhood and was in touch with C. M. Eddy, Jr., who was collaborating with Lovecraft on the Cancer of Superstition project—says that the actual chapters were written by Eddy! So I am not at all sure that we should be all agog about the discovery of a “new” Lovecraft text when in fact it may be by someone else.
I spent an extended period of time (February 24 – March 6) in Muncie, Indiana, clearing out my family home, as my mother has moved into an assisted living facility. A few interesting items came to light, including:
I am also in receipt of several copies of an LP, H. P. Lovecraft’s The Hound and The Music of Erich Zann, read by Andrew Leman and with liner notes by me. It has just been issued by Cadabra Records (http://www.cadabrarecords.com/2016/03/the-hound-the-music-of-erich-zann-now-sold-out/). The website states that the LP is already sold out! I have no idea what the list price is, but I would be happy to be relieved of my spare copies for $20 each.
I have at last received a copy of Caitlín R. Kiernan’s Beneath an Oil-Dark Sea: The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan, Volume 2 (Subterranean Press, 2015), for which I wrote the introduction (http://subterraneanpress.com/store/product_detail/beneath_an_oil_dark_sea_the_best_of_caitlin_r._kiernan_volume_two). It appears that the trade edition is sold out, so readers will have to secure the limited edition or the ebook. I fear I have no spare copies to offer to customers. My introduction will be reprinted in Varieties of the Weird Tale, coming out later this year from Hippocampus.
Hippocampus has released the fourth issue of Spectral Realms (http://www.hippocampuspress.com/journals/spectral-realms/spectral-realms-no.-4). It is a fine issue, but as yet I have received no copies (I have, however, seen my wife’s contributor’s copy—she has two poems in the issue). Once I get my copies (I usually get 10), I will be happy to offer them to customers.
A colleague named Kerry Taylor who has been doing research on Charleston, S.C., has unexpectedly made a notable find. While doing research on Lovecraft’s essay on Charleston (the document written for H. C. Koenig in 1936 and published by him in a mimeographed booklet that year), Kerry found the booklet on Charleston published by the Edison Company that printed some of Lovecraft’s drawings of Charleston architecture. This item has long been known (it was mentioned by Lovecraft in a letter), but never been found. Now it has! I print a scan of the Lovecraft drawings, as provided to me by Kerry. Hats off to her for the discovery!
I believe I have previously mentioned a superb poster of Lovecraft’s “The Shadow out of Time” designed by the artist Ken Shaw. This poster is now available through the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society (http://store.cthulhulives.org/collections/frontpage/products/shadow-out-of-time-fine-art-print), and, as anyone can see, it is a splendid and evocative item. All devotees of Lovecraft are urged to secure this distinctive work!
And did you catch the dropping of “Necronomicon” in a New York Times op-ed piece by the conservative columnist Ross Douthat? (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/21/opinion/sunday/clash-of-the-populists.html) How much more mainstream can you get than that?
Today is, of course, the 79th anniversary of the death of H. P. Lovecraft. I trust we shall all commemorate it with suitable obsequies. I understand there is to be some kind of event at Lovecraft’s birthplace (454 Angell Street) in Providence, but I am unclear what the nature of that event is. Nevertheless, I believe we can be assured that, nearly eight decades after Lovecraft’s death, his place in world literature and culture is secure.
I was happy to receive copies of the paperback edition of Black Wings IV—entitled Black Wings of Cthulhu 4 and published by Titan Books. One of its many good features is a novella by Fred Chappell, “Artifact,” that is one of his strongest Lovecraftian tales—perhaps the finest since the novel Dagon (1968). The book has other fine contributions by W. H. Pugmire, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Cody Goodfellow, Ann K. Schwader, Simon Strantzas, and many other fine writers. I will be happy to sell copies to interested customers for $15.00 on the usual terms.
Speaking of Black Wings, I have only recently learned that the first Black Wings anthology appeared in Spanish all the way back in 2014. I was never sent a copy, but here is the listing on the Spanish Amazon site: http://www.amazon.es/Alas-Tenebrosas-G%C3%B3tica-S-T-Joshi/dp/8477027625/. I suppose I should pick up a copy before it becomes unavailable.
A few other new publications have drifted in. The “Fall 2015” issue of Dead Reckonings is at last available. I have four items in the issue: 1) a review of Reggie Oliver’s fine collection The Sea of Blood; 2) a joint review of Ramsey Campbell’s Visions from Brichester and Steve Rasnic Tem’s In the Lovecraft Museum; 3) a review of David Barker and W. H. Pugmire’s In the Gulfs of Dream and Other Lovecraftian Tales; 4) a “Weird Scholar” column containing a discussion of Thomas Burke (the item will serve as my introduction to my Thomas Burke collection from Dark Renaissance Books). I have one spare copy that I would be happy to let go for $10.00.
I also have one spare copy of a fine new monograph on Richard Matheson by June Pulliam and Anthony J. Fonseca, Richard Matheson’s Monsters: Gender in the Stories, Scripts, Novels, and Twilight Zone Episodes (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). Here is the publisher’s page about the book: https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781442260672/Richard-Matheson's-Monsters-Gender-in-the-Stories-Scripts-Novels-and-Twilight-Zone-Episodes. I believe this will be the last volume in my “Studies in Supernatural Literature” series. The book is priced at an appalling $80.00, but I will be happy to let my spare copy go for $50.00.
I have written an essay—“Lovecraft and the Titans: A Critical Legacy”—for an anthology on Lovecraft’s “Supernatural Horror in Literature” being compiled by Sean Moreland. Sean has attracted the attention of Palgrave Macmillan (which previously published David Simmons’s anthology New Critical Essays on H. P. Lovecraft , for which I wrote the foreword), so I am hopeful that this new book will also find favour with them.
Michael Aronovitz talks about his fabulous new novel, Phantom Effect (soon to be released by Night Shade Books), and other matters in the following blogtalk: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/authorsontheairradio2/2016/02/12/michael-aronovitz-returns-to-thorne-cross-haunted-nights-live. In addition to being a superb fiction writer, Michael is also one of the most articulate spokesmen for the contemporary weird tale, so his words are always worth paying attention to.
Speaking of which, I see that Ramsey Campbell has discussed Lovecraft and other issues on Ghostwords TV (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIHOBE7QVqNlOi53KH1gnqA). I have actually not watched this myself, but I have to believe it is as cogent and incisive as Ramsey habitually is.
I am slogging through the preparation of an electronic file of the truncated version of my Lovecraft biography, A Dreamer and a Visionary: H. P. Lovecraft in His Time (Liverpool University Press, 2001), which is long out of print, and which Hippocampus Press is planning to release as an ebook (and perhaps also as a print book). I suppose the thinking is that those who do not wish to wade through my 1200-page I Am Providence will find the 400 pages of this “Reader’s Digest Condensed Version” of the biography more palatable. So I am happy to oblige!
Well, we have at last resolved on a name for the new Hippocampus journal of weird fiction: it is Nemesis. I understand that at least one other name was tossed out in various venues, but that was a premature announcement. We struggled to come up with a name that both was evocative and did not conflict with the names of other magazines or books currently in circulation, and this seemed the best compromise. Many thanks to all who came up with prospective titles! Now let’s see if we can actually put an issue together. The “first reader” for submissions will be the publisher, Derrick Hussey, so please send submissions directly to him at email@example.com.
My colleague Alan Bundy has forwarded a fascinating little bit about Lord Dunsany from a book written by Amelia Earhart, 20 Hrs., 40 Min.: Our Flight in the Friendship (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1928; rpt. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2003), p. 95: “Speaking of Fog again, I know Dunsany would like to see the world above the earth. Irish fogs have been described in detail, and their bilious effect, and their fairies and their little people. But no one has written of a bird’s-eye view of one from an imaginative eye.” Earhart was the wife of George Palmer Putnam (of the Putnam publishing family) and was, I believe, personally acquainted with Dunsany.
I am thrilled to see Michael Aronovitz’s new novel Phantom Effect announced for advance order from Night Shade Books (http://www.nightshadebooks.com/book/phantom-effect/#.VrOiK_krKhd). As I have no doubt mentioned previously, this is one of the most scintillating and powerful weird novels I have read in many years, and it deserves the widest possible readership. Michael’s ability to draw character sensitively, and also to create intense horrific scenarios, may be unmatched in contemporary weird fiction.
My neighbour Jim Dempsey has brought my attention to a most amusing website, “The Call of Cthulhu Simplified” (http://imgur.com/gallery/I5Vpq), that is in effect a kind of Dr. Seuss for Cthulhu. I can’t tell if this is just a website or a book that can be purchased. Whatever the case, it is entertaining. As all the religions of the world know, we have to start our indoctrination at an early age!
I see that the fourth issue of Spectral Realms has now been announced as (nearly) ready: http://www.hippocampuspress.com/journals/spectral-realms/spectral-realms-no.-4?zenid=182f39918f1865f9ec8fa50a237a5cf3. I believe it is another exceptional issue, and I hope all devotees of weird poetry purchase it. Aside from the many fine poems included, it also features the first of Frank Coffman’s two-part essay on “The Poets of Weird Tales,” along with reviews of recent poetry books by K. A. Opperman and Wade German. Other books soon to appear from Hippocampus Press are superb collections of Lovecraftian fiction by Cody Goodfellow (The Rapture of the Deep) and John Shirley (Lovecraft Alive). Both include spectacular unpublished novellas that by themselves make the books worth securing.
I had forgotten to mention another book I have been working on—nothing less than a tribute book to the late Michael Shea, which will include several unpublished stories (including a few novellas), the multitude of poems that Michael included in his stories and novels, tributes to Michael by such writers as Laird Barron, Cody Goodfellow, Marc Laidlaw, Jason V Brock, and several others, along with some spectacular artwork that accompanied some of Michael’s writings. I am coediting the book with Michael’s widow, Linda Shea. This will appear presently from Hippocampus Press; the title is as yet undecided.
I see that my treatise A Subtler Magick: The Writings and Philosophy of H. P. Lovecraft (Borgo Press, 1996) has been issued as an ebook from Hippocampus Press: http://www.amazon.com/Subtler-Magick-Philosophy-Lovecraft-Criticism-ebook/dp/B01AS4ZFAM . This is one of the volumes of a new series of ebooks, Classics of Lovecraft Criticism, which also includes Peter Cannon’s H. P. Lovecraft (Twayne, 1989) and Donald R. Burleson’s H. P. Lovecraft: A Critical Study (Greenwood Press, 1983). I believe these books are also available on Amazon. More titles will surely follow.
I was saddened to hear of the sudden and unexpected death, on January 20, of David G. Hartwell. Whatever disagreements I may have had with him, I always had the highest admiration for him as an editor and critic. His work was chiefly in the realm of science fiction, but he also made lasting contributions to the study and appreciation of fantasy fiction and weird fiction. He will long be remembered.
I am in receipt of an interesting post from Terence McVicker on the recent controversy over Lovecraft’s racism, and I believe his words are worth pondering: http://www.batsoverbooks.com/?page=shop/post&post_id=9. It is unfortunate that this kerfuffle has caused such bad blood in our field, and I hope that cooler heads can eventually prevail.
I have also seen an interesting post that focuses on what is truly central to Lovecraft as a writer and critic—his advice on writing, derived from the early essay “Literary Composition” (1920): https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/01/11/h-p-lovecraft-advice-on-writing/. How welcome it would be if more writers observed these strictures!
I have been quite busy of late, but I don’t have anything earthshaking to report. I did finish my compilation of the W. W. Jacobs volume for Dark Renaissance Books and am still hopeful that (as the publisher has promised me) the six titles I have prepared for him will come out in the first half of this year.
I now find, however, that I have forgotten yet another forthcoming book that has been done for quite some time: my compilation of the weird tales of D. H. Lawrence, originally compiled for Ash-Tree Press (although I never received a contract from them), but now to be issued (someday) by Centipede Press. This gives me a total of twelve books to appear from Centipede, and a total of twenty-six forthcoming books. To review, here they are:
For Centipede Press:
For Dark Renaissance Books:
For other publishers:
Omigod! Have I miscounted again? This seems to make twenty-seven!
Just a refresher on books I am working on at present:
This does not count the new Hippocampus journal of weird fiction, for which I have already accepted some stories, as well as the four other periodicals (Lovecraft Annual, Weird Fiction Review, Spectral Realms, American Rationalist) I edit. I am also thinking of assembling a volume of my reviews and other matter—those published subsequent to Classics and Contemporaries (Hippocampus Press, 2009). And I am not even counting the huge volume of the joint correspondence of Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, which should be out at the end of this year but on which I have done very little as yet (my coeditor, David E. Schultz, has done the great majority of work on this volume).
The above list doesn’t count reprints (Dover is reprinting my edition of Maurice Level [in a truncated edition that includes only the short stories and not the two novels in the original Centipede Press edition] as well as my edition of Edward Lucas White). And Hippocampus Press is set to issue ebooks of some of my earlier titles, including H. P. Lovecraft: The Decline of the West (1990), The Weird Tale (1990), A Subtler Magick (1996), and The Modern Weird Tale (2001).
The overriding question is: Will I ever shut up?
I recently announced to selected colleagues the establishment of a new journal devoted to weird fiction, to be published annually (probably in summer or fall) by Hippocampus Press. I have received encouraging responses from my colleagues, but everyone associated with the magazine is faced with a perplexing difficulty: We do not have a name for the periodical! Can anyone out there help? Derrick Hussey, David E. Schultz, and I have been racking our brains for months over the issue, and have come up largely empty.
Otherwise, I can say that the magazine will consist of about 80,000 words, will pay 4 cents a word (first serial rights), and will be open to the widest array of weird fiction, from pure supernaturalism to psychological suspense. Lovecraftian fiction will not be emphasised; indeed, I am tempted to ban it altogether, although perhaps such a blanket proscription would be unwise. But there are plenty of other venues for the publication of such material—including my own Black Wings series. I have just requested that selected colleagues send me contributions for Black Wings VI, which I hope to complete by this summer, for publication in 2017.
I am also compiling a volume entitled The Red Brain: Great Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos for Dark Regions Press. This is a kind of follow-up to A Mountain Walked, which has done surprisingly well in the paperback edition that Dark Regions issued late last year. The Red Brain will again consist of both reprinted stories and original tales, and I hope to complete the compilation as early as April of this year.
I was thrilled to see that Michael Aronovitz’s forthcoming novel Phantom Effect (due out from Night Shade in February) received a rave review in Publishers Weekly: http://publishersweekly.com/978-1-59780-846-0. I am pleased to receive such an enthusiastic vindication of my own approbation of this splendid work. I hope everyone who reads this blog gets a chance to read this unforgettable novel.
My copies of Weird Fiction Review No. 6 (2015) finally showed up in late December. It is a spectacular issue of 375 pp., with a gorgeous cover (a parody of the Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers album cover) featuring the images of more than 70 authors of weird fiction: http://www.centipedepress.com/anthologies/wfreview6.html. The webpage of course lists me as editor, but my name was inadvertently omitted from the magazine itself (aside from being included at the head of the article I myself have in the issue). Well, no matter. I look forward to editing this flagship journal for many more years. I have several copies of the current Weird Fiction Review available for sale (let’s say $25.00) on the usual terms.
During the Christmas holidays Mary and I ventured down to Carmel Valley, California, where my sister Nalini lives; my other sister, Ragini, came up from Los Angeles, and my nieces Anjeli (Nalini’s daughter) and Annie (Ragini’s daughter) were also on hand. On the day after Christmas some of his made our way to Tor House, the stone structure (actually a series of structures) built by the poet Robinson Jeffers with his own hands: http://www.torhouse.org/. It was a wonderful visit, and I humbly explained my own indirect connection to Jeffers through my editing of George Sterling’s collected poetry. Sterling and Jeffers became acquainted during the last few years of Sterling’s life, and Sterling wrote an interesting little monograph on Jeffers in 1926.
By popular demand, David E. Schultz and I are undertaking the editing of letters by Clark Ashton Smith and some of his colleagues. Currently underway is an edition of the letters between Smith, Donald Wandrei, and R. H. Barlow; later projects might involve the letters of Smith and Samuel Loveman, as well as an immense volume of the letters of Smith and August Derleth. Of course, we do not wish to distract ourselves from our ongoing publication of Lovecraft’s letters, nearly 20 volumes of which remain to be edited.
In my last blog I mentioned 19 books of mine that are forthcoming. I refer to books that are actually complete and sitting at publishers’ offices waiting to be published. I find that there are at least six more such books:
This list does not of course include a dozen or more volumes that I am still working on. When all the completed books come out, I would reach a total of 251—a frightening thought!