S. T. Joshi's Blog

February 8, 2018 — I Am Providence in German

I was happy to receive some copies of the German translation of volume 1 of I Am Providence, which appears from Golkonda Verlag as H. P. Lovecraft: Leben und Werk (2017), translated by Andreas Fliedner. The publisher’s website (http://golkonda-verlag.de/cms/front_content.php?idart=625) is of interest in having some blurbs from German scholars or critics on my book; these must have been solicited by the publisher somehow. Very flattering! The book is selling for nearly 40 euros, and I have one spare copy of it, if anyone wants it. I’m willing to let it go for the bargain price of $25. It’s a big book (734 pages)! I think the second volume will appear later this year.

Speaking of German, I have now received an unauthorised translation of my compilation of Lovecraft’s writings on religion, entitled Against Religion (published in 2010 by Sporting Gentleman). The German edition appears as Gegen die Religion (JMB Verlag, 2017); my introduction (and Christopher Hitchens’s foreword) were removed, although my notes to the book were retained (without credit to me). Indeed, my name does not appear in the book anywhere, so far as I can tell. As I say, this book was unauthorised, and I later heard from the publisher, apologising for the violation of my copyright. My US publisher has now officially sold German rights to Festa Verlag, which has published much work by Lovecraft and other weird writers. An Italian edition of Against Religion is also forthcoming.

I present herewith the index to my memoirs, What Is Anything?, so that interested readers can find out who is—and is not—mentioned therein. Of course, the fact that some particular individual is cited in the index is no indication of what kind of reference I make to the person in question. To find that out, you’ll have to get the book!

A very strange thing has happened: I have just set a Lovecraft poem to music. I had long thought of setting one of Lovecraft’s nicer (i.e., non-weird) poems as a choral piece, so that my choir might perform it. After beginning such a venture some months ago, I wrote exactly four bars before giving it up. But lately, thanks in part to urging from Janice Klain (the president of the Northwest Chorale), I finished the job. I chose the three-stanza poem “Sunset.” The piece is set for a cappella (i.e., unaccompanied) four-part chorus. I believe this is the first time a poem by HPL has been arranged for chorus, since previous settings have been for solo voice. Whether the piece is any good or not is a debatable point. I shall have to get my choir director’s opinion on the matter sometime. But if the piece is found acceptable, it may be performed in our winter concert this December. To prove that I have actually done what I have said, I present herewith a facsimile of the rather untidy first page of my handwritten manuscript:

First page of Joshi's choral arrangement for Lovecraft’s “Sunset&rdquo.
First page of the choral arrangement for Lovecraft’s “Sunset”.

On to a more serious matter.

I am obliged to make some comments on one of the most contemptible kerfuffles in our field—and that is saying something. Evidently a tsunami of convenient outrage has been directed at Jason V Brock because of a single inconsidered comment he made regarding the singer Pink—a comment that was grotesquely (and, I must believe, disingenuously) misconstrued as a slur against transgendered people, even though Pink (i.e., Alecia Beth Moore) is a heterosexual white woman. Jason immediately took down his post and apologised to those he had offended, but that wasn’t enough to have him banned from participation at StokerCon.

Let us contrast the reaction to this incident—which, at worst, is indicative of a certain imprudence on Jason’s part, but is more pertinently indicative of an utter lack of humour on the part of his antagonists—with Ross E. Lockhart’s scurrilous and malicious “roast” (as he and his defenders now call it) of myself. It appears that Jason’s single-sentence comment is incalculably worse than the several-minute diatribe by Mr. Lockhart, which was clearly intended to wound and injure its target (although it of course fell far short of that goal). And whereas Jason apologised for his post, I am not aware that Mr. Lockhart has made any attempt to apologise to me or anyone else about his rant. Does he not believe he has anything to apologise for? If not, why not?

One has to wonder about the morality (and—dare I say it?—hypocrisy) of those who heap abuse on Jason but give Mr. Lockhart a pass in these matters. It would seem to be infinitely more heinous to direct a harmless jest toward a celebrated white woman (although, in my ignorance of popular culture, I had in fact never heard of her before) than it is to deliver a sustained farrago of abuse against a (male) person of colour. So the abuse of Jason (which also includes abuse of his wife) is condoned, while Mr. Lockhart (whose rant included abuse of my wife, my parents, and others) remains a member in good standing.

It appears that the outrage of certain persons is directed, not at a given offence, but at the person who happens to commit it. If you are part of the “in” crowd, you can pretty much do or say anything you like; but if you are one who refuses to kowtow to that crowd, then any amount of abuse directed at you is apparently not only forgiven, but actually encouraged.

If these are the morals that the members of the “in” crowd adopt, I thank my stars I am not one of them.

January 25, 2018 — Weird Fiction Review Available at Last

I have at last received copies of the 2017 issue of Weird Fiction Review (http://www.centipedepress.com/anthologies/wfreview8.html), which in fact was published just before the end of the year but didn’t reach Centipede Press until early January. I now have two copies to spare and am prepared to let them go for $20 each. It is the largest issue yet (nearly 400 pages), with a bountiful array of fiction (a total of ten stories), essays, interviews, and other matter of interest.

I also have two spare copies of my edition of Arthur Machen in the Centipede Press Library of Weird Fiction (http://www.centipedepress.com/masters/machenlwf.html), an enormous 700-page omnibus of his best tales, including the complete contents of The Three Impostors (1895) and Ornaments in Jade (1924), and many other tales. I will be happy to offer my spare copies for $30 each.

Other Centipede Press editions are slouching toward publication. My edition of D. H. Lawrence’s weird tales is almost ready, although the publisher informed me that there was a snafu regarding the signature page, so the book has been slightly delayed. And (momentously) I am just about to begin reading proofs of my two-volume edition of Robert Aickman’s collected weird tales, a project that totals 1352 pages. I imagine publication of this set is still a few months off, but it will be well worth waiting for.

On a very different note, I was tremendously flattered to have received a translation of my introduction to An Epicure in the Terrible (1991)—which, in my humble estimation, comprises a reasonably sound overview of Lovecraft’s life, career, and critical reputation—into Spanish from a colleague, Miguel Bernardo Olmedo Morell. The translation can be found here. I hope it will enhance the appreciation of Lovecraft in the Spanish-speaking world, and I understand that Mr. Morell will be distributing it on Spanish-language websites. Those interested in learning more about the translator should consult his own website: https://islasdepapelytinta.com.

I was delighted to receive, at long last, copies of the two-CD recording of my choir’s performance of Handel’s Israel in Egypt last May. Actually, the recording is a fusion of the two performances we had. I won’t say we were perfect in either performance, but I think the overall package is pretty nice. Sunni K Brock designed the sleeve; here is the front cover:

Cover of the Israel in Egypt CD
The Israel in Egypt CD

If anyone is interested in securing this item, I have a few spare copies that I am prepared to part with for $15.

I have now completed indexing my memoirs, What Is Anything?—but of course the book will not appear until June. The photo layout for the book (containing as many as 24 photos) is not quite complete, but close. Meanwhile, I have also been looking over the proofs of my collected mystery and horror fiction, The Recurring Doom, which checks in at nearly 180,000 words. This book will be released (in trade paperback, I believe) simultaneously with What Is Anything?, which will initially be published in hardcover.

I have lately—and not very enthusiastically—been reading Jeff VanderMeer’s “Southern Reach” trilogy, published in one volume as Area X (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014). I will have more to say about the substance (or, as I am sorry to note, the lack of substance) of the work at a later time. Right now I wish to focus on some points of grammar and style that occurred to me as I read the first 200-odd pages.

From a grammatical point of view, what is notable is how frequently VanderMeer uses both correct and incorrect usage on exactly the same grammatical point—an alternation that strikes me as pretty irrational, and, more tellingly, a sign that VanderMeer really doesn’t even understand that he is sometimes committing a grammatical mistake and at other times (accidentally) using correct usage. To wit:

Misuse of “like” for “as” or “as if”: “My heart felt like an animal had become trapped in my chest” (29 [incorrect]); “Sometimes it felt as if I had been placed with a family rather than born into one” (29 [correct]). Note that this alternating usage occurs on the same page.

Erroneous use of “different than” rather than “different from”: “The psychologist was no different than she had been before” (25); “Old Flopper [was] so much different from Ugly Leaper” (30).

Erroneous use of “of” after “all”: “All of these tiny remnants” (33); “[I] turned on all the lights” (37); “all of his resolve” (150); “the decay of all that plant matter” (151).

I bypass such a slight thing as the us of “disassociation” (84), when proper usage dictates “dissociation.”

Let me emphasise that this book was published by a major New York commercial publisher, which presumably hired a professional copy editor to go over VanderMeer’s book. Evidently it was the author’s, copy editor’s, and/or publisher’s feeling that the above errors aren’t errors anymore; but in that case, why didn’t they enforce the erroneous usage (“all of,” “different than,” “like” for “as” or “as if”) uniformly? A perplexing quandary.

January 10, 2018 — Sarnath Press Books Available

I have now received copies of some of my recent self-published books—to wit, Lovecraft and Weird Fiction (my selection of blog posts) and my edition of Robert Hichens’s splendid weird novel The Dweller on the Threshold. Both these books bear the Sarnath Press imprint. I now see that I still have copies of a previous Sarnath Press book, The Stupidity Watch (a collection of my writings on religion and politics, as published in the now-defunct American Rationalist). I offer these volumes at the following prices:

  • Lovecraft and Weird Fiction ($12.00)
  • The Dweller on the Threshold ($10.00)
  • The Stupidity Watch ($10.00)

Any two of these can be purchased for a total of $18.00; if you wish all three, I can let them go for $25.00. (This price includes media mail postage for US customers; for overseas customers, we will have to negotiate an additional fee for postage.) Copies of all three volumes are very limited, so first come, first serve!

To prove that I can actually say something nice about someone when the occasion warrants it, I offer the following review of a new book by James Ulmer. Ulmer gets almost no press in the weird fiction field, in spite of the fact that he has two books of ghost stories, The Secret Life (2012) and the volume I have reviewed, The Fire Doll (2017). This review will appear in the next Dead Reckonings. I have read Ulmer’s earlier volume, a fine book (but The Fire Doll is better), and have now fused my discussion of it with my review to make up a chapter on Ulmer for 21st-Century Horror.

More later when time permits!

January 4, 2018 — Nick Mamatas: Failed Mimic

I spent the last several weeks slogging through the oeuvre of the esteemed Nick Mamatas. I was expecting the job to be pretty dreary, but after a time I began to wonder why I was bothering: there is some doubt as to whether his work even qualifies as “weird fiction,” let alone weird fiction of any quality or substance. However, readers can make up their own minds: here is my essay on Nick Mamatas, scheduled for inclusion in my book 21st-Century Horror.

Otherwise, my activities have been much more pleasant. My choir performed Handel’s Messiah twice in December, on the 2nd and the 9th. At the latter performance there was a reporter from the Everett Herald (Everett is a northern suburb of Seattle) who reported favourably on the performance and, more pertinently, several photographs of the event. I can be seen in one of them (the one with the caption “Dozens of musicians …”) in the second row, fourth from the left. I am, after all, just about the only person of colour in the group (aside from the director, Lynn Hall, who is African-American). Here is the link to the online version of the article: http://www.heraldnet.com/news/a-classic-for-the-holidays/.

Otherwise, I have resolved to finish work on the Clark Ashton Smith bibliography (which I spent years, off and on, compiling, in conjunction with Scott Connors and David E. Schultz). The bibliography is in reasonably good shape, but a number of incomplete items (including several foreign editions of Smith) need to be fleshed out, and the whole work needs to be updated to cover works that have appeared in the last year or two. The book will appear from Hippocampus Press later this year—which, I need hardly remind anyone, is the 125th anniversary of Smith’s birth. To commemorate this event we will be publishing at least one volume of letters by Smith (probably to August Derleth).

Speaking of books, other of my works are either out or soon to be out—including a fourth revised edition of Lovecraft’s Library (Hippocampus Press), Black Wings VI (PS Publishing), my compilation of Arthur Machen’s works for the Library of Weird Fiction (Centipede Press), my edition of D. H. Lawrence’s The Rocking-Horse Winner and Other Supernatural Tales (Centipede Press), and the first two volumes of my Classics of Gothic Horror series for Hippocampus, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman’s Lost Ghosts and E. Nesbit’s From the Dead. Oh, yes—and there is Weird Fiction Review #8, which was delayed in arriving from the printer to Jerad Walters’s house in Colorado, but copies of which I hope to have soon. I also expect to have a few copies of my book of blogs, Lovecraft and Weird Fiction. Please do not ask me to reserve copies of any of these items for you. I will alert readers to their official arrival here in a future blog, and interested customers can order copies at that time.

I have also seen preliminary proofs of my memoirs, What Is Anything?, handsomely designed by David E. Schultz. The book comes to 327 pp., not including the index. I continue to add tidbits to it here and there, and I am also working hard on assembling an interesting cache of photographs—as many as 25 scattered throughout the book, and depicting me from the age of six months to my current advanced age of fifty-nine. Naturally, many of these photos include family, friends, and colleagues, ranging from Derrick Hussey to David E. Schultz to Jason & Sunni Brock to Jonathan Thomas. The book should come out on schedule this summer, in time for my sixtieth birthday on June 22.

Entries from 2017…