S. T. Joshi's Blog from 2010

Entries from 2011...

December 26, 2010

Once again, apologies for the more-than-month-long delay in contributing to this blog. Things continue here at a hectic pace, both professionally and personally. ... I am pleased to announce the appearance of a hand-bound hardcover edition of Lovecraft's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (University of Tampa Press, 2010; http://utpress.ut.edu/). It looks splendid—a wonderful example of old-fashioned bookmaking. This edition sells for $50.00 (a softcover edition, itself highly attractive, sells for $20.00). I have 2 spare copies of the hardcover and would be happy to let them go for $40.00 (which includes postage to US customers) if anyone is interested.

I have just heard that a Polish translation of my biography H. P. Lovecraft: A Life is now out, entitled H. P. Lovecraft: Biografia. I am not entirely clear who the publisher actually is, but more information on the book can be found on a new Polish website devoted to Lovecraftian matters, www.hplovecraft.pl. The person who runs this website, Mateusz Kopacz (who supervised the translation of my book), says that the site is somewhat "raw" at the moment, but it will be fleshed out in due course of time.

My work on the letters of Ramsey Campbell and August Derleth continues apace, as Ramsey himself is supplying some valuable information on certain obscure passages in the letters. I am hoping that this book might see print as early as next year from PS Publishing, although probably it will appear in 2012.

I see that I have already written about 80,000 words of the second volume of my history of supernatural fiction, entitled Unutterable Horror. I am now in the chapter on "American Pulpsmiths," dealing with such post-Lovecraftian writers as Fritz Leiber, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, and the like. My recent rereading of some of Bradbury's early horror works (including the novel Something Wicked This Way Comes) renewed and augmented my admiration for this writer, who I now see towers over nearly everyone in the field after Lovecraft, with rare exceptions such as Ramsey Campbell.

An edition of the letters of Lovecraft and James F. Morton, edited by David E. Schultz and myself, is lurching toward a close. This has proven to be quite a difficult volume to prepare, but we hope to have it ready for publication by Hippocampus Press by early next year. It will be close to 500 pages long-and that includes no letters by Morton himself, most of which exist only in fragments. But there is a substantial amount of material about Morton in an appendix, especially some highly illuminating memoirs by W. Paul Cook, E. Hoffmann Price, Rheinhart Kleiner, and others that appeared in an issue of Cook's amateur magazine The Ghost.

I understand that my biography I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft is selling briskly, and that half the 1000-copy print run is already sold. If you are interested in this title, please order directly from Hippocampus Press. (I myself still have 2 copies that I will be happy to sell at the list price [$100.00], duly inscribed.)

Speaking of books ... I see that I have one spare copy of my Icons of Unbelief (Greenwood Press, 2008) and three copies of Civil War Memories (Barnes & Noble, 2009), my anthology of Civil War stories, containing stories by Ambrose Bierce, Henry James, Edward Lucas White, W. C. Morrow, and others. I will be happy to dispose of the former for $25.00 and the latter for $10.00 to anyone who is interested.

Several books forthcoming in the next few months: A Weird Writer in Our Midst (Hippocampus—anthology of early criticism of Lovecraft), The Unbelievers (Prometheus—studies of leading atheists and agnostics), possibly my three-volume edition of George Sterling's poetry (Hippocampus), etc. etc.

Don't forget about MythosCon (Phoenix, January 6-9; www.mythoscon.com). It will be the convention to end all conventions!

I have just received copies of my newest detective work. It is a "Wildside Press double," containing the short novel Conspiracy of Silence and the novella "Tragedy at Sarsfield Manor." I would prefer that readers secure copies directly from Wildside Press. You can find all my Wildside/Borgo Press books at: http://www.wildsidebooks.com/JOSHI-S-T_c_1639.html.

Late-breaking news! Dwayne Olson, representative of the Donald Wandrei Estate, has jus signed a contract with Jerad Walters of Centipede Press for the issuance of my edition of Donald Wandrei's two novels, Dead Titans, Waken! (the early version of The Web of Easter Island) and Invisible Sun (unpublished mainstream novel). This project has been in limbo for more than a decade, as it was initially compiled for the now virtually defunct Fedogan & Bremer. I'll report on the expected date of publication as soon as that information is known.

November 12, 2010

I have at last received copies of my Encyclopedia of the Vampire (Greenwood, 2010), a 450-page tome with contributions by many notable hands, including Margaret L. Carter, Elizabeth Miller, Jim Holte, and Matt Cardin. Greenwood was unusually generous with copies, so I am happy to offer a limited number of them to interested individuals at $50.00 (the list price is $85.00). I will of course be happy to sign or inscribe them as desired.

I attended the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, Ohio (Oct. 28-31), and, although I found the convention itself-especially its stated theme of "whimsical fantasy"-quite tiresome and dull, I made a number of good contacts, with the result that such of my books as Black Wings, my history of supernatural fiction, and my biography of Lovecraft (I Am Providence) may get much wider distribution than they have hitherto. Indeed, Pete Crowther of PS Publishing says that Black Wings can be an ongoing series in perpetuity, coming out every 18 to 24 months. I have about half the contents of Black Wings II in and hope for more contributions to come in the next several months.

There is now yet another prospect for the eventual issuance of my edition of the two Donald Wandrei novels, Dead Titans, Waken! (the early version of The Web of Easter Island) and Invisible Sun (unpublished). Dwayne Olson, representing the Estate of Donald Wandrei, had earlier seemed to agree to the publication of these works by a small press, but he failed to sign a contract. Now another publisher is stepping up and seems determined to close the deal. We'll see what happens. The book has been sitting around since 1999.

I understand that my two short detective novels, Conspiracy of Silence and Tragedy at Sarsfield Manor, will be issued as a Borgo Press (or Wildside Press) "double" very shortly, although they are dated 2011. Also, my first novel, The Removal Company, will be issued in e-book format.

I hope people are getting excited about MythosCon (Phoenix, Jan. 6-9, 2011), which promises to be the most noteworthy Lovecraft convention since the H. P. Lovecraft Centennial Conference, and perhaps even surpassing that event, since MythosCon also has a lot of panels on writing, film, and other subjects beyond the scope of the Centennial Conference. The lineup of guests and panelists can hardly be surpassed: check out the convention's website (www.mythoscon.org) if you don't believe me. You'll be missing a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hobnob with the leading critics and the leading Lovecraftian authors of our time if you miss this event!

October 19, 2010

Once again I apologise for the long delay in writing this latest entry to my blog. Life has been incredibly hectic, but also highly enjoyable and productive. I attended the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon (Oct. 1–3), where I met such colleagues as Caitlín R. Kiernan, W. H. Pugmire, Marc Laidlaw, Scott Connors, Ron Hilger, Jason V Brock, and many others. This was the last festival to be run by its founder, Andrew Migliore, and I hope I may be involved in the continuance of the festival by other hands, whoever they may be. At any rate, I hope to contribute my time and expertise as best I can.

I am now preparing to head out to the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, Ohio (Oct. 28–31), where I hope to meet many more colleagues. Prior to that, on October 25, I will be giving a lecture on Poe at the Hancock County Public Library in Greenfield, Indiana. I see that the library has a notice about me on its website (http://www.greenfieldpub.lib.in.us/). In the interim, I also hope to make progress on the Ray Bradbury bibliography by consulting the abundant materials at the Ray Bradbury Center at IUPUI in Indianapolis.

My two-volume biography of Lovecraft, I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft (Hippocampus Press), is now finally out. I received copies in late September and took some of them to the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival. I hope that readers find enough new and updated material to justify purchasing the set even if they have a copy of the previous incarnation of the book, H. P. Lovecraft: A Life (Necronomicon Press, 1996).

I have now finished the two-volume edition of The Annotated Revisions and Collaborations of H. P. Lovecraft for Larry Roberts's Bloodletting Press. I do not know when either volume will be put into production, but I am hoping that at least Volume 1 (including the revisions and collaborations down through "The Mound") will appear next year.

Hippocampus Press is still hoping to bring out an ambitious batch of books in the remaining months of the year, including my compilation A Weird Writer in Our Midst: Early Criticism of H. P. Lovecraft, which includes all manner of material not readily available, from comments on Lovecraft from the letter column of Weird Tales to early reviews of Arkham House volumes in newspapers. Also scheduled is Lovecraft's Letters to James F. Morton, on which David E. Schultz and I have been working for some time.

I am reading proofs of my second (and third) detective works, Conspiracy of Silence and "Tragedy at Sarsfield Manor," which will be published as a "double" by Borgo Press. The proofs give the date of 2010, although the new edition of my first detective novel, The Removal Company (2009)—now republished under my own name—indicate that the "double" will be published in early 2011. I'll let readers know when the book appears.

For my history of supernatural fiction, I am now reading many of the pulp writers of the 1930s and 1940s, including Manly Wade Wellman, David H. Keller, Carl Jacobi, and many others. I'm preparing for the great pleasure of re-reading the work of Bradbury, Beaumont, Matheson, and other writers of the middle 20th century.

My annotated edition of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is now out from the University of Tampa Press (http://utpress.ut.edu/index.cfm/fuseaction/homeItem/PubId/215). A paperback edition selling for $20.00 is now out; a hardcover edition, selling for $50.00, will be out in about a month. In addition to an afterword and extensive notes, the edition includes many splendid photographs of sites relating to Lovecraft's life and to the incidents in the novel, supplied generously by Donovan Loucks.

September 12, 2010

I have now completed "Tragedy at Sarsfield Manor," a detective novella that came to about 22,500 words. Incredibly, I was able to copy large passages from the original version of this novella, written in 1979, almost verbatim into the new text. This tale and its companion, Conspiracy of Silence (50,000 words), has now been sent to Borgo Press and will soon be issued as a "double."

I am hard at work on the second volume of The Annotated Revisions and Collaborations of H. P. Lovecraft, dealing with revisions from "Medusa's Coil" (1930) to the end of HPL's life. Surprisingly, annotations for these tales are relatively light—which is just as well, as the texts of the stories themselves comes to 125,000 words. The first volume came to 140,000 words (with introduction and notes), and Larry Roberts of Bloodletting Press has expressed a certain apprehension as to whether he can fit it into a single volume.

I am also resuming my history of supernatural fiction, writing the chapter on "H. P. Lovecraft and His Influence" (ch. 12). It is interesting to write once more about Lovecraft, but this time from a purely historical perspective, in terms of his exact place in the history of the field. The chapter will also discuss the work of Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, August Derleth, Donald Wandrei, A. Merritt, and a few other figures—including William Sloane, whose To Walk the Night (1937) I am looking forward to re-reading after an interval of decades. A later chapter will discuss other pulp writers from the period—Carl Jacobi, Henry S. Whitehead, and so forth.

I am now preparing the index to the proposed Hippocampus Press reprint of An Epicure in the Terrible: A Centennial Anthology of Essays in Honor of H. P. Lovecraft (1991), edited by David E. Schultz and myself. I am heartened by how well the essays hold up after nearly two decades, and it will be good to have them in print in a relatively affordable paperback edition instead of the expensive hardcover edition published by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

I understand that I Am Providence has shipped from the printer, all copies going to Derrick Hussey of Hippocampus Press. I imagine I will not get my own copies until around Sept. 20, but at that time I will send them off to various of my colleagues. I trust everyone has ordered a copy! It appears that the Polish translation of H. P. Lovecraft: A Life will appear just about at the same time, and I have given an e-mail interview to the Polish editor of the book, Mateusz Kopacs.

August 17, 2010

As the new page on this website attests, I have come clean on my "other life" as a writer of hard-boiled detective stories. I have published one detective novel, The Removal Company (Borgo Press, 2009), and have completed another one, Conspiracy of Silence; but the latter is a bit short (50,000 words), so the publisher has suggested that I write a novella of, say, 25,000 to 30,000 words, and he will issue the pair as a "double," analogous to the Ace Doubles (or Hippocampus Doubles). I'm trying to find the time to write this novella, which will probably be based on an orthodox detective story I wrote all the way back in 1979 called "Tragedy at Sarsfield Manor."

I have just returned from a grueling research trip to Indiana, where I made extensive headway on a Ray Bradbury bibliography, which I am compiling in conjunction with Jon Eller of the Ray Bradbury Center at IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis). The number of foreign editions of Bradbury (which was my chief focus of attention on this trip) is incredible, ranging from Icelandic to Serbo-Croatian to Czech. Surprisingly, no translations into any of the languages of India have been found. Bradbury has also appeared extensively in foreign magazines (including a number of somewhat risqué "men's" journals, such as foreign editions of Playboy) and anthologies.

On a personal note, I am sorry to report that I am in the process of divorcing my wife of nearly nine years, Leslie. Our differences have grown over the years, and we are really not well suited to each other. My personal (and financial) life may be in a bit of disarray in the short term, and I have not ruled out a return to Moravia, as my economic condition may necessitate it. But we'll see what happens.

July 15, 2010

I thought it best to jot down some thoughts prior to my week-long trip to the East Coast—New York and Providence (July 17-25). I'm hoping to meet a number of colleagues—Derrick Hussey, Scott Briggs, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Jonathan Thomas, Peter Cannon, T. E. D. Klein, Michael Aronovitz, Jason C. Eckhardt, Sam Gafford, Michael Cisco, Stefan Dziemianowicz, and several others. Best of all, Leslie will be with me, and this will emphatically not be a "working vacation."

I have come to an agreement with PS Publishing to publish my two-volume history of supernatural fiction, tentatively titled Unutterable Horror. The first volume is basically done, but I continue to tinker with it. This volume will be released in late 2011, and the second volume will come out in late 2012. I am still hopeful for a US publisher for this project, and Derrick Hussey of Hippocampus Press has offered to publish it if no other publisher can be found.

Derrick also tells me that Jonathan Thomas's second collection of horror tales, Tempting Providence, will be out soon, perhaps later this month. I believe this is at least the third volume to contain a story from my Black Wings anthology—the others being Norman Partridge's Lesser Demons and Michael Shea's Copping Squid and Other Mythos Tales. Shea's book actually preceded Black Wings in print, although it shouldn't have.

I have now re-established contact with Jean-Luc Buard, the French scholar who has done a great deal of work on Maurice Level. He has informed me of a number of additional English translations of tales by Level that have appeared in magazines and newspapers, including such periodicals as Today's Housewife (!) and Young's Magazine. I may be able to look up some of these at the New York Public Library on my impending trip, but others appear to be available only at the Library of Congress.

I have virtually completed the first volume of my edition of Lovecraft's revisions and collaborations for Bloodletting Press, this volume containing stories from "The Green Meadow" (1918/19) to "The Mound" (1929-30). The annotation of the volume was enlightening to me personally, and I learned how well Lovecraft had absorbed information about Aztec and other southwestern cultures in such stories as "The Curse of Yig," "The Electric Executioner," and "The Mound." I hope to finish the second volume by the end of the year.

Some exciting new Lovecraftian projects are forthcoming from Hippocampus Press. This year we hope to release my compilation of early criticism of Lovecraft, entitled A Weird Writer in Our Midst. This contains such things as articles on Lovecraft in the amateur press, readers' comments from Weird Tales and Astounding Stories, and early reviews. Scheduled for next year are such things as a new collection of essays by Robert H. Waugh and a new edition of An Epicure in the Terrible: A Centennial Anthology of Essays in Honor of H. P. Lovecraft (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1991), assembled by David E. Schultz and myself. We also hope to issue the joint correspondence of Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith.

I am now scheduled to attend the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, Ohio (October 28-31). The Greenfield Public Library is offering to pay my expenses to give a lecture on Edgar Allan Poe on October 25, and this will provide me the opportunity to take in the convention. I may or may not be able to get up to the Bowling Green State University Popular Culture Center to look over the ms. of Robert Aickman's novel Go Back at Once. I have not yet completed my transcription of this work, but I hope to do so soon. Consultaton of the ms. will be necessary to resolve some textual problems. I am also scheduled to go to Indiana on August 7-15 to do work on the Ray Bradbury bibliography, in conjunction with Jon Eller.

Donovan K. Loucks has done yeoman's work in locating photographs for use in I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft, which is scheduled to go to press within ten days of this writing. I am hopeful the two-volume set will be out by mid- to late August. I have already signed 400 signing sheets that will presumably be tipped into the books. Donovan has also supplied photographs for my annotated edition of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, due out later this year from University of Tampa Press.

June 28, 2010

More in an effort to relieve the congestion in my house than to raise revenue, I am holding another sale of books and other items from my collection—mostly consisting of duplicate copies, books I don't intend to read again, review copies received from publishers, etc. All hardcover copies have dust jackets save where indicated. I hope I have priced these books to sell. The price includes media mail shipping; if you wish to have priority-mail shipping, please let me know and we can work out an equitable price. Overseas shipping must also be negotiated in advance. I will inscribe the books that have contributions by me, if desired. My wife has a PayPal account where you can send payment, or you can send a personal check. Please don't send any money unless you receive confirmation from me by e-mail that the item is still available for purchase.

June 18, 2010

It seems that I can only manage these updates about once a month—my schedule is so insane that this is the best I can manage. In any event, I can now say with pleasure and relief that I have at long, long last received copies of both the trade edition and the signed/limited edition of Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, issued earlier in the spring by PS Publishing. It is certainly a handsome-looking book, and I have an agent working on securing a mass-market US publisher for it. I am also thrilled to note that PS's publisher, Pete Crowther, is already interested in a follow-up volume of the same sort, and I have extended invitations to a number of writers who generally do not write in the Lovecraftian idiom—including Thomas Tessier, Steve Rasnic Tem, Melanie Tem, Tom Fletcher, Richard Gavin, John Langan, John Shirley, and Chet Williamson—to contribute to this volume, Black Wings II. This volume is, however, "by invitation only," so I'd be grateful not to be inundated with unsolicited submissions.

I have become interested in the work of the British horror writer John Metcalfe, and may decide to assemble a comprehensive volume of his weird tales. Ash-Tree Press has already issued Nightmare Jack and Other Stories (1998), but this volume is long out of print and commanding fabulous prices on the used-book market—much higher prices, indeed, than the original editions of Metcalfe's own collections, The Smoking Leg (1925) and Judas and Other Stories (1931). [I once owned the original British edition of The Smoking Leg—but left it on an Amtrak train years ago!] Metcalfe is, of course, also the author of the effective werewolf novella The Feasting Dead (Arkham House, 1954).

I recently read the manuscript of Donald Tyson's biocritical study, The Dream World of H. P. Lovecraft, due out later this year from Llewellyn. It is a fine work, although I do not share its interest in, and emphasis on, Lovecraft's possible ties to occultism. I now see that Tyson has also written a book called The 13 Gates of the Necronomicon, apparently due out in July from Llewellyn. This is touted as a "workable system of magic from the stories of H. P. Lovecraft." Sounds a bit formidable! I would not welcome the fabric of the universe to be loosened while I am still on this earth—I'm having too good a time.

I am happy to announce that I have signed a contract with Larry Roberts of Bloodletting Press to issue an exhaustively annotated edition of Lovecraft's revisions and collaborations, in two volumes. These works by Lovecraft are just about the last of his writings (barring, of course, his extensive letters) that I have not edited in annotated editions, and I am thrilled at the chance to prepare such an edition. I believe the first volume will be scheduled to appear late in 2011, the second in 2012. I may actually finish my work in a few months, so possibly the schedule could be moved up a bit.

I am looking forward to a leisurely trip to the East Coast in July. Leslie and I are planning to spend 8 or 9 days there around July 17-25, and we hope to look up many of our friends and colleagues in New York City, upstate New York, and Providence. I am particularly interested in meeting my protégé (if I dare to call him that) Michael Aronovitz, author of the splendid story collection Seven Deadly Pleasures (Hippocampus Press, 2009), and who has gone on to write two full-length horror novels, both of which I hope to see in print in the near future. Michael lives outside of Philadelphia, and we plan to meet him in Princeton. I hope to meet Caitlín R. Kiernan, Brian Evenson, and other writers in Providence. Both of them have promised to contribute to Black Wings II.

I am still undecided as to who will publish my history of supernatural fiction. I was in brief negotiations with various editors at St. Martin's Press, but one of them seems interested only in the second volume (covering 20th- and 21st-century writing)—but the book is not written in such a way that the second volume could appear separately. I have a standing offer from PS Publishing to issue the book, and I suspect I will go with that. I of course want more US distribution for the book than PS can give, but I guess I will deal with that issue at a later stage.

May 18, 2010

It's hard to believe that another month or more has passed since my last update. Things continue to be pleasingly hectic. I was pleased to have finally received copies of my edition of Lovecraft's Against Religion, published by Sporting Gentlemen and containing an incisive foreword by Christopher Hitchens. The design of the book, I am sorry to say, leaves something to be desired, but I hope that the text (consisting largely of excerpts from Lovecraft's letters discussing atheism from a number of perspectives) will establish Lovecraft as an important atheist thinker. On a similar note, I have written an introduction to Voltaire's God and Human Beings (Prometheus Books, 2010), the first translation of the work Dieu et les hommes. The work was translated by Michael Shreve, who has rendered other important French philosophical works into English.

I have still not received any copies of Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror from PS Publishing. The publisher, Pete Crowther, informs me that there was a problem with the "traycases" of the signed limited edition, but that this problem has finally been rectified and copies are on their way to me. The trade edition has been available, apparently, for some time, but I've seen no copies of that either.

After more than a decade, it appears that my edition of Donald Wandrei's two novels, Dead Titans, Waken! (the early—and, in my estimation, superior—version of what was published as The Web of Easter Island) and Invisible Sun (an unpublished mainstream novel with some weird—and erotic—elements), will finally be published soon. This book was to have been published by Fedogan & Bremer as early as 1999, but their financial difficulties put an end to the plan. Thanks to the intervention of Scott Connors, I recently established contact with Dwayne Olson, representative of the Estate of Donald Wandrei, and he is now coming to terms with a leading small press to issue the book. I hope it might appear even later this year, or early next.

My compilation The Encyclopedia of the Vampire is finally being put into production by Greenwood Press. The book was to have been finished late last year, but did not get submitted to the publisher until early January; then it was sent back to me for various revisions, which I (with the help of several contributors) completed in mid-April. I believe the book is scheduled to appear very late this year. It is a volume of nearly 175,000 words, with contributions by such critics as Elizabeth Miller, Jim Holte, Margaret L. Carter (who was a virtual coeditor in providing assistance all along the process of compilation), Joyce Jesionowski (an authority on film who wrote many of the entries on vampire films), Hank Wagner, and many others.

I appear to be coming in for my share of publicity. A brief article on me appeared in a local Seattle paper, the Queen Anne & Magnolia News (14 April 2010), written by Andrew Hamlin. Hamlin mentioned that he was going to interview me on KING-FM, but that hasn't happened yet. Some days ago I gave phone interviews to Robert M. Price and Rick Dakan, which will eventually appear as podcasts; another such interview, with Chad Fifer of the H. P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, will be conducted on May 24. Just today (May 18) I will be seeing my friend W. H. Pugmire, who will shoot a brief video interview of me for posting on YouTube.

My book, The Unbelievers: The Evolution of Modern Atheism, has now been announced for publication in February 2011. It contains chapters on Thomas Henry Huxley, H. P. Lovecraft, Mark Twain, H. L. Mencken, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Gore Vidal, and the "big three" of contemporary atheism—Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens.

I was recently informed by a reader that my edition of Mencken on Mencken: A New Collection of Autobiographical Writings (Louisiana State University Press, 2010), was listed on many online book sites as "temporarily unavailable." It appears that the initial printing was sold so quickly that the publisher ran out of copies. That is welcome news, as is the news that the book is now being reprinted and will be kept in print as long as sales continue strong.

I have completed an edition of Maurice Level's Tales of the Grand Guignol for publication by Centipede Press. This book contains nearly everything by Level that has been translated into English: his early novel The Grip of Fear (1911); his later novel Those Who Return (1923); and his collection of tales, Tales of Mystery and Horror (1920); as well as more than a dozen uncollected tales found in magazines and anthologies. I have revised all the translations based on consultation of the original French texts, where possible. I was astounded to find that there is virtually no biographical or critical information on Level, even in French sources. He is the forgotten man of French literature. My colleague Jean-Luc Buard has done much work on Level, but I have lost touch with Jean-Luc and could not draw upon his research.

My choir, the Northwest Chorale, is performing two requiems—by Johannes Brahms and John Rutter—on May 21 and 22. The performance on May 21 is at the University Lutheran Church in Seattle (1604 NE 50th Street), while the performance on the 22nd is at the Lake Forest Park Church (17740 Brookside Blvd NE) in Lake Forest Park, a northern suburb of Seattle. Both concerns begin at 7:30. The performance will include a full orchestra and soloists. For more information, see the choir's website: www.nwchorale.org.

My edition of Edna W. Underwood's Dear Dead Women has now been announced by Tartarus Press, although I have yet to see copies. The volume consists of the contents of Underwood's rare weird collection, A Book of Dear Dead Women (1911), along with the uncollected novella, "An Orchid of Asia" (1920).

April 14, 2010

I trust that my readers will forgive this long gap between my updates, but I've been exceptionally busy, both before and after my hasty and hectic trip to New York and Providence, R.I. (March 21-27). In New York I did good work on my Horror Fiction Index (which has now reached 1600 titles, at least), and on my edition of Ambrose Bierce's letters. I also met with the editors of the Library of America to work out details about my edition of Bierce. That edition will contain Tales of Soldiers and Civilians, Can Such Things Be?, The Devil's Dictionary, "Bits of Autobiography," and a selection of Bierce's humorous and satirical fiction, including the long political satire "Ashes of the Beacon."

I have still not received copies of Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, although I believe that copies of both the trade and the limited (traycased) edition have been shipped to me by the publisher, Pete Crowther of PS Publishing. I am apparently to distribute copies of the limited edition to the US contributors. A colleague also tells me that my edition of Lovecraft's atheist writings, Against Religion, is or may be out, but I have not yet received copies. However, there is a link to the book on Lulu.com.

I am becoming a tad overwhelmed at the amount of reading I have to do for the second volume of my history of supernatural fiction. Right now I am digesting the weird tales of E. Nesbit (not as interesting as I had once thought), and I am looking forward to reading A. E. Coppard (the Arkham House edition of whose Fearful Pleasures I have just acquired) for perhaps the first time. Saki's weird tales are also on the list. My opinion of such standard ghost story writers as A. M. Burrage and H. R. Wakefield is pretty much what you might imagine. Oliver Onions could have been the greatest ghost story writer of them all if he had managed to harness his undoubted skills better than he did. But I am confident that Walter de la Mare (whose work I have not read in decades) will hold up.

I am pleased to be helping Fred Phillips prepare a volume of his weird verse, tentatively titled From the Cauldron and due out from Hippocampus Press later this year. Fred has an uncanny gift at sonneteering, and his work divides interestingly into pure fantasy, pensive philosophical verse, and powerful weird vignettes. This book may contain more than 100 of his poems.

When in New York, I met briefly with T. E. D. Klein, who has agreed to allow Hippocampus Press to assemble a volume of his essays. This is a project that had been scheduled aeons ago with Necronomicon Press. Fortunately, the computer files that I prepared years ago are still viable, and Ted and I are now actively working to prepare the book. It will contain such important critical essays as "Ramsey Campbell: An Appreciation," "Dr. Van Helsing's Handy Guide to Ghost Stories," and many others, as well as reviews of William Peter Blatty's Legion, books by Ramsey Campbell and Ruth Rendell, and much else besides. Three poems will also be included.

March 22, 2010

I am thrilled to have learned from Pete Crowther of PS Publishing that copies of my anthology, Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, have now been printed. Some copies have been sent to me, although I am not sure when they will arrive. My Swedish colleague Martin Andersson (who has just written a most charitable review of the book for Dead Reckonings No. 7, Spring 2010) tells me that the copies that were ordered by Subterranean Press have already been sold out. The edition is fairly restricted (100 copies signed/limited, 500 copies trade), so readers may have to order directly from the PS website. The book is still looking for a US publisher, either a small press or a major commercial firm.

I am just about to head off on my first trip back to the East Coast—a whirlwind trip that will include New York City and (very briefly) Providence, where I will be attending a board meeting at Brown University on the 26th. Much of my work in New York will be focused on doing research at the New York Public Library, chiefly in regard to my edition of Ambrose Bierce's collected letters, which is still in search of a publisher. I will also try to do work on my Horror Fiction Index (my listing of all single-author horror collections ever published). Of course, socialising will rank high, although there is no chance that I can meet all my many friends and colleagues in the area.

I am working hard in assembling the 7th issue (Spring 2010) of Dead Reckonings. I am pleased to be working with my new coeditor, Tony Fonseca, who has taken much of the burden off my shoulders, not least by enlisting a handful of new contributors. This issue may in fact be quite large, and we may have to postpone some reviews till the Fall 2010 issue. On an analogous note, I am very close to wrapping up the first issue of the Weird Fiction Review, for publication this summer or fall by Jerad Walters's Centipede Press. I have six original stories on hand (by Cody Goodfellow, Jason C. Eckhardt, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., Michael Aronovitz, Clint Smith, and Marc Laidlaw), eight articles (by Donald R. Burleson, Phillip Challinor, John D. Haefele, Lawrence Bush, Kristin Noone, Scott Connors, Andrew Lang [a reprint, obviously], and myself [an extract from the first volume of my history of supernatural fiction]), and poems by Ann K. Schwader, Leigh Blackmore, Richard L. Tierney & Charles Lovecraft, and perhaps others.

Now that my Unbelievers book is nearly finished, I am already shifting gears to work on the second volume of my history of supernatural fiction, tentatively titled Unutterable Horror. I have begun reading the ghost-story writers of the early 20th century, and am currently enjoying the complete ghost stories of Oliver Onions, which I have never read in their entirety. I am also looking forward to reading Mrs. H. D. Everett for the first time, as well as other such writers as Bernard Capes, A. E. Coppard, and many others.

Much of my work every day is devoted to the Ray Bradbury bibliography, on which I am collaborating with Donn Albright and Jon Eller. Right now I am wrestling with Bradbury's work in the media (radio, television, film, comic books), which of course is extensive. I hope that circumstances allow for my meeting Bradbury himself in the coming months.

On a personal note, Leslie and I are thrilled to have purchased a fine old (1911) baby grand piano from a friend. It makes a wonderful addition to our living room, although it is not entirely clear what our five cats have to say about the matter. It will come in handy in my choral work: I still need to brush up on the Brahms Requiem and the John Rutter Requiem, which my chorus, the Northwest Chorale, will be performing on May 21 and 22.

March 3, 2010

I have begun the transcription of Robert Aickman's unpublished novel Go Back at Once—a most curious piece of work. I do not know whether the prospects for publication of this work are particularly good, but I figured I'd get the work in electronic form anyway. I have a photocopy of the typescript (with extensive handwritten revisions by Aickman) from the Bowling Green State University Popular Culture Center in Bowling Green, Ohio. I suspect that I will have to go to the center to clean up some textual difficulties—I may be able to swing by there after I attend the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus (Oct. 28-31).

I continue to work on my Horror Fiction Index—my comprehensive listing of all single-author horror collections ever published. I have to date analysed the contents of about 1200 collections. I imagine the total number will reach anywhere between 2500 and 3000. I will of course have to enlist the services of many scholars to assist me in locating titles to which I do not have access.

I have now indeed received a definitive offer from Penguin to edit an Arthur Machen volume for Penguin Classics. I have tentatively titled it The White People and Other Weird Stories, and the following items will be included: "The Inmost Light," "Novel of the Black Seal," "Novel of the White Powder," "The Red Hand," "The White People," "A Fragment of Life," "The Rose Garden," "Witchcraft," "The Bowmen," "The Soldiers' Rest," "The Great Return," "Out of the Earth," and The Terror. This seems to be a good mix of the different varieties of weird fiction written by Machen; the volume comes to about 150,000 words of text, and I have already annotated more than half the contents in my recent edition of The Great God Pan and Other Weird Stories (Arcane Wisdom, 2009).

I have one more chapter—on Christopher Hitchens—to write to complete my book, The Unbelievers: The Evolution of Modern Atheism, in addition to a (brief) introduction and (very brief) conclusion or epilogue. I enjoyed reading Hitchens's scathing exposé of Mother Teresa, The Missionary Position (1995), and am now reading his best-selling God Is Not Great (2007). Hitchens has written a foreword to my compilation of H. P. Lovecraft's atheist writings, titled Against Religion, which should be released in the coming months.

11 February 2010

In recent days, two of my books have appeared. One is my edition of Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan and Other Weird Stories, published by Arcane Wisdom, an imprint of Bloodletting Press (horrorgy.com/bloodlettingbo oks). The book is a splendid-looking hardcover (no dust jacket). It is published in a very limited edition: 300 signed and numbered hardcovers, and 26 deluxe lettered hardcovers. Better get them fast! I believe this is one of the first annotated editions of Arthur Machen (following Rita Tait's edition of The Three Impostors [1995], which I have not seen). At any rate, I spent considerable effort on the annotations, which also includes an extensive primary and secondary bibliography of Machen. My other book to appear is my edition of H. L. Mencken's Mencken on Mencken: A New Collection of Autobiographical Writings, issued by Louisiana State University Press (www.lsu.edu/lsupress). This edition is much more affordable, as it is published in trade paperback only and selling for $24.95.

Speaking of Machen, I appear to be on the verge of finally convincing Penguin to issue a volume of Machen's stories in the Penguin Classics series. Penguin was on the fence about the book until I suggested that Guillermo del Toro might write a foreword to it. I got in direct touch with Guillermo and got him to agree to do the job. Guillermo also directed some flattering words toward myself and said that he would ask me to be a consultant if and when he begins work in earnest on his film version of Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness. I am not entirely sure what I can do to help Guillermo, but I will do what I can.

I have at last received a contract from the Library of America to issue a volume of Ambrose Bierce's Essential Writings. The book will not appear until the fall of 2011, when it will apparently be published in conjunction with another volume—a kind of New Devil's Dictionary in which many American writers have written definitions along the lines of Bierce's classic work. The Bierce volume will include all the stories in Tales of Soldiers and Civilians (as revised in Volume 2 of his Collected Works) and Can Such Things Be? (as revised in Volume 3 of the Collected Works), The Devil's Dictionary (as revised in Volume 7 of the Collected Works), "Bits of Autobiography" (from Volume 1 of the Collected Works), and a selection of satirical stories, most significantly the long political satire "Ashes of the Beacon."

I am close to finishing my book on leading atheists, agnostics, and secularists of the past century and a half, for Prometheus Books. I was going to call it The Infidels: The Evolution of Modern Atheism, but Prometheus feels (correctly, I think) that the word "infidel" has been hijacked by the Muslims, so that the book might suggest some kind of anti-Muslim tract—when in fact it is pretty much anti-Christian. I have suggested The Unbelievers. We will see what the final title will be. At any rate, I hope the book-which discusses such figures as Thomas Henry Huxley, Clarence Darrow, H. L. Mencken, H. P. Lovecraft, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, and the contemporary triumvirate of best-selling atheists, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens—will be a hellraiser.

I have just begun work on the annotation of Lovecraft's letters to James F. Morton, picking up on extensive work already done by my collaborator, David E. Schultz. This is a particularly rich set of correspondence-and will also constitute the first of a formal series of 20 or more volumes of Lovecraft's letters to be published by Hippocampus Press. Actually, we regard the Lovecaft-Derleth letters (2008) and the Lovecraft-Howard letters (2009) as the initial volumes of the series. We thought we could issue the letters of Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith next, but that project is proving more complicated than we expected, so it will probably be released next year. The letters to Morton are complex enough, but we think we can get them out by this year.

28 January 2010

The hardcover edition of my H. P. Lovecraft: A Comprehensive Bibliography is now out and can be ordered directly from the publisher, University of Tampa Press (utpress.ut.edu). The paperback edition came out late last year, but the hardcover is clearly more durable and attractive.

At long last, David E. Schultz and I have won back the rights to our critical anthology, An Epicure in the Terrible: A Centennial Anthology of Essays in Honor of H. P. Lovecraft (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1991), and we are now preparing a new edition of it for paperback publication by Hippocampus Press later this year. The hardcover edition was quite expensive (at least $45), and its cost presumably limited its dissemination among the Lovecraftian public. We hope the paperback edition will allow the book to reach a much wider audience. The book contains outstanding essays by Donald R. Burleson, Jason C. Eckhardt, Robert H. Waugh, and many other leading scholars.

I have been told by Larry Roberts that my edition of Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan and Other Weird Stories is now out from Arcane Wisdom, an imprint of Roberts's Bloodletting Press. I have not yet received copies, but I am confident that it will be a splendid-looking publication. I have written an introduction and extensive notes to the Machen stories included in the volume.

Jerad Walters and I have come to an informal agreement to issue a new magazine, The Weird Fiction Review, with his Centipede Press. The magazine will contain both fiction and critical articles (also some poetry); at the moment it will only appear once a year, but I hope that more frequent publication may occur later. I am still looking for critical articles to publish in the first issue, so anyone is welcome to send me a submission.

I have just begun what is probably an insane project--the compilation of a comprehensive index to all single-author horror collections ever published. Mike Ashley's The Supernatural Index (Greenwood Press, 1995) is a definitive index to all horror anthologies, but Ashley has told me that he has decided not to undertake an index of single-author collections, although he had once contemplated doing so. I have plunged into the task myself, and have already come up with a list of 850 collections and their complete contents. I suspect the list will extend to several thousand volumes. The book will have a complete title index, will give information on first appearances of the individual stories, and will also have an index of publishers and editors. I may have to restrict the compilation to books published in English (including English translations of foreign works). I do not have a publisher yet . . . so if anyone knows of a likely publisher for this project, please let me know!

I am thinking of resuming work on an old project--an edition of the letters of Ramsey Campbell and August Derleth. David E. Schultz and I obtained the complete correspondence on both sides many years ago and began the transcription of the letters, perhaps with Arkham House as our publisher; but the virtual collapse of Arkham House put the project on hold. I will now at least complete the transcription of the letters and see if a publisher is interested. The letters are exceptionally interesting in showing the development of Campbell as a writer and displaying Derleth's skill as an editor.

On the Campbell front, I am making a concerted effort to complete the revision and updating of Campbell's bibliography, first published as The Core of Ramsey Campbell (1995). Campbell himself has kept a scrupulous record of his publications (including foreign translations), and I will help him put the information in standard bibliographical format; the book will also include plot synopses of all Campbell's novels and tales down to the present day. As a bonus, Campbell may allow the publication of one or both drafts of an incomplete mystery novel (modelled upon the work of John Dickson Carr) that he wrote as a teenager.

I understand that my next book of H. L. Mencken's writings, Mencken on Mencken: New Autobiographical Writings, has reached the warehouse of Louisiana State University Press. This is my first Mencken book since Mencken's America (Ohio University Press, 2004), aside from the slim Collected Poems issued last year by Hippocampus Press. I hope someday to make available my transcripts of Mencken's complete published writings, totalling more than 5000 individual items and more than 12,000,000 words. Some of the material is still under copyright, so negotiations will have to be conducted with the Estate of H. L. Mencken.

I am pleased to have gotten in touch with Jonathan Adams, a musical composer who is interested in setting some of H. P. Lovecraft's poems to music. He has just sent me a delightful musical setting of "The Ancient Track" (for SSATB and piano accompaniment), which I will publish in the next Lovecraft Annual. Jonathan will write briefly on how he came to write the piece.

Entries from 2009...