S. T. Joshi’s Blog

Entries from 2023…

December 11, 2022 — High School Days

I was delighted to participate in a podcast run by current students of my high school, Burris Laboratory School (Muncie, Indiana). The podcast has just gone up:


In the podcast I not only reminisce about my own days in high school—as I did in my memoirs, What Is Anything? (2018), discussing my work on school publications, involvement in musical groups, and other matters—but I also interrogate my interviewer in regard to the current status of Burris on many fronts. It was a most engaging talk, and I hope readers (and viewers) find it of interest. The backdrop is of course my basement study, surrounded by books and other paraphernalia.

Some interesting books have come in, notably Katherine Kerestman’s Creepy Cat’s Macabre Travels (https://www.creepycatlair.com/), an engaging account of the author’s travels around the world in search of strangeness and wonder. One chapter is devoted to “H. P. Lovecraft’s Providence.” Katherine has also sent me a copy of Anna Taborska’s booklet Shadowcats (https://www.amazon.com/Shadowcats-Black-Shuck-Shadows-Taborska/dp/1913038378), a collection of four tales (with a prefatory poem) all about cats.

The intersection of cats and weirdness is an inexhaustible subject. Coincidentally, I am proofreading the second volume of my collected edition of Algernon Blackwood’s fiction, and I am reminded of that author’s evocation of this motif in “A Psychical Invasion” (from John Silence—Physician Extraordinary, 1908):

“Cats, in particular, he [John Silence] believed, were almost continuously conscious of a larger field of vision, too detailed even for a photographic camera, and quite beyond the reach of normal human organs. He had, further, observed that while dogs were usually terrified in the presence of such phenomena, cats on the other hand were soothed and satisfied. They welcomed manifestations as something belonging peculiarly to their own region.”

There is much more along this line in the story, and Blackwood must clearly have been a close observer of cats and their mysterious antics.

As for me, I seem to have done little of late except write introductions—to wit, for the following volumes:

I will soon be writing an introduction to Robert Hichens’s How Love Came to Professor Guildea and Other Uncanny Stories, due out sometime from Stark House. In refreshing my memory of some of the stories in this volume (and reading others for the first time), I am again impressed by Hichens’s deftness and power—not just in the portrayal of weird phenomena, but in the general portrayal of character. Greg Shepard, the director of Stark House, has a somewhat broad definition of what qualifies as “uncanny” (at least as far as Hichens is concerned), but every one of the stories he has selected for inclusion is eminently worth reading.

David E. Schultz and I are closing in on the completion of Lovecraft’s Letters to Hyman Bradofsky and Others, a volume that includes letters to a number of late colleagues in the realm of amateur journalism (Hyman Bradofsky, Helm C. Spink, Jennie K. Plaisier, etc.), along with other figures such as Richard Ely Morse, Frank Utpatel, Virgil Finlay, and others. Schultz has written an illuminating introduction providing detailed background on these individuals.

This is, of course, the second-to-last volume in the Lovecraft Letters series. After that, all that remains is the epochal Letters with Frank Belknap Long! That should be done sometime in 2023, for publication late in the year.

November 30, 2022 — A Thanksgiving Trip, in Words and Pictures

Mary and I had an exceptionally pleasant trip to California (Nov. 22–25) for Thanksgiving, where we met my two sisters, Nalini and Ragini, and sundry other friends and relatives. We arrived on Tuesday the 22nd and had a quiet dinner with Nalini that evening before retiring to our room at the Contenta Inn in Carmel Valley. The next day Mary and I traversed “17 Mile Drive”—the spectacular area of Monterey where the road hugs the coast and provides incredible vistas of the Pacific Ocean along with the local flora and fauna (cypress trees, countless birds perched on precipitous rocks jutting out from the waves, etc. etc.). Mary had inadvertently left her cellphone at home, so we were reliant on my crappy phone for photographs; but I seem to have managed to take the following one of Mary on the seashore:

Photo of Mary Wilson on the California seashore.

We had another pleasant dinner with Nalini that evening.

Thursday we had brunch with Nalini and her daughter Anjeli. Later in the day we all chipped in to prepare a lavish Thanksgiving dinner. By this time Ragini and her boyfriend Mike had joined us. Imagine the crusty old scholar working hard in the kitchen! (I believe I was in the process of dismembering the poor bird, sometimes with my bare hands.)

Photo Anjeli, Nalini (back turned), and S. T. working in the kitchen.

Anjeli, Nalini (back turned), and myself. (Photo by Ragini Joshi.)

Friday we all had a nice brunch at a local restaurant, and a cooperative waitress took our picture:

Photo of Joshi and relatives at an outdoor restaurant table

From left to right: STJ, Mary, Nalini, Mike (standing), Ragini.

Later Nalini, Mary, and I went to the Folktale Winery and Vineyard, where Nalini took a nice picture of the two of us:

Photo of S. T. and Mary sitting under a sheltering tree at a beautiful winery
Photo of S. T. and Mary sitting outdoors at a winery

We caught a plane home later that afternoon, and I immediately plunged into miscellaneous work—alternating between my Horror Fiction Index, the next volume in the Lovecraft letters series (Letters to Hyman Bradofsky and Others), my history of atheism (where I am absorbing books on Galileo), etc. etc.

I may mention that I did catch the four remaining episodes of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. They were no great shakes. “The Outside” (based on a story by Emily Carroll) was an overly long and not very compelling story that focused on female cosmetics (and, indirectly, the objectification of women). “Lot 36” (based on a story by del Toro) was a vaguely Lovecraftian story about curious things in an abandoned storage unit. “The Viewing” (written by Panos Cosmatos and Aaron Stewart-Ahn) started off with a lot of pretentious blather and ended with the inexplicable appearance of a tentacled monster. “The Murmuring” (based on a story by del Toro) was a fairly effective episode that mingled terror and pathos. I hear a second season is in the works. Let’s hope del Toro exercises better judgment as to what stories (if any) to adapt and who adapts them!

But I did see a fairly effective ghost film entitled You Should Have Left (2020), starring Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried, and written and directed by David Koepp. For once, a horror movie did not feel the need for buckets of gore to create terror. Set in Wales, this haunting, atmospheric film about an ageing businessman and his young wife built up a sense of cumulative unease that brought to mind the work of Ramsey Campbell to mind. (Why can’t some enterprising director adapt some of Campbell’s best novels or tales for the screen? Who wouldn’t be entranced by a film version of The Face That Must Die or Incarnate or Invisible Sun? IMDb informs me that a film version of Nazareth Hill is in the works!)

November 15, 2022 — Del Toro’s Cabinet Is Empty

I have had the distinct misfortune of viewing the two adaptations of Lovecraft stories in Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, an eight-episode series that is available on Netflix (streaming). Del Toro is the executive producer, and he apparently allowed his directors carte blanche to adapt the stories as they wished. That was a huge mistake.

Pickman’s Model (directed by Keith Thomas; teleplay by Lee Patterson) makes several errors right off the bat. First, the setting has been transferred to Arkham—and, specifically, to Miskatonic University—rather than Boston. Anyone who has read the story should be aware that the ambiance and, particularly, the history of Boston is the very essence of the tale. Instead, we see Pickman as a somewhat elderly student in an art class at Miskatonic—and, curiously, the focus of nearly the entire episode is on William Thurber, another student who becomes fascinated with Pickman’s paintings. But in this meandering broadcast there is not the slightest attempt to focus on the core elements of the story: the horrors that emerge out of the remote past (counteracted strikingly by the story’s conclusion, where a modern phenomenon—a photograph—clinches the supernatural climax). Instead, there is meaningless blather about the nature of horror—a weak attempt to mimic the story’s profound discussions of “the physiology of fear.” And as for the accent that the director had Pickman use—well, that is something more reminiscent of a working-class Brooklynite than of an educated Bostonian.

Dreams in the Witch House (directed by Catherine Hardwicke; teleplay by Mika Watkins) is only marginally better. Here a setting at Miskatonic University is not used, even though it is central to the story. Walter Gilman, instead of being a student of mathematics, is an investigator of spiritualist phenomena (!). He becomes fascinated with the witch house, which he believes might allow him to re-establish contact and communication with his beloved twin sister (!!). Keziah Mason does emerge, but she is a rotting reanimated corpse. All the science-fictional elements in the story—the updating of the witchcraft myth by means of advanced mathematics, hyperspace, etc.—is entirely dropped and a hackneyed Gothic horror scenario is put in its place.

I am doing my best to gauge whether these episodes are at all successful on their own terms, all apart from their severe (and, in my judgment, aesthetically disastrous) departures from the stories they are purporting to adapt. I must conclude that they are not. Pickman’s Model is disjointed and unfocused, with all manner of supernumerary characters who add nothing to the basic thrust of the narrative. Dreams in the Witch House (the “The” has been dropped, although the removal of the hyphen in “Witch House”—which I instituted in my corrected edition of Lovecraft, derived from the surviving autograph manuscript—is maintained) is somewhat better, if one can forget that it is supposed to be a rendition of a story that melds supernaturalism and science fiction in an innovative manner.

I did enjoy the adaptatons of Graveyard Rats (from the story by Henry Kuttner) and The Autopsy (from a story by Michael Shea). The latter, from my recollection, was adapted quite faithfully—and, of course, one will wish to pick up the Hippocampus Press edition of The Autopsy: Best Weird Stories of Michael Shea, which I believe is the only volume in print that contains the story. The Graveyard Rats episode probably takes considerable liberties with the original story (which I don’t recall very well), but it is an entertaining exercise in gruesomeoness.

I have not watched the other four episodes yet. If I do, and if I feel they are worth commenting on, you’ll be the first to know!

November 3, 2022 — New Hippocampus Books—And a Fire Sale to End All Fire Sales!

I am delighted to note the appearance of three important publications from Hippocampus Press, which I can offer at a discount from the list price:

Penumbra has a total of nine short stories, by such writers as Stephen Woodworth, Darrell Schweitzer, Geoffrey Reiter, Carl E. Reed, and others; also eleven poems. But its chief component is a wealth of essays (eleven in number) on many aspects of weird fiction and covering such authors as Bram Stoker, J. S. Le Fanu, Joel Lane, William Hope Hodgson, Everil Worrell (my own contribution), and others.

The two Lovecraft letters volumes are also full of fascinating material. The Woodburn Harris volume includes the single longest letter Lovecraft ever wrote—70 pages (apparently 35 sheets written back to back). We are reliant on the Arkham House Transcripts for the text, but it appears that the letter was transcribed with few if any cuts (but cuts were made when the letter was published in Selected Letters III). The volume also includes letter to Zealia Bishop, Farnsworth Wright, and others. The Miscellaneous Letters volume is a full 600 pages and contains letters to many lesser colleagues of Lovecraft (but also the significant correspondence in the Kleicomolo and Gallomo round-robin cycles), as well as a large quantity of letters published in Lovecraft’s lifetime, from letters sent to the Providence Journal to letters published in amateur journals and much else besides.

I will now take the opportunity to present a fire sale of books that are lying around here looking for good homes. To make this sale more enticing, I am offering all the volumes listed below for the super-discounted price of $5 each! In this case, however, I shall have to charge minimal postage to US customers ($5 for one book, $7 for two books, $10 for three or more books). All titles are published by Hippocampus Press save where noted:

Come and get ’em!

October 27, 2022 — A Final Plea for Research Help

As I approach the completion of my Horror Fiction Index, I make one last plea for the tables of contents of the following volumes:

All things considered, however, if I am only lacking information on these 12 volumes (out of more than 3300 that I have indexed), I suppose I am not doing too badly.

Some interesting books have come in. By far the most distinguished of these is a splendid new translation of Robert W. Chambers’s The King in Yellow into French, titled Le Roi en Jaune and published by Editions Callidor (https://www.editions-callidor.com/le-roi-en-jaune). This is a hardcover edition (rare in Europe), with superb illustrations by Samuel Araya. The translator is Christophe Thill, who has long been a leading authority on Chambers. I wrote an afterword to the book. I have only one copy in hand, but readers are urged to secure it through the publisher’s website or any other means they can find.

Stark House Press has published Robert Hichens’s Snake-Bite and Other Mystery Tales of the Sahara (http://starkhousepress.com/hichens.php). I was asked to write the introduction, which I did; in the process, I read several tales that I had not been previously familiar with, even though I had once canvassed the totality of Hichens’s short fiction to locate the weird items. The stories in this book are not all weird, but they are splendid evocations of the strangeness of the Saharan setting and are superb in their etching of the human characters who find themselves in this forbidding terrain.

Otherwise, I continue frenetically working on a multitude of projects, including: the second volume of my history of atheism; a second volume of Algernon Blackwood’s tales for the Centipede Press Library of Weird Fiction; various volumes for my Conversation Tree Press series; my ongoing edition of Ambrose Bierce’s essays and journalism; etc. etc. etc. No rest for the weary!

Finally, I am delighted to present an illustrated version of a fine Halloween poem by Leah Bodine Drake. The art and design are by the endlessly talented John C. Tibbetts:

Painted rendition of Leah Bodine Drake's poem 'Heard on the Roof at Midnight', by John C. Tibbetts

October 19, 2022 — Two Trips—and More Books!

My travels continue—not entirely to my liking, as they woefully disrupt my work schedule. However, it is always pleasing to meet colleagues old and new. The first trip to be recounted here was to the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival (October 7–9). I did not actually see many of the films, although one short item—a 10-minute film called H. P. Lovecraft and the Moon Bog—was an interesting specimen: it was essentially a documentary on “The Moon-Bog,” with commentary by several Irish professors, along with a synopsis of the story with vivid Irish scenery in the background. Here is the IMDb entry on the film: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt21635152/.

Otherwise, I richly enjoyed Andrew Leman’s reading of “The Hound” (shades of Roddy McDowall’s reading for that 1961 Caedmon LP!) as well as Tim Uren’s dramatic reading of “The Rats in the Walls.” This latter was most impressive: it is already a remarkable achievement to have memorised this lengthy story, but Uren went on to highlight the key moments of the tale with suitable gestures and modulations in his delivery. It would be churlish of me to criticise some misprounciations (e.g., “Troad”—which Uren pronounced as “trode,” but which is a two-syllable word pronounced “trow-add,” referring to the region around the ancient city of Troy, now in Turkey); and I was amused to see that the name of the protagonist’s cat was changed to Sebastian. Ah, well! It was still a thrilling experience.

I myself read from Wade German’s new poetry book from Hippocampus Press, Psalms & Sorceries, as the poet himself (who was in attendance) was too bashful to do so. In the course of the weekend I had engaging sessions with Wade, Adam Bolivar, Jason and Sunni Brock (to whose house I made my way on Saturday night, October 8), and a few others.

My next trip (October 15–17) was to the Reelworld Film Festival in Toronto. This is a festival devoted to films made by Canadians who are Black, Indigenous, and persons of colour. Qais Pasha’s documentary Exegesis: Lovecraft was shown there on October 16, and Qais flew me in to participate in a Q&A session after the showing. We had a modest but highly appreciative audience, and there was lively discussion after the film concluded. The film itself (which, of course, I had seen before, although not in this final version) I found quite moving: in essence, Qais and I become characters in this documentary as we recount our involvement with Lovecraft. Here’s hoping the film gets even wider attention! Qais tells me that it will indeed be shown at several other film festivals in the coming months.

One of the highlights of my brief Toronto trip was meeting Tony Geer and some members of his family. Tony is the publisher of Conversation Tree Press, for which I am compiling twenty volumes of weird fiction that will be issued over the coming years. We discussed this project as well as many other issues in the course of an elaborate Sunday brunch at a posh restaurant in a northern section of Toronto. My interest in this project has been renewed as a result of this personal contact with the genial and capable publisher.

I was pleased (and surprised) to receive a sheaf of new books from Centipede Press. In all honesty, I am not greatly interested in most of these titles, so I am happy to offer them to any customers who might wish them (and at a modest discount from the retail price):

Further information on all these titles can be found on the Centipede Press website (http://www.centipedepress.com).

One Centipede title, however, is of supreme interest and importance: nothing less than Jonathan Thomas’s Malign Providence (http://www.centipedepress.com/horror/malignprovidence.html), a substantial collection of Thomas’s Lovecraftian tales. I had long been urging the publisher to issue such a book, and I believe I provided at least an initial list of the stories I thought should go into it. The author informs me that the signed edition has already sold out and that there are only 30 copies of the unsigned edition left. So you’d better order soon! I myself have no spare copies to sell.

Other books or magazines that have come in are:

That last title is the newest release from Jackanapes Press (https://www.jackanapespress.com/product/halloween-hearts). It is an exceptionally fine collection of poetry by an author who has frequently appeared in Spectral Realms. I wrote the foreword to the book. All three of the above items are available for $10 each. I have only one spare copy of the Gardner book.

Ellen Greenham, whose book After Engulfment Hippocampus Press has just published, has appeared on a podcast with Henrik Möller: https://soundcloud.com/henrik-moeller-180995804/152-after-engulfment-ellen-j-greenham. I have not listened to this as yet, but I’m sure it is well worth hearing.

As for my own projects, I continue to wait patiently as Oxford University Press evaluates the first volume of my history of atheism (now titled The Downfall of God), as I begin research on the second volume. A mammoth undertaking! … The next issue of Spectral Realms is shaping up very nicely, with an abundance of scintillating material by many fine poets. … Lovecraft’s Miscellaneous Letters is close to being published, and should be well worth securing. After that, we will have only four more titles in the Lovecraft Letters series before it is completed. … Our edition of the correspondence of Ambrose Bierce and George Sterling (titled A Splendid Poison) is close to completion; it will be issued by Hippocampus Press along with a volume of Sterling’s Collected Essays. … My Horror Fiction Index is also approaching completion, as I work on the extensive index of individual story titles. Next time I may issue a final list of volumes whose contents I still lack. Many of you have supplied the contents of a number of titles, for which I am most grateful.

October 7, 2022 — A Trip to the Midwest

Let me belatedly cover some of the highlights of our recent trip to the Midwest (September 19–26) to visit our respective families. The first leg of the trip was to the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul), where we had an entertaining time meeting not only the various members of the Krawczak family but also Mary’s old friend Amy Lindgren (whom she has known since she was twelve years old) and her engaging husband Bruce. We had a fine outdoor dinner at an Italian restaurant. Another dinner took place at my mother-in-law Nancy Krawczak’s house and included Mary’s niece Laura and her husband Brian. Here is a photograph from that occasion:

Photo of Nancy and Mary Kawczak with S. T. Joshi

Another dinner, with Mary’s sister Katie Kurmis, her husband Arnie, Katie’s daughter Emily (who took several of the photos in my Photo Gallery), and her boyfriend Ross, turned out to be something of a dogfest. Katie had a new dog, while Emily and Ross each brought over their own dogs. Things got somewhat chaotic as the overexcited dogs roughhoused with one another—and with the various humans also—until they eventually fell into an exhausted sleep. One of them—Ross’s dog Indi—ended up falling asleep with his head in my lap!

A photo of a dog sleeping with its head on S. T.'s lap

Now I can’t say that I’m a “dog person,” but all animals deserve our love and respect, so I didn’t mind being an impromptu pillow for this creature.

At some point we saw the eminent Dwayne Olson for lunch. He had, incredibly, asked for a copy of that Russian translation of the first volume of I Am Providence, and I was happy to present it to him:

Photo of S. T. and Dwayne Olson

Then we moved on to Muncie. The nominal purpose of visiting at this time was so that my sister Nalini could participate in the 50th reunion of her high school class at Burris Laboratory School. It was only my 46th reunion, and my class had no formal activities planned. But I managed to persuade my old friend Ed Alexander (who had once been president of the Burris Alumni Association—now apparently defunct) to round up at least some of the gang for an informal lunch. A total of eight of us made an appearance, including Ed, Jeff Turner (a co-editor for my high school magazine, The Forum [1974–76]), Lisa Keener (a fine cellist with whom I frequently practised and performed in the days when I was playing the violin), etc. etc. I was dismayed that the alumni association had bitten the dust (there is still a website for it, but it has not been updated in years). The official reunion dinner on Saturday the 24th had been arranged by members of the Class of 1972 and proved to be a most entertaining affair. I attended, even though I knew next to no one in that class (but there were some people who were older brothers or sisters of my Class of 1976).

Prior to the dinner, there was a tour of Burris led by some current students. I addressed a number of questions to the bright student who led us around. Much of the interior has been totally renovated, although the auditorium looks like a “blast from the past” and is pretty much the same as it was in my day. Only a few days before leaving on my trip, I heard from some unnamed individuals who operate a Burris Podcast. I will be speaking with them on November 9. I was dismayed that there are no student-run publications in the school. I wonder if I could help to resurrect a magazine or newspaper?

During my stay in Muncie I had Mary drive me to the John F. Kennedy branch of the Muncie Public Library:

Photo of S. T. in front of the John F. Kennedy branch of the Muncie Public Library

This was one of the places where, in the early 1970s, I began reading Lovecraft. My first encounter with Lovecraft was probably at the main branch of the library on Jackson Street, but the John F. Kennedy branch was one I visited often, usually making the long but scenic trip on my bicycle and checking out as many books as I could carry back with me. The library was closed (we visited it on a Sunday), but I could tell that the interior had been radically altered. Ah, me!

That Sunday we had a family gathering at my mother’s facility, Westminster Village, with my sisters Nalini and Ragini in attendance. As expected, my mother cooked up a toothsome feast of Indian dishes, some of which you can see in this photo:

A photo of S. T. with his mother, two sisters, and a toothsome feast of Indian dishes

All in all, a fine trip—but exhausting! Work engulfed me as I came home, and I am on the cusp of leaving for another trip, this time to the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland (October 7–9). A week later I have to go to Toronto to participate in the showing of Qais Pasha’s documentary Exegesis: Lovecraft, in which I appear extensively. No rest for the weary!

It should be evident that the above photos were taken by Mary, since she is in none of them! The first one does have Mary, hence must have been taken by Laura (or someone else) using Mary’s phone.

September 28, 2022 — Multifarious Activity

I just returned from a trip to the Midwest, where Mary and I visited our respective families. I had meant to write a blog post just before the trip, but didn’t get the chance; so I will now bring people up to date on work-related matters, then write another blog post in a week or so to recount the interesting events of the trip.

Let me discuss some of the publications that have drifted this way. First is the new issue (No. 16) of the Lovecraft Annual (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/journals/lovecraft-annual/lovecraft-annual-no.-16-2022), which at 260 pages is bursting at the seams with perspicacious and provocative assessments of Lovecraft and related subjects. I have several spare copies that I can offer for $10 to interested customers.

I have also received some copies of a new Centipede Press volume, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (http://www.centipedepress.com/horror/hauntingofhillhousesmall.html). I was unaware that the publisher was working on this book, but it is always good to see this novel reprinted. And this edition adds a number of ancillary items well worth reading. The list price is a whopping $100, but I’ll offer my copies at $80.

I now see that the German publisher Bärenklau has issued two volumes of a German translation of W. H. Pugmire’s stories. Here is the Amazon.de entry for one of them, Das Fenster zwischen die Welten (https://www.amazon.de/Das-Fenster-zwischen-den-Welten/dp/3756533042/). I am not finding an Amazon page for the other, Die lauschende Leere, but both are available at https://www.epubli.de/shop/autor/W-H-Pugmire/44407. So far, I have not received any copies of these books.

The Swedish filmmaker Henrik Möller has at long last brought out his audio documentary on the Providence Pals: https://soundcloud.com/henrik-moeller-180995804/150-the-providence-pals. I have not listened to this yet, but I believe it contains interviews with me, Jason C. Eckhardt, Peter Cannon, Will Murray, and others. Möller had some difficulty getting in touch with Marc A. Michaud, given Marc’s recent health problems, but I think that in the end he did get some words from Marc. Certainly this is a blast from the past!

Another sign of Lovecraft’s worldwide renown is an annual convention, Campus Miskatonic, to be held on November 5 in Verdun, France. Here is the convention’s website: https://campusmiskatonic.fr/. One of its organisers, Guillaume Sowinski, writes: “This year we’ll be talking about the relationship between H. P. and R. E. Howard. Scholar Patrice Louinet will talk about this topic. Alexis Metzinger, whom you met a few months ago for a documentary you participated in, will be here too.” Speaking of Metzinger, I have not heard from him for a while, but I hope he soon finishes the episode of his four-part television series in which I appear. The entire episode will be devoted to Lovecraft.

I announced in my last blog post that I was approaching completion of the first volume of my history of atheism. Well, I completed the job just before I left for my trip. The book came to a whopping 193,000 words (650 double-spaced pages). Here are the various sections of the final chapter, on the Renaissance:

In this chapter, in addition to covering such thinkers as Machiavelli, Erasmus, and Montaigne, I discuss such titans of literature as Rabelais, Cervantes, and Shakespeare. I also go over the Reformation and Counter-Reformation among many other subjects. I am taking a little break before I plunge into volume 2, but I hope I can wrap up that volume in another two years. Volume 1 is now being considered by an editor at Oxford University Press (New York office).

September 8, 2022 — R.I.P., Peter Straub and QE2

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Straub on September 6. He lived, of course, to a ripe old age (he died at the age of seventy-nine), and he left an impressive legacy of literary work. I was privileged to have met him on a number of occasions, most recently at my sixtieth birthday party in New York in June 2018, which I was surprised and delighted that he attended. I hold much of his work in high regard, ranging from the earlier novels If You Could See Me Now (1976), Ghost Story (1979), the superlative mystery novel The Throat (1993), and his most recent novel, A Dark Matter (2010)—alas, not all that recent, as he had apparently been in poor health over the past decade or more and was unable to do much writing in that period.

And now I see that Queen Elizabeth II has departed from this life. She was, incredibly, the only English queen in my (and many others’) lifetime. I had formerly regarded her as something of a bore; but the superlative Netflix series The Crown (assuming it is accurate, and I have no reason to believe it isn’t) portrays her as a far more vital and engaging figure. I look forward to seeing more of this series whenever subsequent seasons become available.

I can report the arrival of the new issue of the Lovecraft Annual (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/journals/lovecraft-annual/lovecraft-annual-no.-16-2022), an issue of unusual interest and substance, containing no fewer than three separate articles about Lovecraft’s relations with C. M. Eddy, Jr., among many other subjects. I can offer the issue for the bargain price of $10 to interested customers.

Another item that has come in is nothing less than the first volume of a Russian translation of I Am Providence, published by a Moscow firm called Eksmo (https://eksmo.ru/). I am not adept enough to find the publisher’s web page about this book, but it is a handsome publication—a 794-page hardcover book that uses the same cover age (the photograph of Lovecraft in 1915) used on volume 1 of the Hippocampus Press edition. I received a number of copies of the book from the publisher and am happy to offer them for the cut-rate price of $10.

I still have some copies of items I announced last time, including my Songs from Lovecraft and Others. I am prepared to offer this distinctive publication for $5 to anyone who purchases any other book from me.

I have received word from Gregory Franklin that Lovecraft is to be included in the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, the most prestigious series of books published in France, which includes all the classic French writers dating back centuries. I was, in fact, unaware that “foreign” writers were even included in the series, but apparently Lovecraft has made the grade! Here is an article on the subject (in French): https://actualitte.com/article/107470/edition/lovecraft-cthulhu-et-les-grands-anciens-entrent-dans-la-pleiade.

I have begun working with Tony Geer, who operates a small press devoted to “fine” editions (handset type, choice paper, etc.) called Conversation Tree Press, in the publication of as many as twenty volumes of weird fiction for his press: https://conversationtreepress.com/blogs/news/weird-fiction-st-joshi-letterpress. My initial selections for the volumes (which will run from 60,000 to 80,000 words) consist of three volumes of Lovecraft, two volumes each of Machen and Blackwood, one volume of Dunsany, Hodgson, Bierce, M. R. James, Clark Ashton Smith, Walter de la Mare, Bradbury, Ramsey Campbell, Thomas Ligotti, and several anthologies (European Tales of Terror, Classic Ghost Stories [2 volumes], Poems of Weirdness and Terror). Probably no more than two or three volumes will appear per year, so it will take quite a while for the series to be completed; but I believe each volume will be a choice item well worth securing for the production values of the book alone, all apart from its contents.

Meanwhile, I am closing in on the completion of the first volume of my history of atheism, The Downfall of God—which Oxford University Press now wishes to look at!

August 24, 2022 — A Trip to Boston and Providence—and More Hippocampus Books

Mary and I had a nice (albeit expensive) time in Boston and Providence last week. We arrived in Boston on Tuesday the 16th, but had little time to do more than check into our hotel (in Beacon Hill) and wolf down a fairly nice dinner at a nearby pub before crashing for the night. The next day we met my niece, Annie Joshi Gieseker, and her husband, Patrick Towler, for lunch near our hotel. Annie is pregnant, so that by January I shall be a great-uncle! We dawdled over lunch; and because we didn’t have a rental car, we had to rely on public transport to get to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (near the Museum of Fine Arts); but when we arrived there, around 3 p.m., we found that the museum wasn’t taking any more visitors! It apparently has limited capacity. Too bad: I was greatly looking forward to seeing this distinctive collection of art and architecture.

Thursday the 18th we idled in the morning and ambled to Chinatown, where we had a fine lunch at one of the innumerable Chinese restaurants in the area. Going back to our hotel, we made the laborious journey to the airport, where we picked up a rental car and headed down to Providence. We were scheduled to have dinner that evening with Derrick Hussey, Donovan and Pam Loucks, and Martin Andersson; but Derrick’s arrival in Providence was delayed by a snafu with his rental car, so we were five for dinner. We went to one of my favourite restaurants, India on Hope Street, and had a splendid meal enlivened with variegated conversation.

Friday’s highlight was lunch, where we met Mara Kirk Hart (George Kirk’s daughter) and her charming daughter Jenny. We had met Mara some years before in Duluth, Minnesota, and she is as lively and engaging as ever. Jason Eckhardt and Marc Michaud joined us. Marc is, sadly, in poor health, but it was nonetheless good to see him. The three of us were, of course, the core members of the Providence Pals of the late 1970s and early 1980s—a group that also included Will Murray (whom I saw only briefly as we passed each other in a hotel lobby), the late Ken Neily, Don and Mollie Burleson (when they were still living in New Hampshire), and others.

In the afternoon Mary and I went to Oakland Beach in Warwick—just to say that we’d been to a beach in Rhode Island. I took the opportunity to finish Ramsey Campbell’s new novel, Fellstones—an impeccably written work with a highly attenuated but powerful supernatural element. That evening Mary and I had a splendid Italian dinner in (where else?) Federal Hill.

Much of Saturday was taken up with actual work; but before that, Mary and I (and also Adam Bolivar, who like us had made the long trip from the West Coast) had a robust lunch at Geoff’s, the famed sandwich shop formerly on Benefit Street and now in a more ample (but less atmospheric) location on South Main Street. After that, Mary had to take me to a studio where I was interviewed for more than three hours by Christopher Nightingale, a young Englishman who is working on what promises to be a superb documentary on Lord Dunsany. I did my best to answer the myriad questions Christopher asked (which, after a time, felt like the oral examination for a Ph.D.!), but was forced to admit ignorance of numerous aspects of Dunsany’s life. But I expatiated on Dunsany’s work at length, from his earliest writing to his latest.

Dinner that evening was at Gregg’s, a family-style restaurant where the Providence Pals used to congregate in former years. This time we were in the company of Carol Gafford (the widow of Sam Gafford) along with Jason and Jackie Eckhardt. We had a great time reminiscing about Sam and our own long-forgotten youth.

Sometime in the course of the weekend, Jason overwhelmed me by presenting me with a copy of something called the Alphabetical Index of the Births, Marriages and Deaths, Recorded in Providence, Volume X (covering the period 1881–1890), published by H. Gregory (Providence), 1903. As you can see, this includes a citation of Lovecraft’s birth:

The page showing a record of Lovecraft's birth

This is perhaps not the first mention of Lovecraft in print (I imagine he must be cited in Providence city directories of the 1890s), but is a notable mention nonetheless. The figures at the end of the line (14: 238) “refer to the volume and page of the city records where the birth is recorded” (as noted on p. 1 of the book). So that is something else that some diligent researcher should look up!

Sunday the 21st was a long and tedious day as we returned home. Our flight would not leave until about 5 p.m., so we took the occasion to swing by the Fairbanks house in Dedham, Mass., built around 1637 and the subject of Lovecraft’s essay “An Account of a Trip to the Antient Fairbanks House, in Dedham, and to the Red Horse Tavern in Sudbury, in the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay,” recording his visit to the two places on 5 August 1929. Alas, we could not explore the house, as we would have to have waited an hour for the next guided tour and were not allowed to canvass it on our own. But it was still good to see this hoary structure.

Throughout the weekend, I was happy to meet other colleagues old and new, including A. E. LaMalfa, Curtis M. Lawson, Henrik Möller, Jerry Meyer (a devoted fan of my work who resides in Florida), Tim Lonegan, and numerous others. All great fun!

Just before our trip, I received a sheaf of new Hippocampus Press publications, which I am happy to offer at a discount from the list price:

I trust these books need no description. Shea’s book is meant to capitalise on the imminent adaptation of “The Autopsy” on Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities (HBO) later this year. Greenham’s treatise is a pioneering work tracing cosmicism in Lovecraft and its modification in the work of Robert A. Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, and Frank Herbert. Koki’s landmark master’s thesis of 1962 still has value and is much more than an item of mere historical interest. The Smith volume is a reprint of the expensive and out-of-print Centipede Press edition, edited by Ronald S. Hilger. And I am gratified that my Songs (thirteen of them, adapting poems by Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, George Sterling, Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Dowson, and one Mary K. Wilson for four-part unaccompanied chorus) has finally appeared.

In addition, I can offer the following items at the even more substantial discount of $5.00 to anyone who purchases any of the above volumes:

A treasure-trove of weirdness, to be sure!

August 7,2022 — More Help on Research Needed

Well, I have now gone over the entirety of my Horror Fiction Index (more than 3200 titles). Here are some more entries for which I need the story contents:

I am grateful to many colleagues for providing information on the collections cited in my previous blog post. There still remain a few tough items on that list for which I still need the contents:

If, in the end, I am unable to find the contents, I will simply have to indicate: [contents unknown]. But a remarkably small number of volumes will be so designated!

I was delighted to participate in two episodes of the Let’s Talk Horror podcast hosted by David Rigsbey and his friends. In the first I discuss general issues relating to Lovecraft (https://www.facebook.com/groups/310950267123069/permalink/464600018424759/); in other features more in-depth discussion of Lovecraft’s philosophical and social views (yes, racism is covered), among other issues (https://www.facebook.com/groups/310950267123069/permalink/460387362179358/). The whole experience was most enjoyable, and I may return to the podcast to discuss Lord Dunsany or other topics this fall.

I have now received a small number of copies of Jason C. Eckhardt’s superlative story collection Lord of the Gallows, a recent Sarnath Press publication. Customers can have it for $15 each. I also received two copies of the mammoth Yo soy Providence—the Spanish translation of I Am Providence, issued by Aurora Dorada in Spain. As you can see from the accompanying photo—

S. T. holding a copy of Yo Soy Providence

—the book is huge! Derrick Hussey describes it as looking like a family Bible. And this is only volume 1. I have no idea when the second volume will appear. I am happy to offer my one spare copy for the bargain price of $20.

The first volume of my history of atheism is approaching completion (it currently stands at just over 180,000 words), and I am initiating tentative queries with academic publishers about the project. Given its size, it may be hard to sell—but I will persevere!

July 28,2022 — Help on a Major Research Project

I wish to inform you that I am undertaking an enormous research project called The Horror Fiction Index. I was partially inspired by Mike Ashley’s Supernatural Index (1995), a mammoth and authoritative index of horror anthologies. My compilation is nothing less than a comprehensive listing of single-author story collections, beginning in 1808, when the first such collection (M. G. Lewis’s Romantic Tales) appeared, to 2010. I actually did considerable work on this project some years ago, but then put it aside, thinking it was beyond my powers to complete it; moreover, I felt that online reference works (notably isfdb.com [Internet Speculative Fiction Database]) had essentially stolen my thunder by having all this information already available.

Well, it appears that isfdb.com is full of errors and omissions on many titles I plan to list, and moreover, I find that I am not all that far from bringing the project to a tolerably successful conclusion. My entries will be quite simple: I will provide the title, full publishing information (including reprints down to 2010), and a simple table of contents of each volume. Here is the first entry in the book:

ANTHONY ABBOT. These Are Strange Tales. Philadelphia: Winston, 1948.

Contents: One Story Haunted Him; Life Is Stranger; The Perfect Case; That Is the Man!; The Vanishing Heart; Terror’s Messenger Boy; Stranger in the House; The Girl Who Plotted Her Own Murder; Vengeance Rents a House; The Conscience of the Converted General; The Crime That Abolished Toothache; This Thing of Darkness; The Face from the Beyond; The Strangest Hoax in History; The Fortune in the Grave; The Blaster; A Very Special Agent; Two Plots at Once; The Whistle in Washington Square; One Chance in a Million; It’s All Done with Mirrors.

I have, however, been unable to ascertain the table of contents (or other information, such as place of publication of the volume) for some entries. So I need your help! If there is anyone out there who has information on the volumes cited below, please let me know. In most cases I need just the table of contents, although in other cases I also need the place of publication (if any is provided):

To date I have included more than 3000 short story collections. I am trying to get this compilation ready for publication by Sarnath Press by the fall. It will not only list all these story collections (alphabetically by author, and chronologically within a given author’s output), but a complete title index! In other words, it will be a huge book.

I am notified that several Hippocampus Press books have recently been published, but I have received no copies as yet. What has come in (at long last) is my edition of Frank Belknap Long in the Centipede Press Library of Weird Fiction (the book is not yet listed on the publisher’s website). This 800-page volume—not at all identical to the Masters of the Weird Tale volume that Centipede issued in 2010—contains forty-one stories ranging from as early as 1920 to as late as 1986, as well as the novel Journey into Darkness (1967). I have received several copies of this book, and I am prepared to offer it for the bargain price of $50.

I am looking forward to attending NecronomiCon Providence next month—my second trip to the Holy City this year, following my brief visit in April for the film shoot with that Anglo-French TV crew. I have not been assigned any panels (although I did fill out a questionnaire for that purpose several months ago), nor will I participate in any other official functions; but that is all to the good, as I have many friends old and new to meet, and I may be able to sneak in some research at the John Hay Library and/or the Providence Public Library.

The heat that has descended upon much of the country has finally hit the Seattle area, but I remain cool and comfortable in my basement. Mary and I did venture out on Wednesday, July 27, celebrating our eighth wedding anniversary by going to a fine Italian restaurant a few miles north of here. There will no doubt be many more celebrations of this kind in the years to come!

July 19,2022 — A Story Collection by Jason C. Eckhardt!

I am tremendously pleased to announce the publication by Sarnath Press of Jason C. Eckhardt’s first short story collection, Lord of the Gallows (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B6XJ3RJD). Jason has been known for decades as a preeminent weird artist, but over the years he has also written a modest but powerful array of weird fiction, ranging from Lovecraftian tales to sword-and-sorcery to ghost stories. I myself published several of these in my Black Wings anthologies, and I also published “From the Realms of Glory” in Weird Fiction Review No. 1 (2010). I have been working with Jason for months in the assembly in this volume, urging him to comb through his files for other stories beyond the ones he has published. He unearthed a number of unpublished specimens that are just as good as the published items, and the volume is now available for purchase. I will be ordering a few copies to sell to customers, but these won’t arrive for about two weeks. In the meantime, readers are urged to order either the print edition or the ebook directly from Amazon.

Another item that has come in is the signed/limited edition of my recent book, Ramsey Campbell: Master of Weird Fiction (https://www.pspublishing.co.uk/ramsey-campbell-master-of-weird-fiction--hardcover-s-t-joshi-5640-p.asp). There are only 100 copies of this edition, which has been signed by both Ramsey Campbell and myself. On the signature page there appears a colour photograph of Ramsey and me—taken, probably, decades ago. (I think it was during one of the NecronomiCons of the 1990s.) A choice item! I am happy to offer it for $40 to interested customers.

I understand several Hippocampus Press publications either are out or will soon be out, among them Peter Cannon’s Long Memories and Other Writings and Spectral Realms No. 17. My Penumbra No. 3 is also imminent. But I have not received copies of any of these publications as yet.

A most amusing video has recently appeared on YouTube. A young woman who goes by the name Veela has recorded a nine-minute discussion of the story “Dagon” while sitting (apparently naked) in her bathtub (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbDkX-c7GAU). She uses the text as found in my Penguin edition, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (1999), and actually manages to pronounce my name more or less correctly. A distinctive Lovecraftian item, to be sure!

July 13, 2022 — Something from Below in Czech

The worldwide dissemination of my work continues with the publication of Cosi z hloubi by the Czech publisher Carcosa, translated by Milan Zácek. Evidently the book is available in both hardcover and paperback, so far as I can make out from the publisher’s website (https://www.carcosa.cz/vyhledavani/?string=cosi+z+hloubi), although I have received copies of only the hardcover edition. The book is a translation of my novella Something from Below in addition to three other stories (“The Recurring Doom,” “Incident at Ferney,” and “Some Kind of Mistake”)—in essence, most of my Lovecraftian fiction (although I do not regard Something from Below as primarily Lovecraftian—it is simply a “weird tale”). I am happy to offer copies of the book for the bargain price of $10 a copy.

Another foreign item that has reached me is a volume of Arthur Machen’s stories translated into Portuguese by the Brazilian publisher Editora Clock Tower, under the title O mestre da dark fantasy (http://loja.sitelovecraft.com/produto/o-mestre-da-dark-fantasy-clique-aqui-e-compre-direto-de-nossos-estoques/). I did not actually contribute any prose to the edition, but I am credited as being the editor of Machen’s Collected Fiction, from which the texts were taken.

Much more work is being planned here, including two multi-volume projects. One is a six-volume edition of Algernon Blackwood’s collected short fiction. This is a project I have been contemplating for a long time; and as Blackwood’s work went into the public domain on January 1, 2022, I figure the time is right to undertake the job. I had also been deterred by my understanding that Mike Ashley (the leading—indeed, perhaps the only—authority on Blackwood) was contemplating such an edition, to extend to ten or twelve volumes (each volume presumably smaller than the 500- or even 600-page books I am planning). But Ashley has now informed me that he has given up this project; on top of which, he has promised to assist me in securing the fifteen stories by Blackwood (out of about 220) that I currently lack. All hail to Mike Ashley! The first two volumes will appear from Hippocampus Press next spring, the next two in 2024, and the final two in 2025. There will be dozens of uncollected stories in the edition.

The other project is on an even grander scale—nothing less than the collected essays and journalism of Ambrose Bierce. This was initially considered by Hippocampus Press, but I came to the conclusion that it would not be a fruitful use of the press’s time and energy to issue such an edition, and so it will be coming out from Sarnath Press. The first volume has just appeared (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B67XKP4Y ); subsequent volumes should appear on a regular basis. The edition may extend to as many as fifty volumes, since it will have to include all the material that Bierce wrote for the major papers he was employed by—San Francisco News Letter and California Advertiser (1868–72), Fun (1872–75), Figaro (1872–75), Argonaut (1877–79), Wasp (1881–86), San Francisco Examiner (1887–1906)—to say nothing of all manner of other papers to which he occasionally contributed. The edition will include everything Bierce published in these newspapers and magazines, including the original versions of stories, poems, entries in the Devil’s Dictionary, and other matter. (We shall probably not, however, reproduce the typographical error on the title of the first publication of “An Occurence [sic!] at Owl Creek Bridge”). David E. Schultz, who has been transcribing and editing these texts for years if not decades, properly takes his place as lead editor on the project.

The first volume of my history of atheism—now close to 170,000 words—is nearing completion. In that light, I can make note that I recently saw the miniseries Under the Banner of Heaven, based on the book by Jon Krakauer, a searing portrayal of the murder of a young wife and her infant daughter in a Mormon community in Utah. I have not read the book (although Mary has), but the miniseries was a grim display of the fanaticism of some segments of the Mormon church. But in this regard it is not at all singular, as recent displays by other religious fanatics here and elsewhere have demonstrated.

June 14, 2022 — Black Wings VII Completed

I am thrilled to note that Black Wings VII: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror has now been completed and sent to the publisher (PS Publishing). I believe it is one of the most notable volumes in the set, with a number of distinctive stories. Here is the table of contents:

I hardly need to point out the inclusion of Ramsey Campbell at the head of the volume. I was in fact unaware that he was even working on such a story, but it arrived without warning a few weeks ago—and it is a dandy! All the other contributions are powerful. The story by my fellow Indian Aditya Dwarkesh is to be noted. This is the first of his tales to be accepted for professional publication, and I hope Dwarkesh (a resident of Calcutta, of which his tale provides a striking glimpse) does more good work in the future.

Another important item is Ken Faig Jr’s Pike’s Peak or Bust: The Life and Works of David V. Bush, just published by Sarnath Press (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B3SMCXW1/). This biography of Lovecraft’s perennial revision client is the product of years of research by Faig, and the portrait he paints of this peculiar individual—part guru and part charlatan—is riveting. Faig chronicles Bush’s long career as a clergyman, public speaker, and writer, provides synopses of all his books (including, ahem, The Psychology of Sex), and discusses his run-ins with various government agencies for peddling products that may have been unsafe or may not have conformed to federal laws such as the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. It’s a lively tale, and Faig tells it well. Lovecraft is mentioned throughout.

My choir, the Northwest Chorale, performed on June 11 at a nearby church—our first performance in two and a half years. We’d been rehearsing since February. The concert went quite well. We performed William Byrd’s spectacular Mass for 4 Voices as well as Randall Thompson’s Frostiana (a series of seven songs based on poems by Robert Frost). My piece “Sunset” was performed again (as it had been in our May 2019 concert), and the choir did it creditably. As a reminder, I would point readers to a video of that recording (made by my able webmaster, Greg Lowney) that is available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy8sLLmj9RA.

Two new books from Weird House Press have come in, and splendid books they are! The first is Joshua Rex’s superlative novella The Inamorata (https://www.weirdhousepress.com/product/the-inamorta/), issued under the publisher’s sub-imprint, Ghost House. This is a haunting tale set in the late eighteenth century and extensively involving music (specifically, a spectral viola). I did some minimal copy editing and also provided some musical notation (a viola solo) that is printed on the inside front and back covers. The other item is a hardcover edition of Curtis M. Lawson’s excellent weird novel Black Heart Boys’ Choir (https://www.weirdhousepress.com/product/black-heart-boys-choir/). As you can see, I wrote the foreword to the book. I still have some paperback copies of the book (Wyrd Horror, 2019) that I would be happy to let go for $10.

Yet another LP from Cadabra Records has reached me: a reading of Lovecraft’s “The Statement of Randolph Carter” and “The Unnamable” by Andrew Leman. I wrote the liner notes. Oddly enough, I do not see the item listed on Cadabra’s website, but I imagine it will show up soon.

I believe some new Hippocampus Press books are imminent, or perhaps actually published, including Peter Cannon’s Long Memories and Other Writings, Arthur S. Koki’s H. P. Lovecraft: An Introduction to His Life and Writings (the first publication of his master’s thesis of 1962), and R. H. Barlow’s Eyes of the God (a vastly expanded version of our 2002 book, including much more fiction, a few more items of poetry, all his extant essays [in English], and some pieces about him). A rich feast for the devotee!

June 3, 2022 — The Parameters of the Weird Tale Published

I am happy to announce the publication of The Parameters of the Weird Tale (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B2HWFTHB). The volume contains the following:

The material derives from a wide array of sources: liner notes to spoken-word recordings from Cadabra Records; introductions to volumes by Centipede Press, Weird House Press, etc.; old bibliographical articles from the New Lovecraft Collector (1993–99); and so on. The final section contains an array of autobiographical material: the first two items are unpublished; the remaining items are the products of various controversies I was engaged in from the 1970s onward.

This is likely to be the last such volume I issue for quite some time, as I am pretty much out of material. I will not be ordering any spare copies to sell, so please order directly from Amazon.

I am pleased to see that the Czech translation of a collection of my stories has now appeared under the title Cosi z hloubi (“Something from the Depths”). Here is a photograph of the book:

The Czech collection of Joshi's writings

This contains the novella Something from Below in addition to three Lovecraftian tales. The publisher (Carcosa) writes “The arrangement of the texts was designed by S. T. Joshi himself to reflect his authorial development in the field of weird fiction. The oldest text is from 1980 while the title novel, originally published separately, is from 2019.” I should be getting copies soon from the publisher. For what it’s worth, I’ll provide the publisher’s web page about the book: https://www.carcosa.cz/blog/ke-knize-cosi-z-hloubi-s--t--joshiho/.

I have now received another recording from Cadabra Records, this one a spoken-word recording of “Count Magnus” by M. R. James (https://cadabrarecords.com/collections/m-r-james-count-magnus). The copy I received also contains a large poster of the artwork on the back cover. I wrote the liner notes.

I have at last finished Chapter V (“The Mediaeval Era”) of my history of atheism, now titled The Downfall of God. It came out to be quite a bit larger than I expected, but there was simply too much material that I had to include:

I have, however, narrowed the scope of the book to cover only atheism in Western culture. The attempt to add discussions of atheism elsewhere in the world simply proved too cumbersome: aside from making the book even larger than it is, it is simply beyond my level of expertise to engage in this area, especially since (as I discovered) it is difficult to find material in English written on, say, atheism in China. As it is, the book should still reach some 400,000 words in total. The first volume now has one more chapter to go before it is finished (“VI. The Renaissance”)—but that chapter will take months of writing and research.

I have made a deliberate decision not to discuss controversial political, social, or other subjects here; but certain recent events have compelled me to break my silence. The following article strikes me as highly relevant: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2022/5/25/2100295/-The-Gun-God-is-not-accustomed-to-have-its-sacrifices-questioned. Please pass this around to any hoplophiles (that’s a fancy word for “gun nuts”) in your midst.

May 20, 2022 — More Hippocampus Press Books!

I am in receipt of an ample sheaf of new books from Hippocampus Press, which I am happy to offer at a reduction from the list price (and, as always, I cover media mail postage for US customers):

On top of which, I have received from PS Publishing a generous supply of copies of Ramsey Campbell: Master of Weird Fiction (https://www.pspublishing.co.uk/ramsey-campbell-master-of-weird-fiction—hardcover-s-t-joshi-5640-p.asp), a fine hardcover volume that constitutes a major revision and expansion of my earlier book, Ramsey Campbell and Modern Horror Fiction (2001). I am prepared to offer this volume for the bargain price of $20.

Let me describe the Hippocampus titles further. The Dejasu and Lawson volumes add to our distinguished line of contemporary fiction. This is Dejasu’s first story collection, and many of the tales are set in Providence—a contemporary Providence that is plagued by an incomprehensible virus or plague. The book has received the imprimatur of none other than T. E. D. Klein, who has written a foreword to it. Lawson has published several previous volumes and is quickly emerging as one of the most distinctive voices in weird fiction today.

Matt Cardin’s volume comprises his collected essays on weird fiction and related subjects, including religion, philosophy, and media studies. The Machen volume (edited by me) is a substantial collection of his writings on philosophy and literature; most of the pieces are uncollected. Ken Faig’s book is a rich sampling of his in-depth research on people and places related to Lovecraft, including discussions of the houses HPL lived in, studies of HPL’s Devonshire ancestry and other relatives, and much else besides. Lovecraftian Proceedings is the fourth instalment of some of the papers at the Armitage Symposium of NecronomiCon Providence, this one featuring papers delivered at the 2019 event.

I am also in receipt of The Death of Halpin Frayser (https://cadabrarecords.com/collections/all/products/ambrose-bierce-the-death-of-halpin-frayser-lp-read-by-anthony-d-p-mann-score-by-chris-bozzone-blue-vinyl-edition), a new LP from Cadabra Records that constitutes a reading of the Ambrose Bierce story. The LP is also available in a “red vinyl” edition ($34) and a “splatter edition” ($45). I have no spare copies of this LP, so please order it directly from Cadabra.

I see that the Spanish edition of I Am Providence is out (https://www.auroradoradaediciones.com/product/yo-soy-providence-la-vida-y-epoca-de-h-p-lovecraft), but I have not received any copies as yet. This means that the book is now available in French, German, Italian, and Spanish! (The previous edition, H. P. Lovecraft: A Life [1996], was translated into Polish.)

Let me now recount our whirlwind trip to Denver (May 13–15). After a tedious two-hour flight (and an even more tedious wait to get a rental car at the airport), we arrived in downtown Denver late on Friday afternoon. We were not staying at the convention hotel (the Curtis), as the rates were very expensive if one was not registered for StokerCon (which we weren’t). We then drove to the suburb of Lakewood, where Jerad Walters (publisher of Centipede Press) holds forth. His home is being totally remodelled, and should be lovely when it is done in about a month or so. Jason and Sunni Brock came separately. We all repaired to a fine pizza place for dinner.

The next day we briefly looked in at the Curtis to see what was going on, meeting Steve Rasnic Tem after he’d just been on a panel discussion. After that, we roamed around downtown, seeing a well-attended abortion rights rally at the Denver statehouse. In the early evening we participated in a signing of the newly published volume What Remains, just out from Firbolg Publishing (https://www.firbolgpublishing.com/). It is an exceptionally handsome hardcover volume focusing on death and its manifold ramifications. It contains my old poem (written in high school), “Finale: Adagio ma non tanto”—the first time any poem of mine has been reprinted in a hardcover book. Jason, Sunni, Mary, and I went to dinner with the publishers, the sisters Alex and Bobbi Scully, and had a fine time.

The next day (Sunday), Mary and I skipped the convention altogether and drove out to the Wild Animal Sanctuary, about 35 miles northeast of Denver. We’d been there in 2014 and were happy to visit it again. In the course of several hours we managed to catch sight of an ostrich or two, an alpaca, some lumbering bears (black, brown, grizzly), a white tiger that appeared to be limping, other big cats (lioness, cougar, leopard, etc.), some coyotes, and other creatures. Oh, yes—we also saw a (mother?) fox carrying one of its babies in its mouth. All very charming. Then we drove to the airport and came home.

This will probably be the only travel we will do for several months, until we visit our respective families in Minnesota and Indiana in late summer or early fall.

At Jerad’s house I saw a copy of Frank Belknap Long, the newest volume in my Library of Weird Fiction series. This, along with the Machen volume from Hippocampus, constitute my 377th and 378th titles. Yog-Sothoth Neblod Zin!

May 7, 2022 — HPL Documentary to Be Shown in New York

I am happy to announce that Qais Pasha’s documentary Exegesis: Lovecraft will be shown at the New York Science Fiction Film Festival on March 14. Here is a schedule for the festival, with Qais’s film listed: https://www.newyorksci-fifest.com/saturday-may-14-schedule. Here is a link to purchase tickets: https://www.eventbee.com/v/documentary-presentation-lovecraft/event?eid=294307643#/tickets/. Qais informs me that he will be in attendance. Anyone in the New York area is urged to attend the screening and then discuss the film with Qais.

I have learned that my study of Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey Campbell: Master of Weird Fiction) is imminent from PS Publishing. I should have copies in hand before I head to Denver on May 13 (where I will not be attending StokerCon but merely hanging out with selected individuals who will be on the scene). A signed/limited edition is in the works but will probably take a few months to appear.

I continue to work on all manner of things, including my history of atheism (which has now reached about 160,000 words—I’m still bogged down in the mediaeval era) and the annotation of the Lovecraft/Long letters. I am also assembling another volume of my miscellaneous critical work, titled The Parameters of the Weird Tale. This will contain the last fugitive bits of old autobiographical writings of mine—or, more properly, accumulations of data regarding my writing during the period 1973–77. One of these (cited frequently in my Journals) is my Accounts, which tells in condensed fashion of the literary and musical work I was doing at the time. Here is some random entries:

7/10/74 Wrote A Musical Theory. Will be encore for next short story collection, tentatively titled The Recurring Doom and Others, instead of “Disposall, Inc.” The latter is a trifle long, being 70 lines, whereas the former is but 42; wrote Afterword to The Recurring Doom and Others; continued work on the Dark Passageway; wrote First Movement (Adagio) to Concerto Grosso No. 6 in A major, Opus 2, No. 6.

7/11/74 Began Second Movement (Allegro) and Fourth Movement (Non presto) of Concerto Grosso No. 6 in A; changed Six Concerti Grossi to Opus 1 and Six Sonatas for 2 Trumpets and Strings to Opus 2, since (with the destruction of the Trumpet Sonata No. 1 in G, completed 3/24/74) Concerto Grosso No. 1 in A minor now dates earlier than new Trumpet Sonata No. 1 in D (3/26/74 as compared to 4/12/74). 12 Fanfares for Trumpets remains Opus 3.

Will this be of any interest to anyone? Who knows? But it is (mercifully) just about the last dregs of autobiographical material available from this period—a time when I seemed to be maniacally intent on self-documentation.

I see that I have a few random books here that I wouldn’t mind parting with. The most notable item is Reggie Oliver’s fine short story collection The Sea of Blood (Dark Renaissance Books, 2015). This is the limited slipcased edition (26 copies) signed by Reggie Oliver and the artist Santiago Caruso. I will be happy to let this go for $150 to anyone who wants it.

I also have the graphic novel Uzumaki by Junji Ito. This is the “deluxe edition” (as stated on the copyright page) published by VIZ Media in October 2013 (this is the third printing of October 2014). I can offer this for $20. In addition, I have Tom Toner’s novel The Promise of the Child (Night Shade, 2015), which I am offering for $10.

During my recent trip to Providence, the producer of the documentary, Stéphan Roelants, took an evocative photograph of me that makes me look like a private eye from the 1940s! This was one one of our evening expeditions:

Joshi at night in Providence

I should use this as the cover of a book, although it is a tad on the dark side.

April 27, 2022 — Honeymoon in Jail Is Published!

I am happy (or perhaps “relieved” is the better term) to announce the publication, by Sarnath Press, of my detective novel Honeymoon in Jail, with Lovecraft and Sonia as the detectives (https://www.amazon.com/Honeymoon-Jail-Lovecraft-Detective-Novel-ebook/dp/B09YQT2XLF/). (I am providing a link to the page for the Kindle edition, since the cover design is more effective there than on the print edition; it shows the silhouettes of both Sonia and HPL, whereas on the print edition the silhouette of Sonia gets thrown onto the back cover.)

The book’s publication history is a sad one. According to my Word file, I began the short novel (only about 50,000 words) all the way back on March 29, 2015—and, uncannily, finsihed it on March 29, 2019, three days after the death of W. H. Pugmire. Wilum therefore never had a chance to read the work, but Mary and Jonathan Thomas did, and gave it qualified appoval. I offered it to Sam Gafford for Ulthar Press, but he died later in 2019 before he could publish it. Marc A. Michaud of Necronomicon Press agreed to take it over, but recently it became clear to me that he would not have the resources to publish it; so I have issued it myself.

I have to say that I think this is perhaps my most purely entertaining work of fiction. It is a straight detective story, with no supernatural elements (well, there is one very faint weird element—which I won’t reveal here), set in the spring of 1928, when HPL came to Brooklyn (unwillingly) to help Sonia set up a new hat shop. I make this the occasion of the wedding of James F. Morton and Pearl K. Merritt, although (as I state in an author’s note at the end) the wedding did not in fact occur until 1934. Anyway, the entire Kalem Club becomes involved, and HPL inadvertently becomes a kind of hard-boiled private eye who, with Sonia’s help, solves the mystery.

I can purchase some copies to sell directly to customers for $15.00, so let me know and I will order copies from Amazon. Or you can order a copy directly from Amazon.

A number of Hippocampus Press titles have apparently appeared in recent days, although I do not yet have copies of them. These include Ken Faig Jr.’s Lovecraftian People and Places (a fascinating examination of persons and locales associated with Lovecraft’s life and work) and Barry Lee Dejasu’s first story collection, Black City Skyline (most of the stories are set in Providence, R.I.). I believe Curtis M. Lawson’s story collection The Envious Nothing is imminent.

Speaking of Providence, I just came back from a hasty trip to that city to participate in a documentary on Lovecraft being prepared by a French filmmaker, Alexis Metzinger, and his crew. This will be part of a four-part series on “The Roots of Modern Fantasy” (or something like that). The first episode focuses on the Brothers Grimm; the second on William Morris; the third on Lovecraft; and the fourth on Robert E. Howard. Each episode will be an hour long. The host will be John Howe, the Canadian concept artist for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

We had great fun going all around Providence shooting important sites relating to Lovecraft’s life and work (we were, however, not allowed to film in Swan Point Cemetery, but did take some good photographs of the gravesite). John and I engaged in a dialogue (at times rather artificially staged) on a wide range of topics relating to Lovecraft’s life, work, and reputation. Among the locales we visited were Ladd Observatory, the houses at 598 Angell Street and 10 Barnes Street, and St. John’s Churchyard. Several of these were effectively shot at night; and as I wore my trenchcoat for much of the shooting, I may have come across as some private eye from the 1940s! I am not sure when the program will air, or where—probably it will first appear in Europe, then England. Let’s hope it gets over to this side of the water sometime.

Speaking of France, my colleague Gregory Franklin informs me not only that Jean Cocteau’s brief mention of Lovecraft in the London Observer of 1954 is now available digitally (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/100296818/books-of-1954-a-symposium/), but that Cocteau also fashioned a pencil drawing, Hommage à Lovecraft, in 1951, which can be seen here: https://denisbloch.com/artworks/artists/jean-cocteau/hommage-a-lovecraft/. Note that this drawing preceded the first book of Lovecraft’s stories in French (La Couleur tombée du ciel [Denoël, 1954]) by several years.

Another colleague, David Rose, has written what seems to be a thrilling work of Lovecraftian fiction set in the Iraq of 2005: Lovecraft’s Iraq (https://www.amazon.com/Lovecrafts-Iraq-David-Rose/dp/B09WPZSJX1/). I have not read this work, but the author has proven himself to be a capable writer of both fiction and essays, so I imagine this work is well worth reading.

Otherwise, I continue to work on a multitude of projects—and I am now threatening to publish yet another volume of my miscellany, The Parameters of the Weird Tale, which contains a wide array of my recent essays as well as some vintage autobiographical data, including a “Complete Chronology of Writings” that covers the period 1973–77—a list that fills 38 pages in the handwritten manuscript! Another list, the “Accounts” (covering the period 1974–77), is 48 pages!

April 19, 2022 — His Own Most Fantastic Creation Is Out

I am pleased to see that my anthology His Own Most Fantastic Creation: Stories about H. P. Lovecraft is now out from Hippocampus Press (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/other-authors/fiction/his-own-most-fantastic-creation-stories-about-h.-p.-lovecraft). I have an interesting aside to relate about this volume. Huppocampus was planning a reprint of it exactly a year ago, as that would constitute a year since the original hardcover publication (PS Publishing, 2020). Alas! I discovered that my contract with PS stipulated that I would have to wait two years before being allowed to licence a paperback reprint—but by this time, Hippocampus Press had already printed up some copies! We had to suppress this edition lest we violate the terms of my PS contract. But I received a few copies of the volume and still have them. Any interested customers who wish a copy of this (technically illegal and unauthorised) edition, which dates to 2021 but is otherwise identical to the current reprint, are welcome to purchase it from me for $15.

I am working hard on assembling the three magazines I am responsible for—Spectral Realms #17 (Summer 2021), Penumbra #3, and the Lovecraft Annual #16. All these periodicals seem to be in reasonably good shape, as far as content is concerned, and should appear on time.

I understand that such volumes as Ken Faig, Jr.’s Lovecraftian Places and People and Matt Cardin’s What the Daemon Said (a large collection of his essays on weird fiction and related topics) are very close to publication from Hippocampus. Also imminent are (at long last) the vastly expanded edition of R. H. Barlow’s Eyes of the God (now checking in at more than 500 pages) and, I believe, Curtis M. Lawson’s story collection Beneath the Emerald Sky.

My colleague Mark Howard Jones has just issued a fine collection of his Lovecraftian stories, under the title Star-Spawned (https://www.amazon.com/Star-Spawned-Lovecraftian-Horrors-Strange-Stories/dp/1637898126). I wrote the foreword to the book. Jones is a talented Welsh writer who does consistently fine work both in the Lovecraftian vein and in weird fiction of a more general sort. The volume is well worth picking up!

I recently prepared my eighth volume of the essays of Leslie Stephen. The opening passage of one essay (“Mr. Ruskin’s Recent Writings.” Fraser’s Magazine, June 1874), unreprinted from its original appearance, strikes me as a highly prescient analysis of some of the tribulations we ourselves are undergoing at this moment:

“The world is out of joint. The songs of triumph over peace and progress which were so popular a few years ago have been quenched in gloomy silence. It is difficult even to take up a newspaper with­out coming upon painful forebod­ings of the future. Peace has not come down upon the world, and there is more demand for swords than for ploughshares. The nations are glaring at each other distrust­fully, muttering ominous threats, and arming themselves to the teeth. Their mechanical skill is absorbed in devising more efficient means of mutual destruction, and the growth of material wealth is scarcely able to support the burden of warlike preparations. The internal politics of states are not much more reas­suring than their external relations. If the republic triumphs in France and Spain it is not because reason has supplanted prejudice, but be­cause nobody, except a few Carlists or Communists, believes enough in any principles to fight for them. In the promised land of political specu­lators, the government of the coun­try is more and more becoming a mere branch of stockjobbing. Every­where the division between classes widens instead of narrowing; and the most important phenomenon in recent English politics is that the old social bonds have snapped asun­der amongst the classes least accessible to revolutionary impulses. Absorbed in such contests, we fail to attend to matters of the most vital importance. The health of the population is lowered as greater masses are daily collected in huge cities, where all the laws of sanitary science are studiously disregarded. Everywhere we see a generation growing up sordid, degraded, and devoid of self-respect. The old beauty of life has departed. A labourer is no longer a man who takes a pride in his work and obeys a code of manners appropriate to his station in life. He restlessly aims at aping his superiors, and loses his own solid merits without acquiring their refinement. If the workman has no sense of duty to his employer, the employer forgets in his turn that he has any duty except to grow rich. He complains of the exorbitant demands of his subordinates, and tries to indemnify himself by cheating his equals. What can we expect in art or in literature from such a social order except that which we see? The old spontaneous impulse has departed. Our rising poets and artists are a puny generation who either console themselves for their impotence by masquerading in the clothes of their predecessors or take refuge in a miserable epicureanism which calls all pleasures equally good and prefers those sensual enjoyments which are most suited to stimulate a jaded appetite. Religion is cor­rupted at the core. With some it is a mere homage to the respectabilities; with others a mere superstition, which claims to be pretty but scarcely dares even to assert that it is true; some revolt against all religious teaching, and others almost openly advocate a belief in lies; everywhere the professed creeds of men are divorced from their really serious speculations.”

[Stephen tended to write very long paragraphs—that is just a feature of his style. But as the above passage indicates, he was a brilliant literary, social, and cultural critic.]

March 27, 2022 — A New Sarnath Press Title—and a Spring Fire Sale!

Before I get to the main subject of this blog post, I wish to announce the appearance of a highly distinctive publication by Sanrath Press: A Naked Sign by Pharamond Weimer (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09VW7WPB8). This expansive historical novel purports to be the journal of Deborah Wilson, a Quaker living in seventeenth-century Salem, Massachusetts, who undergoes humiliating treatment at the hands of the Puritan theocracy. It is an extraordinary work of historical reconstruction—and contains numerous and explicit accounts of Deborah’s sexual proclivities and the flogging she experienced. I guarantee that you will not ever read a book like this one! The author is writing pseudonymously, and I am not at liberty to reveal his/her identity. Read the book for yourself and see if it doesn’t inspire you with both passion and indignation!

I do wish to hold a fire sale to get rid of a number of books lying around here, but I would first like to announce that I have obtained some choice collector’s items that I am happy to offer interested customers at prices that are lower than can be found on the standard used-book venues:

Let me also note that I have some even more choice items to offer—such things as Frank Belknap Long’s A Man from Genoa (Recluse Press, 1926) [signed by the author]; Clark Ashton Smith’s Ebony and Crystal (Auburn Journal Press, 1922) [signed by the author]; Donald Wandrei’s Ecstasy and Other Poems (Recluse Press, 1928) and Dark Odyssey (Webb Publishing Co., 1931) [both signed by the author]. Should anyone be interested in these volumes, please contact me and we can negotiate a price.

Now to the fire sale proper. I can offer the following titles for $10 each. Please note that in many cases there is only one copy available:

As an added inducement, I can offer the following titles for $5 upon the purchase of any of the titles above:

In terms of my own activities, I can mention a podcast I conducted recently with Claudia Ortiz and others in Mexico City. This podcast was aired on March 19, and there followed a lively question-and-answer session. My responses were translated into Spanish, and I am informed by Claudia that attendees from fourteen different countries in North America, Central America, and Latin America tuned in. Here is a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCSgtQbToyE.

March 17, 2022 — An Intriguing Letter by Frank Belknap Long

I am happy to announce that David E. Schultz’s masterful Fungi from Yuggoth: An Annotated Edition is finally available in paperback from Hippocampus Press (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/h.-p.-lovecraft/poetry/fungi-from-yuggoth-by-h.-p.-lovecraft-an-annotated-edition-paperback). This brilliant edition—which contains an exhaustive account of the composition and publication of Lovecraft’s sonnet cycle, a facsimile of the handwritten manuscript, detailed commentary on the poems themselves, and much else besides—is one of the most significant volumes pertaining to Lovecraft published in recent years. I have several copies available that I will be happy to let go for $15.00.

Also in is Spectral Realms No. 16 (Winter 2022), a superlative issue that contains the usual array of fine poetry by leading contemporary poets. I can offer copies for $10—or for $5 with the purchase of the Fungi edition or any other volume that I have offered of late (pending availability).

One more item that has drifted in is Cadabra Records’ release of the spoken-word recording of Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan (https://cadabrarecords.com/collections/all/products/arthur-machen-the-great-god-pan-3x-lp-set-read-by-laurence-r-harvey-score-by-chris-bozzone-black-and-brown-splatter-variant). I wrote the liner notes to this 3-LP set. I do not have any spare copies to offer, so please order directly from Cadabra.

As for my own activities—they continue at their usual bewildering pace. I am preparing this year’s set of magazines (Spectral Realms No. 17, Penumbra, and Lovecraft Annual) for issuance this summer. I find that I am somewhat short of material (especially articles) for Penumbra at this moment, so I encourage anyone out there who wishes to write about weird fiction (either a specific author or work in the field or some general topic) to send me an article. There is plenty of space! Lovecraft Annual also needs some filling up, but I imagine I will have a full issue in due course of time.

I of course continue my work on the Lovecraft/Long correspondence. Currently I am undertaking the laborious proofreading of Frank Belknap Long’s letters to Lovecraft, using the images in the Brown Digital Repository. I cannot resist bringing up one remarkable letter by Long that I recently read. As most of you know, Lovecraft’s letters to Long survive only down to April 1931—subsequent letters were apparently lost or destroyed. But that there clearly were many such letters, down to at least 1936, is evident from Long’s extant letters for this period. In a letter dating to May 1932, Long includes an extensive and explicit discussion of (hold on to your hats, people) sex. This is clearly a response to a letter Lovecraft wrote on the subject. Here are some extracts:

“As for this sex business—I utterly disagree with you, sir. You may not be as intellectually bigoted as Manning and Co., but you are a sick man as far as sex sanity is concerned. You appear to share Martin Luther’s damnable heresy that a woman is a kind of inferior chamber pot for the reception of products akin to urine. … And as for your conception of coitus—my GAWD. You speak of it as though it involved only a localized, ecstatic orgasm. The l.e.o. is the high point, of course, but surely you are aware that the preliminaries can be prolonged for hours, and that the ecstasy permeates every portion of the anatomy that is sexually responsive, and that the mind is hardly quiescent during this—to you—act of excretion. To a highly imaginative man the purely mental corollaries of coitus dwarf all other intellectual and imaginative pleasures. Or should, if the art of love has been properly cultivated. Coitus is not so much communion with a woman as with WOMAN, with the feminine principle—with sweetness, softness, tenderness, compassion.. A lovely courtezan can be a more exhilarating love object than an ugly wife. …

“Don’t imagine for a moment that I’m comparing the ecstasy to be derived from union with a slim young female of surpassing beauty with the infinitely less potent restorative and exhilarating qualities of an ugly or middle-aged courtezan. I’m aware of the gulf—but even the latter kind of coitus is better than no coitus at all. … You show an appalling sex ignorance when you affirm that masturbation can ever be the equivalent of coitus, even when coitus is performed with an ugly, unresponsive and unloving woman. …

“You affirm, for instance, that coitus seems tremendous merely because it is a precious rarity—but on those all-too-infrequent occasions when I have enjoyed it four and five times a week over a period of several weeks I found it losing none of its ecstatic content—on the contrary! I ought to know when I am experiencing ecstasy and mystical expansion, and when I am not. Excretion hell. That sort of talk makes me actually ANGRY—and if you weren’t such an admirable person in all other respects—so magnificently liberal and imaginative and tolerant I’d get out a shot-gun and put an end to you … in a single charge.”

Well, lordy me! What is remarkable is that this letter is, as I have said, a response to an equally explicit letter on the subject by Lovecraft. Imagine the staid HPL talking (as he clearly must have) about coitus and masturbation! Oh, what we’d give to have that letter! But alas, it has descended into the maw of oblivion.

March 3, 2022 — My Miscellaneous Writings Published

Just a short blog post this time to announce that I have issued a volume of my Miscellaneous Writings (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09TMVH3V8). The book contains all manner of items—some written as early as 1975 (“Some Notes on Modern Mystery Fiction”) to as recently as 2020. Here is the table of contents:

The items identified with an asterisk are previously unpublished. Some of the others are in effect unpublished, as they only appeared in various magazines (either my own or by others) of the Esoteric Order of Dagon or Necronomicon amateur press associations in the 1970s and 1980s.

I will not be ordering any extra copies of this book from Amazon unless readers specifically notify me that they wish to purchase a copy directly from me (which I can offer to them for $15).

No time to write anything else right now!

February 15, 2022 — Heading Toward 400

A brief blog post this time, to announce the publication of my 371st title: the third volume of my Journals, covering the years 1983–87 (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09S66KVJW). I will not be ordering any extra copies for sale here, so you will have to order the book directly from Amazon.

I can also announce that I have completed my long chapter on “The Triumph [ugh!] of Christianity” for my world history of atheism. Here is the breakdown of the chapter:

The book now stands at 140,000 words (which includes some sections I have already written for the next chapter, “The Mediaeval Era”).

I have mentioned previously that I have already written or compiled more than 400 books—it’s simply that more than 30 of these haven’t been published yet. For those who are interested, here is my list of forthcoming titles, given in no particular order:

This list does not include my ongoing publication of the essays of Leslie Stephen (at least four volumes will appear this year) or H. L. Mencken (I can publish no more volumes this year, because the work he puiblished in 1927 and later is still under copyright). Some of the above titles are not complete (my history of atheism, indeed, is less than half done), but the majority are done or nearly done. Whew!

February 9, 2022 — Richard L. Tierney, R.I.P.

Please forgive my nearly month-long silence! Things have been pretty busy around here, but I am moved to write in order to commemorate—and regret—the passing of the veteran poet and critic Richard L. Tierney. We need hardly be told that Tierney initiated a revolution in Lovecraft studies with an essay, “The Derleth Mythos,” that occupied exactly one page in the impressive anthology HPL, edited by Meade and Penny Frierson (1972). This article exposed the egregious misinterpretations of Lovecraft’s mythos perpetrated by August Derleth. Dirk W. Mosig then amplified Tierney’s conclusions in the essay “H. P. Lovecraft: Myth-Maker” (1976), and other critics (including myself) have expanded on these findings to paint a full portrait of the essence of Lovecraft’s cosmic worldview and the distortions that Derleth inflicted upon it.

Tierney was also an accomplished poet, and I enthusiastically reviewed his Collected Poems (Arkham House, 1981) in Crypt of Cthulhu (St John’s Eve 1983). I was not able to appreciate Tierney’s fiction as much as I would have wished; but even so, I am sorry that I did not get something of his into any of my fiction anthologies, especially the Black Wings series. But I did reprint his essay “Lovecraft and the Cosmic Quality in Fiction” in H. P. Lovecraft: Four Decades of Criticism (1980), his “Derleth Mythos” in Dissecting Cthulhu (2011), and two of his poems in Dreams of Fear (2013).

I met Dick only once, to my recollection, when he, Ted Klein, and Kirby McCauley came up to Providence and met with me and Marc A. Michaud. He was quiet and self-effacing, but he didn’t need to be aggressive in self-promotion: the quality of his work spoke for itself.

As for my own affairs, I was pleased to see a brief but favourable notice of my Recognition of H. P. Lovecraft by Michael Dirda in the Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/books/2022/01/19/science-fiction-please-lets-not-call-it-sci-fi-is-more-than-just-reaction-present/). A more extensive review has appeared here: https://mctuggle.com/2022/01/18/review-the-recognition-of-h-p-lovecraft/.

Meanwhile, I am working feverishly on preparing the third and last volume of my Journals (covering the years 1983–87) for publication. It may be done within days. One query emerged in the course of my preparation of the volume. In June 1987 I report writing three articles—on Edgar Allan Poe, Edward Bellamy, and Rudyard Kipling—for an encyclopaedia of science fiction being edited by James Gunn. The book was published as The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (Viking, 1988), but I never received a copy of the book. However, my learned webmaster has ascertained that these articles did in fact appear in the book. So my ongoing bibliography needs to be amended!

I have to say, I am mightily disappointed at how few people have purchased copies of volume 3 of the Journals from me. You don’t know what you’re missing! But given this discouraging lack of interest, I myself will not order any extra copies of the book to sell unless customers specifically indicate that they wish to purchase copies from me.

Otherwise, I continue working on preparing Ellen Greenham’s outstanding treatise After Engulfment (described in my last blog post) for publication. I am also working on getting Jason Eckhardt’s fine supernatural novel about Ambrose Bierce, The Legions of the Sun, ready for Hippocampus Press, as well as Curtis M. Lawson’s superb short story collection (with some poems mixed in), The Envious Nothing. Both of these fiction volumes should be ready by no later than the NecronomiCon in August.

I am now scheduled to go to Providence in mid-April to participate in a documentary on Lovecraft for ITV (the independent television station in England). I’ll provide more details on this in due course of time.

Otherwise, I remain busy on all manner of other fronts—editing Lovecraft letters; writing and researching my history of atheism; etc. etc.—and also look forward to preparing the next volume of Leslie Stephen’s essays after a bit of a hiatus. Also, my choir is soon to resume rehearsals, and there is some talk of performing my piece “Sunset” again—although I am lobbying to have another composition, “Continuity” (dedicated to Wilum Pugmire), performed, as I think that is a more complex and interesting piece. My Songs from Lovecraft and Others is still on schedule to appear (with accompanying CD) from Hippocampus Press later this year.

January 15, 2022 — Bushels of Books

Well, I’m back to huckstering—but only because so many interesting books have come in (or are soon to come in) that I hope my readers will want to pick them up. First on the agenda are a pair of books by Carl Jacobi, Mive and Others (https://www.weirdhousepress.com/product/mive-and-others-the-best-weird-stories-of-carl-jacobi-volume-1/) and Witches in the Cornfield (https://www.weirdhousepress.com/product/witches-in-the-cornfield-best-weird-stories-of-carl-jacobi-volume-2/) from Weird House Press. These are essentially selections of Jacobi’s best weird tales, derived from the huge Centipede Press omnibus that John Pelan and I edited some years ago; I omitted most of the silly “weird menace” stories that Pelan had included. The introductions to these books constitute my most exhaustive discussion of Jacobi’s life and work. I will be happy to let customers have each of these titles for $15.

Other titles have not actually arrived but should do so soon. These includes four items from Hippocampus Press:

Waugh’s book is his third collection of essays on Lovecraft, and is as scintillating as the other two; in fact, Hippocampus is offering all three volumes as a uniform set (https://www.hippocampuspress.com/h.-p.-lovecraft/about-hp-lovecraft/the-robert-h.-waugh-library-of-lovecraftian-criticism-3-volumes). I do not, however, have any copies of this three-volume set for sale, but will have copies of just this third collection available.

Mark Samuels’s Gothic tale is the second publication in Hippocampus’s line of original horror novellas (the first being my Something from Below), and is a spectral and mesmerising narrative. And my edition of Sir Walter Scott’s collected stories, essays, and poems on weird subjects has long been in the works.

Another newly published item is the second volume of my Journals (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09PMG7Z7T), covering the years 1977–82, or essentially my entire career at Brown University, where I got the B.A. (1980) and M.A. (1982). There are lots of discussions of my Lovecraftian work, including my compilation of books for Necronomicon Press; and also mentions of such colleagues as Marc A. Michaud, Jason Eckhardt, Sam Gafford, Don and Mollie Burleson, Robert M. Price, and others. And there is plenty of material relating to my ongoing classical studies, my devotion to music, and much else besides. I will soon have a limited number of copies for sale for $15 (those who purchase any of the titles above can have this book for $10, while copies last).

Another book has drifted in from overseas. I have received two copies of a translation of T. E. D. Klein’s “The Events at Poroth Farm” as a separate booklet. This fine hardcover edition—Die Ereignisse auf der Poroth-Farm, translated by Michael Siefener (who has translated much of Lovecraft’s fiction into German)—was published by Wandler Verlag (https://www.wandler-verlag.com/product-page/die-ereignisse-auf-der-poroth-farm) and also contains my essay, “‘The Events at Poroth Farm’ and the Literature of Horror” (1987). I am happy to offer my one spare copy for $15.

Otherwise, what have I actually been doing? Well, quite a bit. I continue to slog through the proofreading (and, later, annotating) of the fascinating Lovecraft letters to Frank Belknap Long. The fusion of this side of the correspondence with Long’s extent letters to Lovecraft will be a tricky business, as many of the latter are undated; but David E. Schultz has no doubt already made extensive strides in that direction. Even so, this project cannot be published until next year. But this year we do hope to get out at least two other Lovecraft letters volumes: Letters to Woodburn Harris and Others (including letters to Zealia Bishop and others) and Miscellaneous Letters (a huge volume of letters to a wide array of individuals, as well as letters published in Lovecraft’s lifetime). There remains a volume of Lovecraft’s Letters to Hyman Bradofsky and Others, but this book still requires quite a bit of library research.

I am madly typing away at the third volume of my journals (they are all handwritten, as I have mentioned), covering the years 1983–87. That will be the final volume in the series, and I hope to have it out by the end of February or thereabouts. I have published my forty-sixth volume in the H. L. Mencken series, and I am now contemplating beginning the publication of Arthur Machen’s collected essays and journalism, which may also extend to a good many volumes. But in the short term, my compilation of Machen’s Hieroglyphics and Other Essays (containing literary and philosophical pieces) should be out very soon from Hippocampus Press.

I am in the midst of copyediting Ellen Greenham’s fascinating book After Engulfment, a study of Lovecraft’s cosmicism and how it was adapted or amended by such science fiction writers as Robert A. Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, and Frank Herbert. The author (a professor in Australia whom I met on my trip there in 2019; the book is a revision of her Ph.D. dissertation) does not make an explicit case for the actual influence of Lovecraft on these writers, but I think such an influence can in some cases be inferred. It is a compelling and well-reasoned treatise that Hippocampus Press should get out for the NecronomiCon, if not earlier.

Of course, my history of atheism progresses, and has attained about 127,000 words right now. Am almost done (thank Gawd) with the chapter on early Christianity (through, roughly, the 6th century C.E.). Ugh!

Entries from 2021…