S. T. Joshi’s Blog

Entries from 2024…

December 28, 2023 — New Books and a Trip to California

I am at last in receipt of several fine new publications from Hippocampus Press. I can offer my spare copies at a modest discount from the list price:

The first is a fascinating glimpse into the interrelated lives of the four correspondents, especially at a critical period in the history of weird fiction (the death of Lovecraft, the founding of Arkham House, etc.). Strantzas’s collection is another scintillating array of his complex and terrifying fiction, with several previously unpublished items. The Smith volume contains some of his most celebrated fiction, including “The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis” and “The Monster of the Prophecy.” The new issue of Penumbra contains no fewer than ten works of fiction, along with ten essays and more than a dozen poems.

My campaign to bring the work of August Derleth back into print under the imprint of the August Derleth Society continues apace. Evening in Spring (1941), which Derleth considered his best novel, is now available. Here is the Amazon page for the print edition: https://www.amazon.com/Evening-Spring-August-Derleth/dp/B0CQ3YC4ZC/. It is also available as an ebook. We are having some difficulty with our reprint of Place of Hawks (1935). The print and ebook editions are supposed to be “live,” but they do not seem to be available for purchase as yet. The Shield of the Valiant (1945)—an informal sequel to Evening in Spring—should be published next month, as well as a volume of uncollected stories (some of novella length) of the Sac Prairie saga that I have assembled under the title Gently in the Autumn Night.

Katherine Kerestman has written an article on “Lovecraft and Cats” for the online journal Off Course (University of Albany) (https://www.albany.edu/offcourse/issue95/kesterman_k.html). A delightful piece! She quotes liberally from The H. P. Lovecraft Cat Book (2019), which I hope Necronomicon Press can reprint someday.

Now on to personal matters. We secured an exceptionally nice tree this year and decorated it exhaustively. And what could be more homelike than little Mimi flopping down in front of it?

Mimi and the Christmas tree

Our trip to Carmel Valley, California, was brief but eventful. We managed to see a number of spectacular sites in the area, including Point Lobos State Natural Reserve:

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

During the opening of presents on Christmas day, I was regaled by numerous welcome gifts, including a Chicago White Sox sweatshirt. Here I am modelling it amidst the lemon trees at the Contenta Inn, where we stayed:

S. T. and his new White Sox sweatshirt

I had pointedly notified my family that the White Sox was the only Chicago sports team whose paraphernalia I did not possess in any form.

Of course, the main attraction of the gathering was my great-niece, Emma Lily Towler, the daughter of my niece, Anne Joshi Gieseker (the two of them are photographed below), and her husband, Patrick Towler:

Emma and Anne

I am ordinarily not greatly enamoured of little people, but the unbearable cuteness of this pint-sized bundle of joy is hard to deny. She turns one year old on January 27, 2024.

All the above photos were of course taken on Mary’s phone. We came home on Tuesday the 26th, and (in spite of being slowed down by a slight case of sniffles) I’m back at work.

I was shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Mark Samuels, at the relatively young age of fifty-six. Mark had submitted a slim volume of stories, Charnel Glamour, to Hippocampus Press, and I hope we can work with his executors to publish the book. I’m sure it’s a fine piece of work. I have not read it yet, but it contains much of his recent work in the short story. … Another writer in our field who has passed is Weston Ochse. He was a reliable producer of good work. … And who cannot lament the passing of Tom Smothers? I was a devoted watcher of the Smothers Brothers Show in its day—and one of its highlights was Mason Williams’s fascinating composition for guitar and orchestra, “Classical Gas” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mREi_Bb85Sk). An inspiring fusion of classical and rock music!

December 15, 2023 — Various Items of Interest

Stark House Press continues its reprinting of some of the most brilliant weird tales of the British writer Robert Hichens: The Black Spaniel and Other Strange Stories (http://starkhousepress.com/hichens.php). This, as you can see, is the third volume of Hichens’s stories for which I have supplied an introduction; and I have just now written a fourth introduction, this time to a volume of non-supernatural but exceptionally compelling stories of domestic and social conflict. That volume—The Folly of Eustace and Other Satires—will appear in due course of time.

I am in receipt of the massive volume on Robert W. Chambers in Centipede Press’s Masters of the Weird Tale series (https://www.centipedepress.com/masters/mwtchambers.html). I believe the signed edition is already sold out, but the unsigned edition is still available. It contains the totality (with one possible omission) of the material I included in my Chaosium edition (The Yellow Sign and Other Stories, 2000) along with the novel The Slayer of Souls (1920). A doorstopper of a volume, to be sure! I have no spare copies to offer to customers.

My colleague Robin Wilkinson is doing his bit to keep the work of Lord Dunsany alive in the land of his ancestors (Ireland), as the following thoughtful article in the Dublin Review of Books indicates (https://drb.ie/dunsanys-careless-abundance/). Much more work of this sort would be welcome, so that Dunsany can resume his distinguished place in Anglo-Irish literature.

I continue to work on August Derleth, including the transcription of his immense novel The Shield of the Valiant (1945). I had previously pointed to a passage discussing Lovecraft (or “H. P. L.,” as he refers to him) early in the novel. I have now come upon another passage, this one speaking poignantly of the protagonist Stephen Grendon’s response to “H. P. L.”’s death—a reaction very similar to that which Derleth himself experienced when he heard of Lovecraft’s passing:

In his struggle against change, he had adjusted himself to change in the physical aspect of the village—to old buildings being torn down, new ones going up; to trees coming down, fences and sheds being removed, and the like; but he had now reached an age in which familiar faces began to disappear finally and forever, never to be replaced. In the past year these changes had been numerous. Miss Mergan had died, a friend younger than he had been killed in an automobile accident, an old great-uncle to whom he had been much attached had quixotically removed to Mexico, Father Connor had left the parish, and only recently, most melancholy of all, his long-time correspondent, the reclusive H. P. L. had died quite suddenly and unexpectedly in his middle forties. Given time to adjust itself to the probability of change, even the most obdurate mind makes the adjustment; but many of these changes had come upon Steve Grendon without warning.

On this May night he was engaged in the melancholy task of examining the great number of letters H. P. L. had written to him, all in his fine, spidery script, and he paused from time to time to turn over phrases here and there. “I believe that every creative mind is the essential outgrowth of its own native soil, and that no material is quite so perfectly adapted to it as the rich color and background of that soil.” He had written that almost a decade ago; it had been one of the things which had turned Steve’s attention from mere pulp writing to the story of Sac Prairie itself. “One’s opinions about immediate things are always distorted and confused by novelty and imperfect perspective.” But this task became too trying; as he passed from letter to letter, Steve found himself retreating into the past with such nostalgia that he was aware of the necessity of escaping. He felt that from time to time he lived too much in the past; it was a tendency common enough to those who oppose change in their existence.

Very touching!

Moving to the present, my colleague Debra K. Every has established a website for herself, noting in particular the forthcoming appearance of her splendid novel Deena Undone, for which I offered a favourable (and entirely deserved) blurb: https://debrakevery.com/. I see that the novel is still about ten months from publication—but it will be well worth the wait!

My publisher, Derrick Hussey of Hippocampus Press, has passed on a charming photograph of a Polish devotee of Lovecraft, Michał Godlewski, taken in the Tomaszów Mazowiecki cemetery, with a copy of one volume of the Variorum Edition of Lovecraft. Michal is standing by the grave of Friedrich Tripplin (1774–1840), friend of Goethe and Schiller and a classical scholar.

Michał Godlewski at the grave of Friedrich Tripplin

As for myself, aside from my work on Derleth, I have nearly finished a revised edition of Lovecraft’s Library (to appear next year from Hippocampus), and I continue to work on various anthologies (Shunned Houses and a witch anthology) in collaboration with Katherine Kerestman. And, of course, my history of atheism continues: I am in the nineteenth century, and the book has already come to nearly 140,000 words, with much more ground to cover!

November 28, 2023 — A Trip to Spain: A Photo-Essay

Okay, folks, I believe I’m prepared to write about our trip to Spain (November 11–20). Given that this was our first time out of the U.S. since 2019, it was understandably an epochal event. I had never been to Spain, although Mary had been on two separate occasions.

We headed to SeaTac airport around 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 11, to catch the 8 p.m. flight to Dublin on Aer Lingus. I was not sure whether we would be supplied any meals on the nine-hour red-eye flight, so we had dinner at a nice (but expensive) restaurant at the airport. In fact, Aer Lingus did provide a meal, but we declined it. Arriving in Dublin at around 1:30 p.m., November 12, local time, we had lunch at the airport before catching the 4:30 flight to Madrid. Arriving around 7 p.m. local time, we made our way to the Hotel Alicia, on the Plaza de Santa Ana. Madrid is full of plazas, where people congregate or have meals under tents in the open air. The weather was still pleasant (mid-50s, as I recall), so we immediately went to dinner at a nearby tapas restaurant. It proved not to be an exceptional place, but it was adequate for our purposes.

Monday the 13th we did our best to acclimate ourselves by a succession of leisurely walks around the city. As we took in the sights, we came upon the huge and impressive Cervantes Institute (Instituto Cervantes):

Instituto Cervantes in Madrid

The above image shows only a part of the whole institute. I immediately wondered why there couldn’t be a similar thing for Lovecraft! I would be happy to be the director of such an establishment.

We made our way to the Retiro (Parque de el Retiro), a huge park, similar to Central Park, to the east of the downtown area. We wandered at length amidst its array of trees, plants, and impressive structures, including this one:

Parque de el Retiro in Madrid

You can see how warm the day was from my shirtsleeved attire. We had dinner at a much better tapas place that evening.

Tuesday the 14th was our big day in Toledo, an ancient city southwest of Madrid. We were on a guided tour—which was just as well, as we would never have been able to find our way about the city, or learn about its long history, without such guidance. Its chief feature is a spectacular cathedral, begun in the 13th century. This shot gives some idea of its impressiveness:

Toledo Cathedral

At another locale, the Church of Santo Tomé, features a fine El Greco painting, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz:

The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, by El Greco

I would not by any means say (as the standard brochures do) that this is El Greco’s greatest painting, as it seems to lack the distinctively weird elements that one frequently finds in much of his work. But it is well worth seeing. Another notable site is the Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca, with its distinctive Moorish architecture:

The Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca

Later we got a fine view of the city from a nearby vista point:

Toledo as seen from a nearby vista point

Wednesday the 15th was our big day at the Prado, one of the great museums of the world. It is of course known for its magnificent holdings of Hieronymus Bosch (The Garden of Earthly Delights), Goya (too many to mention, but the most chilling is the famous Third of May 1808; also notable, from a weird perspective, is Witches’ Sabbath), El Greco, and much else besides. Later we were given a guided tour of the Palacio Real (Royal Palace), a most impressive site. We were in the company of an elderly English couple, with whom we later had a snack in the museum café.

Thursday the 16th we toured the Royal Botanical Gardens, where there were exquisite trees, plants, and other flora—some of them flowering even at this late date of the year. Here is just one of them:

Flowers at the Royal Botanical Gardens

But the most engaging part of this expedition was that we encountered not one but two cats! They looked well fed, so they must be cared for by the staff. One of them, a tabby, was very suspicious of us, but the other—a tuxedo cat—came trotting right up to us as we were sitting on a bench and jumped onto Mary’s lap:

Mary attracted a local tuxedo cat

Ah, what a balm for our ailurophilic souls! Later, after a hasty dinner, we saw an exhibition of flamenco dancing—an incredibly impressive demonstration. The two women in question were extraordinarily talented and filled with boundless energy, as was the guitarist. There was also a singer who wailed in a curious but presumably authentic manner:

Dancers at Centro Cultural Flamenco Madrid

At last, on Friday the 17th, the festival for which I had been summoned (Sui Generis Madrid). This event took place at a former slaughterhouse (!) called the Matadero. I showed up in my patented tweed jacket:

S. T. outside the Matadero

I believe it was Jason Eckhardt who, after Mary posted this image somewhere, made the wry comment: “Our man in Madrid.” That day there was nothing for me specifically to do; but the next day, Saturday the 18th, was my big day. In the morning I was interviewed twice, and in the early evening was my first official appearance, at a talk in which I fielded questions from Carlos Pla (the publisher of the Spanish translation of my biography of Lovecraft, Yo soy Providence) and Alberto Salazar, a critic who apparently regards me highly:

S. T. giving a talk at Sui Generis Madrid

From left to right: Carlos Pla, a translator, myself, and Alberto Salazar

I received a thunderous ovation at the end. It was a most humbling experience. Later one of the Lovecraft devotees, with whom we shared a drink at the café, said, “In Spain Lovecraft is god—and you are the pope!” Just as in France (when I attended the Les Imaginales festival in 2019), I felt like a celebrity for one of the few times in my life.

I forgot to mention that, earlier in the day, I signed some autographs (along with the other overseas guests—Paul Tremblay, Stephen Graham Jones, and Tim Pratt). Note the amusing sign in front of my autograph stand:

S. T. signing books at Sui Generis Madrid

Like an idiot, I was unaware that the copy of Yo soy Providence that I received last year was a translation of only the first volume of I Am Providence; now the second volume (just as big and heavy) was published, and hardy souls dragged one or both books to my table for my signature.

Sunday the 19th there was nothing specifically for me to do at the festival, so Mary and I decided to go to Segovia, another charming town to the northwest of Madrid. Before we caught the tour bus, we canvassed a park near the Plaza de España where there is an imposing monument to Cervantes:

S. T. at the Monument to Miguel de Cervantes, Plaza de Espaņa, Madrid

The trip to Segovia was a bit rushed, because the bus got caught up in a traffic jam (the result of an accident) and was more than half an hour late leaving for Segovia. The city is multifariously interesting, but what struck my classical sensibilities most was the impressive Roman aqueduct, which was in actual use from the time of its construction (first century C.E.) until the early twentieth century. Ah, those Romans knew how to build things to last!

Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain

Monday the 20th was merely spent in a long day of travel: Madrid to Dublin to Seattle, all on Aer Lingus. The problem was that the airline apparently lost track of the one big suitcase we checked in—and the suitcase has still not been returned to us, a week after our return! I won’t go into the byzantine details of this matter, but Mary has had to spend hours on the phone trying to sort the business out.

I have hit the ground running, getting right back to work—but with a break for Thanksgiving dinner, of course. A number of projects need to be completed, and I will tackle them when time permits. But for now, I am still basking in memories of sunny Spain, and of the incredibly cordial welcome I received from the many devotees of Lovecraft in that country.

November 22, 2023 — News of Interest

Mary and I just returned from Spain—but I will need to process that whole trip before I can write about it, and in the meanwhile I have a number of other things to report.

First on the agenda is a very nice review of The Weird Cat by Michael Washburn, a longtime friend and colleague: https://bookandfilmglobe.com/fiction/book-review-the-weird-cat/. Michael has read the book exactly as we intended it, and I am glad he found so much to praise in the book.

Another colleague, Michael Aronovitz, has just published a scintillating novel, The Winslow Sisters, with Cemetery Dance: https://www.cemeterydance.com/winslowsistersAronovitz. It is a grim but beautiful piece of work, and everyone with an interest in serious weird fiction should read it. It appears that the anonymous reviewer in Publishers Weekly agrees, for the book has just received a glowing review in that august venue: https://www.publishersweekly.com/9781587679483.

Cadabra Records has come out with another splendid recording: “The Willows” by Algernon Blackwood (which, as you will no doubt recall, Lovecraft believed to be the greatest weird tale in literature), read by Robert Lloyd Perry and with musical accompaniment by Chris Bozzone (https://cadabrarecords.com/products/algernon-blackwood-the-willows-lp-read-by-robert-lloyd-parry-score-by-chris-bozzone). I wrote the liner notes. The text is, sadly, abridged, but I’m sure it still makes for compelling listening.

A Brazilian colleague, Emílio Soares Ribeiro, has just published a fine book on horror in literature and cinema, O Gótico e seus Monstros (https://painel.livros.leiamais.uol.com.br/uol-livros/o-gotico-e-seus-monstros_67733). I wrote a foreword to the book. There is much discussion of Lovecraft. I now see that I did a podcast with the author some time ago.

As many of you may know, I am in the process of preparing new editions of some of August Derleth’s novels and tales of the Sac Prairie Saga. I have just uploaded a file of Place of Hawks (1935), the earliest substantial contribution to the saga, onto Amazon, although it may take a few days to be approved. All these books will be published under the imprint of the August Derleth Society. Evening in Spring (1941) will be next, followed by The Shield of the Valiant (1945), an immense novel that is something of a sequel to Evening in Spring. In an early section of the book, Lovecraft comes in for some discussion, as the protagonist, Stephen Grendon (an obvious stand-in for Derleth), reflects on his past:

All his life he had resented change, though sometimes, tired with fighting to keep the facets of his existence unchanged, he abruptly sought change as a release from struggle. In this he was no different from other men, though, as a poet, he felt the effects of change more keenly, want­ing to live in a past, a present, and a future all at the same time, with equal intensity in each, and being forced to realize constantly that life went on in the present alone, that past and future were tenuous and in­tangible. Only this afternoon he had had a letter about change and the sense of time. Isolated in Sac Prairie, Steve kept up a large correspondence with people all over the United States and in England; among them was a recluse in Providence, Rhode Island, who wrote weird and outre fiction, and who had for a decade written a letter a week to Steve, filled with all kinds of fascinating lore and information, a semi-invalid whose vast store of knowledge had helped to shape Steve's own writing. Like Steve, he too kept up a wide correspondence, and, though many of his correspondents had never met him, “H.P.L.,” as he signed himself, had a singular reality. Steve paused under the streetlight at the southwest corner of the park and took out the letter; he found the portion easily enough, and re-read it.

“The way to defeat the sense of time is to cling close to unaltered early haunts. Amongst these forest paths I know so well the gap between the present and the days of 1899 or 1900 vanishes utterly—so that sometimes I almost tend to be astonished upon emergence to find the city grown out of its fin de siècle semblance! In spots where nothing has changed, there is little to remind me that the date is not still 1900 or 1901, and that I am not still a boy of ten or eleven. Images and ideas and perspec­tives of that period flood up from subconsciousness with amazing vigor and volume, and do much to prove the relativity and subjectivity of time. Sometimes I feel that if I went home to my birthplace and up the steps, I would still find my mother and grandfather alive, and my old room and things in accustomed 1900 order. It seems to me the plainest of all truths that no highly organized and freely developed mind can pos­sibly envisage an external world having much in common with the external world envisaged by any other mind.”

I assume that that second paragraph is taken verbatim from a Lovecraft letter, but I have not had the energy to ascertain which one it is.

Lots more going on here, but mostly I’m still glowing from my wonderful trip to Spain. Expect another blog post on that momentous topic in short order!

November 3, 2023 — Another Pungent Podcast

Just a day before my podcast with David Rigsbey (discussed in my previous blog post), I did a podcast with Jim Rohner, who runs a site called The Cast of Cthulhu. This podcast went live on Hallowe’en, and it can be heard here: https://castofcthulhu.podbean.com/e/episode-81-interview-with-st-joshi/. It is audio only. We were supposed to discuss Lovecraftian film adaptations, but we ended up talking quite a bit about Lovecraft himself, although toward the end we did discuss films—old and new—pertaining to Lovecraft.

I was pleased to see a highly favourable review of The Recognition of H. P. Lovecraft (2021) by Beatrice Steele, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Exeter (UK) who is writing a dissertation on Victorian amateur astronomers. The review appeared in the SFRA Newsletter (Fall 2023) and can be accessed here: https://sfrareview.org/2023/10/04/review-of-the-recognition-of-h-p-lovecraft-his-rise-from-obscurity-to-world-renown/. In my judgment, the review assesses the book exactly as I intended.

Katherine Kerestman and I have amassed an array of material for our second collaborative anthology, Shunned Houses. This volume will focus on the “weird house” theme. I don’t wish to refer to it as “haunted house,” because the scope of the book is wider than that. Indeed, we have gathered so much older material that it could serve as the basis for a second anthology on this subject. So far, we have gathered all manner of relatively little-known works, ranging from fiction (e.g., John Greenleaf Whittier’s “The Haunted House,” from his first published volume, Legends of New-England [1831]) to poetry (e.g., Oscar Wilde’s “The Harlot’s House”) to essays (e.g., Algernon Blackwood’s “The Midnight Hour”). This book, like The Weird Cat, will be published by Wordcrafts Press, probably next summer.

I believe I have occasionally mentioned the work that David E. Schultz and I are undertaking on assembling the collected poetry of Winifred Virginia Jackson. This book is now approaching completion and may appear sometime next year. It comes to well over 300 pages, although some of that space is devoted to articles and other work about Jackson, including several pieces by Lovecraft. Jackson’s poetry is quite oustanding, both from a technical perspective and from the perspective of content. I find her love poetry particularly effective. Here is a sample:

To You

What the rose to the garden is,
 What the dew to the rose,
What the rain to the springtime is,
 What the stars to day’s close;

What the hush to the twilight is,
 What the moon to the night’s brew,
What the balm to the South wind is,
 To my heart, Sweet, are you.

There is a relatively small modicum of weird poetry in the book—some of it published in Lovecraft’s amateur journal, The Conservative.

I understand that Jerad Walters of Centipede Press is working on a number of volumes that I have compiled for him, including collections of weird tales by Guy de Maupassant, John Metcalfe, Robert W. Chambers, and Algernon Blackwood (this is a second volume of Blackwood’s work for the Library of Weird Fiction). Jerad still has on hand my compilations of the work of J. Sheridan Le Fanu, W. C. Morrow (compiled in collaboration with Stefan Dziemianowicz), E. F. Benson, M. R. James, and August Derleth.

The other day I was pleased to have read Maxwell I. Gold’s booklet anOther Mythology (Interstellar Flight Press, 2023; https://www.interstellarflightpress.com/anothermythology.html). This is a slender collection of prose poems, a form that Gold has mastered, as can be seen by his numerous contributions of such work to Spectral Realms. I have reviewed the book for the twentieth issue of Spectral Realms, due out in January. Imagine!—ten years of this magazine. I will say that I have thoroughly enjoyed editing this periodical, as it has brought me in touch with many of the oustanding weird poets of our time. Each issue seems to contain work by poets who have not previously contributed, so it seems the word is getting out that Spectral Realms is the place to go for weird verse.

October 26, 2023 — A Lively Podcast

I recently participated in one of the most stimulating podcasts I’ve ever been involved with—a talk about the state of contemporary horror, conducted by David Rigsbey as part of his “Let’s Talk Horror!!!” program (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGP0sVdwlbg). The podcast goes on for a full hour, so I hope listeners (and viewers) will have the patience to go through it to the end. Video is provided, so you can see me pontificating in my study. The day previous to this podcast, I did another one with Jim Rohner, but this will probably be uploaded closer to Halloween.

I am in receipt of another fine recording (LP) from Cadabra Records: John William Polidori’s The Vampyre, read by Laurence R. Harvey (https://cadabrarecords.com/products/john-william-polidori-the-vampyre-lp-read-by-laurence-r-harvey-score-by-chris-bozzone). I wrote the liner notes to the album, which required considerable research into Polidori’s life and work, especially his relations with Lord Byron, who appears in the story thinly disguised as Lord Ruthven.

A fine book that has just reached me is Le Grand Dieu Pan, a French translation of Arthur Machen’s “The Great God Pan” and other stories, along with all manner of other work (by Henri Martineau, Jorge Luis Borges, etc.), and lavishly illustrated by Samuel Araya. Here is the webpage of the publisher (Editions Callidor) for the book: https://www.editions-callidor.com/le-grand-dieu-pan. I wrote an afterword to the volume, although I cannot recall what piece of mine the publisher has translated. This same publisher had previously issued a gorgeous translation of Chambers’s The King in Yellow, as I discussed in an earlier blog post.

I can announce that, after about seven months, I have completed a monumental chapter on the eighteenth century for my history of atheism. Here is the breakdown of the sections, which I trust will give a sense of the wide array of topics covered by the chapter:

  1. VIII. The Eighteenth Century
    1. A. Church, State, and Society in Europe
    2. B. Deism and Its Opponents
    3. C. Eighteenth-Century Science
    4. D. The Enlightenment: An Overview
    5. E. The French Enlightenment: First Phase
    6. F. Diderot, d’Alembert, and the Encyclopédie
    7. G. Voltaire and Rousseau
    8. H. The Radical Enlightenment
    9. I. The English and Scottish Enlightenment
    10. J. The German Enlightenment
    11. K. The American Enlightenment and Independence
    12. L. The French Revolution and Its Discontents
    13. M. The Literature of the Enlightenment
    14. N. Art, Architecture, and Music

But it’s not all work and no play around here. Jerad Walters of Centipede Press is in town, and I had the pleasure of meeting him, his wife Duren, and Jason and Sunni Brock (up from Vancouver) for a nice dinner at a pizza place (Elemental Pizza) not far from here. Here is a photographic record of the event:

S. T. and Mary have dinner with the Walters and the Brocks at Elemental Pizza

I am wearing my “Australian National University” jacket, obtained in Australia in 2019, and holding a thermos of tea (by this time it had been consumed). Can’t go anywhere without my tea!

October 10, 2023 — A Choice Batch of Books for Sale

In my increasing effort to reduce the tonnage of books burdening all corners of this house, I hereby offer a highly select list of books for sale to any who are interested:

Naturally, I have only one copy of each of these items, so you’d better snap them up quick!

I now have two further copies of The Weird Cat—which is still not officially published by Wordcrafts Press (its publication date is October 18)—that I can offer: one hardcover copy for $30, and one paperback copy for $15.

I have just returned from a pleasant trip to Portland, in attending the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival. The best part of the trip was the many pleasant hours I spent with friends old and new, chief among them Katherine Kerestman, Tony LaMalfa, and Adam Bolivar. The impressive marquee of the Hollywood Theatre (here shown in a photo taken by Tony) is always worth seeing:

Hollywood Theatre marquee during the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon 2023

Inside the theatre, it is difficult to avoid a photo-op with the huge statue of Cthulhu in the lobby. Here is a photo of the four of us—Tony, Adam, myself, and Katherine—making due obeisance to the deity:

Tony LaMalfa, Adam Bolivar, S. T. Joshi, and Katherin Kerestman with the Cthulhu statue at the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon 2023

Before the convention started, Katherine, Tony, and I made a pilgrimage to The Grotto, a Catholic retreat that is set in a gorgeous rustic locale:

Tony LaMalfa, S. T. Joshi, and Katherin Kerestman at The Grotto in Portland, Oregon

(Tony and I are wearing shorts because it was an unusually warm day—indeed, warm weekend—in Portland.)

The four of us were on a lively “Lovecraft and Cats” panel on Saturday, which went very well. This was directly followed by a panel on Lovecraftian poetry old and new, in which Denise Dumars, Adam Bolivar, John Shirley, and I participated. This was also a lively event, although not quite as well attended.

Cats were very much a sub-theme of the festival. One of the few films I found of merit was a short item, H. P. Loves Cats, directed by Gary Lobstein—a five-minute film devoted to HPL’s worship of his favourite species. In addition, Andrew Leman read “The Cats of Ulthar” just before our panel—a highly effective performance.

September 30, 2023 — Some Birthdays of Note

Today, September 30, would have been the 113th birthday of my father, T. M. Joshi, author of Bombay Finance and other important books on Indian economics. He died in early 1994. He was proud of my success as a writer, although he did not live to see my dedication of Lord Dunsany: Master of the Anglo-Irish Imagination (Greenwood Press, 1995) to him.

Today is also my cat Mimi’s sixteenth (or should that be eightieth?) birthday! She is still very spry and seems to be in good health. We will take her in to the Northeast Veterinary Clinic on October 10 for her annual checkup. Here’s hoping she lives a good many more years! I don’t want to think of her absence from my life.

I have succeeded in reprinting my edition (coedited with David E. Schultz) of Ambrose Bierce’s A Sole Survivor: Bits of Autobiography through Sarnath Press (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CJT2TCJ3/). This book holds much significance for me, as it was my first compilation of Ambrose Bierce’s writings. Schultz and I had begun studying Bierce around 1996, not long after we had plunged into research on George Sterling. We discovered that not a great deal of scholarship had been done, relatively speaking, especially in regard to collecting and reprinting his lesser-known work as essayist and journalist. A Sole Survivor was the result, published by University of Tennessee Press in 1998. I like to think that the new edition is somewhat superior, if only in terms of its overall design. Several reviewers of the original edition complained that the font of that edition was microscopic (it may have been as small as 8-point), and the new edition should be much more readable. In terms of content, the book has what many (myself included) believe to be Bierce’s single greatest composition—the war memoir “What I Saw of Shiloh.” It also includes selections from a wide range of Bierce’s journalism from 1868 to 1909. I will not be procuring any spare copies of this book, so please order directly from Amazon.

I have also prepared a fourth edition of my Stupidity Watch, a collection of my writings on atheism, religion, and politics (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XS55NWG/). This edition includes my recently published column “When Did Christianity Die?” (Free Inquiry, June-July 2023), among other delectable items.

I am looking forward to attending the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon (October 6–8). I see that I am scheduled to be on two panels, one on contemporary Lovecraftian poetry, and one on Lovecraft and Cats. Both should be most entertaining!

September 20, 2023 — New Hippocampus Books at Last!

It took a while, but a whole sheaf of new Hippocampus Press books has now arrived. I am now possession of multiple copies of these books:

I trust I don’t need to elaborate on these volumes. The Letters to Hyman Bradofsky (also containing letters to Richard Ely Morse, Helm C. Spink, and numerous other amateur journalists from the 1930s) is the second-to-last volume in the Lovecraft Letters series, to be followed next year by A Sense of Proportion: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Frank Belknap Long. For the Outsider is a volume I have been wishing to compile for a long time—an anthology of poems (from 1918 to the present) about Lovecraft and/or inspired by his writings. I took the liberty of including my own poem “To H. P. Lovecraft” (1982) in the book, but otherwise it contains work by actual poets ranging from Clark Ashton Smith to Leigh Blackmore.

The Guimont-Smith volume is a superlative and all but definitive account of Lovecraft’s fascination with astronomy, profusely illustrated with images appropriate to the subject. Schweitzer’s The Children of Chorazin is a fine volume of stories set in an imaginary area of Pennsylvania; most of the stories relate to the Cthulhu Mythos, and some appeared in my Black Wings anthologies. I have previously sung the praises of LaMalfa’s two previously unpublished novellas.

Several other books of interest have drifted in. Most striking is a slipcased hardcover edition of Irvin S. Cobb’s Cabeza de Pescado (Criptica Editorial), a translation of Irvin S. Cobb’s weird tales (which I reprinted in the volume Back There in the Grass [Hippocampus Press, 2020]). This volume translates my introduction (or, rather, the portion of it relating to Cobb) into Spanish. There are only 100 copies of this edition! (I cannot find a page for it on the publisher’s website. The title translates to “Head of a Fish”—i.e., Fishhead.)

Maxwell I. Gold, a frequent contributor to Spectral Realms, has issued a slender book of prose poems, Another Mythology (Interstellar Flight Press, 2023; https://www.interstellarflightpress.com/anothermythology.html). I have not read this book yet, but I intend to write a brief review of it in Spectral Realms. I imagine it contains material just as worthy as the scintillating items I have published in that magazine.

A volume of Reuben Dendinger’s short stories, Cursed Images, has appeared under the imprint of Hyperidean Press (https://www.hyperideanpress.com/books). I have not read this book either, but I suspect there is considerable merit in it. I may report later on this once I have had a chance to dip into the contents.

September 1, 2023 — The Weird Cat Is Here!

I am happy to announce that I have received a number of copies of the paperback edition of The Weird Cat. Here is an article about the book on the publisher’s website: https://www.wordcrafts.net/the-weird-cat-debuts-at-1-hot-new-release/. Oddly enough, information regarding this paperback edition is scant, but the publisher notifies me that it will sell for $18.99. There will also be hardcover and ebook editions. The official release date is October 18, but my copies are already in hand, so you can read it earlier than most others. Since I had to purchase these paperback copies (at an author’s discount), I will have to sell them for $20 apiece, to cover my expenses. But it’s a beautiful book, and I’m sure that all devotees of cats—and of weird fiction—will find it to their liking. So come and get ’em!

Also in hand, from the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society, is a beautiful boxed set (slipcased hardcovers) of four issues of Miskatonic Missives (https://store.hplhs.org/products/miskatonic-missives-vol-1-collectors-edition). I see that these are published by a British small press called Helios House. Each issue contains a wealth of material (mostly facsimile reprints of all manner of items pertaining to Lovecraft and his circle) of interest to the Lovecraft enthusiast. I urge everyone to secure this distinctive item. Indeed, exquisite as this publication is, it is unlikely that I will make much use of it; so I will be happy to let it go for the bargain price of $120 to anyone who wants it.

I have published a second volume of Ken Faig, Jr.’s engaging stories about the private detective Wilmott Watkyns, entitled Elsewhen and Elsewhere (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CH2CQQWX). The book contains a number of stories where Wilmott ventures outside her native city of Cincinnati to investigate cases of a widely diverse sort. A pair of stories are set in “Lovecraft Territory” (i.e., Providence, R.I.), one of which features a preternaturally long-lived individual from the seventeenth century who still lurks in the twentieth. It’s all great fun! Interested readers should order this book directly from Amazon.

Otherwise, I’ve been busy editing and publishing Ambrose Bierce’s journalism as well as the essays of Leslie Stephen, the nineteenth-century British literary critic and philosopher whose work I greatly admire. My edition of Bierce’s Collected Essays and Journalism is now up to its thirteenth volume (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CFCYQSN2), while my Leslie Stephen edition has appeared in eleven volumes (they are unnumbered; the latest one is: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CGL7TQG3). There will be four more volumes of the Stephen edition, and as many as thirty volumes of the Bierce edition.

I have finally found the time to complete a future volume in Hippocampus Press’s Classics of Gothic Horror series, this one reprinting the best weird work of William Sharp (who wrote extensively under his own name as well as that of a female pseudonym, Fiona Macleod). The volume will be titled The Sin-Eater and Other Weird Stories, after his most celebrated horror tale. I just read Flavia Alaya’s biographical and critical study, William Sharp—“Fiona Macleod” 1855–1905 (Harvard University Press, 1970), which did not prove quite as useful as I was hoping it would be; but it did refer me to the author’s widow Elizabeth Sharp, who wrote a memoir of her husband that was published in 1910, and which seems to have some interesting material. Sharp made elaborate attempts to pass off Fiona Macleod as an actual person, and his authorship of these works was not fully revealed until after his death. There is some debate as to which of these tales constitutes a “weird tale,” because most of them draw upon Celtic folklore in a way that makes their specifically supernatural content difficult to determine; but I believe I have found a dozen or more tales that could be considered weird.

August 21, 2023 — The Achievements of Friends and Colleagues

For once I will write a blog that is chiefly about someone other than myself. In fact, several friends and colleagues have made notable achievements that deserve to be publicised here.

First up is Tony LaMalfa, whose scintillating pair of Lovecraftian novellas, published by Hippocampus Press under the title Forbidden Knowledge, is attracting considerable attention. The author was the subject of a writeup by his local newspaper, the Eagle Herald of Menominee, Wisconsin, in which I am discussed in part (well, did you think this blog post was going to be entirely devoid of mention of me?). Here is the link to the online version of the article: https://www.newsbreak.com/menominee-mi/3121395901303-local-playwright-s-travels-inspire-debut-book-release. Of course, I had been discussing LaMalfa’s work long before I met him at the NecronomiCon in 2022.

Cadabra Records has released a spoken-word LP of Mark Samuels’s chilling story “A Gentleman from Mexico,” which indirectly involves Lovecraft and R. H. Barlow. Strangely enough, I am not finding a separate listing of this item on the Cadabra Records website; there is only a mention of it on a page detailing a subscription package of several LPs: https://cadabrarecords.com/products/cadabra-records-subscription-12-payment-plan. But I imagine it will be offered separately at some point. Yes, I am involved in this release also, as I wrote the liner notes—to say nothing of publishing the story in my anthology A Mountain Walked (2014).

The artist Jason Eckhardt recently took a trip to Quebec and, as is his wont, made a number of superb sketches of some of the sites Lovecraft visited on his three visits to that city (1930, 1932, 1933). Here is one of them, a fine colour image of an old house:

Jason Eckhardt's sketch of a house in Montreal that Lovecraft visited

Jason has also sent along a photo of his cat (named Kenny), who was the inspiration for his story “Ghost Bats,” included in The Weird Cat:

Photo of Jason Eckhardt's cat, Kenny

Finally, I learn that Leigh Blackmore has set up a website in which he is offering for sale some of the more tempting items from his book collection: http://www.blackmorebooks.ravenhawk.net.au/. Lots to choose from, folks!

Turning at last to little old me, I can say that I shall presently be getting some spare copies of The Weird Cat from the publisher—probably by the time of my next blog post. At that time I also hope to have copies of new Hippocampus Press publications, ranging from the LaMalfa book mentioned above to such things as Lovecraft’s Letters to Hyman Bradofsky and Others, When the Stars Are Right (a brilliant study of Lovecraft and astronomy by Edward Guimont and Horace A. Smith), the new issue of the Lovecraft Annual, and much else besides. Stay tuned!

August 8, 2023 — Ramsey Campbell’s New Novel

I was pleased to have had the chance to digest Ramsey Campbell’s The Lonely Lands, just out from Flame Tree Publishing (https://www.flametreepublishing.com/the-lonely-lands-isbn-9781787588615.html). It is a splendid piece of work, and I have written a review which you can find here. The review will also appear in the Fall 2023 issue of Dead Reckonings.

I have received a few spare copies of the slipcased signed/limited hardcover edition of Black Wings VII (https://www.pspublishing.co.uk/black-wings-vii-signed-slipcased-hardcover-edited-by-st-joshi-5976-p.asp). As you can see, the print run is limited to 200 copies, and of course these copies are difficult for US customers to obtain. So anyone is welcome to purchase a copy from me for $50. But I only have three spare copies left!

I am delighted to see that the anthology I coedited with Katherine Kerestman, The Weird Cat, is moving along in production. Here is the splendid front cover of the book, designed by the publisher, Mike Parker:

The cover of The Weird Cat (ebook)

Mike announces that the book (hardcover, paperback, and ebook) will be available in mid-October. I am hoping that some copies will be available at the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland (October 6–8), since I have apparently persuaded one of the organisers, Gwen Callahan, to schedule a panel on “Lovecraft and Cats” for the event.

July 31, 2023 — A Little Getaway

To celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary (July 27), Mary and I decided to take a trip to the North Cascades, a spectacularly beautiful part of our state where I had never ventured, although Mary has been there on several occasions. The drive was highlighted by magnificent vistas of natural beauty—mountains, lakes, forests, etc. Here is a photo of us at a lookout point near the Diablo Dam, one of three dams in that area:

Photo of S. T. and Mary at Lookout Point

We had a splendid lunch at a little café in Marblemount. Presently we reached our destination—the Sun Mountain Lodge near Winthrop:

Photo of Sun Mountain Lodge

Once we settled in, I indulged in a philosophical conversation with the resident (stuffed) bison in the lobby, whose name is Floyd:

Photo of S. T. and Floyd the (stuffed) bison

After a nice but light dinner at one of the lodge’s restaurants, we settled in for a quiet evening. I continued reading Ramsey Campbell’s new novel, The Lonely Lands, which I finished in the course of our trip. I’ll be writing a review of this superlative novel in due course of time.

The next day, Friday the 28th, was made momentous by my first horseback ride ever! Yes, people, the learned Lovecraft scholar clambered up onto the backside of a noble horse named Dragon, while Mary rode atop a smaller steed named Dolly. I have to say that the hour-long horse ride was engaging but rather bone-jarring. I think Dragon was not pleased with having to bear a human of such girth and heft as myself, as he wheezed and shook his mane while laboring up hill and down dale. At one point our guide stopped to take a picture of the epochal event:

Photo of Mary and S. T. on horseback

Just call us Ride ’em Cowboy Joshi and his Little Woman! Let me clarify that I am not—repeat, not—wearing a cowboy hat! It is merely a sunhat to protect my increasingly bald pate from the blistering sun of the day. Toward the conclusion of the expedition Mary found herself feeling poorly and had to get off the beast, but I endured to the bitter end. It was a fine experience—but probably not one that I will care to repeat. I thought I might suffer from saddle sores or be compelled to walk bowlegged for days, but I appear to have suffered no ill effects.

Mary made a quick recovery, and we soon found ourselves in the neighbouring town of Twisp, where we had a magnificent late lunch at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place. Returning to the lodge, we played some reasonably creditable games of billiards in the lodge’s game room, then headed out to Winthrop to have a meal at a restaurant oddly named the Copper Glance. I had beef bulgogi for the first time since the early 1990s, when I sampled this dish at one of the many Korean barbecue restaurants on West 32nd Street in Manhattan.

The next day we made our leisurely way back home, stopping by another vista point for a cosmic view of the mountains:

A cosmic view of the moutains

I almost immediately got back to work while Mary rested. It was a fine trip, but probably our only one of the summer. In late October we will be heading to Spain, as I have been asked to appear at some Lovecraft-related event in Madrid. I’ll provide more details once I know them.

July 26, 2023 — Anthony M. Rud and Debra K. Every

This post will discuss two writers of highly contrasting nature—one old, one new; one basically a hack, the other a polished author who does much more than send a shiver up your spine.

I begin with Anthony M. Rud (1893–1942). He is well known to Lovecraftian readers on the basis of his story “Ooze,” in the first issue of Weird Tales (March 1923)—a story that Lovecraft praised and one that manifestly influenced “The Dunwich Horror.” Because Joe Morey of Weird House Press has pulled the rug out from under me and thrown back my compilation of Rud’s weird stories in my face, I have been forced to publish the book myself under my Sarnath Press imprint. But I was privileged to receive from Allen Koszowski an illustration of “Ooze” (done for some previous reprint of the story) for the cover art of my book. It is now out: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CCCSJ4FG. I won’t say that the material in the book is uniformly splendid, but it is a bit more creditable than it might appear. Yes, Rud was a veteran pulpsmith who tailored his work to suit a given audience; but his weird work may be a cut above the usual run of his output. I will not be ordering any extra copies of this book to sell to customers, so they should order directly from Amazon.

I will mention that Joe Morey has also rejected my enormous compilation of the weird stories (indeed, what appears to be his complete weird fiction) of John Martin Leahy, best known for the story “In Amundsen’s Tent” (Weird Tales, January 1928), which also influenced Lovecraft. My edition (nearly 240,000 words) may appear sometime from Hippocampus Press.

Now to turn to Debra K. Every. This writer was unknown to me, but she asked me to read her novel Deena Undone, which had been submitted to a competition, and write a brief evaluation of it. I confess that I was a bit hesitant, only because the immense pressures on my time make it difficult for me to read an entire novel; but the author sent me some excerpts, which were promising, and the novel proved to be fairly short (just over 50,000 words). So I read the book—and I’m glad I did. Here is what I said of it:

Deena Undone is a remarkable piece of writing. Its virtues speak for themselves: loving descriptions of the natural landscape; vivid character portrayal that allows even minor characters to appear clear and distinct; a plot structure that inexorably compels the reader’s attention; and a novel supernatural motif—the notion of an ancient entity that seizes upon its victim's five senses, individually and collectively, with terrifying results. But the weird elements are incorporated into a broader tale of searing domestic conflict fueled by love, betrayal, and hatred, with the result that Deena Undone is far more than a shilling shocker. The prose is clean and elegant, and the narrative rushes the reader toward its spectacular denouement. This novel is a success in every sense.”—S. T. Joshi

I have now heard that the book has won the competition and will be published by Woodhall Press. I’m sure my recommendation had little to do with it—the book’s merits speak for themselves.

The author has provided a brief summary of her very interesting life:

“Debra Every lives amongst the rolling hills and pastures of Upstate New York with her husband and quirky cattle dog, Bad Dog Bob. She is the author of many short stories, several of which have been published in Unleash Creatives, Querencia Press and Arzono Publishing’s 2023 Anthology. She is also the author of two novels, Deena Undone and The GeneSync Protocol. Deena Undone, a supernatural horror novel, just won the When Words Count Book Deal competition, the prize for which is a publishing deal with Woodhall Press. Before focusing her efforts on writing, Debra spent years as an opera singer with a debut at the Royal Opera in Stockholm and a Carnegie Recital Hall debut in New York. Upon retiring from the stage, she opened a café that garnered many reviews and accolades including an international SOFI award, the Oscars of the Specialty Food Business. In her new endeavor, she finds that her years spent in music and business have gone a long way in informing her work.”

Here is a photograph of Ms. Every:

photo of the writer Debra K. Every

Every reader of weird fiction should pick up Deena Undone when it appears (next year, presumably).

A final note. People may have wondered what can be known of the “Perry” who drew the silhouettes of Lovecraft and Sonia at Coney Island in 1925. My colleague Gregory Franklin has found an online article that gives what information is known on E. J. Perry: https://www.gothamcenter.org/blog/ej-perry-african-american-silhouette-cutter-of-americas-leisure-circuit. So one more mystery associated with Lovecraft is clarified!

July 13, 2023 — A Weird Fiction Auction

I have been in touch with John Dorfman, who is planning a major auction of books and other matter devoted to the field of weird fiction. Here is his statement on the upcoming auction:

“Bonhams Skinner’s Books & Manuscripts department will be holding a live auction in Boston on October 31, 2023, which will be dedicated to the literature of horror and the fantastic. The auction house is currently seeking books, letters, ephemera, and illustration material relating to the field, spanning the Romantic era to the present. Classic masters of horror such as Lovecraft, Machen, Blackwood, Shiel, M.R. James et al. are especially desirable, as are Arkham House first editions and any books inscribed by authors. Those interested in consigning collections or individual items should contact John Dorfman, Director of Books & Manuscripts, at john.dorfman@bonhamsskinner.com or 508-970-3293.”

Sounds tempting! Anyone interested in this matter is urged to get in touch with John without delay.

I am probably late on this next matter, but I recently saw the film Incident in a Ghostland (2018). I think someone must have recommended it to me, although I now cannot ascertain who that was. Anyway, the film begins with nothing less than one of the famous photographs of Lovecraft! (I believe it is one of the photos taken by a professional photographer, Lucius B. Truesdell, when Lovecraft was visiting R. H. Barlow in Florida in 1934.) After this comes a statement from one of the protagonists, Elizabeth (Beth) Keller, who proclaims in somewhat crude language that Lovecraft is her favourite horror writer or something of the sort. The young Beth is portrayed by Emilia Jones; the adult Beth (now a successful horror writer, presumably in the Lovecraftian tradition) is portrayed by Crystal Reed. Here is the IMDb.com entry on the film: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6195094/.

But the point to note, as far as we are concerned, is that, at the very end—when a cocktail party, presumably to commemorate the publication of one of Beth’s novels—a person who turns out to be Lovecraft himself appears and talks briefly with Beth! Lovecraft is played by one Paul Titley. I did not find a photo of this actor on IMDb.com, but it appears that this is the fellow in question: https://mubi.com/cast/paul-titley. I imagine a fair amount of makeup work was done to make him look like Lovecraft. Could this fellow be the lead actor in our stalled biopic, The Lovecrafts? One can always hope.

I am in receipt of a hardcover edition of Lovecraft’s The Spirit of Revision, a volume of Lovecraft’s letters to Zealia Bishop that appeared in paperback in 2015 (https://store.hplhs.org/products/the-spirit-of-revision-2nd-edition). If anyone is interested in my one spare copy, he or she is welcome to it for $50.

I am belatedly posting a poem about me written by the Australian poet Charles Lovecraft on the occasion of my birthday:

From De Marigny’s Clock:
STJ: A Powerful Personality with Lovecraftian Scruples and Tendencies
(A Birthday Poem for S. T. Joshi, 22 June 2023
by his friend, Charles Danny Lovecraft)
There pore, as equally as paw, the eyes
Of my old friend, for secrets to bestir.
From far Seattle, in a titan blur
Of sense, to lecture and whole crowds apprise
Of the veiled motions of the Great Olde Ones,
He had spent decades studying Their craft,
Of winging down on Their abhorrent raft,
Down past the cinders of dead, unknown suns.
That he left then, in as dark cloud of dire
And daunting mystery, as ever man
Has heard to echo round the peaks of Thran,
Though dissertations sound still and inspire.
And yet he stays, in great thought never gone,
And from the mask-like face the eyes pore on.

A fine tribute—more than I deserve.

My otherwise mysterious colleague David E. Schultz recently consented to give an interview about his (and my) work on Ambrose Bierce, in an interview conducted by Don Swaim: https://donswaim.com/schultz-interview.html. Most illuminating! That photo at the head of the interview was taken by David’s charming wife, Gail, in the back yard of his house in Milwaukee.

I continue to work on a bewildering number of projects. The twelfth volume of our edition of Bierce’s Collected Essays and Journalism is now out (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C9SP2VCX). There may be as many as thirty more volumes in the series. Given that I already have about thirty books of other matter complete and waiting to be issued by various publishers, along with the twenty volumes of weird fiction (thirteen of which I have completed) to appear over the next several years from Conversation Tree Press, it seems depressingly likely that I may achieve 500 books on or about the time I turn seventy. Will someone please tell me to shut up?

June 30, 2023 — 400 Books Achieved

Well, I’ve published 400 books. This actually happened when I released my latest edition of Ambrose Bierce’s Collected Essays and Journalism (volume 11). That’s because I totally failed to recall that I had issued another volume (volume 9) of my edition of Leslie Stephen’s essays last June, so that I was off by one in my count. All this is a tad anticlimactic, as I have been expecting some important books to appear in the coming weeks, the first of which would (I thought) have allowed me to reach 400.

Anyway, that’s the situation. I had previously been working on a revised edition of 300 Books by S. T. Joshi, titled (of course) 400 Books by S. T. Joshi. That book is now out, after some annoying delays from Amazon’s “Content Review Team” (one of whom thought the book was a work in the public domain, and asked for the death date of the author!). Here is the link to the Amazon page for the paperback edition: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C9KFNPRB.

One of these 400, which had come out a few months ago (unbeknownst to me until recently), is my anthology Black Wings VII. I have now received a generous supply of copies from PS Publishing. This is the paperback edition, and I am prepared to part with copies for $20 each. A signed/limited hardcover is in the works, but I am likely to receive only one spare copy, if indeed any at all.

On the Sarnath Press front, I am happy to announce the publication of volume 2 of Matt Cardin’s Journals (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C9SBBGGG). It is as compelling as volume 1, and the latest entries go down to less than a year ago. Anyone with an interest in Cardin, Thomas Ligotti, weird fiction, and the many other subjects that have elicited this distinctive author’s mind are urged to pick up this compelling and revealing volume.

I am in receipt of an enormous volume of Clark Ashton Smith’s tales translated into Italian. It is entitled Iperborea e oltre (Hyperborea and Others), and it has been brought out by one of Italy’s leading publishers, Mondadori (which formerly published a translation of my corrected texts of Lovecraft in four volumes). The editor is Massimo Scorsone. The book is a whopping 959 pages! Here is the publisher’s web page for the book: https://www.oscarmondadori.it/libri/iperborea-e-oltre-clark-ashton-smith/. Smith collectors had better pick this up at once!

I’m sure most of you are aware that I have now reached the age of sixty-five. I am gratified that so many of you sent me birthday greetings either via email or on my Enthusiasts page on Facebook. The event induces me to lapse into a reminiscent mood. One of the things I made a concerted effort to do was to find the home of my high school girlfriend, Holli Anne Jones. It required considerable research, including the consultation of a Muncie city directory for 1975. But I was successful! The address is 1501 North Woodbridge Avenue, just north of the Ball State University campus. Mary took a photo of me standing in front of the house:

S. T. Joshi in front of the house his high school girlfriend, Holli Anne Jones, lived

The house does not look quite like how I remember it after the passage of almost fifty years. The roof may have been augmented. I recall that Holli Anne’s bedroom was in an attic space, with quite a low ceiling (but then, we were not standing up very much of the time we were there).

The other document I can present is a poll taken of seniors at Burris Laboratory School in 1976, as we were asked to supply our choices for the “best” individuals in various categories. Note that I am ranked (among the males) as “most successful” and “smartest”; and Holli Anne and I are ranked as “best couple” (but that is only, I think, because our nerdish romance amused our classmates).

Burris Laboratory School Senior Poll of 1976

June 21, 2023 — The Weird Cat Is Finished!

I am thrilled to announce the completion of one of the most distinctive anthologies in which I have ever been involved—The Weird Cat, edited by Katherine Kerestman and myself. There have of course been numerous horror anthologies about cats, but we believe that this one has some features not present in other such volumes—notably its wide chronological range and its inclusion of fiction, poetry, essays, and even a letter (by Lovecraft, of course). I append the table of contents. Items marked with an asterisk are previously unpublished and were written specifically for our book:

There may be one more item, but that remains to be seen. The book will be published by Wordcrafts Press, perhaps as soon as late this year.

I was pleased to hear that Qais Pasha’s superb documentary Exegesis Lovecraft is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video (https://www.primevideo.com/detail/0M8358GXGLQ6VUCTUN1IHRAJNJ/). The cover image depicts yours truly wearing my patented tweed jacket, but with a somewhat peculiar expression on my face. I am certainly not photogenic! I am still hopeful that Qais can arrange with Hippocampus Press or some other publisher to bring out a DVD of the documentary.

Sarnath Press has just released Ken Faig, Jr.’s Seven Hills (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C87S545C), the first of two volumes of engaging tales of a female private detective, Wilmott Watkyns. This volume recounts tales set entirely in Cincinnati (where Ken himself hails from), spanning several decades. Wilmott, who is a lesbian, sometimes becomes involved in cases dealing with sexual irregularities or malfeasance. It is all rollicking good fun, and I encourage readers to buy the book. There will be a second volume of tales set outside of Cincinnati. I shall probably release that book later this year.

Meanwhile I am assembling (for Hippocampus Press) a second volume of Ken’s essays on Lovecraftian People and Places. This volume, scheduled for release next year, will include essays on such interesting figures as Mariano De Magistris (who operated the quarry whose mortgage Lovecraft owned), Abbie A. Hathaway (the principal of the Slater Avenue School, which Lovecraft attended in 1898–99 and 1902–03), Arthur P. May (Lovecraft’s “shy tutor” during those periods of time when he was not in school), etc. etc. Some of these pieces have appeared in the Lovecraft Annual or elsewhere, but many of them are unpublished or have only been circulated privately.

Cadabra Records has just brought out two new LPs, one of Arthur Machen’s “The White People” (read by Laurence R. Harvey) and one of Lovecraft’s “Pickman’s Model” (read by Andrew Leman). You can find further information on both albums on the Cadabra Records website (https://cadabrarecords.com/). I wrote the liner notes to both LPs.

I am in receipt of a reprint of Michael McDowall’s Cold Moon over Babylon from Centipede Press (https://www.centipedepress.com/horror/coldmoonoverbabylon.html). I wrote the introduction to the book. I was not all that familiar with McDowall’s work prior to reading this novel, but I am now eager to read more of his bountiful output—although when I will ever have time to do that is a difficult question. I have one spare copy of the book, which I am prepared to part with for $50.

As if any were needed, one more indication of Lovecraft’s firm entrenchment in popular (and perhaps high) culture is indicated by an otherwise unexplained reference to his work by the New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, in the course of a symposium by several columnists on the prospect of a second term for Donald Trump (https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/12/opinion/donald-trump-2024.html). To be sure, Trump’s return to the White House is an eldritch horror beyond imagining—but luckily for civilisation, it won’t happen. I generally think little of Douthat’s work, as he makes his conservatism and dogmatic Catholicism abundantly obvious; but what struck me about his remark is his unspoken assumption that the sources of his references to Lovecraft’s work did not in any way need to be clarified.

June 13, 2023 — History of Atheism to Be Published

I am delighted to announce that I have signed a contract with Pitchstone Books (https://www.pitchstonebooks.com/). This is one of the leading atheist/freethought publishers in the US, and it has previously published a book by none other than our own Robert M. Price (search the website for the title Merely Christianity). According to my contract, the first volume will appear in the spring of 2024, with the second volume (which I hope to finish by the end of 2024) a little more than a year after that. This is certainly a weight off my mind, as I did not relish the prospect of labouring on this immense project without assurance of publication.

For your interest, I will present the breakdown of the first chapter of volume 2:

  1. VII. The Seventeenth Century
    1. A. Europe’s Religious Wars
    2. B. Politics and Religion in England
    3. C. Proliferation of Denominations in Europe
    4. D. Religion and Scepticism in European Literature in the Early Seventeenth Century
    5. E. The Cosmic and the Human: Galileo and Harvey
    6. F. The British Empiricist Tradition: Bacon and Hobbes
    7. G. Descartes and His Influence
    8. H. Science and Philosophy in the Later Seventeenth Century
    9. I. Persecution and Toleration
    10. J. European Colonies in the New World
    11. K. Milton, Bunyan, and the Cambridge Platonists
    12. L. Religion and Secularism in European Literature in the Later Seventeenth Century
    13. M. Art, Architecture, and Music

Quite a chapter! It came to more than 50,000 words, and in addition to the authors cited in the section headings I also covered Pascal, Donne, Newton, Locke, and heaps of other figures.

To shift gears: I am still tingling with excitement over my participation in the Nightlands festival on June 2–3. This was a hugely entertaining affair, sponsored by Jonathan Dennison of Cadabra Records. The bulk of the time during the festival was devoted to readings of classic and contemporary works of horror fiction (which have all appeared on LPs issued by Cadabra) by such figures as Andrew Leman, Robert Lloyd Parry, Laurence Harvey, and others. And they featured musical accompaniment by the talented Chris Bozzone.

I was asked to deliver off-the-cuff introductory notes on some of the stories—specifically, M. R. James’s “Count Magnus,” Algernon Blackwood’s “The Willows” (presented in a condensed version), and Lovecraft’s “The Lurking Fear” and “The Dunwich Horror” (both read in full—the latter reading took a full two hours, but was well worth the listen). It appears that my introductions (based upon the liner notes that I had written to the recordings of these tales) were well received. Here are photos that Eric Wier took of one of my appearances:

S. T. Joshi speaking at the Nightlands Festibal 2023 backed by the festival logo
S. T. Joshi speaking at the Nightlands Festival 2023

I was delighted to meet the various participants and guests. Laurence Harvey—not the actor! But an English artist who has previously issued an LP, Tales of H. P. Lovecraft, with readings of Lovecraft’s “From Beyond” and “The Hound” (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ACMBLVM) —read some striking, and disturbing, tales by the Japanese writer Edogawa Rampo. Parry’s reading of “Count Magnus” and “The Willows” was mesmerising and terrifying. And Leman’s readings of Lovecraft can only be spoken of in superlatives.

Also present was Jon Padgett, who read several tales by Thomas Ligotti. His readings were also powerful and effective, and I was happy to have a chance to discuss Ligotti with him at odd moments. In the audience for these readings was Derrick Hussey of Hippocampus Press (who had a tempting array of his publications for sale—including advance review copies of the first two volumes of my Blackwood edition) and Darrell Schweitzer, who also did a brisk business selling his various wares. I enjoyed having dinner with these gents at local eateries on both nights of the festival.

We are now planning a much larger event in two years’ time, with panel discussions, perhaps an art show, and much else. In all frankness, we will consciously plan this event as an antidote to the increasingly narrow and hyperpolitical conventions that now dominate the realms of science fiction and fantasy. We shall have freewheeling discussions (without any attempt to censor unpopular views) and avoid political ranting in its entirety. Let’s see what happens!

I was flattered to be cited at length (and even mentioned in the title) in an article by Mike Calia, just posted on the CNBC website (https://www.cnbc.com/2023/06/12/lovecraft-joshi-shoggoth-ai-meme.html), relating to recent comparisons of AI with Lovecraft’s shoggoths. Even though I know (and want to know) next to nothing about AI, I was able to provide Calia with some background on Lovecraft’s own views of his creation.

I was interested to receive a notice of an upcoming Lovecraft-focused convention in France, “Le Campus Miskatonic” (https://campusmiskatonic.fr/). I imagine this will be a far more interesting event than the World Fantasy Convention, which I assume is being held at approximately the same time. One of the convention’s directors, Guillaume Sowinski, tells me that a new documentary on Lovecraft, Lovecraft’s World, will be shown at the event. This was prepared by Marc Charley and Gilles Menegaldo. The latter interviewed me for it when I went to France to attend the Imaginales festival in the town of Épinal in the spring of 2019. Glad to hear the film was made!

Meanwhile, work here continues at its usual relentless pace. I am now cobbling together the articles that will make up a second volume of Ken Faig’s recent articles on Lovecraft, to be titled More Lovecraftian People and Places. It will come out from Hippocampus Press next year. Also due out next year is a fascinating monograph by Heather Poirier, Ripples from Carcosa: H. P. Lovecraft, Haunted Landscapes, and True Detective. The title should be self-explanatory. And also on the schedule for next year is Jason C. Eckhardt’s utterly magnificent and riveting supernatural novel about Ambrose Bierce, The Legions of the Sun. Here we find Bierce venturing to Mexico in 1913–14, coming upon a native named Juan Romero (!), and becoming involved in a mesmerising adventure that threatens the peace and safety of the entire world. It is one of the most compelling weird novels I’ve read in many a moon, and I only regret that it cannot come out sooner than next summer.

I was surprised to learn from Nicky Crowther of PS Publishing that the trade paperback edition of my anthology Black Wings VII actually appeared in April. Neither I nor any of the contributors were sent copies, but that was an oversight for which Nicky apologised. Anyway, copies will be arriving presently. This would be book no. 398 for me, and it is now followed by no. 399, the eleventh volume of my edition of Ambrose Bierce’s collected essays and journalism (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C79JS58K). What will be book no. 400? I can’t say, but there are a number of possibilites. Stay tuned!

May 31, 2023 — The Nightlands Festival and Other Matters

I will be appearing at the Nightlands festival (June 2–3) in Hammonton, New Jersey, sponsored by Jonathan Dennison of Cadabra Records. I suppose the festival is primarily intended to publicise Cadabra’s wide array of spoken-word recordings of classic and contemporary horror fiction. I will be introducing four readings of horror tales over the two days of the festival:

Poster for the Nightlands Festibal 2023

Otherwise, I continue to work on various projects. My edition of the weird tales of John Martin Leahy (1886–1967) is now complete and in the hands of Joe Morey of Weird House Press. Almost nothing is known of Leahy aside from the fact that he was a resident of Washington State. Indeed, several of works are set in this part of the world—and one of them, the serialized novel Drome (Weird Tales, January–May 1927), rather absurdly depicts a race of quasi-human beings living deep under Mount Rainier! Leahy is a pulp writer, but a better-than-average one. Why he gave up writing (or, at any rate, publishing) fiction after his last story appeared (“The Isle of the Fairy Morgana,” Weird Tales, February 1928) is unknown. Sunni Brock is on the hunt for more information on Leahy, which I may incorporate into an expanded introduction if I get the chance.

I believe Hippocampus Press is ready to release the first volume of my edition of Algernon Blackwood’s collected short fiction (The Willows and Others): it will appear at the Nightlands festival. Whether the second volume (The Nemesis of Fire and Others) will be out then remains to be seen. The four remaining volumes will appear over the next two years.

I was pleased to assist Nancy Kilpatrick in the release of her story collection Thirteen Plus-1 Lovecraftian Narratives (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1999260058/). I wrote a brief foreword to the book and also did the basic interior design, with assistance from David E. Schultz. Of the fourteen stories in the book, I find that I included seven in my various anthologies. All the stories in the book are splendid re-imaginings of Lovecraftian motifs and conceptions, and I urge everyone to secure the book at the earliest opportunity.

I am undertaking the tedious task of preparing the index to Harold Billings’s M. P. Shiel: A Biography, to be published later this year by Hippocampus Press. The book is an omnibus reprinting of three separate books that appeared in 2005–16, prior to the author’s death in 2017. It draws heavily upon the documents that Billings himself deposited (or encouraged to be deposited) at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, including letters by and to Shiel, manuscripts of his stories and novels, and other matter. Shiel himself led a fascinating life—born in 1865 in the Caribbean island of Montserrat, coming to England in 1877 for schooling, and later settling in London and becoming a fixture of the “Yellow Nineties” period. He was well acquainted with Arthur Machen and led a most interesting life all apart from his prodigious literary output.

I am getting Volume 2 of Matt Cardin’s Journals ready for publication. The Kindle edition is now available for pre-order: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C6LBX7N1. This edition and the trade paperback edition will be available on June 30. I imagine I will also prepare a hardcover edition, as I did for Volume 1.

Next time I hope to have a major announcement regarding my history of atheism.

May 1, 2023 — Various Notes of Interest

I was pleased to note that my detective novel Honeymoon in Jail was reviewed, albeit belatedly, in Publishers Weekly: https://www.publishersweekly.com/9798809991513. Peter Cannon (now retired from PW) facilitated the matter, for which I am grateful. The reviewer’s wish to see a second “H. P. Lovecraft, Detective” novel is of interest; I have the bare rudiments of an idea but have not been able to work out the plot in any detail. My idea is to set it in May 1922, when Lovecraft and Sonia went on a week-long trip (as an unmarried couple, scandalously enough) to Magnolia, Massachusetts.

Martine Chifflot, author of the play Lovecraft, mon amour (which she has arranged to have translated into English as Lovecraft My Love [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BMWZ6BHV/]), notifies me that the play will be performed in Lyon, then in Burgundy. Here is a photograph of a scene from the play:

A photo of the play Lovecraft, Mon Amour

The actor playing Lovecraft looks tolerably close to the original, no?

(Here is a larger version showing the complete set.)

I was amused to receive a photograph from the poet Wade German—who was recently in Prague (where he used to live)—that shows how popular my Lovecraft-related books are in Czech:

A photo of a bookcase in Prague topped with S. T. Joshi's works translated into Czech.

I believe at least four volumes, perhaps more, of the Black Wings series have been translated, along with a collection of my own Lovecraftian stories (shown in the photograph).

Because of the marked lack of enthusiasm regarding recent books that I have offered for sale, I shall no longer be making such offers in the future. Those few individuals who are interested in purchasing my new books are welcome to solicit me directly to see if spare copies are available. I usually get multiple copies of Hippocampus Press books.

Also, I shall probably not be writing blog posts with any great frequency—no more than once a month. I am engaged in a multitude of hugely time-consuming projects; and in any event, I am becoming increasingly doubtful whether anyone is interested in my activities. I’m not sure I am.

April 2, 2023 — A Trip to New York

Well, Mary and I made our first trip to New York (March 15–19) in five years, but the results were quite mixed. I managed to spend portions of two days at the New York Public Library, where I hunted up items relating to the Lovecraft/Long letters. I also managed to snag a few poems by Winifred Virginia Jackson for our eventual edition of her collected poetry. All this seems a rather paltry result of the thousands of dollars that the trip cost—but of course the chief focus of the trip was meeting friends old and new. At two dinners at the Playwright Irish pub (27 West 35th Street), we had interesting chats with T. E. D. Klein, Henry Wessels, Gabriel Mesa, Stefan Dziemianowicz, Heather Poirier (who had come up from Washington, D.C.), Scott Briggs, Peter Cannon, the venerable Fred Phillips, and of course Derrick Hussey, who arranged the dinners. But the pub itself (especially on Saturday the 18th) was so crowded and noisy that it detracted significantly from the overall event. We’ll have to choose another venue for these events in future.

We also spent a pleasant afternoon (the 18th) with my old friends Linda Aro and Chris Pfaff. I have known Linda, an old friend from Brown, since 1980. We had thought about idling through the Metropolitan Museum, but decided that a meal (at a wonderful Italian restaurant) and general discussion would be pleasanter—and it was. The previous day, Mary and I got bogged down in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which made navigation on the Upper East Side difficult. But we got some nice views of several different bands of bagpipe players, which warmed my pseudo-Irish heart. (Mary hates bagpipe music, but charitably indulged my tastes here.)

A shadow was cast over the trip by the fact that, upon our return, Mary learned that she had Covid! After more than three years of avoiding the illness, she finally succumbed—but she is well on the road to recovery. I, incredibly, did not contract the disease, but was afflicted by a stomach bug that slowed me down for several days. Later we learned that Derrick and Ted Klein also got Covid. We’re not clear who gave it to whom.

Otherwise, it’s work as usual. I see that my edition of the weird stories of Everil Worrell is now out from Weird House Press (https://www.weirdhousepress.com/product/the-canal-and-other-weird-stories/). I believe this book no. 395 for me. I received exactly one spare copy of the book from the publisher, and I am prepared to offer it for $20 to some interested customer.

[Please note that my talented webmaster has now updated both the bibliography of my writings and the Sarnath Press page—which lists a whopping 98 books!]

I also received a copy of Robert Hichens’s How Love Came to Professor Guildea and Other Uncanny Tales (Stark House) (https://www.amazon.com/Professor-Guildea-Other-Uncanny-Tales/dp/B0BSHG1846). This book certainly contains some of Hichens’s best weird tales, although there are so many of these that they could not all be accommodated here. I wrote the introduction to this edition. I hope to compile a huge volume of Hichens’s complete weird work sometime, perhaps for Centipede Press.

My colleague Colin Rowsell has now uploaded an interesting podcast I conducted with him some weeks ago. This link is what Roswell calls a “direct player link”: https://player.captivate.fm/episode/ee70fa13-c3cb-4965-a0a2-c9b5a1aecab2. The episode homepage is here: https://www.project-tempest.net/ep-20-lovecraft-st-joshi. (Don’t let my name as given in the title—“S. T. Joshi II”—fool you: It doesn’t denote my non-existent son!! I suppose it indicates my second podcast with Rowsell.)

On a more serious note, Mary and I will be heading to Muncie for a memorial service for my mother on April 22. Here is the flyer that my sister Nalini prepared for the event:

Flyer for the Celebration of Life for Dr. Pamini Joshi.

Will this be the last time I go to Muncie? Probably not: I am still determined to appear at my fiftieth high school reunion in the summer of 2026, even if—as is likely—I have to arrange the event myself. Stay tuned!

March 9, 2023 — New Hippocampus Books at Last!

After many delays, I have at last received a sheaf of new publications from Hippocampus Press, which I can offer at a modest discount from the retail price:

I believe I’ve described most of these books in previous blog posts. Volume 4 of the variorum edition of Lovecraft’s Collected Fiction now contains the four stories that Lovecraft revised for C. M. Eddy, Jr. The hardcover edition of this volume is still pending; let’s hope it can appear by summer.

I was pleased to see a review of volume 1 of Matt Cardin’s Journals, which I published through my Sarnath Press imprint last year, appearing in the BookLife section of Publishers Weekly (which is devoted to self-published books): https://booklife.com/project/journals-volume-1-1993-2001-82943. Volume 2 of the Journals may be available as early as April.

I am in receipt of a large volume of Lovecraft’s Ensayos filosóficos (philosophical essays), translated by Lovecraft Annual contributor César Guarde-Paz and published by AGON (http://agonfilosofia.es/index.php). This copy was sent to me by the translator. Nearly a third of the book (184 pp.) is taken up with a detailed analysis of Lovecraft’s philosophy by the translator. The essays themselves (relating to science, temprance, pure philosophy, politics, economics, and anthropology) are annotated far more exhaustively than I did in my edition of Lovecraft’s Collected Essays (2004–06). All in all, a tremendous achievement!

Guarde-Paz has sent me, as a curiosity, a flyer for a Japanese film adaptation of some Lovecraft stories:

front side of a Japanese flyer for screening of H. P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror and Other Stories

Here is the reverse of the flyer:

back side of a Japanese flyer for screening of H. P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror and Other Stories

My webmaster, Greg Lowney, has deciphered the essence of this flyer as follows. It is advertising a film entitled H. P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror and Other Stories. Three stories—“The Picture in the House,” “The Dunwich Horror,” and “The Festival”—have been adapted in a film using animated clay puppets and miniatures. The writer and director is Ryo Shinagawa; the stars are Mickey Curtis, Tasaku Emoto, and Ken’ichi Endô. The film was released on August 28, 2007, and runs for 46 minutes.

The page for the film in IMDb.com is here (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2412064/), where much of the above information can be found.

March 2, 2023 — Fifty Years of Writing

It recently occurred to me that I have been writing more or less continuously for a full half-century. My first extant literary work (if it can be called that) is “Murder,” a very short story that dates to “February (?) 1973” (as per the surviving typescript, which dates to a year or two after the writing of the story). However, it appears that I wrote two stories in 1972: “The Picture” and “The Touch of Death.” These appeared in a school magazine (of which I was co-editor) called Double Take. It must have appeared either at the end of eighth grade or the beginning of ninth grade, probably the latter. I do not have a copy of this periodical, so there are two lost items of Joshiana out there somewhere!

Another splendid release from Cadabra Records is a reading of M. R. James’s “The Ash-Tree” by Robert Lloyd Parry (https://cadabrarecords.com/collections/all/products/m-r-james-the-ash-tree-lp-read-by-robert-lloyd-parry-score-by-chris-bozzone-random-color-vinyl-edition). As is customary, I wrote the liner notes to this LP. It is also available in a “Purple and black splatter vinyl edition” (https://cadabrarecords.com/collections/all/products/m-r-james-the-ash-tree-lp-read-by-robert-lloyd-parry-score-by-chris-bozzone-purple-and-black-splatter-vinyl-edition). I have just finished writing liner notes to two further Cadabra releases, but I should probably keep mum on these until they actually appear.

One of the most impressive editions of Lovecraft’s work (both from a physical standpoint and from the standpoint of academic rigour) is Fungi von Yuggoth und andere Gedichte (Fungi from Yuggoth and Other Poems), issued by Deutsche Lovecraft Gesellschaft (a name that translates to “German Lovecraft Company”): https://www.deutschelovecraftgesellschaft.de/article/362-gedichte-von-h-p-lovecraft-erstmals-ins-deutsche-%C3%BCbersetzt/. The firm’s entire website is worth examining for the wealth of information it provides on Lovecraft for German readers, as well as all manner of interesting merchandise. The Fungi edition includes (with my permission and that of Hippocampus Press) a translation of my notes to the poems in question, taken from The Ancient Track (2nd ed. of 2013).

Éditions des Saints Pères is a French publisher (based in Cambremer, a town in Normandy) that issues limited editions of literary manuscripts of all sorts. I am working with this firm on a facsimile of the handwritten manuscript of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. I have received as a gift its edition of Mary Shelley’s handwritten manuscript of Frankenstein (https://www.lessaintsperes.fr/75-frankenstein-9791095457459.html). The edition will include an introduction by me along with extracts from Lovecraft’s letters talking about the writing and publication of his short novel, and perhaps other matter that I provide. It shall be a beautiful item, you can be sure! (Centipede Press is contemplating a similar volume, which will include facsimiles of both the handwritten and typed manuscripts, but its edition is probably years in the future.)

Work continues on various fronts. I am preparing the index to Lovecraft’s Letters to Hyman Bradofsky and Others, the next volume in the Lovecraft Letters series (it will also include the letters to Helm C. Spink, Ralph W. Babcock, Richard Ely Morse, and a few others). I am preparing comprehensive editions of the weird stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (for Centipede Press) and John Martin Leahy (for Weird House Press). The forty-seventh (!) volume of H. L. Mencken’s Collected Essays and Journalism (containing his magazine and newspaper work for 1927, now in the public domain) and the seventh volume of Bierce’s Collected Essays and Journalism are now out from Sarnath Press, with the eighth to follow soon.

I am also at work on an anthology of horror stories involving cats—tentatively titled The Weird Cat—in collaboration with Katherine Kerestman. The book shall be published (perhaps even later this year, if we can complete the compilation in the next few months) by WordCrafts Press (https://www.wordcrafts.net/). It will contain a mix of old and new stories, and my co-editor has diligently unearthed a number of old items (ranging from stories—nominally for children, but full of pungent horror and fantasy that adults will relish—by Kipling, E. Nesbit, and others, to Lafcadio Hearn’s “The Boy Who Drew Cats,” from his Japanese Fairy Tales) that I had never before encountered. Lovecraft of course has to be included, but we shall avoid the obvious (“The Cats of Ulthar”) and include his delightful letter about the cat he named Old Man, who lived in a market down the hill from his various residences on Providence’s East Side, and who apparently lived from as early as 1906 to as late as 1928. That must have been some cat! We will also have several original stories; Jason C. Eckhardt, Stephen Mark Rainey, and others have already contributed delightfully creepy stories about cats—but none of them portray cats in a negative light. I’ve insisted on that!

February 20, 2023 — The Road to 400

Incredible as it may seem, I am approaching the publication of my 400th book—something that could happen as early as this summer. Currently my ongoing bibliography of my work records 390 titles. This does not include two books that have appeared recently but copies of which I have not yet received: Clemence Housman’s The Were-Wolf and Others (Hippocampus Press) and volume 7 of Ambrose Bierce’s Collected Essays and Journalism (Sarnath Press). That brings me up to 392. No. 393 is likely to be volume 47 of H. L. Mencken’s Collected Essays and Journalism, which I expect to upload onto Amazon within days.

So what will be my 400th book? I can’t say, but soon to be out is my collection of Everil Worrell’s weird tales, now announced on the Weird House Press site (https://www.weirdhousepress.com/product/the-canal-and-other-weird-stories/); as you can see, it features a splendid cover design.

I am not counting two recent Hippocampus Press books (copies of which have also not come in as yet): R. H. Barlow’s Eyes of the God and Sax Rohmer’s The Whispering Mummy. These are simply revised editions of earlier books. It is true that the Barlow book is now more than twice as large as the original edition of 2002, but I still do not consider it a “new” book. Conversely, the Rohmer book is an abridgement of my Centipede Press volume of 2013: it contains all the short stories in that edition but omits the novel Brood of the Witch-Queen.

I believe my edition of the letters of Ambrose Bierce and George Sterling (titled A Splendid Poison) may be out soon, along with a volume of Sterling’s collected essays (titled Implications of Infinity). And, of course, I expect to issue several more volumes of Bierce’s essays and journalism in the next few months. My edition of the letters of Clark Ashton Smith, Donald and Howard Wandrei, and R. H. Barlow is also close to ready, as well as the first two volumes of my edition of the collected short fiction of Algernon Blackwood. All these books will be published by Hippocampus Press.

So it’s 400 books by summer!

Some time ago I was interviewed by a British critic, Alexander Adams, on the fraught issue of Lovecraft’s racism and related matters. Adams has now posted extracts from the interview (along with an interview of a scholar on William S. Burroughs) here: https://www.lotuseaters.com/the-case-for-dangerous-literature-17-02-23. A more expansive version of my comments appears here: https://alexanderadamsart.substack.com/p/interviews-with-oliver-harris-and.

I continue to be busy on a multitude of projects, but I will keep some of these under wraps for now. The second volume of my history of atheism remains bogged down in the seventeenth century, as there are simply too many authors, trends in philosophy, religion, and other issues, and all manner of other topics (including a section—not yet written—about the religious underpinnings of the founding of the American colonies) that have to be dealt with. But I remain confident that this volume will be completed by the end of 2024.

I am heading to New York next month—shall be there March 15–19. My chief purpose is to do research on the Lovecraft/Long letters, as I need to hunt up items in New York newspapers and other sources at the New York Public Library. I will also be doing some research for a proposed volume of Winifred Virginia Jackson’s collected poetry. David E. Schultz has already done an incredible amount of work on this project, but some of her poetry remains elusive. Naturally, while in New York I hope to see as many of my friends and colleagues there as possible during two separate dinners that are being planned. But the venue of these dinners is up for debate, since (*gasp*) O’Reilly’s Pub has bitten the dust! What a landmark that was for the Lovecraft gang—as was an earlier venue, Silver Spurs (a superb hamburger place) down on Broadway and 9th Street, which went out of business quite a few years ago.

The Esoteric Order of Dagon amateur press association is approaching its fiftieth anniversary, as it was founded in June 1973 by Joseph Pumilia and Roger Bryant. I have deemed the Lammas 2023 mailing (due on August 2) as the fiftieth anniversary mailing. Our membership is down somewhat (we currently have twenty-one members), so those interested in Lovecraft or weird fiction and have the interest and resources to publish a humble little contribution for the delectation of a select few are welcome to join! I have been Official Editor for more years than I care to think about.

January 25, 2023 — An Upcoming Podcast

On February 1 I will be doing a podcast with Colin Rowsell in New Zealand, focusing on Lovecraft’s influence on the subsequent weird tradition. I believe the podcast will occur at 1:30 p.m. PST. I’m not entirely sure how one can listen to it live, but you can always listen to it after it has been archived. Here is general information on the site: https://www.project-tempest.net/. I did a previous podcast with him (13 July 2021) on Lovecraft and other issues.

I have now completed ten out of the twenty books in my series of weird fiction titles for Conversation Tree, a small press in Canada. Each volume includes, in addition to stories (or, in a few cases, entire novels), an appendix containing essays or other matter by the author that sheds light on his work. For one of the books (a selection of Ramsey Campbell’s stories), I have conducted a new interview of Ramsey (even though I had never done such a thing before), and I think it came out well. It is not likely that more than two or three volumes will come out per year, so it may be quite a while before all twenty books appear. But they will be well worth waiting for, I can assure you!

Meanwhile, I understand that several Hippocampus Press books are either out or soon to be out:

The Barlow book is a vast expansion of the volume that came out in 2002; this version is more than twice the size of the original. The book was to have had a foreword or afterword by Paul La Farge, author of the interesting novel about Barlow and Lovecraft, Night Ocean (2017), but La Farge never came through. And now I see that the poor fellow has died (https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/25/books/paul-la-farge-dead.html).

From Centipede Press I hear that my editions of the work of John Metcalfe and Guy de Maupassant will appear in the reasonably near future.

I have been elected to the Board of Directors of the August Derleth Society. I have ideas for several projects for the publication of work by Derleth and others, to be issued either by the Society or by other publishers. One project that has been greenlighted is—at long last—my selection of Derleth’s best weird stories, which I am titling The Panelled Room. I had actually come up with this selection well over a decade ago, as I had proposed it to a publisher (I believe it was Arcane Wisdom) to commemorate the centennial of Derleth’s birth (2009). But the publisher never acted on the project. Centipede Press has expressed some interest, and now the Society (which owns Derleth’s copyrights) has given its official sanction. I have also proposed publishing the early drafts of Derleth’s novel Evening in Spring (1941), which Lovecraft read when it was titled “The Early Years.” At least one draft (dating to as early as 1929) exists at the Wisconsin Historical Society, and there appear to be other drafts extant elsewhere.

Before I forget, let me express my gratitude to all those devotees and colleagues out there who have expressed sympathy (by card, email, and other means) for the passing of my mother. Your kind words are greatly appreciated.

January 18, 2023 — The Horror Fiction Index Published

I am pleased to report that I have issued my Horror Fiction Index (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BS924CTD)—a listing of nearly 3300 single-author horror collections from 1808 to 2010. The print edition is a whopping 741 pages, containing a list of the collections (arranged aphabetically by author, and chronologically within a given author’s books) with their tables of contents, followed by indexes of names, collection titles, and story titles (nearly 30,000 of them). I issued the book as a paperback and as an ebook. I am trying to upload a hardcover edition, but Amazon limits me to 550 pages for such an edition, and I am not sure that I (or, rather, my designer, the endlessly talented David E. Schultz) will be able to bring the book down to that size, even in the largest page dimension that Amazon allows (8.25 x 11). I am not going to order any extra copies to sell, so please order directly from Amazon.

I trust that I have acknowledged the invaluable assistance of as many as two dozen friends and colleagues who supplied information on contents of books that I did not have. I believe there are fewer then ten collections for which I was unable to identify the contents.

In the course of going through my mother’s effects in Indiana, I came upon some interesting material. One of them was my father’s book Bombay Finance (1947). Here is the cover of the book:

the cover of 'Bombay Finance (1921-1946)', by T. M. Joshi, M.A, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, 1947

I won’t say that this was a bestseller, but it did establish my father’s reputation as an economist. I also found multiple copies of my mother’s Ph.D. dissertation:

cover of 'The Size of L(1,x) for Real Non-Principal Residue Characters X with Prime Modulus', the Ph.D Mathematics thesis by Padmini Tryambak Joshi, University of Illinois, 1969

This is apparently an original mathematical proof—whatever that may be. I believe it was subsequently published in a mathematical journal (it is relatively short, all things considered).

Finally, and most curiously, I found the following:

cover of an Indian paperback novel whose title translates to 'We Want Our Country!', by Subhash Bhende

Can this be an Indian romance novel? There is no date in the book, but it must have been brought over from India by my mother or father (probably the former). That generously endowed lady on the cover appears to be Caucasian—unlike the dark-skinned fellow behind her whose buttock is partially exposed. Looks like pretty hot stuff!

Amidst all this turmoil I’ve managed to write a critical essay, entitled “‘Cities Are Somehow Wrong’: The City/Country Divide in Lord Dunsany’s Early Work.” This was commissioned by Andrew Gipe-Lazarou, who is co-editing (with Kostas Moraitis) a critical anthology, Weird-Fictional Narratives in Art, Architecture, and the Urban Domain, to be published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in the UK. It was good to get back to writing critical essays, but I’m not sure I will be doing much more of this sort of work for a while—not until the second volume of my history of atheism is done, probably at the end of 2024.

January 12, 2023 — The Passing of My Mother

I trust I can be excused for the long gap between this blog post and its predecessor. On January 2, my mother, Padmini Tryambak Joshi, died at the age of ninety-five. Almost immediately, Mary and I made our way to Muncie to join my sister Nalini and some others to tend to her affairs, which included clearning out her unit at the assisted living facility (Westminster Village) she was residing in, along with all manner of financial and other matters.

Among the items I discovered was a group photograph of the Joshi family (along with my former spouse). We can’t quite recall where or when this was taken, but it must have happened in the period 2001–2010, probably in California. Here is the picture:

Photo of S. T.'s exended family circa 2001-2010

From left to right: Nalini Elkins, Padmini T. Joshi, STJ, Anne Joshi Gieseker, Mark Joshi Gieseker, Leslie B. Joshi, Ragini T. Joshi.

I am not at the moment prepared to say what her passing means to me—probably I haven’t even processed the whole thing yet. Suffice it to say that, for all my difficulties with her over the decades (as recounted in my memoir, What Is Anything?), I remain immensely grateful to her for her nurturing of my intellectual and aesthetic interests from childhood onward (she essentially inculcated in me a love of classical music) and her support—financially and in other ways—of my literary career.

I wrote an obituary of her that is now posted on the website of Meeks Mortuary in Muncie (https://www.meeksmortuary.com/obituaries/Padmini-T.-Joshi?obId=27002854#/celebrationWall), where her body will be duly cremated. The obituary will also appear in the Muncie Star-Press.

Speaking of my memoir, I wrote a new chapter of it a while back, and the book shall presently appear in a paperback edition later this year. I delved not only into my various writings over the period 2018–22 (drawing heavily on these very blog posts) but also into matters relating to politics, society, and culture. I noted the passing of those close to me (Wilum Pugmire, Sam Gafford, William F. Nolan, among others) and told something of the widespread travels that Mary and I undertook during these years.

Speaking of travels, this year promises to be full of them. There will be a “Celebration of Life” service for my mother that our family will set up, probably in late spring. It will be in Muncie, of course, as many of her friends and colleagues are there. No doubt we will combine that trip with a visit to Mary’s folks in the Twin Cities. I have also been invited by Jonathan Dennison (proprietor of Cadabra Records) to a festival in New Jersey (near Philadelphia) promoting his various LPs. This will happen on June 2 and 3, and a preliminary list of the program shows me appearing as the introducer of several readings of Lovecraft stories and other work.

Cadabra has recently sent me a four-LP set of Lovecraft’s The Shadow out of Time, as read by Andrew Leman (https://cadabrarecords.com/collections/all/products/copy-of-h-p-lovecrafts-the-shadow-out-of-time-4x-lp-set-read-by-andrew-leman-score-by-chris-bozzone-splatter-edition). This is the “black and white edition” for $89; there is also a “splatter edition” for $129 (https://cadabrarecords.com/collections/all/products/copy-of-h-p-lovecrafts-the-shadow-out-of-time-4x-lp-set-read-by-andrew-leman-score-by-chris-bozzone-2). Well worth securing, I daresay!

I have long been assisting Wendolín Perla of Perla Ediciones (based in Mexico City) in introducing American and English weird fiction to a Spanish-speaking audience. Perla has now issued several books containing introductions or afterwords by me:

All these items can be found on the Perla Ediciones website (https://perlaediciones.com/). I myself have exactly one spare copy of each of these items, which I am happy to offer to customers for $10 each.

Keeping with the Spanish theme, I can note that I have just been invited by Carlos Pla of Aurora Dorada Ediciones to come to Spain to attend what he calls an “alternative cultural festival” and talk about the Spanish edition of I Am Providence. This would be in October or November. I have never been to Spain, so I’ve jumped at the offer.

My Horror Fiction Index is nearly ready—it will probably appear later this month. I finished the mammoth index of story titles (nearly 30,000 entries), but I realised that I needed to have an index of the story collections themselves (3274 titles). David E. Schultz is helping me prepare this item; indeed, without his superlative skill at format and design, this work would probably never have been completed.

Entries from 2022…