Books from Sarnath Press

Sarnath Press is a micro-imprint that I have established to issue some of my writings that I do not wish to burden other presses with, and also to issue some multi-volume projects (e.g., a forthcoming edition of the Collected Essays and Journalism of H. L. Mencken) that would be impractical to publish by ordinary means. All books are published by CreateSpace (print) and Kindle (ebook). I present here a list of books issued by Sarnath Press, with brief descriptions of them and links to their page on Amazon.

Current titles include:

  1. S. T. Joshi, Driven to Madness with Fright (2016, 2018)
  2. S. T. Joshi, The Stupidity Watch: An Atheist Speaks Out on Religion and Politics (2017)
  3. Eleanor M. Ingram, The Thing from the Lake (2017)
  4. Robert Hichens, The Dweller on the Threshold (2017)
  5. S. T. Joshi, Lovecraft and Weird Fiction: Collected Blog Posts, 2009–2017 (2017)
  6. S. T. Joshi, H. L. Mencken as Artist and Critic (2018)
  7. S. T. Joshi, H. P. Lovecraft: A Short Biography (2018)
  8. H. L. Mencken, Writings in the Smart Set, Volume 1: 1908–1911 (2018)
  9. H. L. Mencken, Writings in the Smart Set, Volume 2: 1912–1913 (2018)
  10. S. T. Joshi, 21st-Century Horror: Weird Fiction at the Turn of the Millennium (2018)

S. T. Joshi, Driven to Madness with Fright (2016, 2018)

For more than 30 years, S. T. Joshi has been a pioneering critic of fantasy, horror, and supernatural fiction. This new collection of his essays and reviews covers the entire range of weird fiction, from Romantic poetry to the work of Ambrose Bierce, Ray Bradbury, and Shirley Jackson. Particularly insightful are Joshi’s assessments of such contemporary writers as Ramsey Campbell, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Thomas Ligotti, and Reggie Oliver. Joshi, the leading authority on H. P. Lovecraft, also provides pungent analyses of recent works of Lovecraftian fiction by such figures as W. H. Pugmire and Darrell Schweitzer, as well as incisive reviews of recent works of Lovecraft scholarship. This expanded edition now includes reviews of such writers as Richard Gavin, Mark Samuels, and Joel Lane, as well as reviews of several new anthologies of Lovecraftian fiction. All in all, this book will engage, entertain, and inform all devotees of weird fiction.

S. T. Joshi, The Stupidity Watch: An Atheist Speaks Out on Religion and Politics (2017)

For the past two decades, S. T. Joshi has emerged as one of the sharpest commentators on the follies of religion and politics. Combining keen analytical skills with pungent satire, Joshi is a modern-day Ambrose Bierce or H. L. Mencken in skewering religious fanatics, right-wing politicians, and others who have exhibited their stupidity and ineptitude for all to see. In this book, Joshi assembles the essays and reviews he has written for The American Rationalist, a journal he has edited since 2011. He lambastes the work of Alister E. McGrath, Robert P. George, Todd Burpo, David Skeel, Rice Broocks, and others who blunderingly seek to defend Christian doctrine, and he also dissects the hollow and superficial work of Joe Scarborough and other conservative commentators. Other reviews address such issues as the Bible’s attitude toward gays and lesbians, the Second Amendment, and other key issues. Joshi’s column, “The Stupidity Watch,” is a wide-ranging lampoon of the myriad forms of stupidity exhibited by politicians, clerics, and the general public. Here we see the buffooneries of Republican politicians, fundamentalist preachers, and average citizens held up to impolite ridicule. Our “president,” Donald J. Trump, is not spared.

Eleanor M. Ingram, The Thing from the Lake (2017)

The little-known American writer Eleanor M. Ingram (1886–1921) published eight novels (one of them filmed by Cecil B. DeMille) between 1909 and 1921, but only one—The Thing from the Lake (1921)—is of interest today. This is largely because H. P. Lovecraft read the book in 1927, remarking: “Eleanor M. Ingram’s ‘Thing from the Lake’ is a really good story—with a genuine thread of horror despite best-seller form.” Although it would be an exaggeration to say that Ingram’s book inspired Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos (which Lovecraft had already outlined in “The Call of Cthulhu” [1926]), the novel could have inspired “The Dunwich Horror” (1928), which echoes The Thing from the Lake in suggesting the presence of monsters from another dimension. But the novel is a fine piece of ghostly fiction in its own right. This edition contains a detailed introduction and annotations by leading Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi.

Robert Hichens, The Dweller on the Threshold (2017)

Robert Hichens (1864-1950) was a popular British novelist of the turn of the twentieth century. Early in his career he exhibited considerable interest in the weird, producing the poignant ghost story “How Love Came to Professor Guildea” (1900) and numerous other tales of horror and the supernatural. In 1911 he published the short novel The Dweller on the Threshold, an exhaustive treatment of psychic possession. The story outlines how the weak-willed curate Henry Chichester is psychically dominated by the Rev. Marcus Harding, the rector of a fashionable London parish. Harding wants to “communicate with the spirit world” and ultimately to take over Chichester, body and soul. It is unclear whether H. P. Lovecraft ever read this work, but it bears striking similarities to his own tales of psychic possession, ranging from “The Thing on the Doorstep” to “The Shadow out of Time.” But The Dweller on the Threshold is worth reading in its own right, as an exemplary tale of weird fiction whose polished and elegant prose is no barrier to the conveyance of terror and strangeness.

S. T. Joshi, Lovecraft and Weird Fiction: Collected Blog Posts, 2009–2017 (2017)

For the past decade, S. T. Joshi has been a prolific and controversial figure in the blogosphere. A leading authority on H. P. Lovecraft and weird fiction, Joshi has been at the centre of many developments in the field, aside from writing several landmark works of his own. In this book, Joshi reprints selections from his blog posts, arranging them thematically so that readers can focus on the numerous issues in which Joshi has been involved. See how his history of supernatural fiction, Unutterable Horror (2012), progressed over the years, and how he came to edit the Black Wings anthologies of neo-Lovecraftian fiction. Joshi’s contributions to work on such writers as Lord Dunsany, Arthur Machen, Clark Ashton Smith, Ramsey Campbell, Ambrose Bierce, and H. L. Mencken are also chronicled. Joshi has been a vigorous defender of Lovecraft against those who seek to tear him down, and he has written pungent rebuttals of the tendentious writings of such figures as Daniel José Older, Laura Miller, Charles Baxter, Scott Nicolay, and others. Joshi has also defended himself against scurrilous attacks by Brian Keene, Laird Barron, and others. Author of more than 250 books, S. T. Joshi is one of the liveliest commentators in weird fiction, and this book offers a treasure-trove of some of his most vibrant and penetrating writings.

S. T. Joshi, H. L. Mencken as Artist and Critic (2018)

For close to two decades, S. T. Joshi has been one of the leading authorities on H. L. Mencken, the fiery journalist and critic whose vibrant writings—books, magazine articles, and thousands of newspaper pieces—continue to engage readers and critics of American literature. Because he has read the entirety of Mencken’s bountiful output, he is in a unique position to study those aspects of Mencken’s work that others have ignored. In particular, Joshi has shown how Mencken, in addition to bring a brilliant social and literary critic, also wrote dozens of poems, short stories, and plays (including the full-length farce Heliogabalus); and in several essays in this book he displays the value of this material. Other essays discuss Mencken as a longtime book reviewer, as a scourge of religious obscurantism, as an autobiographer, and other topics. Throughout these essays, Joshi displays his familiarity with Mencken’s life, writings, and the intellectual and cultural era in which he wrote.

S. T. Joshi, H. P. Lovecraft: A Short Biography (2018)

H. P. Lovecraft has been the source of unending fascination since his death in 1937. He himself chronicled many aspects of his life in thousands of letters, and they reveal every aspect of his actions and beliefs. Born in 1890 in Providence, R.I., he was a precocious reader and writer, and also developed an early interest in science. Unable to finish high school, he became one of the greatest autodidacts of his time. Discovering the world of amateur journalism in 1914, he began writing essays, poetry, and fiction. The founding of the pulp magazine Weird Tales provided him with the opportunity to find a devoted readership for his weird tales, and he became a titan in the realm of pulp fiction as his tales of the “Cthulhu Mythos” attracted a wider audience. But he failed to find commercial success in his lifetime, and his work had to be rescued from oblivion by the devoted work of his friends. S. T. Joshi, long regarded as the leading authority on Lovecraft, has now written a succinct biography that focuses on the main events of Lovecraft’s life as well as the central features of his work and his associations with such colleagues as August Derleth, Frank Belknap Long, Robert Bloch, and others.

H. L. Mencken, Writings in the Smart Set, Volume 1: 1908–1911 (2018)

H. L. Mencken (1880–1956) was an enormously prolific author and journalist, and the great majority of his work remains uncollected. This first volume of his Collected Essays and Journalism contains the first of eight volumes of his writings for the Smart Set, a highbrow periodical for which he wrote extensively during the years 1908–1923. Hired as a book reviewer late in 1908, Mencken began writing 5000-word reviews that covered the entire range of American, English, and European literature. He was particularly interested in the novel, championing the work of Theodore Dreiser, H. G. Wells, Joseph Conrad, Arnold Bennett, and others. Among playwrights he looked with favor on George Bernard Shaw and John Galsworthy. But some of Mencken’s most pungent reviews are his condemnations of “trade goods”—the hack writing of now-forgotten popular writers such as Robert W. Chambers and Marie Corelli. Throughout these reviews, Mencken’s vibrant prose, lively wit, and keen analytical skills are on display. The book has been edited and annotated by S. T. Joshi, a leading authority on Mencken.

H. L. Mencken, Writings in the Smart Set, Volume 2: 1912–1913 (2018)

In this second volume of Mencken’s writings in the Smart Set, we see Mencken begin his championing of the work of Joseph Conrad, as well as continuing his promotion of Theodore Dreiser as a leading American novelist. European writers such as Hermann Sudermann and August Strindberg also come in for extensive discussion. And Mencken writes a hilarious column poking fun at several books expressing fears about white slavery. He also initiates a column of miscellaneous humorous sketches, “Pertinent and Impertinent.” More significantly, Mencken writes a six-part series, “The American,” studying conventional Americans’ attitudes on art, literature, politics, and the “new Puritanism.” In all, this volume features a rich treasure-trove of material highlighting Mencken’s critical acuteness, satirical skill, and cultural awareness.

S. T. Joshi, 21st-Century Horror: Weird Fiction at the Turn of the Millennium (2018)

The literature of terror and the supernatural has been experiencing a renaissance over the past several decades, and with the advent of the new millennium a diverse cadre of writers have expanded the bounds of weird fiction and enriched it with their penetrating vision. This book is the first to present a broad analysis of contemporary horror fiction as written by writers born in the 1960s and 1970s. S. T. Joshi, one of the leading authorities on weird fiction, divides his book into three categories, based on his judgment of the varying merits of the authors in question. Among the “Elite” are such writers as Michael Aronovitz, a master of metafictional narratives that intensely treat the emotional traumas of his characters; Adam Nevill, author of expansive novels that use the classic work of M. R. James, Arthur Machen, and others as a springboard; and Jonathan Thomas, who has found in the work of H. P. Lovecraft a touchstone for his cynical view of human foibles. Among the “Worthies” are the grimly pessimistic writer Nicole Cushing; Reggie Oliver, who has revivified the ghost story; and Clint Smith, whose tales are distinguished by his lyrical prose. Controversially, Joshi has established a category of “Pretenders”—authors whose work, in his opinion, is not commensurate with their reputations. Here we find Laird Barron, whose distinguished early writing is now confounded by mediocrity and preciosity; Joe Hill, author of bloated potboilers all too reminiscent of the unimaginative work of his father, Stephen King; Brian Keene, the prototypical hack writer; and Jeff VanderMeer, author of a trilogy whose confused premises and tiresome length try the patience of the most indulgent reader. Whatever one may think of Joshi’s views, his writing remains lively, provocative, and sure to promote discussion.