I got a couple of new used books from Abe as well as a new purchase I wanted to share. The first is this SFBC collection with a cover by Ian Miller. I cannot understand why who ever did the layout of the back cover butchered the Miller illustration to include the ISBN box rather than rearranging the elements. May they have an unfortunate encounter with Shub-Niggurath (The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young). I had literally been eyeing this copy for years. One thing I ask myself is do I need another HPL collection, the answer is often yes. I am a sucker for art work so Miller was a huge plus but I am happy to say the editor Andrew Wheeler rewarded my purchase with a short one page dream piece "What the Moon Brings" which I do not remember reading before.
"So I watched the tide go out under that sinking moon, and saw gleaming the spires, the towers, and the roofs of that dead, dripping city. And as I watched, my nostrils tried to close against the perfume-conquering stench of the world's dead; for truly, in this unplaced and forgotten spot had all the flesh of the churchyards gathered for puffy sea-worms to gnaw and glut upon." (395)
Yes Howard really hated sea food. The tone of this story really brought to mind another moon related passage I had just read in his essay "In Defence of Dagon"
"Romanticists are persons, who on the one hand scorn the realist who says that moonlight is only reflected wave-motion in the aether: but who on the other hand sit stolid and unmoved when a fantaisiste tells them that the moon is a hideous nightmare eye-watching ... ever watching..." (147)
I was looking for a copy of Caitlin R. Kieran's short story, "The Daughter of the Four Pentacles". The same vender had Thrillers 2 a signed limited edition with that story and Kieran's "Houses Under the Sea. " so the die was cast.
When the pandemic began my wife and I purchased a couple of gift cards from a locally owned bookstore we frequent. Yesterday we ventured out masked and sanitized to see what they had. I had checked their online catalogue so I knew what I wanted. Helen got Monsters and Myths: Surrealism & War in the 1930s and 1940s, which I discussed briefly here.
We also have an introduction by Victor LaValle the author of the mythos related work, "The Ballard of Black Tom". I have LaValle's book on my kindle but I have not read it yet, I certainly will. So I will refer interested readers to the review of this book at The Great Lovecraft ReRead.
LaValle's introduction was interesting reading. He discussing finding and enjoying Lovecraft's as a ten year old only to realize at 15 that as a young black man he could not accept the racism in Lovecraft's writing. It is a perfectly understandable reaction. I did want to quote one passage from the introduction because I think it frames my experience with genre literature and why I think I still read science fiction, weird tales, Sherlock Holmes related works and the like. "Ten year old me was here for all of it: the high anxiety, waves of madness, and the terror of human insignificance. Certain writers must be encountered at a young age or else their spell will never be cast properly. Some people would say this is because an older reader has matured out of the appeal such pulp provides, but I call bullshit on that. Instead, I would say that as a child the aperture of your imagination is wide open. In adulthood we call its closure "maturity" but it hardly seems like a triumph to me. Instead, I try to embrace the bravery of such openness...," (xii) I am also trying to retain this openness since it is still the source of much of my joy, whether it is in the literature I read, my experience of the natural world or the observations we share with each other during a quiet walk or meal out with my wife.
I have shared my own thoughts on Lovecraft's racism here.
Now to the book itself. One; the cover illustration, Jacket design Steve Attardo, Jacket Art by Christina Mrozik, is one of the most striking covers based on one of Lovecraft;'s stories I have ever seen. Rats and cats, does it get better. Last night I read "The Outsider" and the accompanying annotations. I found Klinger's annotations helpful, the ones I liked were those that referred to other work that could be seen as related to this story, a poem by Hawthorne for example. But some of the most interesting referred me to critical interpretations of Lovecraft's story. I could see both types as rekindling my interest in new works in the canon and also items within my own collection that I want to revisit.