Picked this book up at the Barnes & Noble over on the Sunrise yesterday. It's got what purports to be all of our Howard's fiction in the order that he wrote it. Anyhow, we shall see.

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We start with an introduction by one S.T. Joshi, who is apparently the "World's leading authority on H.P. Lovecraft".  As to how you get certified for something like that, I don't know. Anyhow, he gives a brief bio of our Howie, and talks about how people used to think he was a hack, but now all right-thinking people think he's a genius.

The first story is "The Beast in the Cave".  The notes say that the first draft was written before spring 1904, and the final draft was completed on April 21, 1905. If it's true, then our Howard was only about 14 when he wrote this.  It was first published in the June 1918 issue of Vagrant, which sounds like a GQ for homeless guys.

 

The story involves a guy who wanders off while touring Mammoth Cave (which H.P. never saw, apparently, but researched on-line using his Brabbage Engine or whatever), and who encounters an unknown creature. If you've read any Lovecraft, you can guess what the "creature" is, I'm sure.The story is short, but atmospheric. It's not a "heavyweight" story, but for a high school kid, it's quite good.  Right out of the gate we meet a typical Lovecraft protagonist with their combination of intellectual superiority and paranoid insecurity, and we get our first taste of Lovecraft's theme of debased humans surviving in weird places.

... on-line using his Brabbage Engine or whatever ...

HA!

...debased humans surviving in wierd places.

Like Internet chat boards?

I can totally see guys like Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard getting into huge flamewars if the internet had existed back then.
I've never read any Lovecraft. I saw an anthology on clearance at HPB last week but didn't buy it. I'll be going to B&N on Friday, thought, so I'll keep an eye peeled.

A few years ago I read a Lovecraft anthology that contained a handful of short stories along with the novel "At The Mountains of Madness" . The most memorable short was titled "Rats in the Wall", IIRC.  The novel was tough slogging - about half way through I began skimming just to finish it.

 

I had the same experience a number of years ago. Except I never bothered finishing it, just didn't work for me.

doc photo said:

A few years ago I read a Lovecraft anthology that contained a handful of short stories along with the novel "At The Mountains of Madness" . The most memorable short was titled "Rats in the Wall", IIRC.  The novel was tough slogging - about half way through I began skimming just to finish it.

 

At the Mountains of Madness is tough.  I have the same trouble with The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.

But there's soooo much good Lovecraft out there.  Stick to the short stories and short-ish novellas and it's hard to go wrong.

But there's soooo much good Lovecraft out there.  Stick to the short stories and short-ish novellas and it's hard to go wrong.

Next is "The Alchemist", wirtten in 1908,  and first published in the November 1916 issue of United Amateur. It's about a nobleman who discovers the secret of the curse his family has been under for genenrations.  It's an OK story, heavily Poe-influenced.  We see here an early example of Lovecraft's theme of things surviving where they shouldn't be able to.
"The Tomb" was written in the summer of 1917, and first published in the March 1922 issue of the Vagrant. It's a fairly pedestrian ghost story, again showing Poe's influence on early Lovecraft.
"Dagon" was written in July 1917.  It was published in te October 1923 Weird Tales, Lovecraft's first sale to that magazine. It's the story of a man standed in the South Pacific, who finds himself on a patch of land newly brought to the surface by some subsea upheaval, and the bizarre structure and being that he finds there.  It's the strongest hint so far of the kinds of things that Lovecraft will become known for.

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