Today is the birthday of H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937). I discovered the pleasures of this author relatively late in life — it was probably in 1990, the centenary of his birth (I was 25). I think I read an in-depth article about him someplace at the time observing his 100th birthday. I worked at a bookstore, and proceeded to read all of the volumes of Lovecraft’s tales that we carried.
I did – – and do — regard his work mainly as entertaining camp, effective at producing terror and unease, but also a certain amount of unintended laughter at the preposterous ornateness of his style and the adolescent seriousness with which he presents the silliest of assertions. He also drives me bonkers with his vagueness, pages and pages of fog, as though he were pumping your mind full of dry ice. Still I love him, and have written MANY parodies of his writing and will no doubt produce more.
And as I get older, I feel a connection to him that grows closer and closer. I am a writer from Rhode Island; Lovecraft is the most famous writer from Rhode Island. And Lovecraft and I are of the same stock, both with roots going back to the Massachusetts Bay colony in the 1630s. (I have also learned that I am distantly related to him). He is one of “my people”.
I’m due for a major re-read of his works, and a re-assessment, and this was made all the more imminent by our trip to Providence a few weeks back, and the tour our friend the mentalist Rory Raven gave us of important Lovecraft sites. Here’s cool stuff he showed us.
- This marker was erected for him in 1977. The phrase “I am Providence” comes from his writings. Fans have adorned it with rocks and shells, and someone (hopefully a teenager) left a poem (folded up, lower left hand corner).