2008. 177. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories

“During the winter of 1927-28 officials of the Federal government made a strange and secret investigation of certain conditions in the ancient Massachusetts seaport of Innsmouth”

~ First line of “The Shadow over Innsmouth”

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, H.P. Lovecraft

This is the last book that I started reading before the baby was born, and my last commuting book of the year (you know, since I am no longer doing much commuting, at least until February ’09).  I picked it off the L shelf because it was nice and Halloweeny, and it certainly fit the bill on that account.  I think that prior to this I had read more Lovecraft pastiches (from Stephen King, Neil Gaiman et al.) than actual Lovecraft, so while I had a basic sense of what to expect, I wasn’t too familiar with his works.

If you don’t know about Lovecraft, he is one of the fathers of modern horror, and he writes stories about the horrible things that come from beneath - the old ones, and the worshipers of Cthulhu and the horrible gibbering slimy things of fear.  His writing tends towards the archaic and overblown, but he creates atmosphere, for sure - he makes you think the world is a dark and horrible place, filled with things that the puny mind of mortal cannot fathom.

The only thing that stopped me from falling completely into his works is that, unfortunately, Lovecraft has placed the seat of his horror in New England - and many of his stories are set in Marblehead and Newburyport - that is on the North Shore, not twenty minutes from where I grew up.  And I understand that maybe in the 1920’s these were decrepit former fishing towns, but now they are suburbs of Boston and places where rich people summer and buy tchotckes.  And I know these towns.  In “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” the narrator starts in Ipswich, and ends up in Rowley.  And while Thanksgiving at my aunt’s might be scary, it just isn’t the stuff of inbred sea worshippers.  The thing is, I couldn’t suspend my disbelief when he was talking about my backyard.  So, if you aren’t from the North Shore (or Vermont - lots of horror in Vermont, I gather), you will be totally sucked in, but if you are, it will probably pull you out of the story and leave you giggling, just a bit.

Also - an unrelated thought.  If you want to be spooked by the stories, read just one or two. Reading the whole collection at once made them have somewhat of a sameness that took you out of it, while just stumbling up one would be quite spooky, I think.

Date/Place Completed: 10/22/08; D.C.

Categories: Fiction, Commuting Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017