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Lovecraft Stories I’ve Loved

UPDATE NOTE (3 July 2011): Not really an update, I just ended the final paragraph, as it was incomplete somehow.

ORIGINAL POST: My friend Chris still hasn’t read HPL, though he is an excellent writer working in genre fiction and really, I imagined he would have somehow, for some reason, just because Lovecraft’s influence is so pervasive in the speculative arts. I think I was urging him to address that oversight, when he asked me which stories have meant the most to me. I figured I might as well blog it, and then, like most things I swear an oath to blog about, I promptly forgot it.

But he reminded me, and so here I am, blogging my list, which is destined to be lost in the place where favorites-lists go to die.

A little context, first: I came to HPL quite late. I’d been reading horror fiction, but only short fiction and only spottily — especially the excellent Borderlands anthologies put together by Thomas F. Monteleone. I was living in Edmonton, working at a music store in a mall during a year off from university, and I’m pretty sure it was my co-worker Paul Patience who recommended Lovecraft to me. Certainly, I was recommended the author by someone at the music store, and I think I’m remembering right that Paul had been a gamer and was a big fan of Bill Laswell — not that these lead straight to Rhode Island, mind, but it seems to fit together in my memories.

So I went down to whatever the hell bookstore was downstairs (Coles? W.H. Smith?) on my lunch break and picked up a couple of those Del-Rey editions of Lovecraft that were in most bookshops in those days. The ones I got were At the Mountains of Madness and Other Tales of Terror and Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre: the Best of H. P. Lovecraft.

Which is likely to inform my choice of stories. After all, I still have both those books with me, even all these years later, here in Korea. (I have a lot of books with me here in Korea, mind you.) What struck me might be somewhat arbitrary, of course, but I’ll just say, this isn’t intended as a list of “Lovecraft’s Best” or anything like that. Rather, it’s just stories that struck me personally. I’ll say a little about why each tale struck me as well, without spoiling it for those lucky few of you out there discovering Lovecraft for the first time.

Note: I’m not including links for each of the HPL stories below, but at the end of my post I’ll suggest a few places where you can get the works I’ve recommended either individually, or in a collected file.

Bonus Round: Recommended Lovecraftian texts by anyone other than HPL himself:

For those interested in reading some of the Lovecraftian stories mentioned above, well, there’s the Internet. But specifically, there’s a ton of his work available for free at the H.P. Lovecraft Archive. You can also download a fair number of his stories individually from places like Cthulhu Chick, maker of fine crocheted Cthulhu dolls (like these), has also done up an ebook collection of the (almost?) complete works of Lovecraft for ebook readers that can handle formats like epub, mobi, and others.)

If you’re looking for print editions, I don’t know how “good” they are but I read the older Del Rey editions and they were good enough for me. The newer editions might be preferable in that they sort his work into different periods (the Dreamlands stuff, for example, is primarily in one book, as are the Cthulhu Mythos tales), which is handy; also, by going with one series, you can avoid the endless problem of overlap between anthologies — buying a book because it has a few stories you haven’t read, even while it has ten stories you have read. Lovecraft aficionados might have a different preference, but you’d have to go ask them to know more about that.

Those of a more scholarly bent might be interested in S.T. Joshi’s The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, though I think that’s something for people who’re already very interested in how the man’s work related to his life and circumstances. (It’s a book I’d very much like to check out sometime, but haven’t had a chance to look at yet.) Another book I haven’t read yet (not yet, but I will) is Michel Houllebecq’s H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life, about which I have heard good things.

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