I read pretty much anything, from fantasy (City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett) to romance (Bared to You by Sylvia Day) to classics (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad). The only genres I don't read are self-help and comic books/graphic novels.
20/08 - I've just finished the first short story in this anthology, At the Mountains of Madness. I've previously read an anthology of Lovecraftian short stories, but nothing by the man himself. The first thing I want to say is that, other than having starfish shaped heads, I have no idea what the alien entities, the old ones, are supposed to have looked like. Lovecraft's description of all their different body parts and their dimensions went completely over my head and left me wishing for a picture. I really liked the way Lake sent reports of what they'd found over the radio, getting more and more excited with each new development. It really added to the tension as I was reading.
Has this been made into a movie? If not, why not? I can see this as a fantastic Paranormal/Blair Witch shaky hand-held camera kind of movie (but not the kind that draws mockery) with the reports from Lake done in video messages instead of radio transmissions and when the rest of the team get to the destroyed campsite they could find a damaged-but-still-working camera which could start to tell the story of what happened. If it had a good director and some decent actors, I could totally see that being a hit and something that Lovecraft fans would tacitly agree to see, hoping it wouldn't be a desecration of Lovecraft's memory, only to find it far surpassed their expectations and was a credit to his memory.
I was a little put off by the discussion of Shoggoths without any explanation of what they are, as if I and everyone else reading his work should know what a Shoggoth is because I've read all his other work. Maybe that, and my brain being unable to turn Lovecraft's description of the Elder Ones into a cohesive animal/vegetable thing, were the reasons why I didn't find this scary. I enjoyed it and look forward to reading the rest of the short stories, but it wasn't scary.
22/08 - So, I've now looked up Shoggoths and the Elder Ones to see what Lovecraft might have been imagining when he wrote those horribly complicated descriptions. Nothing like what my slightly less sophisticated imagination had conjured up, but at least now I have a solid image to concentrate on whenever more Shoggoths or Elder Ones appear in any Lovecraft stories that I subsequently read.
Now I'm onto the next story in the anthology, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, which is possibly even better than At the Mountains of Madness. I love the mystery of what Ward's ancestor, Joseph Curwen, might be - zombie, vampire or something else - and through figuring out what Ward has become and how.
On another note, I am surprised at the number of errors I'm finding in the editing - repeated words, words with incorrect first letters and general misspellings. Is this how the stories (I've noticed the errors in both) were published originally or is it just this anthology that needs an overall edit? To be continued...
24/08 - Of course Lovecraft doesn't reveal exactly what happened to Curwen on the night he was annihilated, he leaves it up to our imaginations. Is that a 'thing' with Gothic horror stories, that not everything is revealed as anything our imagination might create would be scarier than if the author told us outright what happened? Because I don't agree. I have a number of theories, all slightly different variations on the same theme, but I'm not sure and I find that more frustrating than disturbing/scary. To be continued...
26/08 - I loved the ending of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, I couldn't guess what was going on with Charles at all. I was thinking that Ward might have conjured Curwen up and sort of subsumed him into himself and begun to turn into Curwen, so I was surprised when the truth was revealed.
Now I'm halfway through The Dreams in the Witch House which is not quite as good. I was not impressed or scared by the description of the "small, white, furry thing" that flashes across rooms in the corner of your eye and has the face and hands of a human - that's just weird and possibly funny, it reminds me of a scene from a kids' movie where the witch/wizard turns the annoying person into a rat but it still has the human face superimposed on the rat body. It just doesn't work for me. But the idea of either bringing something tangible out of a dream or somehow finding it in the real world after you've dreamed about it definitely made an impression, so much so I had my own strange experience.
Since I started reading Lovecraft just over a week ago I've been having strange, vivid dreams. One night my brother tried to shoot me, then I woke up got a drink and went back to sleep only to find myself and my family in a very futuristic airport where I was the only one to notice the terrorist with the smoking backpack walking through the airport. I was yelling at everyone to get down when I woke up the next morning. Then another night I had a dream about a character from a short 'whodunnit' murder mystery tv series called Harper's Island. The character was John Wakefield a serial killer killing off everyone on the island. In my dream he was roaming my large, well-treed backyard and had captured my mum (except she wasn't my actual mother, she looked completely different) and trussed her to an A-frame, like what you use to grow beans on. I was sneaking through the yard searching through the stacks of farm tools for the perfect weapon to kill Wakefield with. I finally decided on a very long pole with a three-pronged fork on the end (who knows what kind of farm tool it was supposed to be), long enough so that I didn't have to be too close to him and pointy enough for killing. I was holding it preparing to stab him in the back while he was taunting my 'mother' when I started to get cramp in my hand so bad that I could hardly continue to hold the weapon (I have been getting some bad hand cramps lately that I've attributed to too much typing). I woke up somewhere around there, before I had the chance to drop the weapon or kill Wakefield. And last night I dreamed I was at a friends' birthday party and we were playing some kind of crazy party game that involved being bound hand and foot and placed on our sides in a box until one whole side of our body had gone numb (from lying on it for so long). My body was going numb when I woke up to find that I was lying on my arm and it had gone numb.
Now, I'm pretty sure those weird dreams coming one after another while I'm reading Lovecraft is all just a coincidence. While I enjoy horror and fantasy (ghosts, vampires etc) and would be quick to believe if there was ever any evidence (something actually happened to me), I don't actually believe in the supernatural - it just makes for great stories. Wow, this review is long and I've still got 4.5 stories to go, hope I can fit it into the 13,034 characters I've got left. To be continued...
28/11 - Finally getting back to this after nearly two years of reading other books. When I stopped reading last time it was at the end of The Dreams in the Witch-House, which, looking back at my review from last year, I found more frustrating than scary, but still enjoyable. The Statement of Randolph Carter was a good offering but felt unfinished, like the second last chapter of a story, not the only chapter. What happened to Carter between hearing that 'other' voice on the end of the phone and waking up in the hospital? What did Warren see in the depths of the earth? Did the 'thing' on the phone get out into our world? Then, when I started reading The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and it had Carter in it again I thought it might expand on The Statement of Randolph Carter, explain some of the questions the reader was left with, but I had absolutely no idea what was going on in that story. To me, it seemed to be a whole lot of rambling purple prose and waffling about overly existential ideas. I only read 20 pages before I gave up and skipped to the next story, The Silver Key, which also features Randolph Carter and some unnecessarily descriptive writing. We'll see how much I can bear before surrendering. To be continued...
30/11 - The Silver Key and Through the Gates of the Silver Key continue the story of Randolph Carter. They were both a mix of the rambling of The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and the more readable (for me) narrative of The Statement of Randolph Carter. I enjoyed learning more, and thus understanding more, about what happened to Carter and am glad I made the effort to finish the last two stories after the frustration/waste of time that was The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, but after reading the whole anthology I've realised that Lovecraft isn't really for me. When it comes to horror it seems I don't find oblique scares all that scary, I'm a 'show-not-tell' kind of reader and Lovecraft appears to be the master of 'tell-not-show' horror. When things are left up to the reader I find myself more frustrated that the author didn't tell us or give better clues to lead us to the answer, rather than curious and excited that I get to create my own ending. I probably wouldn't read another Lovecraft book, but if you're a fan of his, or a first timer looking for a good example of his work then I recommend you try this book. I think it has a good selection of his writing, showcasing a range of some of his most popular stories.
PopSugar 2015 Reading Challenge: A Book you Started but Never Finished