Letters to Lovecraft

Edited by Jesse Bullington

(Stone Skin Press, $13.99, 280 pages)

Who is this author?

Happy Halloween! Bullington and the other contributors are all writers who have received numerous awards and honors, too numerous to name individually here. All write in the horror or speculative fiction genres and were specially chosen to create stories that respond to H.P. Lovecraft,  the master of horror fiction whose Victorian era stories still resonate – and also still repel – readers today.

What is this book about?

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown,’” wrote Lovecraft in his famous essay, “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” which though written almost 100 years ago, remains a brilliant analysis. (You can also make the case that it holds true for current politics worldwide, but that is another story.) This anthology contains works inspired by quotes from the essay, written by 18 contemporary writers of what is now called weird fiction. Interest in this genre has never flagged, and Cthulhu and the monstrous ancient alien gods conjured up by the Providence, R.I., author still bring a chill even to the most blasé readers.

Why you’ll like it:

Lovecraft, a difficult and not entirely admirable man, is nevertheless considered to be a genius at writing terrifying and horrifying tales, and some 100 years later, still has many aficionados.  Tales of terror scare readers; tales of horror evoke disgust, and Lovecraft’s weird stories, many set in the fictional town of Arkham, Mass., do both. His Cthulhu mythology, featuring blind, idiot gods and all manner of human evil, have inspired many other writers of fantasy. If you have a taste for stories that will disturb your sleep for weeks after reading them, this book is a good introduction to Lovecraft, and if you already know and like his work, it will add to your enjoyment of his very peculiar genius.

What others are saying:

Publishers Weekly’s starred review  says: “Author and first-time editor Bullington explores macabre maestro H.P. Lovecraft’s enduring legacy in this deeply satisfying anthology. Inspired by “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” Lovecraft’s well-known exposition on the genre, Bullington asked his “favorite storytellers” to take a fresh look at Lovecraft’s essay and craft original stories under its influence. The result is a wonderfully disparate collection of works spanning time and place, from writers both established and unfamiliar. Brian Evenson’s terrifying standout, “Past Reno,” describes a young man’s rising anxiety at the desolate landscape framing the journey back to his childhood home. The turn-of-the-last-century human monsters walking through Chesya Burke’s “The Horror at Castle of the Cumberland” are an abomination far worse than the shadows that trail them. A familiar trope gets a chilling twist in David Yale Ardanuy’s “One Last Meal, Before the End.” The stories in this essential compilation are as diverse as the contributors, and together they form a wonderful confluence of criticism and creativity.”

Ipgbook.com says: “. . . while hordes of writers have created works based on Lovecraft’s fiction, never before has an anthology taken its inspiration directly from the literary manifesto behind his entire mythos…until now. Like cultists poring over a forbidden tome, eighteen modern masters of horror have gathered here to engage with Lovecraft’s treatise. Rather than responding with articles of their own, these authors have written new short stories inspired by intriguing quotes from the essay, offering their own whispers to the darkness. They tell of monsters and madmen, of our strange past and our weirder future, of terrors stalking the winter woods, the broiling desert, and eeriest of all, our bustling cities, our family homes. . . .”

Says Sffworld.com: “Jesse’s Introduction [points out] for the uninitiated what the attraction of Lovecraft’s writing was, even whilst acknowledging that some aspects of the man’s personality were not what we would like. It manages that tricky job of being both erudite and yet accessible, of being reasoned and balanced when others might descend into outrage or obsequious fawning.”

Says Koboldpress.com: H.P. Lovecraft wrote horror stories, and he developed a mythos that has oozed its way into literary and now popular culture. . . . Some of these stories are directly influenced by Lovecraft’s quotes, some are written contrary to Lovecraft’s words, and some of the stories use Lovecraft’s words as the entrance to a labyrinth into madness. . . Rather than just writing a Lovecraftian story, these authors had to dig much deeper: they had to embrace Lovecraft’s essay and the observations held within it, then create something magical. And they did.”

Says Arkhamdigest.com: “. . . In his hefty intro, Bullington puts it all on the table. The good, the bad, and the ugly of Lovecraft is laid bare without bias. . . . By looking beyond the superficialities of the Cthulhu Mythos, and bypassing common Lovecraftian themes to look instead at the essay that outlines Lovecraft’s philosophies behind weird horror, Jesse Bullington and his 18 authors have done something truly special. Letters to Lovecraft is easily one of 2014′s best anthologies, and a must read for weird horror fans.”

When is it available?

This unsettling book is lurking on the shelves of the Downtown Hartford Public Library, waiting for you.

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