H.P. LOVECRAFT

TALES

Black-robed by Library of America, the real King rises from darkness in his homeland. His reputation abroad glows.

A landmark that lifts Lovecraft from pulp to Poe as a master of macabre fantasy and horror, despite Edmund Wilson’s infamous destructive essay “Tales of the Marvelous and Ridiculous.”

Is Lovecraft’s storytelling genius equal to Poe’s? Well, he has a wider canvas, quite cosmic, though he wrote swatches of haunted verse and carves graven paragraphs. At first he saw himself as a knowing and skilled amateur storyteller but, far more obsessively, as a lifelong antiquarian. Before his teens he self-published journals about chemistry and astronomy; in his teens had weekly newspaper columns, later wrote travel books, and ghosted many works for hire while publishing fantasies in Weird Tales and other pulps. Though idolized, he never earned a living at fiction. Among the 22 tales selected by horrormeister Peter Straub are Lovecraft’s favorite “The Colour Out of Space” and his classics “The Rats in the Walls,” “The Thing on the Doorstep” and “The Whisperer in Darkness.” Also herein: the dreadful “Herbert West—Re-Animator,” a youthful dud later filmed as the agonizingly but amusingly awful Re-Animator, now a grisly cult classic but less admired than its ringingly empty sequel, Bride of Re-Animator. Straub’s notes fascinate, and there is a cool-spirited, nonanalytic chronology of Lovecraft’s short but odd, odd life (1890–1937)—and this seems adapted from Lovecraft biographer S.T. Joshi’s excellent 30-page Internet essay “Scriptorium—H. P. Lovecraft.” (Joshi-edited texts were used for this volume.) HPL lacked all interest in plain folks and fought off his cosmic chills by inventing a pseudomythology. He bore the Cthulhu Mythos midway in his career, adopting starry infinitudes as his big black backdrop, with hidden and hideous ancient beings now ready to rise from slime: “After vigintillions of years great Cthulhu was loose again, and ravening for delight.” The present volume collects a third of Lovecraft’s fiction—he wrote three times more nonfiction than fiction, mostly for bread.

Black-robed by Library of America, the real King rises from darkness in his homeland. His reputation abroad glows.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-931082-72-3

Page Count: 864

Publisher: Library of America

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2004

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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