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IN THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS

THE LIFE, DEATH, AND EXTRAORDINARY AFTERLIFE OF H.P. LOVECRAFT

Poole calls his occasionally flaky biography “unorthodox,” but it’s also thoroughly enjoyable and highly readable.

A deep plunge into the Lovecraft-ian dark side.

Poole (History/Coll. of Charleston; Vampira: Dark Goddess of Horror, 2014, etc.) enthusiastically explores how H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) influenced modern pop culture. The author’s ardent fandom occasionally gets in the way, but he doesn’t shy away from being critical when it matters, as when he discusses the “raw sewage of the author’s racial theories.” Poole reveals how a “strange, sickly, geeky, gawky, weird, impossible Howard” became H.P. Lovecraft, creating “horror tales without precedent and monsters without antecedent.” The reclusive writer was lucky to be around when scary ghost stories were the thing; even “high-falutin figures” like Henry James were writing them. Lovecraft’s moody “fictional grimoire” found favor with the editors of Weird Tales beginning in 1926 with “The Tomb” (they originally rejected his most famous work, “The Call of Cthulhu”). It gained him an audience but little income. Downplaying the role Poe had on his work and paying particular attention to the role women played in Lovecraft’s life, Poole seamlessly weaves biography and criticism as he shows how the fodder of Lovecraft’s mental state was transformed into the eerie, occult-infused stories Nail Gaiman calls “where the darkness begins.” The rise of interest in Lovecraft after his death at 46 to the “apex of American popular culture’s current fascinations form[s] a story as peculiar as his own life.” Poole chronicles how writers like Robert E. Howard, August Derleth, and Robert Bloch championed him while Arkham House tirelessly kept his books in print. The “contemporary geek culture” created a “multibillion dollar entertainment juggernaut” consisting of video and board games, films, TV shows, comics, and steampunk that bear the Lovecraft-ian stamp. Poole even chronicles his visits to fantasy conferences interviewing fans who want to talk about the author who “wrote a new American history and a new geography to match it.”

Poole calls his occasionally flaky biography “unorthodox,” but it’s also thoroughly enjoyable and highly readable.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59376-647-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Soft Skull Press

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist


  • National Book Award Winner

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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