Review of Tales by H.P. Lovecraft

I read this volume long ago. I have since replaced it with a more comprehensive collection of Lovecraft’s works. This seems like a cash-grab by Library of America, rather than a proper treatment of this writer’s stories. 

You can find a cheaper, larger complete tales edition by Chartwell classics. It’s 1112 massive pages compared to the 800 here. It claims completeness but contains fewer than 60 works. If you’re like me, and feel the need to really read all of this man’s unsettling stories, you will need to look elsewhere – there are many ebook editions with rare stories, letters and collaborations. In truth, Lovecraft wrote many thousands of letters and too many stories to bind in one volume, though his fame increases with time, his talent can be gleaned from a few clever and disturbing examples. You don’t really need to worry about the clunkier, earlier tales.

Examining his sentences, dialogue or character choices are not necessarily a productive or enlightening exercise. But letting the stories wash over your unprepared mind, sinking into the whirling storm of imagery he conjures, and dreaming and revisiting the haunting, unimaginable dilemmas his stories continually present, is well worth the headache of trying to understand him as a writer, which very few probably ever will.

Like Poe, and Blackwood, Lovecraft is occasionally genuinely frightening. The uniquely thrilling aspects of his supernatural storytelling are often imitated but rarely equaled. Once you have savored the wonder and elegance of his most famous works, check out Clark Ashton Smith, who was a poet through and through and Arthur Machen, who took on the same subjects, but wrote more for aesthetic appreciation. There are a lot of purveyors of the weird these days, but Lovecraft may forever remain the king on the ‘mountain of madness.’

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