Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft Review

For the month of April in Twitter Geek Girls' Book Club, we were to read The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft. It was stated in advance that if you could not read them all, it was fine. This should have clued me in to exactly how prodigious Lovecraft was, but it didn't. As you can see from the date of this post, I didn't quite make the deadline for the discussion of his works.

I tackled the whole collection on audiobooks while driving to work. Some of the readers were much better than others, both to the help and hindrance of the material at hand. The collection of 67 tales included poetry, short stories, novellas, and novels. Much to my surprise there was even a science fiction tale.

I had already listened to "Shadow Over Innsmouth" which I reviewed here, but I listened again for a complete experience. I will not rehash my impress of that story here, and choosing which stories from the myriad I wish to focus on is quite the challenge.

I really enjoyed the humor employed by Lovecraft in "Sweet Ermengarde". The tone was very different than his other tales. I kept expecting it to go to a terribly dark place, and though the humor was dark, it never followed the rest of his works into deep discomfort. I got a completely different twist than I expected in the end.

I think the creepiest story for me was "The Rats in the Walls", it literally made my skin crawl. The only thing worse that I could imagine would be giant spiders.

"The Street" was another favorite. It was slightly disturbing, yet I also found it strangely sentimental and sweet.

The majority of his works are related to the Cthulhu mythos and the Necronomicon, some directly so, others in a more subtle fashion that only becomes apparent when having listened to a majority of the stories. I want to say it reminds me of King's works and their almost universal connection to the Dark Tower series, but that would be incorrect. It seems that way from my perspective since I read King first, but it's much more likely that King's tendency to do this was inspired by Lovecraft and others of his era and ilk.

Lovecraft likes to take people to dark and uncomfortable places, both mentally and physically. He likes to tease the audience with descriptions of the horrors while letting them do most of the work by filling in the minute details. This is an interesting contrast to his elaborate descriptions of the settings and clothing of his characters. I quite enjoyed my experience listening to Lovecraft, though I wish that Jeffery Combs had read more of the pieces.

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