Halloween reads: A bio of horror king H.P. Lovecraft; Casey Jarman’s Death: An Oral History
Calling Cthulhu cultists
From the imagination of iconic horror writer H.P. Lovecraft sprang Cthulhu, a monster deity that is part octopus, part dragon, and part exceedingly tall and distorted human. Cthulhu first began scaring the public in 1928, when Weird Tales published Lovecraft’s short story, “The Call of Cthulhu,” and the creature has been inspiring likeminded authors — as well as game designers, filmmakers, and musicians — ever since. This year Cthulhu has even appeared on T-shirts and bumper stickers as a candidate for president of the United States. Lovecraft, who grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, idolizing Edgar Allen Poe, was a physically and emotionally fragile man who achieved wide acclaim only after his untimely death in 1937. Now, just in time for your Halloween reading pleasure, W. Scott Poole has penned a new biography about him that not only accounts for Lovecraft’s life, but also his enduring influence on popular culture. Appropriately titled In the Mountains of Madness: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of H.P. Lovecraft (Soft Skull Press), the book combines critical analysis of Lovecraft’s work with homage and social history — it’s a complex portrait of an enigmatic figure.
Also in time for the Halloween reading season, which comes between the abundance of the fall harvest and the cold blanket of winter, is Death: An Oral History, by Casey Jarman (Pulp/Zest Books), an intimate exploration of mortality via interviews with people who are often in close contact with it, including a hospice worker, grief counselor, and death-row warden. Jarman, who has not been touched much by death in his own life, asks: “What if, like a gambler who keeps letting it ride, I lose everything (and everyone) at once instead of parting with small sums along the way and hopefully learning how to lose in the process?”