Hal­loween reads: A bio of hor­ror king H.P. Love­craft; Casey Jar­man’s Death: An Oral His­tory

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - — Jen­nifer Levin

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.

Me­mento mori

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?”

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