December 2008


818 Book reviewing

(More observations on Lord of a Visible World)

Just a quick note on some of the comments editors made when they passed on H.P. Lovecraft’s manuscripts. On page 330, he lists some of these responses in a 1934 letter: “Verbose—long-winded—slow—nothing happens—novelette length for short story idea—etc. etc. etc.”

I’ve heard them all levelled at my own works of fiction, and more. I’m still too gunshy to try to have my work published, but I know I have to take the plunge one of these days. At least I’m writing more than I used to. And I’m trying not to care what my critics might say. I try to remember, Led Zeppelin got their share of bad reviews, some of which they deserved, but it didn’t slow them down.

We saw Doubt tonight. As she exited the theater, one woman who had just seen it gave it a big thumbs down, but I thought there wasn’t a false note in it. It was so good it made me wish I had written it. Criticism really doesn’t seem to mean anything. It seems to depend completely upon the expectations of the reader, viewer or listener.

Well, I finally finished Lord of a Visible World. The last couple of letters he wrote sound positively elegiac. He’s walking through woods he’s never seen before, even though he’s lived in Providence all his life. Somewhere on his journey, he meets two kittens who seem to act as spirit guides, helping ease his journey to the other side (of the road, in this case). He turns around, and they’re gone. He comes back to look for them the next day, but they’re nowhere to be found. Sounds like something straight out of Arthur Machen. Very moving. The whole book has been, despite, or maybe because of, Lovecraft’s many flaws. Joshi’s done a fantastic job.

I’m glad I rescued this book from oblivion; it was due to be removed from the stacks at the Maynard Public Library. If I hadn’t volunteered when I did, it would have ended up in the dumpster, while all those damn romance and mystery novels would have crowded up the shelves. I’ll say one thing for the MPL, though. It does have a good ratio of quality, high-brow literature for stuck-up folks like me to stuff like Marley and Me and The DaVinci Code.

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