I read my first HP Lovecraft short stories (and novellas) this month, and it was an interesting experience. I hadn't heard much about Lovecraft and his work until last year when a friend recommended his stories to me, and I honestly had no idea what a Cthulu was until this month!
Reading Lovecraft was an interesting experience. I think I have decided that I really love Lovecraft's ideas and imagination, but I absolutely hate his writing style. For me, the way something is written is just as important as what's being said, so it was a bit of a struggle to get through some of his stories. I've discovered that I enjoy Lovecraft best in small doses - my favorite stories were the shortest ones.
What was it about his writing style that drove me nuts? It's remarkably wordy. Paragraphs will go by describing how terrible some unseen horror is, but after all those paragraphs, you never really get a clear picture of what this terrible creature looks like or what makes it so grotesque. Lovecraft paints a lot of his creatures through impressions and associations rather than actually describing them. Getting through Tolkein's Lord of the Rings was a struggle for me because of all the paragraphs of description, and this was a similar experience.
What I really enjoyed was all the interesting ideas Lovecraft has. His stories really make you think about human fears. What if we aren't the ones in control of the earth? What if there are giant unseen creatures waiting to eat us up? What if we try to understand too much about the universe and go insane in the process? What if we go to far trying to understand ourselves? While the "giant sea monster hiding in the deep" is a bit dated, it's such a good analogy for humans being unaware of their small role in a vast universe. The mythology introduced in The Mountains of Madness was fascinating, and I was so caught up I almost starting believing it could be true.
I can't end this post without sharing a hilarious facebook page for those of you familiar with Lovecraft's work. It's called Beauty by HP Lovecraft and features such gems as:
We don’t know if sleeping on your side causes wrinkles, but it definitely causes the dirt on the bottom of your coffin to stick to your day cream.and
Can’t stand how that shoggoth so easily changed its shape? You, too, can be completely transfigured by our green tea and Innsmouth algae body wraps!
(Thank you to Stellar Four for posting about this site earlier this month! Never would have found it without you!)