Monday, May 08, 2006

a "whoops" by Long

Frank Belknap Long reminisced about his many escapades with EchPiEl. However, his ebulliance overflowed a few times in his memoir.

He says, "HPL ... one time ... was a member of an alert group of youngsters who had built an impressive sleuthing apparatus modeled upon the Burns Detective Agency, which at the turn of the century was the only investigative bureau that acquired so nationwide a reputation that every twelve year old in America was familiar with its slogan, 'We always get our man.'"

What a wonderful anecdote. However, like Plato's Socrates, there is as much of Long in his retelling of Howard, as there is of Lovecraft. In this case, the facts are a bit garbled.

The ancient detective agency was the Pinkerton Agency formed circa. 1850. The Burns Agency was started in 1909 - when Howard was 19! Today, they are merged together, but in 1975 they were still a struggling set of aging agencies. However, the more vibrant in the 20's and 30's was probably the Burns agency.

Finally, the Pinkerton motto was "We never sleep", while the legendary motto of the Royal Canadian Mounties was, "We always get our man."

Long often pauses in his memoir to warn us that he is a writer, a poet, and a dreamer as much as Howard was, and that a misplaced memory here or there does no damage to the homage he pays. I'm inclined to agree. Long's Lovecraft is a refreshing portrait, and one more artist's portrait to go with the cosmic Lovecraft of Joshi, the pantheistic Lovecraft of Derleth, the myth-teller Lovecraft of Robert Price, or the Antiquarian Lovecraft of Virgil Finlay.

Which Lovecraft haunts your dreams?

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