Thursday, August 07, 2008

Brian Keene, Lovecraft, and Whippoorwills

I'm a big fan of Brian Keene's writing, and I'm in the midst of enjoying Ghost Walk. It's a ride you can't get at Disney World, that's for sure.

In (perhaps) another tip of the the hat to Mr. Lovecraft, Mr. Keene has this passage on page 188, "My grandaddy used to say that if you heard a whip-poor-will, it was waiting to carry away someone's soul." Keene follows this up with, "Now there's a cheerful f**k*ng thought."

Compare this to the many legends of the whippoorwill, including the classic from The Dunwich Horror: Then, too, the natives are mortally afraid of the numerous whippoorwills which grow vocal on warm nights. It is vowed that the birds are psychopomps lying in wait for the souls of the dying, and that they time their eerie cries in unison with the sufferer's struggling breath. If they can catch the fleeing soul when it leaves the body, they instantly flutter away chittering in daemoniac laughter; but if they fail, they subside gradually into a disappointed silence.

Now I don't know that Mr. Keene is alluding to Lovecraft's use of "grandmother" in a perjorative manner with his gransdfather term. I think it unlikely. In most of Mr. Keene's other works, "grandfather" tends to be a respectful term. Unlike Lovecraft who would say (as in The Shunned House): To destroy a vampire one must, the grandmothers say, exhume it and burn its heart ...

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