Wednesday, July 28, 2010


What's Chrispy been doing?

I just finished Brian Keene's A Gathering of Crows. I'm a Keene fan, and this one was a page turner. It has everything you would expect - the Labyrinthe, great and colorful characters, fast moving plot, death, mayhem, and enough religion, mythology, philiosophy, and political commentary to qualify for a college course. You don't have to know Machen, Lovecraft, and so forth to enjoy the book, but if you do it is a richer experience. I think I detected maybe a bit of Manly Wellman in this one.

Otherwise, I have been cramming like crazy learning about Lovecraft's ancestors, and retracing Whipple Phillips' life. The man deserves a book of his own. You think Lovecraft was colorful - pshaw! Whipple was a dynamo. Reading about him tires me out. Think about it. He was orphaned at 14 and made and lost several fortunes. You'd be stunned to know the enterprises he created - sometimes in a matter of months. Everytime you turn around he was at the legislature forming a new company with his "gang" of powerful venture capitalists. We really don't think enough about him.

Then there are the Lovecrafts. Great googly-woogly, talk about drama! No wonder they were expirtated. One drowned in a sailboat accident, one committed a Tabloid-style suicide, as did his mistress. One was committed as insane. Fortune made and lost. Fires! Gambling! Lawsuits! Hoo boy, were there lawsuits. Winfield came by it natural, me thinks.

And let's not forget the old homestead: Foster, Rhode Island. I never knew the controversy. Shakers! Anti-masonry! Temperance! Swindles! Vampires everywhere! You thought it was just Mercy Brown? Ha! Read Michael Bell's book (Food for the Dead) sometime and get shocked. For more than a century they were digging up bodies and burning hearts. Conversely, the government was struggling to get the farmland reinvigorated to keep rural Rhode Island from depopulating westward, and the Phillips' homesteads were being used for fertilizer experiments.

I tell ya Lovecraftians, what with the hodgepodge of Phillips, and Tillinghasts, and Tylers (Oh My!) it keeps your head spinning to keep it all straight.

From time to time I'll add notes here, but it's astonishing the number of primary documents curently in Google Books. You may like Lovecraft stories, but you will really begin to enjoy them and see how witty, catty, satirical, and flat out jokestery he can be when you get into the history of his ancestors. Scientifiction fans were clueless what he was talking baout when his stories were first published. We still are sometimes.

OK, we'll get back to more Lovecraftian goodies tomorrow.

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