Yet I know very little about him.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not completely ignorant. I've brushed up a bit on old H.P.'s past, as evidenced in the above paragraph. I've read some delightful pastiches, like Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear's "Mongoose" and Samantha Henderson's "Maybe the Stars." I've even picked up a few of Lovecraft's original tales, most notably "The Call of Cthulhu." Yet I can't claim any sort of comprehensive knowledge about the author or his work.
Well, I want to change that. In 2012, I'm going to give myself an eldritch education.
Here's how it will work: Over the next twelve months, I plan to read each and every piece of fiction that Lovecraft himself wrote. Note that this excludes several stories in which uncredited collaborators had a hand. To guide me, I've chosen the S.T. Joshi-edited anthologies The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories and The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories. Every two weeks, I'll post my reviews of recently read tales, providing a plot synopsis, a sample of Lovecraft's inimitable prose, and my oh-so-humble opinion about each story's scariness (ranked on a scale of 1 to 5 sanity-shredding shoggoths, which the talented Ollwen Jones has winningly illustrated).
Ready to go? Good. Let's dive into some forbidden knowledge ...
• "Dagon" (A morphine-addled sailor pens a memoir detailing why he can no longer continue living.)(Picture: CC 2008 by ChrisCosco)
• "The Statement of Randolph Carter" (Carter must explain to authorities how and why Harley Warren disappeared.)
• "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" (Why exactly did Sir Arthur Jermyn set himself ablaze one evening on the dark moor?)
• "Celephaїs" (The man hadn't always been called Kuranes.)
• "Nyarlathotep" (When Nyarlathotep was made manifest, the seasons themselves seemed sundered from their usual patterns and the nations were shaken by unnamed apprehensions.)
• "The Picture in the House" (Can any eerie setting match the horror of those mouldering New England cottages?)
• "The Outsider" (The narrator can scarcely remember anything about his early life apart from the castle.)
• "Herbert West -- Reanimator" (Herbert West was anything but an ordinary doctor.)
• "The Hound" (The pair could hardly have anticipated the trouble that the amulet would bring them.)
• "The Rats in the Walls" (Only the narrator and his feline can hear the rodents scampering between plaster and stone.)
• "The Festival" (Even though it was Christmas, the crowd hadn't gathered to celebrate Messiah's advent.) • "He" (The city, which should've brought wonder and delight, had become a place of psychic oppression.)
• "Cool Air" ("You ask me to explain why I am afraid of a draught of cool air.")
• "The Call of Cthulhu" (The madness seemed to have begun on March 22, 1925.)