Printed Page Bookshop
June 2021

He liked his creatures terrifying -- and was pretty scary himself
A lot of mainstream readers may have never heard of H.P. Lovecraft, but to horror and fantasy aficionados, he is a giant who re-defined a genre.  He brought madness and dread to new heights, and his work is reflected in the stories of Stephen King, Ridley Scott, Joss Whedon and countless others.  A cottage industry of fans and academics follow and dissect his work and have produced a prodigious body of work themselves.  Video games are indebted to his cosmic universe and grotesque monsters.  Devotees claim that like no other writer, Lovecraft can infuse a reader with pure mind-numbing terror. 

One such fan, Walter Koenig of “Star Trek” fame, said, “Reading Lovecaft is more than experiencing the creations of a bizarre and fitful mind through the medium of exquisite prose.  It’s far more chilling than that.  What you read is what he lived, and that’s the scariest thing of all.”

Lovecraft was born in Providence, R.I., in 1890 to a well-off family who quickly tumbled down the social ladder.  He was a precocious child who became a deeply strange adult.  (When both your parents die in the same psychiatric hospital two decades apart, maybe that’s not a huge surprise.)  Following a nervous collapse, he left high school in his senior year and began to write short stories indebted to Edgar Allan Poe, and he dabbled in journalism as well as racist and xenophobic poetry. 

He devoted himself to horror fiction just after World War I, creating unsettling and often interrelated stories, many of them published in “Weird Tales” magazine.  Lovecraft’s fiction reveals strange preoccupations:  slime, crustaceans, the revelation of forbidden knowledge.  A profound discomfort with sex runs through several stories.  Others display a deep-dyed racism, with nonwhite characters used as examples of barbarism.  His fiction paid poorly.  Lovecraft died in poverty in 1937. 

Lovecraft never saw the publication of any of his books.  His stories, essays and poems were scattered in a bewildering number of pulp magazines.  But his work wasn’t ignored, thanks in large part to friends August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, who were determined to preserve Lovecraft’s stories in hardcover books.  They formed Arkham House publishing specifically to do just that, and in 1939 issued the first Lovecraft book, The Outsider and Others.  Many other works followed (and many other authors). 

Lovecraft was a racist and white supremacist and as a writer “…breathed life into the reactionary anxieties and racist horrors of shifting social and global paradigms, including those of ‘race relations,’ war, revolution and class struggle,” wrote Wes House in “Literary Hub.”


“He was both an active product of his time as well as an elaborator of specific historical fears about the ‘decline of the West.’ He was not only the modern pope of horror, but also its grand wizard.”

Popularity comes in a lot of different styles.


Sources:  Alexis Soloski (New York Times), S.T. Joshi, Wes House
               



This Month's Puzzler
On June 10, 1988, this man died at age 80 in Los Angeles, California. Born in
Jamestown, North Dakota, he left school at age 15 to pursue a life of adventure.
After traveling all over the globe, he settled into a literary career in the 1940s,
writing under a variety of pen names until his 1953 novel "Hondo" was made
into a hit movie.

He went on to become one of the world's most popular writers, with more than 100
books that sold more than 200 million copies (30 were made into films). His
autobiography, "Education of a Wandering Man," was published posthumously in
1989. In his novel "The Walking Drum" (1984), he wrote:

"Up to a point a man's life is shaped by environment, heredity, and movements and changes in the world about him; then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be."

He then added:


"Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune, or the quirks of fate. Everyone has it within his power to say this I am today; that I will be tomorrow."

Who is this man? (Answer below)
 Our free book-collecting classes resume June 19!
The Printed Page College of Biblio knowledge is again open!  Our next class is Saturday, June 19, from 9 am to 10:30.  It's free, and will be limited to just six students, so let us know fast if you want to attend.  This is a fun session whether you're just starting a book collection or far down the road.  To save your spot, either drop us an email or call 303-777-7653.

We have some good news!
John Frantzen is the recipient of a full scholarship from the Rocky Mountain Antiquarian Booksellers Association to attend this year's Colorado Antiquarian Book School.  Although this year's school is more cameras and less camraderie, it's still a great opportunity to learn more about antiquarian books and the people who revere them. 
It's always something new
Some new items at Printed Page include first editions of "The Amityville Horror" ($95), "The Overstory" ($250) and "Sanibel Flats" ($300).  Also new is an edition of "The Yearling" signed by illustrator N.C. Wyeth ($300), plus a large selection of -- you guessed it -- H.P. Lovecraft titles.

Puzzler answer

Louis L'Amour. If you like our Puzzler, find more on our Facebook page.  We often have Sunday contests where you can win fabulous prizes (books).
Thanks to Dr. Mardy Grothe for the use of his puzzler.  Visit him at drmardy.com.

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