I told Brian Leno he could do a formal review for Mean Streets of John D. Haefele’s Lovecraft: The Great Tales whenever he finishes. But of course, no one will be sitting down and reading that monster of litcrit in an afternoon. So I decided some random updates from Leno, asides in email, might act as a placeholder. He’s got his tablet out as he goes, getting all jiggy and interactive with it:
February 26 2021
Got the Haefele equivalent of Moby Dick this morning. Saw the mail carrier coming, knew what he had, and saw he was having trouble hefting this cornucopia of Lovecraftian goodies. Beautiful book.
I’ve read bits and pieces already and the narration seems as smooth as polished glass.
Wrote Haefele a short note yesterday, thanking him for the kind mentions in his book, thought it only appropriate and good manners.
I did mention to him that I’m amazed at the research and the time that went into his book, and I ain’t blowing smoke trying to impress anyone.
I’ve read a little of Joshi’s Lovecraft bio and was extremely put off by the beginning horseshit. Finding out that Lovecraft’s six times removed grandfather sailed the Mayflower as Captain and settled down as a farmer with his wife telling the neighbors what a small pecker he had does not tell me much about Lovecraft.
(Actually the above story would have caught my interest, and of course I’m exaggerating. But you know what I mean. The Rob Roehm school of biography is not one that engages my attention.)
Right now I’m settling in to the Merritt part of Haefele’s book, and I’m itching to reread old Abraham Merritt — and might even give Dunsany another chance.
This is what I like books to do. Inform me and then compel me to reread stuff I enjoyed years ago, or help me discover new authors.
If I die in the midst of reading a good book I will be disappointed — dear god at least let me finish it before I croak! Got books piled on the floor that I’m just waiting to get into.
Of course Great Tales isn’t going to let me get to those anytime soon, and by then this book will make me add Hodgson, Smith and Lovecraft to the pile.
It just keeps going on. Hopefully I will live long enough to read everything I want to — wouldn’t that be nice?
March 2, later
This must be the place where Merritt took HP for a meal. Players Club, New York. Neat reference from Haefele, pg. 121.
Wonder what kind of cheese Lovecraft had with his crackers?
Interesting piece albeit a bit biased against HPL and his hatred of Red Hook. Cool pictures, though.
As you can see, I’m having fun with Great Tales. I like it, and it is really taking off. I will probably be pestering you with like emails as time goes by, hope you don’t mind.
Anyone who doesn’t find something in this book that catches his fancy is an utter moron and should be cast away from society.
Found this on pg. 205 of LGT. “In one of only a handful of original observations on the fiction of an author he has devoted his life to, S. T. Joshi…”
March 4, later
Didn’t get too much reading done today, but am getting ready to enter Pickman’s studio.
That line about Joshi I quoted earlier was a dandy. Started off almost subtle and then quickly became a sledgehammer blam!
Did get a little reading in. On Dream-Quest right now, not one of my favorite Lovecrafts. Looking forward to Charles Dexter Ward, which, along with Innsmouth, is one of my favorites. Who knows — it’s entirely possible that Haefele might get me to reread Dream-Quest.
On page 421 Haefele writes that Farnsworth Wright considered himself a “connoisseur of sonnets.” While Wright was rejecting some of Lovecraft’s poetry (and others) he was busy publishing some of his own (sonnets or not I don’t know) under the name Francis Hard.
When I read of Wright’s rejections I get irritated all over again at his blind eye to some really great stuff. I don’t remember reading any of Wright’s poetry, but I’ve read at least one of his stories and, trust me, the only thing about the story I can remember is that I can’t remember anything about it. Must have been really bad.
(Frank Owen, the guy who wrote Chinese stories for Weird Tales, also wrote poetry under the pseudonym Hung Long Tom. So we got a Francis “Hard” and Tom who is “Hung Long.” Didn’t Wright ever notice how his editorial policies were, at times, hurting readership and just plain dumb?)
Just some reflection LGT sparked.
Just starting on the Hazel Heald section, close to page 600. Just wrapped up the Howard chapter and the bit on Whitehead.
Really, really enjoyed the Howard section. Nice to see Haefele tackle the myth that all was sugar between HP and REH.
Lovecraft is flat busted, has to move and tie in with an aunt to rent some digs, and here we have Howard selling multiple stories of all flavors to different pulps — and some jackasses try to tell me that Lovecraft wasn’t perhaps a bit bitter about that?
Of course more going on there, but it did my soul good.