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H. P. Lovecraft: Tales (Library of America) (edition 2005)

by H. P. Lovecraft

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8811010,055 (4.29)40
Member:princess_mischa
Title:H. P. Lovecraft: Tales (Library of America)
Authors:H. P. Lovecraft
Info:Library of America (2005), Edition: First Ed Thus, Hardcover, 850 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, Never Finished
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H. P. Lovecraft: Tales (Library of America) by H. P. Lovecraft

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I'd read only a few of Lovecraft's short stories before I checked this out from the library. I was hoping to read a few more of his stories before having to return it to the library. I was able to, but not as many as I'd like. I was unaware, when I started reading 'At The Mountains of Madness', that it was such a long story. Novella, is definitely a better description. I did enjoy the story; the antarctic setting, the exploration of the area, and so on. I just assumed it'd be about thirty pages in this book. It was actually closer to 100 pages. If I'd realized this sooner, I'd have read it at a much faster pace.

I'd already read 'The Music of Erich Zann' previously and really enjoyed it. With this book, I also read 'Herbert West—Reanimator' and was really into the story and progression through time with each chapter. I could've done without the brief summary or recap that started off each chapter. I'm guessing this was probably published in some sort of magazine or periodical of the time, in which the summary would've made sense, but I didn't need it when I was reading it straight through over a couple days.

I also read 'The Outsider', which I feel like I'd read before but it didn't quite end how I remembered. So I guess I either never finished it the previous time or I was combining it with another story I'd read, but can no longer remember the name. I hope if the latter is the case, I can eventually find that other story.

Even though I didn't have a chance to read the entire book, and not even all the ones I wanted to read. (I didn't get to 'The Call of Cthulhu' like I wanted too.) I do plan to try and read a few more of Lovecraft's short stories each year.
  princess_mischa | Feb 27, 2013 |
There's nothing really wrong with these stories, they just didn't do it for me. They are more "spooky" than anything. If you can handle Scooby Doo, then you can handle these stories. I was excited to start reading them, but after I got through three short stories it just felt like a chore. I might give it another chance one day, because they weren't terrible, but I have too many other books that I'm excited about right now to continue with this one. ( )
  ladonna37 | Jun 29, 2010 |
Brilliant build-up of tension, unexpected endings, creepy and mysterious. ( )
  LireEnRoute | May 11, 2010 |
This was a good book (i.e., a 3 on a 5 point scale), which is what I expect when I buy a book.
It contains 22 of his short stories (from 7 to 129 pages in length).
He writes what is called 'weird fiction'.
He is a competent writer and his vocabulary is very good. His plots and characters are well developed.
Only a few stories had me deeply involved.

Positives:
This is a Library of America book.
In a few stories, there are some recurring themes ('The Necromicon' book, the 'old ones').

Negatives:
I'm not a fan of the weird fiction genre. ( )
  TChesney | Feb 25, 2009 |
I'd read a number of Lovecraft stories before, in horror anthologies, and something always bugged me about his writing. I finally realized what it was while reading this volume: the sources of horror in his stories are nearly always given the art-speak treatment of preceding every single noun with an adjective for form's sake than rather than for any compositional benefit; and, unfortunately for Lovecraft, there are only so many horror-evoking adjectives in the English language. This list was made from a single five-page selection:

abnormal, alien, blasphemous, damnable, fantastically, fiendish, frightful, grotesquely, hellishly, hideous, menacing, monstrous, morbid, nightmarish, preternatural, sinister, terrible.

And that's pretty much it. He used his entire vocabulary of one-word horror adjectives in five pages, and then he used them again, and again, and again. This reminds one of another word – overkill – and of a second, which describes the effect it had on me: laughable. Dude simply did not write well enough to evoke a sense of horror from straightforward description, so he tried to force it upon the reader through adverbs. Or perhaps I've got it backwards: he tried to evoke horror through straightforward description employing those words, but that's not how it works. I don't know. I can only say I quickly found his word choice to be distracting.

Somewhat related (in the sense of not-best-practice) is the (to early 21st-century minds) hilariously bad science made use of: at one point he mentioned evil creatures having lived "vigintillions" of years ago. That's basically "20-illions" but of course the universe is merely billions (2-illions) of years old. On the other hand, in the 1920s the predominant cosmological theory was Steady State, which was virtually indistinguishable from Eternal. Still, it reads glaringly wrong. Likewise the idea of a cosmic 'ether' (current at the time Lovecraft wrote) through which aliens propelled themselves with wings. And that said aliens lived on the (newly-discovered-but-even-then-known-to-be-all-but-absolute-zero) ex-planet Pluto. And the notion that two guys could spend hours above 30,000 feet engaging in sea-level levels of activity without bottled oxygen. (And those are just my favorites.) It seems like dude got his science out of the newspaper, and we know how well that works today, let alone the 1910s and '20s.

HAVING SAID ALL OF THAT, the stories – some of them, at any rate – can be pretty good. It seemed to me that his earlier stories, the ones making less use of his then-undeveloped mythos, were more in the straight-up horror vein. The later stories, the ones wherein his mythos is developed, are the ones that use the bad science, and are to my mind more like science fiction than horror. I do like some science fiction, especially from the 1930s through '60s, but I guess Lovecraft's is just too dated for my tastes. ( )
  drbubbles | Dec 14, 2008 |
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Volumes without the same contents are to be kept separate, and the contents of the Library of America volume "H. P. Lovecraft: Tales" are distinct from any book outside the series.
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"This volume brings together 22 tales, the very best of Howard Phillips Lovecraft's fiction. Early stories such as "The Outsider," "The Music of Erich Zann," "Herbert West - Reanimator," and "The Lurking Fear" demonstrate Lovecraft's uncanny ability to blur the distinction between reality and nightmare, sanity and madness, the human and the non-human. "The Horror at Red Hook" and "He" reveal the fascination and revulsion Lovecraft felt for New York City; "Pickman's Model" uncovers the frightening secret behind an artist's work; "The Rats in the Walls" is a terrifying descent into atavistic horror; and "The Colour Out of Space" explores the eerie impact of a meteorite on a remote Massachusetts valley."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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