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Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
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Lovecraft Country (edition 2019)

by Matt Ruff (Author)

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1,1155413,124 (4.03)38
Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George-- publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide-- and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite, heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus's ancestors, they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours. At the manor Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus.… (more)
Member:othersam
Title:Lovecraft Country
Authors:Matt Ruff (Author)
Info:Picador (2019), Edition: Main Market, 384 pages
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Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

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» See also 38 mentions

English (51)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (52)
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
This is a set of stories set in a Lovecraftian world of dark magic and eldritch horrors, except with the added horror of racism - the characters are all Black, and have to deal with the mundane horrors of being pulled over by cops in the middle of the night on top of the horrors of evil magicians.

I stopped reading this about halfway through. It wasn't bad, but it didn't really hold my interest because it is a group of loosely-connected stories and I didn't feel like there was an over-arching plot. I probably would have finished it if there weren't a TV series, but I read enough to get the general idea and I'll see how it ends by watching the series (even though I know the book is better). ( )
  Gwendydd | Mar 6, 2021 |
I was late to the party on this one. I saw advertisements for the HBO series prior to its release and knew I’d check the show out on the strength of who was connected to it. I was not, however, committed to reading the book until I actually saw the first episode. Now I’m pretty invested.

Lovecraft Country is centered on Atticus, a young Chicago native who’s returning from military service at the request of his father, Montrose. Montrose has long been obsessed with understanding the family history of Atticus’ late mother. Things take an odd turn when Montrose sends a letter that compels Atticus to meet him in Ardham, Massachusetts. It’s the heart of Lovecraft Country, a literary world made famous by the author of the same name. It’s filled with evil creatures, but Atticus finds that not all monsters are figments of imagination.

What struck me most about this book is how deeply it looks at racism in America. Some examples are glaring — sundown town, anyone — but many are insidious, like the lies than are easily told about “the help” that cost them their livelihoods. There are also elements of sexism, classism, and colorism that arise for different characters. That’s what I found most compelling here; I’m not generally into historical fiction because I like suspension of disbelief. The state of the world right now does not make Lovecraft Country like this a place of respite. Instead, it’s a harsh reminder. With this book, the racism and white privilege served as character in itself.

I am not shocked that the book is better than its television counterpart. The story is robust and creative in ways I didn’t know I’d enjoy. I was most struck by different elements of science fiction that were centered in each chapter. Space travel, spells of protection, possession, magic potions, and the like. You name it, it’s here. I loved being able to get a little bit of all those elements, then seeing how they worked together across the book.

Lovecraft Country is almost like a series of novellas within a book. It comprises chapters that have a different character at the center, but each chapter builds on those previous. I enjoyed that each character had the chance to be the center of attention, even the women. To that end, no character felt like an afterthought because the book laid bare how they were integral to the ultimate resolution.

As someone who’s new to Lovecraft fiction, I wasn’t sure what I’d get. I expected more gore and horror. What I got was more suspense and fantasy and social critique all in one. I found it hard to put down and am eager to explore the genre. The verdict is still out on how it will compare to the full series, but I’ll be watching and comparing along the way. ( )
  lenabean84 | Jan 10, 2021 |
Very well written fantasy horror cycling effectively through the various pulp tropes of the same, with memorable characters (I particularly love Montrose Turner), assembled with an interesting in-between feel of both being a mosaic novel and a regular one, and where the the 1950s USA brand of the horrors of racism is appropriately omnipresent without getting preachy or repetitive. ( )
  Lucky-Loki | Jan 10, 2021 |
This is a really interesting book that defied my expectations, to quite excellent effect. If not for this being a book club selection, I'd probably not have picked this up, since I'm not much of a horror fan, and have little interest in Lovecraft. But thankfully, the traditional horror elements are pretty light. But this book leans into depictions of racism and its insidious effects, which is a deeper and more heartbreaking horror. I'd also not realized that the book was a linked collection of short fiction with a mostly shared cast of characters, each from a different person's point of view. I generally prefer a true novel, but this format, at least in this case, allowed the horrors to be examined from different angles, making the theme all the stronger.

This book reminded me a lot of [b:Ring Shout|49247242|Ring Shout|P. Djèlí Clark|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1580134382l/49247242._SY75_.jpg|74693559], covering some the same territory, though in a different time period and with a more dispersed focus. Both are really strong and affecting books. ( )
  RandyRasa | Jan 7, 2021 |
In the 1950s, Atticus Turner, his uncle George, and his friend Letitia travel into the darkest depths of Massachusetts to find what happened to Atticus' father Montrose, who disappeared and left behind a mysterious note. They arrive at a mansion in the midst of a meeting of white "philosophers", intent on discovering the secrets of the universe. They rescue Montrose and race home, but the mystical society of white men will follow them back home to Chicago, and will continue to affect each of them in unusual and mysterious ways.

This book, both in story and in format, was so much fun. The beginning section seems like the start to a straightforward novel, but the middle section is a series of short stories. Each member of the family is the main character of a different, but intertwined, fantastical short story similar to Lovecraft or Ray Bradbury. There's time travel, monsters, ghosts, everything! It's perfect! The ending brings all the characters back again to wrap up like a novel, but I found that kind of disappointing after the delight of the stories.

Highly, highly recommended. ( )
1 vote norabelle414 | Jan 2, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
“Lovecraft Country” centers on two ­African-American families navigating the Jim Crow ’50s. These pages are rife with unwelcoming diner workers, violent lawmen, unwarranted and belittling verbal and physical attacks that are both omnipresent and unrelenting.... At every turn, Ruff has great fun pitting mid-20th-­century horror and sci-fi clichés against the banal and ever-present bigotry of the era. And at every turn, it is the bigotry that hums with the greater evil.
added by Lemeritus | editNew York Times, Manuel Gonzales (pay site) (Jun 1, 2016)
 
Lovecraft’s works of horror and science fiction in the early decades of the 20th century have had an outsized influence on popular culture.... Less highly regarded are Lovecraft’s ideas regarding race; a vehement believer in the superiority of white individuals over others, many of his stories were rooted in a fear of immigrants, miscegenation, and mixed ancestry....The superficialities are there — strange cults, rituals in the night, monsters with more body parts than strictly necessary — but none of the psychic horror of Lovecraft is found in Ruff’s work, none of the existential dread. The threats are real and obvious: a white man, often with a gun.
 
...the most terrifying moments in the story don’t come courtesy of the monsters. It turns out that even many-tentacled void hounds are nowhere near as scary as white people in Jim Crow America. Matt Ruff is to be commended for combining two genres that I couldn’t have considered further apart before now, and doing justice to both. You’ll come for the sci-fi, and stay for the history lesson.
added by Lemeritus | editLit Reactor, B.H. Shepherd (Feb 16, 2016)
 
This timely rumination on racism in America refracts an African-American family’s brush with supernatural horrors through the prism of life in the Jim Crow years of the mid-20th century....Ruff (The Mirage) has an impressive grasp of classic horror themes, but the most unsettling aspects of his novel are the everyday experiences of bigotry that intensify the Turners’ encounters with the supernatural.
added by Lemeritus | editPublishers Weekly (Nov 30, 2015)
 
Some very nice, very smart African-Americans are plunged into netherworlds of malevolent sorcery in the waning days of Jim Crow—as if Jim Crow alone wasn’t enough of a curse to begin with....If nothing else, you have to giggle over how this novel’s namesake, who held vicious white supremacist opinions, must be doing triple axels in his grave at the way his imagination has been so impudently shaken and stirred.
added by Lemeritus | editKirkus Reviews (Nov 4, 2015)
 

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Matt Ruffprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kenerly, KevinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Atticus was almost home when the state trooper pulled him over.
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Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George-- publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide-- and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite, heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus's ancestors, they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours. At the manor Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus.

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