BOOK REVIEW: THE CURIOUS CASE OF H.P. LOVECRAFT / AUTHOR: PAUL ROLAND / PUBLISHER: PLEXUS PUBLISHING / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
If you’re a fan of horror literature or cinema, the name Howard Phillips Lovecraft is one that has more than likely directly or indirectly influenced a great deal of what you will have read and seen. The membranous reach of a writer vastly unappreciated in his own time has influenced the creative thoughts of the likes of Guillermo del Toro and Stephen King. But what of the mysterious author himself?
Paul Roland’s book is centrally more literary essay than pure biography, but is without doubt a keenly written insight into the life of one of the most recognised names in fiction. Roland has perhaps hinted at the issues possibly encountered with the title of the book itself: The Curious Case of H.P.Lovecraft. Reading this book gives a clear indication that the man behind the mythos was distinctly less interesting a character than the ones who populated his weird and wonderful tales, and it is in this apparent lack of personality that Roland has encountered the main issue. How do you make Lovecraft’s work interesting and engaging to those not yet fans? The answer sadly is that maybe you can’t.
A fan approaching this book will rightly be impressed by the detail Roland has included, the intelligent, informative analysis of many of Lovecraft’s stories, how his life influenced the writing, and how the writing equally influenced the life. But casual readers may struggle with the seriousness of the tone and the occasional lapse into Lovecraftian language. When Lovecraft himself writes in critique of a student’s work, he states the younger man indulges in “monstrous adjectives, malign nouns and unhallowed verbs”, something Lovecraft’s critics, and the author himself, declared his work fell victim to. It is perhaps fitting then that Roland himself constructs sentences at times deeply reminiscent of his subject matter, something possibly more in unintentional homage than for any intellectual reason.
The Curious Case of H.P. Lovecraft is a must read for fans of a man whose name is synonymous with stories of fear and fantasy, or anyone interested to know more about this literary master. It is informative and clear, almost to a point of being reference-like in style, and while it would improve any collection, casual readers may find it slightly unapproachable.
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