Short Story Review: “Notebook Concerning the Class Struggle in Dunwich, Found in the Ruins of a Construction Site” by Kevin Wetmore

3 of 5 stars.

The “found footage” trend in horror films works just as efficiently in written tales of horror in which unassuming witnesses jot their observations or feelings into fieldbooks, journals, or letters before not being able to tell their tale in person. The written documents tend to give immediate if not confused reaction to cryptic or terrifying experiences without the tempering of time. Here, Lovecraft’s universe receives the treatment again such as in Marc Laidlaw’s “Leng” and Jeff VanderMeer’s “Fragments from the Notes of a Dead Mycologist”.

Lovecraft’s Dunwich, MA on the rural side of Arkham, houses a horror in its marshes known only to the locals. Despite multiple warning to stay well enough away, Neil van Skloot proceeds with ill-conceived plans to build 6 houses for the needy in Dunwich on a century-vacant marshy lot next to nothing. The Miskatonic University student counters his guilt of privilege with unresearched plans to build a better, socialist America.

” . . . These scions of New England who, because their ancestor left Europe three centuries ago and came here and, after perpetuating genocide on the indigenous peoples, immediately set up an oppressive capitalist system to benefit themselves, think that they have the right to do whatever they want sickens me. Their money, their unquestioned privilege, their privileging of their own socio-ethnic heritage are all abominations.

However well-meaning his intentions, his myopia manifests in his lack of actually meeting with Habitat for Humanity whom he claims to be benefiting. Nor does he try to meet with people in the know from Dunwich. Or with people who design or build houses. What could go wrong? An architecture student draws up plans and 1 of his 3 helpers has built theater sets–this is where ideology trumps common sense.

Each slab was a 20 x 35 rectangle, arranged so that each home could follow the model laid out by the architect student: kitchen, bathroom, living room and two bedrooms. Nicole pointed out that we had not thought about the plumbing or how to connect the houses to a water supply.

The 2-dimensional portrayal of van Skloot is almost overdone, especially his obstinance in the face of warnings and then unsettling noises and more unsettling silences emanating from the marsh. However, the equation still works, especially in that the answer is spoiled in the title . . .

This tale appears in Whispers of the Abyss 2: The Horrors That Were and Shall Be edited by Kat Rocha. I received this new anthology directly from 01 Publishing through bookreviewdirectory.wordpress.com.  
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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