Short Story Review: “Variations of Lovecraftian Themes” by Veronica Schanoes

3 of 5 stars.

There’s a lot not to admire about Lovecraft, the author, the man. Beyond the horror-filled mythos he created, he also espoused racist and anti-Semitic views. He sympathized with and admired Hitler. And he longed for the gilded age of America–the 18th century, when his beloved Providence, Rhode Island was managing most of the slaving ships and the Triangle Trade for New England rum.

This informative biographic essay, with a creative bent, doesn’t ignore Lovecraft’s less savory beliefs, and goes so far as to flay his familial relations open to find the kernel of his horror-verse. Was it both of his parents ending up in the same asylum? His father’s syphilis-induced delusional paranoia? Perhaps H. P. Lovecraft was the epicenter of a grand confluence of social and culture events.

That said, sarcasm in a biographical essay lessens one’s argument. Providing a “Lovecraftian” read to the advanced stages of a syphilis infection, loses strength with a deliberately skewed interpretation of the biology of the disease and the growth of bacteria–especially when it’s unknown whether H.P. was even aware of his father’s infection. Lastly, juxtaposing anti-Semitic quotes from Lovecraft with facts of real life atrocities of the Holocaust from 8-18 years later falsely implies a connection.

This piece appears in the New Lovecraftian anthology, The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu edited by Paula Guran. I received my copy of the anthology directly from Prime Books.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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