In my quest to immerse myself in spookiness to aid with my own writing (I’m limbering up with a short story before embarking on an epic venture, much as a marathon runner might do the odd lunge before donning a Spongebob suit and getting out on the streets of London), I’m reading some Lovecraft.
I’ve always thought I’d like his stuff, and a talking book of The Call of Cthulhu & The Dunwich Horror cemented that view late last year (it’s on Audible.co.uk and the narrator – Wayne June – has the best voice for this sort of thing, ever. He’s also got his own website, but I can’t do links when I’m posting here via email. But you can guess the url). But it’s surprisingly hard to find his work in shops. Thank heaven for Foyle’s and for Penguin Modern Classics. Three big ol’ collections of the good stuff, but one at a time, moth, one at a time. I have in my bag The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Tales. It’s got some crackers. Herbert West – Reanimator, Dagon, The Colour Out of Space and the Shadow Over Innsmouth.
What I didn’t realise, from my distance, was just how much I would love his New England. How richly drawn the area of the Miskatonic Valley is, how vividly alive (and crawlingly sinister) the landscape and its inhabitants feel. I could wallow for hours in this world, seeking out its twisted farmhouses, blasted hillsides and quiet, menacing populace. It’s like cryptozoology for people… cryptoanthropology, I guess.
I was just expecting big, shambling monsters.