Recent Batrachian Readings

two books

Some recent reading

Currently I’m reading Black Wings of Cthulhu 2, a Lovecraftian anthology edited by S.T. Joshi, jumping around from story to story as the mood takes me. The stories range widely across the things that fit under the “L” rubric, and Joshi addresses in his introduction the question of the breadth of materials that might be considered “Lovecraftian.” So far I’ve most enjoyed Jason C. Eckhardt’s “And the Sea Gave Up the Dead,” Richard Gavin’s “The Abject,” Caitlín Rebekah Kiernan’s “Houndwife,” and Nick Mamatas’ “Dead Media.” Nicholas Royle’s “The Other Man” does partake of the alienation of HPL’s “The Outsider,” but it feels to me far more Ligotti (or perhaps Cisco) than Lovecraft—which I say not as a criticism, but more along the lines of a signpost for something that was both an unexpected and pleasant turn from the course.

Among this anthology’s stories, however, I could not fully engage with Rick Dakan’s “Correlated Discontents.” I usually don’t offer much critical commentary here, but this story is problematic. It’s not that it’s not well written— it flows nicely and has some good characterization. It’s not that it’s not interesting—it is, doing something novel with Lovecraft as a character (of sorts). On a fundamental level, however, the basic events of the story are not particularly plausible. Randy Stafford’s review at IFP touches on some of this, but in addition to the question of the familiarity of Lovecraft readers with his letters, academic research faculty with student assistants, labs, etc., do not present their findings at film festivals. I understand the intent here, both the characters’ and the author’s, but—no. Some things make it difficult to suspend one’s disbelief, whether the sudden appearance of “warp speed” in hard SF or the fantastical depiction of mundane things. In fairness, I will say that other readers had different reactions to this story, including Ellen Datlow, who gave it an Honorable Mention for YBH.

I haven’t yet started into, but am eagerly anticipating, Mike Griffin‘s Far From Streets. It came in the mail last week, and I’ve got it cued up on the to-read pile.

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