The Corner

Loving His Craft

Rick: Once again I am floored by your literary insight, which actually,

like a good scientific theory, has predictive power. Yes, “The Colour Out

Of Space” was indeed the first Lovecraft story I read. It is the closest he

got to science fiction, and that story is in a sci-fi anthology I read as a

young teen, can’t remember which one.

Surely Lovecraft’s best opening line, though, was the one I quoted in my

“Unpleasant Truths” piece a

year or so ago: “Life is a hideous thing.” It is from the short story

“Arthur Jermyn,” I am pretty sure.

August Derleth’s biography of HPL is a lovely read, by the way. I lost my

copy some years ago & am working from memory here, but it gives a

fascinating picture of a man who was utterly clueless about making a

living… A thing I can relate to all too well. Pampered by a possessive

mother as a child, he never realised he’d have to. When the time came, he

had no marketable skills, and no inclination to acquire any. All he knew

how to do was write creepy stories–or, as Rick observes, one creepy story

over and over. He seems to have been quite close to starvation at several

points. As a picture of down-at-heel gentility (redeemed somewhat by the

love of an honest woman, and–astonishing to say–an irrepressible, if

somewhat cynical, sense of humor), Lovecraft’s life could have been the work

of a 20th-century Gissing.

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