I’ve been reading a story by H P Lovecraft, titled The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. I’m told that Lovecraft was a bit of a fascist in outlook. Occasionally that kind of thing stops me from bothering, but Lovey’s time seems so far back (1890-1937) that I don’t care. I’d read other bits of his stuff but found it slow going — something about long sentences with little punctuation being the order of the day.
But this one has been relatively entertaining and kinda makes me wish Australia had that extra couple hundred years of whitey history that the US does. It’s set on Rhode Island, and a fair whack of his writing draws up that north-eastern corner and Boston in particular.
What I like about his writing in general is the way these unspeakable horrors are described. The combination of the formal/older vocab and that clever mix of what’s told vs. what’s not told that pushes the imagination into overdrive in the way that most stuff today doesn’t.
This particular story has an interesting way of holding the reader’s perspective back a bit — like peering over a backyard fence.
Charles Ward, approx. 20 y.o., is steadily getting into heavier and heavier shit like chanting, digging up old graves and summoning up these demonic abominations — all in the attic of his parents’ house. They’re hearing strange incantations, yelling, unplaceable and frighteningly hollow voices, moaning and sobbing from behind the door and they’re asking, “Is everything alright in there?”
All this weird stuff starts happening around the town; people go missing, metal coffin-like boxes are hauled up to the attic in the middle of the night etc etc. — there’s this one nice sentence after all that, “Mr and Mrs Ward conferred at some length after dinner, and the former resolved to have a firm and serious talk with Charles that very night”.
There was one scene where young Ward got a ahold of the family newspaper first, spilled ink over one section of a page so that the article underneath couldn’t be read. The article being about suspicious activity at the graveyard.
Marsha from The Brady Bunch also pulled this trick once.
I won’t tell you how it ends because I haven’t finished it yet.
Background info on Lovecraft and Cthulhu.