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Wednesday, May 4, 2016 12:59 PM
Book Report - Lovecraft Country
 by Fëanor

This audio book I just listened to was so great I thought I'd swipe the mothballs off the old blog to write it up.

The popularity of weird fiction author H.P. Lovecraft only seems to increase as the years go by. But so does scrutiny of his racist politics and beliefs, which were so often given such lurid life in his writing. One of the things Lovecraft found most horrifying, for instance, was miscegenation. For many years a bust of Lovecraft was presented to the winner of the World Fantasy Award, but just last year the bust was retired due to Lovecraft's history of racism.

I love Lovecraft's work, but had of course always been deeply uncomfortable with his racism. I hadn't heard of a modern interpretation of Lovecraft's horror universe that dealt in any meaningful way with this topic - until I read about Matt Ruff's novel Lovecraft Country. Lovecraft Country not only deals with the topic, but makes it its central theme. The book's purpose, in fact, is to wrest ownership of Lovecraft's universe away from its racist beginnings and place it firmly in the hands of people of color. (I'm a little disappointed, therefore, to have discovered after the fact that the author, Matt Ruff, is white. It seems like this story was for a person of color to tell. But there you are.)

The novel is set in America in 1954, and is told as a series of short stories, each an episode in a larger, over-arching story, each with a different narrator, with the final chapter bringing all the narrators and stories together in an exciting climax. All the narrators are members of, or close friends with, the Turner family. The novel opens with the story of Atticus Turner, a young black man still trying to find his place in American society after returning from serving in the Korean War. He receives an odd letter from his estranged father, Montrose, about a secret birthright that he's entitled to, and he decides to head home to Chicago to see what it's all about.

If you're expecting magic and monsters in the first few pages, you'll be disappointed. Ruff takes his time getting to that, first introducing you to the surreal insanity and horror that is the Jim Crow South. On his way home, Atticus is assaulted, harassed, and stolen from by a policeman for the crime of being black. As the story goes on, and incidents like this are repeated again and again, we come to realize that threats to your life and property from white men with power are just a part of everyday life for black people in America. And yes, sure, we should all already know that. But being a white guy, I need constant reminders, and Ruff forces you to really examine and internalize what it must be like to live like that: in constant fear, in constant danger of death, with little or no recourse to the law, the whole world against you, hating you and suspecting you on sight.

And that's just the baseline of horror in Atticus' world! As his story progresses, things get even more dangerous, and way more weird. A mysterious, untouchable, silver car with tinted windows seems to follow him everywhere as his search for his father takes him through a maze-like forest - where unseen things lurk in the shadows - to a tiny, insular town called Ardham. Ardham isn't Lovecraft's Arkham - not quite - but it is in "Lovecraft Country" (New England). And it is the home of a Manor House on a hill, where the Braithwhite family lives, leaders of a sect of a secret cult called The Order of the Ancient Dawn.

I won't tell you any more about the plot, because experiencing it for yourself will be fun as hell. But it includes intrigue, theft, espionage, double-dealing, murder, magic, devil dolls, ghosts, potions, curses, body-switching, and man-eating aliens. And still, even among all this weirdness and horror, we never lose sight of the novel's real focus: the real-life horror of being black in America. So not only is it a rollicking read - a brilliant, thrilling, enthralling, bone-chilling story - it's also a very important and powerful book. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Tagged (?): Book Report (Not), Books (Not), Lovecraft (Not)
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Monday, September 12, 2011 12:26 PM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Art (Not), Books (Not), Business (Not), Clothes (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Craft (Not), Doctor Who (Not), Food (Not), Fringe (Not), Ghostbusters (Not), Links (Not), Lists (Not), Lovecraft (Not), Movies (Not), Music (Not), Parenthood (Not), Photography (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Shirts (Not), Space (Not), Star Wars (Not), Tolkien (Not), Toys (Not), TV (Not), Video (Not)
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Monday, August 22, 2011 12:24 PM
(Last updated on Monday, August 22, 2011 12:28 PM)
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Aliens (Not), Art (Not), Avengers (Not), Cartoons (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Craft (Not), Fast food (Not), Links (Not), Lovecraft (Not), Monsters (Not), Movies (Not), Music (Not), News (Not), Pixar (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Robots (Not), Star Wars (Not), Tolkien (Not)
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Thursday, August 11, 2011 03:28 PM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Animals (Not), Art (Not), Batman (Not), Books (Not), Comic books (Not), Dinosaurs (Not), Frankenstein (Not), Fringe (Not), Homosexuality (Not), Indiana Jones (Not), Links (Not), Lovecraft (Not), Mashups (Not), Movies (Not), Music (Not), News (Not), Parenthood (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Science (Not), Shakespeare (Not), Space (Not), Star Trek (Not), The Prisoner (Not), TV (Not)
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Friday, August 5, 2011 11:16 AM
(Last updated on Friday, August 5, 2011 12:22 PM)
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.


UPDATE:
Tagged (?): Animals (Not), Art (Not), Batman (Not), Celebrities (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Cosplay (Not), Costumes (Not), Craft (Not), Fantastic Four (Not), Fringe (Not), Game of Thrones (Not), Harry Potter (Not), LEGO (Not), Links (Not), Lovecraft (Not), Metroid (Not), Movies (Not), Music (Not), Photoshop (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Science (Not), Sherlock Holmes (Not), Space (Not), Spider-Man (Not), Star Trek (Not), Steampunk (Not), Superman (Not), The Hobbit (Not), Tolkien (Not), Toys (Not), Tron (Not), TV (Not), Video (Not), Video games (Not), Web comics (Not)
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Friday, June 24, 2011 12:55 PM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Advertising (Not), Aliens (Not), Art (Not), Captain America (Not), Clothing (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Cosplay (Not), Costumes (Not), Craft (Not), Dinosaurs (Not), Food (Not), Gadgets (Not), Game of Thrones (Not), LEGO (Not), Links (Not), Lovecraft (Not), Movies (Not), Mythology (Not), Photography (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Shirts (Not), Star Wars (Not), Steven Spielberg (Not), Technology (Not), Tolkien (Not), Toys (Not), TV (Not), Vampires (Not), Video (Not), Video games (Not), Web comics (Not), Zelda (Not)
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Monday, March 21, 2011 03:39 PM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Art (Not), Batman (Not), Books (Not), Celebrities (Not), Comic books (Not), Disney (Not), Fantastic Four (Not), Harry Potter (Not), Links (Not), Lovecraft (Not), Michael Chabon (Not), Movies (Not), News (Not), Peter Pan (Not), Photography (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Star Wars (Not), Tolkien (Not), X-Men (Not)
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011 12:15 PM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Aliens (Not), Art (Not), Battlestar Galactica (Not), Blade Runner (Not), Celebrities (Not), Clothing (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Craft (Not), Food (Not), History (Not), Indiana Jones (Not), Links (Not), Lovecraft (Not), Mashups (Not), Michael Chabon (Not), Movies (Not), Muppets (Not), News (Not), Photography (Not), Products (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Shirts (Not), Star Wars (Not), Toys (Not), TV (Not), Twitter (Not), Video games (Not), Zelda (Not)
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Monday, February 28, 2011 10:18 AM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Animals (Not), Art (Not), Awards (Not), Batman (Not), Cartoons (Not), Celebrities (Not), Game of Thrones (Not), Links (Not), Lists (Not), Lovecraft (Not), Movies (Not), Music (Not), News (Not), Oscars (Not), Photography (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Song of Ice and Fire (Not), Superman (Not), TV (Not), Video (Not), Video games (Not), Zelda (Not)
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011 09:25 AM
(Last updated on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 10:28 AM)
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Art (Not), Cartoons (Not), Celebrities (Not), Craft (Not), Hayao Miyazaki (Not), Links (Not), Lovecraft (Not), Movies (Not), News (Not), Painting (Not), Products (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Science (Not), Star Wars (Not), Technology (Not)
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Welcome to the blog of Jim Genzano, writer, web developer, husband, father, and enjoyer of things like the internet, movies, music, games, and books. For a more detailed run-down of who I am and what goes on here, read this.

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