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Author Topic: Favorite Lovecraft stories  (Read 4204 times)
Sunjammer
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« on: June 16, 2011, 05:14:05 AM »

I haven't seen a thread like this, so I'm sorry if I'm cloning an existing topic :-)
I'm wondering, can you guys pick out an ABSOLUTE favorite of yours from Lovecraft's work? Also, why do you feel this story is better or means more to you than his other tales?

In my experience people's opinions of his individual stories vary wildly, almost to the point where every story is polarizing in some way. I think he has a tendency to speak to the reader's personal experiences somehow, and this reflection strongly affects the reader's response.

Personally, The Haunter of the Dark is my favorite story of his by miles and miles. I always felt that the more verbose his descriptions of the unknown became, the less scary and even interesting the story was. For instance I picked up the Call of Cthulhu RPG book and was almost offended by how codified the mythology has become..

The Haunter of the Dark is a wonderful story, to me, because it depicts an isolated dreamer exploring the city, and coming into contact with a cosmic force he doesn't understand in the slightest, though on an intuitive level he almost appears on the threshold of deciphering its intents. It's a story where a guy is both deathly terrified, but also absolutely incapable of sharing his experience and subsequent peril with another living human being. It's a story where the guy starts out "weird and alone" and progressively becomes more and more detached from the world around him as his encounter with the unknown beyond envelops his life until he finally is gone. Even his death is completely mysterious.

There's a granularity to the story, a texture to how Lovecraft describes the world, the horizon, the lighting, the cobwebs in the staircase, the layers of dust, the sounds, and my favorite alien artifact of all time. It's easy to get lost in, and as someone who liked to explore condemned buildings when I was younger, the atmosphere of the old church was almost palpable.

The story also contains my second favorite moment of abject terror in a Lovecraft story, after the well discovery in Charles Dexter Ward; The moment where Robert Blake wakes up in the church tower. The description of terrified disorientation is perfect.

What are your favorites? :-)
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« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2011, 10:33:00 AM »

Put me down for "The Rats In the Walls."   It has a sort of immediacy most of Lovecraft's stories don't possess.  Also, you can kinda get into the protagonist's head in this one.  I get the feeling that the main reason Delapoer is going to all the trouble of renovating Exham Priory is to be closer to his dead son.  I mean, the guy's nearing the end of his life with a pile of money and absolutely nothing else.  That's not as bad as might-have-been, of course, but it still kinda sucks.

So, yeah, it's easier to empathize with the protagonist in this one.  Then there's that whole layered archeological theme.  I love that kind of thing.  The farther back in the past the protagonist goes, the weirder and more horrible things get.  (Both in his ancestral history and when he gets into the cavern beneath Exham.) 

And finally, it's got a real slam-bang ending.  (Spoiler!)  It's like he's de-evolving right before your eyes!  It really slapped me upside the head the first time I read it and it still grabs me today, particularly if it's done by a good reader like Eric Bauersfeld or, more recently, Doug Bradley. 
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« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2011, 04:06:09 PM »

I haven't seen a thread like this, so I'm sorry if I'm cloning an existing topic :-)

There is one somewhere, but it's buried in pages and pages of threads, and I'm not in the mood to go digging. So have at!

Mine's The Colour. It's the only one I ever lost sleep over.
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« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2011, 05:15:36 PM »

There was once a thread like this, but it now lies dreaming...
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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2011, 08:20:39 AM »

"The Colour out of Space" because of the terrifying degradation of Nahum Gardner and his family and the excellent scientific expanations given by Lovecraft. Also, "The music of Erich Zann" because of the surreal quality of the story.
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« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2011, 12:03:04 PM »

"Shadow Over Innsmouth."

I just can't get enough of fish monsters.
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TheMediocreYoungishOne -Tom-
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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2011, 05:38:29 PM »

The Shadow Out Of Time

Great story involving time-travel, alien possession, a Cyclopean city, etc.
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« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2011, 01:44:14 PM »

I'm torn. Short story, probably The Colour; longer work, probably Charles Dexter Ward.
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Cloven Sunfish
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« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2011, 09:44:20 AM »

I'd have to go with Colour as well. It's an expertly crafted story. There's no superfluous details or descriptions, and it really captures how innovative Lovecraft was in blending horror and sci-fi. The way he teasingly reveals the color and its effects on the Gardener family and their farm is just so unsettling. And the Blasted Heath is such an eerie, ominous setting. Whenever I recommend Lovecraft to my friends, I always tell them if they only read one of his stories, it has to be Colour. In concept and execution it's so original and years ahead of its time.

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward would probably be my runner-up. I didn't read it until I got into this podcast, so the crazy alchemical aspects of it really surprised me, coming from Lovecraft. But it's probably his best example (except for The Call of Cthulhu) of suggesting a single, horrifying truth through lots of vague and disparate scraps of information. Joseph Curwen is a great villain, and his evil is revealed in horrifying glimpses. Lastly, the final chapter is such a horrifying payoff. I get chills just thinking about it.
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« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2011, 01:41:33 PM »

The Shadow out of Time, because it's conceptually rich, I like the alien landscaping around the library, being trapped in a strange alien body is an appealing dream-concept, it's got all the elements there of a long dream epic, and I just like it.

My favorite scene for a long time was the first paragraph of Through the Gates of the Silver Key:

"In a vast room hung with strangely figured arras and carpeted with Bonkhata rugs of impressive age and workmanship, four men were sitting around a document-strewn table. From the far corners, where odd tripods of wrought iron were now and then replenished by an incredibly aged Negro in somber livery, came the hypnotic fumes of olibanum; while in a deep niche on one side there ticked a curious, coffin-shaped clock whose dial bore baffling hieroglyphs and whose four hands did not move in consonance with any time system known on this planet. It was a singular and disturbing room, but well fitted to the business then at hand. For there, in the New Orleans home of this continent's greatest mystic, mathematician and orientalist, there was being settled at last the estate of a scarcely less great mystic, scholar, author and dreamer who had vanished from the face of the earth four years before."

The Shadow over Innsmouth is very very good, but I end up wanting more from it than it delivers. The denoument--where the protagonist discovers he's tainted--is excellent. There isn't a lot of time to play with inside Innsmouth, he gets in, has to get out just after dark, but I wanted more local color than just Zadok and his admittedly enthralling ramblings. But then Lovecraft did all he could to provide that local color, since there were basically only two characters marginal to the Innsmouth cult, Zadok and the boy at the shop, so we get many descriptions of streets and houses instead of the secretive locals.
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« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2011, 12:30:33 PM »

Two are tied for my favorites;
-Dreams in the Witch-house
-The Colour out of Space

I know that Dreams is not especially liked by many for it's use of some Christian iconography, but it's so atmospheric and creepy  Cheesy Especially (SPOILER)Brown Jenkin eating out Gilman's heart...(/SPOILER)
And The Colour, well, it's just amazing.

(Although the ending of Shadow over Innsmouth is by far the best!)
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Bob Lovecraft
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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2011, 01:17:31 PM »

Hey Nick, you may want to put spoiler warnings on posts like that. Someone just getting into Lovecraft would have just had that story blown for them.

Bob
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« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2011, 04:27:10 PM »

This isn't an easy question to answer. For years my favourite story was The Festival. But now, I'd have to say The Call of Cthulhu. But really for sheer cleverness and taut story telling The Color Out of Space is right up there. But then again, how can one not Love The Dunwich Horror. And after re-reading The Temple, well........you get my point Smiley

Seriously, I'd have to go with The Call of Cthulhu. It's just so succinct in presenting and summing up HPL's horrific cosmicism and it's pantheon.
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« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2011, 01:33:14 PM »

Hmmmm...

A year or so ago, it would have been "The Colour Out of Space."

A couple of months ago, I'd probably say "The Shadow Over Innsmouth."

Lately though, like the OP, I have to go with "The Haunter of the Dark." I don't even know how many times I've listened and re-listened to Andrew Leman's reading, and if there's any fault to be found in that story, I can't think of it. It's got all the things I love about Lovecraft: the far-out sci-fantasy of his later works, the super-gothicism of his older works, a classic protagonist, a brilliant monster (that, appropriately enough, we never really see), a fantastic "haunted house" setting, some of the best prose he ever wrote, and in-jokes and references to his friends galore. Hell, I can't even find an uncomfortable racist undertone to it. It's great, great, great.
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« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2011, 06:37:06 AM »

The Shadow over Innsmouth. I just keep getting back to it....the atmosphere and the feeling of the sea. Yes, i live by the sea myself Wink
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