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I am Providence

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For fans of legendary pulp author H. P. Lovecraft, there is nothing bigger than the annual Providence-based convention the Summer Tentacular. Horror writer Colleen Danzig doesn’t know what to expect when she arrives, but is unsettled to find that among the hob-knobbing between scholars and literary critics are a group of real freaks: book collectors looking for volumes bound in human skin, and true believers claiming the power to summon the Elder God Cthulhu, one of their idol’s most horrific fictional creations, before the weekend is out.

Colleen’s trip spirals into a nightmare when her roommate for the weekend, an obnoxious novelist known as Panossian, turns up dead, his face neatly removed. What’s more unsettling is that, in the aftermath of the murder, there is little concern among the convention goers. The Summer Tentacular continues uninterrupted, except by a few bumbling police.

Everyone at the convention is a possible suspect, but only Colleen seems to show any interest in solving the murder. So she delves deep into the darkness, where occult truths have been lurking since the beginning of time. A darkness where Panossian is waiting, spending a lot of time thinking about Colleen, narrating a new Lovecraftian tale that could very well spell her doom.

256 pages, Paperback

First published August 9, 2016

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About the author

Nick Mamatas

194 books229 followers
Nick Mamatas is the author of the Lovecraftian Beat road novel Move Under Ground, which was nominated for both the Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild awards, the Civil War ghost story Northern Gothic, also a Stoker nominee, the suburban nighmare novel Under My Roof, and over thirty short stories and hundreds of articles (some of which were collected in 3000 Miles Per Hour in Every Direction at Once). His work has appeared in Razor, Village Voice, Spex, Clamor, In These Times, Polyphony, several Disinformation and Ben Bella Books anthologies, and the books Corpse Blossoms, Poe's Lighthouse, Before & After: Stories from New York, and Short and Sweet.

Nick's forthcoming works include the collection You Might Sleep... (November 2008) and Haunted Legends, an anthology with Ellen Datlow (Tor Books 2009).

A native New Yorker, Nick now lives in the California Bay Area.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 245 reviews
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,921 reviews10.6k followers
October 31, 2016
When a writer is murdered at the Summer Tentacular, the annual Providence-based HP Lovecraft convention, Colleen Danzig plumbs the depths of the assembled fandom to find his killer. Can she stay alive long enough to find the murderer?

I Am Providence is a murder mystery set at an HP Lovecraft convention. It shows the dark underbelly of fandom, putting the fans under the microscope.

Colleen Danzig, the plucky heroine, goes through quite a bit of hell over the course of the book, both in her sleuthing and in the way fandom sometimes treats women in general. The other patrons of the convention remind me all too much of the kind of vocal fans one finds online.

The plot was very serpentine, or squamous, I guess. I had no idea who the killer was up until the end. Mamatas threw a barrel's worth of red herrings into the mix.

I really liked the parallel structure of the book, alternating between Colleen's point of view and that of the murder victim as his body decayed on a slab at the morgue. While free of Lovecraftian beasties, the book still had a undercurrent of nihilism and cosmic horror throughout.

I guess my only gripe would be that I didn't care for the ending. However, it rang true to most Lovecraft endings so it was pretty fitting.

With I Am Providence, Nick Mamatas tears the face off of Lovecraftian fandom and shows what lies beneath, warts and all. Four out of five stars.

Profile Image for ᴥ Irena ᴥ.
1,649 reviews214 followers
May 17, 2017
This will teach me not to rush to read Lovecraftian-sounding books.

In short: I hated it.

The book cover is great, though. The premise is interesting, but the book gets worse as you go along. And the resolution is embarrassing at best.
The story features one of the worst female characters I've come across. Ever. God, I was sick of her self-righteous and dumb behaviour. She sees every single flaw in other people but misses her own. It got so bad, I wished someone would just kill her. She stumbles all over the place trying to 'solve' the mystery in the most boring way possible.

I won't bother writing a review for this book. The sad thing is that it would be a decent murder mystery if it weren't clogged with every single current social and political issue. It is suffocating. I don't even want to list them all. And, trust me, they are all at least mentioned in this book.
The virtue signalling is staggering. Every time I thought the story moved a bit, one thing or another was shoved down my throat. And the tone is just about expected.

The closest this book comes to Lovecraft or even paranormal are the chapter titles (Lovecraft's stories), an occasional picture of tentacles and a couple of chapters from a dead man's point of view.

A reminder for myself: I am Providence is a 2016 book.
Profile Image for ✨Bean's Books✨.
648 reviews2,919 followers
May 11, 2019
I'm having trouble writing a review for this book without making people mad or giving people the wrong idea about myself.
This book is supposedly about Colleen Danzig a writer who goes to a HP Lovecraft convention and gets more than she bargains for when her roommate for the convention turns up dead.
Ugh, ok here we go.... 😩
First off, I really do not care for the writing style. This book is written with two different points of view, one in first person the other in third person, and it bounces back and forth between the two. I personally think that the author should have left the first chapter written in the first-person narration and then the rest of the book written in third person rather than constantly going back to the first person point of view. It's disorienting and annoying to say the least.
Secondly, the first person point of view is narrated by a dead guy. Yes that's right, a dead guy! He is already dead when he begins to narrate this book for us. Not only is he dead but he is a total pretentious arshole. The back of book summary describes him as being "annoying" and no he is just a downright arshole. Like I hate to say it but I'm kind of glad he dies. But then I still have to listen to him rattling on even though he's already dead so I guess that defeats the purpose. Also the other main character (who is not dead) Colleen has to be one of the most annoying characters I've ever read. So basically both of the main characters are insufferable.
Thirdly, this is not a book about Lovecraft's mythos but more about bashing him and his fans. Very sad 💔
I guess that's all I have to say on this one. I definitely can't recommend this book.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,030 reviews2,604 followers
August 2, 2016
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2016/08/02/...

Looks like 2016 is shaping up to be another pretty busy year for Lovecraftian horror or Lovecraft-inspired fiction, with even more titles set to hit shelves later this summer and in the fall. If you read only one this year though, I highly recommend making it I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas. I found this part murder mystery, part dark comedy, and part fandom commentary delightfully odd and cheeky! While it doesn’t exactly read like your typical Lovecraftian novel, a huge bulk of my enjoyment was actually rooted in how refreshingly unexpected it was.

Anyway, I think the setting says it all. The entire story takes place over the course of a weekend at the Summer Tentacular, the Providence-based annual convention for readers, writers, collectors, and scholars of H.P. Lovecraft and all things Lovecraftian. Colleen Danzig is total newcomer, attending the Tentacular for the first time hoping to promote herself and her recently published story by networking with fellow authors and fans. However, doubts begin to fill her mind as she goes around meeting the other eccentric and sometimes socially awkward congoers, many of whom are regulars that are part of a closely-knit group. One thing that’s certain is that they all seem to really despise another writer named Panos Panossian, a rather obnoxious shit disturber who just so happens to be the guy sharing a room with Colleen during the con.

And then Panossian turns up dead, with his face sliced clean off. Scuttlebutt has it that he was murdered because of a book in his possession, and not just any book, because this was an ultra-rare edition of Arkham, one of five copies bound in human skin which could fetch a pretty penny from the right collector. Colleen believes that whoever killed Panossian did it to steal the book, and then took the victim’s face too in order to create their own Necronomicon-type grimoire bound in human skin. She’s entirely convinced that the murderer is a congoer, but who? It doesn’t help that no one else seems to be all that torn up about Panossian’s death; the guy had made a lot of enemies during his time in the community. Where to start investigating, when pretty much anyone can be a suspect?

I Am Providence is a novel with many bizarre characteristics, and most unusual of all is perhaps the fact that half of it is told from the perspective of the dead Panossian himself as his body lies lifeless and faceless in the police station morgue. Somehow a part of his consciousness remained behind in death, but perhaps not for much longer, and now he’s stuck in the black void able to hear but not see anything that happens around his corpse. He can’t really remember who killed him either, and can only rely on his memories farther back to try and figure out who might have done it.

Any way you look at it, I Am Providence is something of strange book, and it took me a while to really get into the rhythm. There were times where it came off sounding like a satirical or even scathing commentary on the subculture of fandom and fan conventions, brutally mocking the extreme personalities or poking fun at the ridiculous wars that spark over controversies on the internet. The fictional Summer Tentacular convention with its esoteric and insular community of Lovecraftians is the perfect setup for Mamatas to present even wilder, more outlandish situations and behaviors. I wasn’t put out by this exactly, but neither did I see the humor in it right away, until I realized what the author was trying to do. Once I got the joke, so to speak, reading this became a lot easier and enjoyable.

Now might also be a good time for me to confess, while I appreciate a lot of Lovecraftian horror and HPL inspired fiction, I don’t necessarily consider myself a fan of the work by Lovecraft himself. I think he’s overly verbose, his prose clunky and heavily strained. When it comes to his stories, however, the man did have a wealth of interesting ideas and I love the body of narrative surrounding the mythos he created. Plus, his influence is undeniable. That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy reading books inspired by his work; it’s fascinating to see the various cool things different authors can do with the elements from Lovecraft’s dark worlds and stories. I Am Providence stands out from the rest by doing something a little different because it doesn’t really explore the mythos in a conventional sense, instead taking an almost meta-fiction approach to the genre. I had a great time with this novel, and thought it also featured a very compelling murder mystery, but I think those who are very knowledgeable and savvy with their Lovecraft lore will appreciate the subtle nuances even more.

Bottom line? Whether or not you’re a fan of Lovecraft or Lovecraftian fiction, if the idea of a unique and quirky murder mystery sounds appealing to you, this book could be worth your while. The author’s take on the fringe subset of the sci-fi and fantasy convention scene is also quite interesting, even when it’s not always flattering. What I got from it though, is that love it or hate it, fandom can take many forms. What makes it great is that we’re all in it together. I Am Providence ended up being a smart, entertaining and truly one-of-a-kind experience, darkly funny and unexpected. Not to mention, very tentacle-y. I look forward to more from Nick Mamatas.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
996 reviews1,130 followers
October 23, 2017
My fondness for Lovecraft and Lovecraft-inspired fiction is not exactly a secret, but I am often amused and baffled by the level to which his work and the man himself, almost as a character, have become part of pop and geek culture. I often wonder what he would think, for instance, of the fact that a couple of (genius) weirdoes decided to Kickstart a recipe book called the “Necronomnomnom” (yes, I totally backed it), or that some hipsters worship his stories so much they decide to get his portrait tattooed on their arms. How would he feel about a story about his fandom that’s a dark comedy, a murder mystery and a vitriolic commentary on fan culture?

The Summer Tentacular is an annual (and fictional) Lovecraft convention held in Providence, Rhode Island. It attracts a large and baroque crowd of writers, fans, collectors, academics and weirdoes of all kinds. Colleen Danzing (“I want your skull!”), is an outsider to the community of congoers: she is looking for an opportunity to promote her writing and do some good old-fashioned networking. Alas, her roommate for the weekend, the abrasive writer Panos Panossian, is murdered and his face carefully peeled off on the first night. Colleen can’t help but notice that very few of the convention’s participants are saddened by this bizarre event, and becomes convinced that the murderer must be one of them. Since the police doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere in this locked room mystery, she decides to take the matter into her own hands.

The story is told in alternate points of view: the dead guy’s first person and what’s going on with Colleen in third person narration. It’s also not really linear and scattered with red herrings. Colleen is a strange protagonist. She’s kind of a crap amateur detective and her attempt to be Nancy Drew (something other characters point out to her constantly) is really not effective. But I suppose that when you spend your time reading and writing stories about people investigating strange events by themselves and being super bad-ass, you are bound to give it a very ill-advised shot… But it's still fun to watch her make dumb assumption after dumb assumption, while navigating the crowd of bizarre Tentacular attendees and their often rather morbid obsessions.

Mamatas takes this story’s setting as an opportunity to satirize fandoms and nerd culture, something I am morbidly fascinated by… and try to keep a healthy distance from for a variety of reasons. I avoid conventions like the plague, mostly because I am allergic to large crowds, but also because I feel like they have turned into weird consumerist-fests. Mamatas obviously adores Lovecraft’s work very genuinely, but he also has enough lucidity to see that rabid, obsessive fans can be… well, special. He really captures their overly analytical mania, tendency to try and out-nerd each other at every opportunity and remarkable sense of self-importance; he then throws all the hot-button political issues people can’t stop to seem arguing about online in the mix and gives you a realistic and unflattering portrait of what happens when a fandom becomes a significant part of your identity. Again, this is satire: Mamatas isn’t saying all nerds and fans are like the characters in his book, but he is making a vivid caricature of some interesting specimens that can be found among convention fauna.

Many references and jokes require a certain knowledge of Lovecraft’s life and oeuvre to actually hit the mark, but even if you aren't an expert in all things Cthulhu, this is still a fun read! 4 stars, because the ending was a bit too slap-dash for my taste. Take your time Nick: Lovecraftiana clearly isn't going anywhere.
Profile Image for C.T. Phipps.
Author 73 books585 followers
January 1, 2022
When I first became an internet reviewer on my website, THE UNITED FEDERATION OF CHARLES, I had one simple rule: don't review stuff you hate. It was something of a self-imposed rule because there was a temptation to exaggerate the negatives for publicity.

A negative review inherently got more interest than a positive review--it was just one of those rules. I didn't want to be unfair, though, or crush another author's dreams. Besides, if I hated something then wasn't contributing to its obscurity a better criticism? But this book? This book I feel the need to explain why I hate it.

I AM PROVIDENCE is basically the Big Bang Theory except even more vicious in its hatred of nerds. It's a weird mash-up of creating a book which could only be understood by nerds with its many references as well as convention experience but makes it utterly clear how much it hates nerds. Specifically, H.P. Lovecraft nerds. I hesitate to speculate on an author's real life views or history but it feels like Nick Mamatas had a really bad H.P. Lovecraft con experience and then wrote a novel all about how much he hated it. Given Nick wrote the Nickronomicon, Shadows over Main Street, and Future Lovecraft--I am assuming the divorce was a bitter one.

The premise is Colleen Danzig is a small-time Lovecraftian horror author (is there a big time version?) who attends Tentacular--a horror con. She's roomed with Armenian co-narrator Panossian and the two get to (briefly) know one another. There's a murder there but none of the weird and depraved fans there seem to care so it's up to her to solve it. There's a bunch of occult stuff that follows and secrets unveiled.

Here's the first problem: Colleen and Panossian are two of the most singularly obnoxious human beings to ever live in fiction and I include Kvothe as well as Holden Caulfield in that. Her nightmarish convention experience is her turning her nose up at every single person having fun at it. Panossian is a sexist jerk who has own hatred of Lovecraft that he continues reading/writing regardless of the many problems therein. He's rude to his only friends in the world (disgusted by the fact one loves every Tweet he makes) and constantly brings up the fact Lovecraft was racist.

Which, fine, is a perfectly valid critique of the man WHO THEY ARE STILL WRITING FANFIC OF. Basically, the premise of the book confuses me because we have two people who hate Lovecraft fandom but are part of it anyway. The book tries to frame Providence (The Lovecraft con Tentacular is based on) as a nightmarish experience but it seems either like a typical fan experience and a lot of fun. Except for the murders. Well, actually, especially for the murders. Let's be honest. The whole thing is treated as heinous when there's Lovecraft tours, talking to dealers about their fanworks, and seeing people in costume.

It's also a one-joke book which is repeated in multiple forms across the book that was never particularly funny to begin with. One line summarizes it up, "It was high school all over again, except that all of the kids with a measure of social intelligence were at the homecoming dance and the kids left behind were the meatheads, glue-sniffers, nerds, and minor league bullies." My rebuttal is, "Who is the more fool, the fool or the fool who follows him?" Not Lovecraft but still apropos.

Theoretically, the plot of the book is that there's a magical book bound in human skin which Panossian possessed and was killed for. Whether it's magical or just an artifact which scummy obsessed fans want doesn't really matter. The whole premise is just an excuse to have Colleen and Panossian's ghost (psychic residue? He's slowly fading during the book) wander around the con pointing fingers. There's a lot of room for plot but the whole thing is basically page after page of talking smack about degenerate neckbeard misogynists trying to get Colleen to wear a corset and it's very tiring after awhile. Like page 2.

I wish I could say there's much more to the book than throwing shade at Lovecraft fans but that's pretty much the majority of the book. The occult mystery takes a backseat to the fact our protagonists are constantly surrounded by repulsive nerds they're so much better than. Yet, for whatever reason, she decided to come in the first place for.

Profile Image for Trever.
262 reviews8 followers
April 22, 2017
I'm not even sure where to start with this one. Normally I don't do scathing reviews, because being a writer is tough and I'm not into kicking puppies to make myself look smart, but still... This book got on my nerves more than anything I've read in years. A certain kind of reader is going to love it, but a lot of people will hate it, and the distinction lies somewhere along this reasoning fault line:

"Oh, I am SO tolerant of all races, gender preferences, beliefs, and cultures... I am just so 'woke' it's amazing how enlightened I am, and I would never body shame in any way!
OMG, just LOOK at all these Cheeto-encrusted fat neckbeards, OMG they must all live in their parents' basements, what total gross socially-awkward losers, icky icky poo!"

Now, if reading that sends your personal hypocrisy gauge immediately into the redline zone, you're not going to have a good time with this book. OTOH, hey, if your idea of fun is to post a dozen anti-white-male rants to Tumblr each day, you may love it. To each their own. I would describe myself as a left-leaning centrist, politically speaking, but recent years have left me increasingly frustrated with a certain sort of progressive, namely this person:

Social justice issues aside for the moment, the other reason the book annoyed me was that it managed to utterly ruin what should have been a virtually bulletproof concept - A twisted murder mystery set at an HP Lovecraft con. It's a wonderful idea and you'd think that even poor writing would at least deliver an entertaining book, given the "Dream Park"-like setup... The fun of a weekend con, the rich cast of oddball characters that populate same, the treasure hunting in the dealers' room, the panels, the batshit conflicts, and a kooky murder to solve in the middle of it all. Seems like a Can't-Miss.

Alas, it was written by this guy:

Instead of any sense of *fun* or any feeling of the enthusiasm and camaraderie that draws people to cons and fandoms, instead what we get is an endless stream of virtue-signalling populated by straw men. The writer clearly feels *immensely* superior to anyone who would attend a horror con, and also is really excited about pushing the idea that merely enjoying Lovecraft's fiction makes one a de-facto racist by extension. (Meanwhile, horror writers in general are merely embittered children who lack the talent to break into proper mainstream "literature") Speakers at this HPL con include puffy alt-right-type characters who hold panels on why white people are the superior race, as if any sane fandom con anywhere would give such characters a podium. Every male is an asshole, and con attendees fall all over themselves to sexually harass our heroine at every opportunity, despite her having the personality of a dead fish. Speaking of, she spends the book spouting streams of consciousness like my intro quote, with no self-awareness of any sort of just how hypocritical she sounds. By the time I was halfway through, I wanted to kill everyone. Worst of all, there just wasn't really any story... No surprise developments, no unexpected intrigue, no lessons learned. It essentially muddles its way through 8 hours of churchlady-like finger-wagging until it abruptly fizzles out in a limp resolution.

So, here's a lesson... Had it merely been a bad book, I'd have not reviewed it at all out of mercy, but after enduring what amounts to one long extended sermon on why horror fans should feel awful about themselves every day in every way, all I can say to the author is, "Right back at'cha."
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,938 reviews787 followers
February 8, 2017
I AM PROVIDENCE is a book that I feel would really appeal to Lovecraft fans. I can imagine that this book would be a bit confusing to people with not much knowledge about Lovecraft's books. You do get information about Lovecraft, the man, and his books in the story. Especially about the Elder God Cthulhu, who will bring the end to humanity when summoned. And, yes there are those in the book that wants that.

Profile Image for Ross Lockhart.
Author 25 books199 followers
August 4, 2016
There's a scene near the middle of I Am Providence where supporting character R. G. Gonzalez (based on Canadian weird fiction author Silvia Moreno-Garcia) rescues demi-protagonist Colleen Danzig (based on Colorado weird fiction author Molly Tanzer) from the Providence, RI police station. With Gonzalez behind the handlebars of a motorcycle and Danzig in the sidecar, I Am Providence briefly feels like it might become something special and soaring, a Mad Max: Fury Road moment in which two formidable women authors take on hegemony, racism, and sexism in the Lovecraftian community. But that doesn't come to pass, and the author instead ends the scene by having one of the two women threaten to assault a donut shop employee before urinating in an alleyway. Oh, well.

I Am Providence feels like the literary equivalent of one of those cop shows where an episode takes place at a science fiction convention. Like Castle's "The Final Frontier," Bones' "The Princess and the Pear," or CSI's "Fur and Loathing," it's often entertaining, full of zingers, semi-likeable characters, and quotable dialogue, but ultimately lacks substance and fails to comprehend or appreciate the fan culture it parodies in miniature. The jokes too-often punch down, mocking unwashed, overweight nerds for living in their parents' basements rather than going after the more egregious--and vocal--sinners within the Lovecraftian community. And when it does parody living individuals in said community--S. T. Joshi, Robert M. Price, and W. H. Pugmire are all represented by recognizable avatars in this world--it does so with kid gloves and broad strokes, bouncing blunted darts off the targets' edges, never quite hitting home.

I Am Providence also feels lackadaisically edited. Characters appear, speak random pronouncements from doorways, then disappear. Dates feel squiggly, a character at one point suggests it's 2012, technology often seems stuck in 2008, but the book is set in 2016. Colleen Danzig is shuttled between the Hotel Bierce (a stand in for the Providence Biltmore?) and the police station more times than I care to count (a distance of .7 miles). Providence itself, aside from a late mention of WaterFire, never seems like more than a blank black-box stage for the characters to perform their lines upon, a shame and missed opportunity since architecture and local history figure so prominently in Lovecraft's work. The book is printed on acidic, pulpy paper, in a font large enough to read from across the room, with pages often randomly splashed with a few tentacles from a vector graphic of the cover's octopus. The cover is printed with waxy inks (feels and smells like crayon), is easily marked, and shows every fingerprint.

Verdict: One for the Lovecraftian completist, or for folks who really enjoyed that Bones episode, but I Am Providence would likely have benefited from a bit more time in the oven.
Profile Image for Cobwebby Eldritch Reading Reindeer .
5,126 reviews272 followers
August 2, 2016
Review: I AM PROVIDENCE by Nick Mamatas

Author H. P. Lovecraft' s headstone epitaph reads "I am Providence." Certainly he is that for his subset of fans. Come witness the antics, tragedies, and utter sneakiness and ego-posturing on display throughout the "Summer Tentacular," the annual fan convention held in Providence for writers, readers, fanzine publishers, and dealers in Lovecraft Mythos memorabilia. I learned much about Lovecraft' s fiction and life while following the convolutions of the multiple mysteries.
Profile Image for David.
Author 18 books336 followers
May 7, 2017
Nick Mamatas, if you've read his blog posts and other social media commentary, seems to have a love/hate relationship with Lovecraft and Lovecraft fandom (and fandom in general); an affectionate regard for the old WASPy racist's squamous prose and cyclopean imagination (yes, I know I'm misusing those words) while being fully, critically aware of his faults. And he takes the same attitude towards Lovecraft's fandom, though with perhaps not quite as much affection.

I Am Providence reminded me quite a lot of an old, infamous classic from the 80s, Bimbos of the Death Sun. Sharyn McCrumb's award-winning murder mystery takes place at a science fiction convention, where an abrasive, unpopular author is murdered. It did not go over well with a lot of sci-fi fans because of its sharp - some might say, unaffectionate - satire of fandom tropes and convention culture. Bimbos of the Death Sun is full of geeky SF&F stereotypes and thinly-veiled jabs at real people, and it would be pretty painful to recognize oneself in one of McCrumb's characters.

I'd be amazed if Mamatas is not familiar with BOTDS. I Am Providence reads like a more literary version of that book, honing in on H.P. Lovecraft fandom rather than fandom in general. The plot is essentially the same — a somewhat unsympathetic (though less unlikeable than McCrumb's victim) writer of Lovecraftian stories is murdered at a Lovecraft con, and a fellow writer with hardly any connection to the victim tries to solve his murder.

I Am Providence, however, tells this story with a few twists, the first of which is that it is co-narrated by the deceased victim.

The main character is Colleen Danzig, who is attending Providence's Summer Tentacular because she'd just been published and figured she ought to show up to make a few contacts and do the newly-published author circuit. She winds up sharing a room with a man who goes by "Panossian" - a not-very-beloved but well known figure on the Lovecraft scene with a few writing credits and not a lot of friends. Between Colleen's third-person narrative chapters, Panossian ruminates from beyond the grave (well, technically, from the coroner's slab) about his life, the nature of Lovecraftian fandom, and his perturbation at the fact that someone killed him and (literally) tore his face off.

The Summer Tentacular is full of odd characters, as you'd rather expect from a Lovecraft con. Colleen is probably the sanest and most "normal" person there, which is why she's told at one point that she won't be staying in the fandom - she'll move on to mainstream horror or urban fantasy. The murder mystery itself, while it unravels in a fairly imaginative way that more or less fits together in the end, is not really the most interesting part of the book, though. I Am Providence is really Nick Mamatas's love letter/middle finger to Lovecraft fans. There are a lot of riffs on the hapless prose and egos of small-press and fanzine writers, the conceits and obsessions of Lovecraft fans (who range from roleplaying nerds to white supremacists who think Lovecraft's rants about swarthy immigrants were prescient to whack jobs who actually want to summon Great Old Ones), the D&D-ification of the Cthulhu mythos, the omnipresence of Arkham-themed everything, etc.

Mamatas shows off his copious knowledge of Lovecraft and fandom lore by having characters bounce one-liners off of the cops or service people who usually serve as the straight men. A lot of I Am Providence is straight-up funny, often in an uncomfortable way. For example, Lovecraft's cat, which we know from his copious letters was named "Nigger Man," is actually the focus of a sub-plot. A couple of fanatics go looking to dig up the feline's remains, and are caught by a pair of Providence PD officers, one of whom is black. The cops, of course, being residents of Providence, are familiar with Lovecraft, but the way in which the characters alternate between actually naming the cat and making awkward "N-word" substitutions is kind of symbolic of how Lovecraft fans tend to deal with the man himself.

H.P. Lovecraft was infamously racist and in recent years this has surfaced in many, many debates (particularly surrounding his likeness being used in the World Fantasy Award) about the meaning and relevance of his attitudes, the degree to which they informed his writing (spoiler: quite a lot), and how fans who like to think of themselves as "not racist" can Be Fans of Problematic Things. Mamatas might not be a "Lovecraft scholar" in the way, say, S.T. Joshi is, but he's written an awful lot of Lovecraftiana and goes to a lot of cons, so he's probably one of the most well-informed contemporary writers on the subject of HPL, his issues, and the issues of his fans. So he punctures such well-known canards as the "Man of his Time" defense or the "Was horrified by the Nazis and recanted his views" defense. Yup, Howie was a big ol' racist anti-Semite until the end of his days. Yet he wrote stories and virtually created a genre we still love almost a century later. Mamatas is one of those people who has no trouble making peace with this, but he does loving poking those who can't.

All that being said, the "Whodunnit?" aspect of I Am Providence is practically an afterthought, but it does emerge logically, with all the clues having been properly laid down, along with the expected and well-placed red herrings.

As for poor faceless Panossian, mourning his own demise? While the story sometimes seems to flirt with the supernatural (how can you not flirt with the supernatural in a Lovecraft story?), I'll spoil it by saying Cthulhu does not rise. Other than Panossian's grumblings from the afterlife, I Am Providence is a mostly Muggle murder mystery. It's well-written (Mamatas is a writer who pays attention to craft, not just characters and plot, and he's sometimes a bit snooty about his fellow authors in that regard) and recommended for Lovecraft fans, but if you aren't familiar with the convention scene or Lovecraft trivia, an awful lot of the reference will shoot past you.
Profile Image for Frank Errington.
738 reviews57 followers
August 14, 2016
Review copy

I can't say I read a lot of Nick Mamatas, but what I have read, I've certainly enjoyed.

Nick's most recent work is dissimilar from anything I've read before. Set at the fictional, annual Summer Tentacular, "Providence's premiere literary conference about pulp-writer, racist, and weirdo Howard Philips Lovecraft," the book is an inside look at the craziness such an event would give rise to.

The attendees at said conference seem to be based on a combination of real writers and an amalgamation of the writers and fans who frequent such a happening.

The story is told from two separate points of view, that of first-time attendee and recently published Lovecraftian writer, Colleen Danzig and the other, her roommate, a writer know as Panossian who spends most of the book in the morgue, lying on a slab.

The goings on in I Am Providence may seem strange to the average reader, unless you've ever been to a social occasion like this, then it reads more like a documentary.

Overall, I enjoyed this tome from Mamatas, and the scene where several of the characters are digging in the woods in hopes of finding the remains of Lovecraft's cat was hysterical.

There were some great lines, too, one of my favorites, "Like Richard Matheson told me, 'Nobody likes a name dropper.'"

Ultimately, however, I Am Providence is little more than a murder mystery and I found myself wanting something more.

Published by Night Shade Books, I Am Providence is available in both paperback and e-book formats.

From the author's bio - Nick Mamatas is the author of six and a half novels and several collections. He is also an anthologist and editor of short fiction. His fiction and editorial work has been nominated for the Bram Stoker award five times, the Hugo Award twice, the World Fantasy Award twice, an the Shirley Jackson, International Horror Guild, an Locus Awards.
Profile Image for Alan.
1,101 reviews108 followers
February 12, 2021
Panossian was dead, to begin with.

Panos Panossian, esteemed (well, self-esteemed) writer of the literary pastiche The Catcher in R'lyeh (bwah-ha-ha), has been murdered, in fact, and rather gruesomely at that: . He's laid out cold in a drawer in the morgue in downtown Providence, Rhode Island—H.P. Lovecraft's old slithering grounds. The scene of the crime was the Hotel Bierce, where Panossian was a guest (though by no means the guest of honor) at a long-running Lovecraftian convention called the Summer Tentacular.

And even though Panossian is as dead as the proverbial Cthulhu novelty doorknob (on sale now in the dealers' room!), he still can't shut up...
The dust-up at the opening ceremonies was basically a conflict between literary critics and fans, to name two of the more ridiculous sets of people in the world. What's a critic but a reader who can neither stop re-reading the same thing over and over, nor shut up about it? And what's a fan but a reader who has stopped reading, and still can't shut up about it? Fans resent critics, and critics disparage fans. What a great idea to get everyone together and provide inexpensive booze.
—Panossian, p.24

Panossian's point of view only makes up half of Nick Mamatas' I Am Providence, though. The other half belongs to Colleen Danzig, who is very much alive—she's one of those younger and more self-aware devotees of cosmic horror who reject Lovecraft's terrible racism and sexism (and prose style!) while embracing his lurid Cthulhu Mythos as a setting ripe for retelling, remixing and reimagining. Colleen Danzig's own published Lovecraftian work, as mentioned on p.6, includes "The Satanic Manuscript of the McCrumb Brothers"—which I suspect is a nod to Sharyn McCrumb's influential murder-at-a-con novel Bimbos of the Death Sun.

Colleen was Panossian's reluctant, last-minute and entirely platonic (she hastens to add) roommate for the Tentacular. She was also the last person to see him alive (well, except for his killer, she hastens to add). That's motivation enough for Danzig to start sleuthing around the convention, working (even harder than the Providence police seem to be) to crack the mystery of Panossian's murder...


Both gruesome and funny, this novel is not genre horror but meta-horror, mashing up eeriness with snarkiness, spicing up mystery with the Elder Gods, the usual fannish convention hijinks, and some pretty vicious writerly infighting. It's hard to maintain balance among so many elements, of course, and I Am Providence's tone does wobble sometimes, unsure whether to elicit laughs or screams—or both. And sometimes the bad guys seem almost too vividly drawn, as if they might be based on characters from Mamatas' own life.

But Mamatas' heart is definitely in the right place. Here, for example, is Panossian on Lovecraft's legacy:
Let's be clear—Lovecraft was an anti-Semite. He wasn't an anti-Semite for the time, he wasn't an anti-Semite only before his marriage to Sonia Greene, he wasn't an anti-Semite until he learned about the horrors of Nazism, he was an anti-Semite from beginning to end.

Other sly bits I liked, more subtle than the above—and there were more than these two—included the shout-out to William Browning Spencer's all-too-obscure dark fantasy Zod Wallop on p.100, and the punchline to an old, old joke on p.104.

I liked the cover, too, which—although this appears to have been a coincidence—reminded me of a couple of Neil Gaiman editions I've seen, like the one for this trade paperback of Neverwhere.

There were even a couple of unexpected Portland connections, near the end—for one, Mamatas acknowledges PDX author Erica Satifka's "amazing design for the 'zine pages" (look for them on pp.55-59). For another, Colleen's home base turns out to be Portland, Oregon, as well.

I'm not sure why that particular reveal was held until the end of the novel—an end which... kinda trails off, dissipating into darkness—much, I fear, like this review.


I had originally intended to read I Am Providence back-to-back with I Am Radar, by Reif Larsen, simply because of their titles. That plan, like so many others in 2020, failed to come to fruition—but I'm glad I read Mamatas' novel anyway.

The iridescent definitely overshadows the squamous in I Am Providence... and the likelihood that Lovecraft himself would probably have hated the thing is, I think, only another plus.
Profile Image for David Agranoff.
Author 23 books134 followers
September 17, 2016
If this seems like a negative review, it is only because I had very high hopes for this novel. It is less of a novel and more of a thinly veiled act of trolling that takes potshots at members of the Lovecraftian lit scene. This is my third time reading a Mamatas novel and I think my problem with it is it seems a little below those books. When I read Bullettime and Love is the Law I was impressed and felt like I was reading works of genius.
I enjoyed I Am Providence, but it seems like an idea hatched at 2 AM in a bar during a convention. That is not to say that it wasn't worthy of exploring, hell my novel The Vegan Revolution With Zombies was no less an act of thinly veiled trolling. I get it, but I feel like Mamatas has more important stories to tell. I think highly enough of his writing that this just felt beneath him.
So OK lets talk about the novel itself. The story shifts between two POV characters one a stand in for Mamatas, named Panossian who is actually dead in the morgue the victim at the heart of the mystery. The other main character is Colleen Danzig who appears to be based on author Molly Tanzer. While their fictional counterparts are not as accomplished as Nick and Molly, there are hints if you are tied into the community. Each chapter is titled by a Lovecraft story that gives insight into the theme of the chapter. Well played.
The story goes that Panossian is murdered at the start of a weekend long convention for Lovecraftian fiction fans. Danzig (the character not the singer) tries to solve the mystery and that leads through a pretty funny look at the ridiculous factions and drama at the heart of this lit movement. The best laughs I got involved Lovecraft's cat.
The mystery is less interesting to me than the body blows and jabs the author takes at real life figures, and that doesn't help. The story starts off with some interesting structure and POV shifts but then as the novel goes on it loses focus. Mamatas was probably having too much fun roasting the scene, and it would have helped to keep the story itself a it more focused.
When I say this is trolling I mean the title is the exact same title as ST Joshi's biography of Lovecraft. While the character in the novel based on Joshi has their gender switched there is no mistaking what is happening here. The list of authors who are parodied here is long. Robert Price and Jason Brock get probably the most harsh treatment.
During the week I was reading this short novel Jason Brock and Mamatas had another flame war that was actually dramatized on the Horror Show Podcast with voice-actors. I shit you not. That was a real thing. It is all fun and amusing stuff. It is worth getting out popcorn and watching the drama unfold but really is a novel needed on the topic?

Sadly I think this novel will get more attention than many other fantastic novels coming out in the same year, or even Mamatas's own fantastic novels such as Love is the Law which I think is more worthy of your attention.

I suppose there is a certain curiosity surrounding a novel that sprung out a internet flame war about the racism of a long dead pulp writer. I don't know of any other novels based on internet arguments. I was entertained, however I don't know how the novel will play with people who don't know people being mocked or in the case of some writers given respect.

I think the less seriously you take it, then the more you'll end it. I think my hopes were too high.
Profile Image for Doug.
31 reviews14 followers
May 27, 2017
Nick Mamatas, who I know and once upon a time had actual face time with will be glad to tell you that the writer's life is not a glamorous one. And that's the underpinning theme of his novel I Am Providence, a title inspired by one of the least glamorous of writers of his time. Of course of our time the publishing world has realized that there are many nerds and geeks they can sell repackaged versions of the old horror geek H.P. Lovecraft's writing to, as well as pastiches of/homages to same by many of today's popular and "emerging" writers. Not to mention criticism of the work and bios (various interpretations, through social and moral lenses) of the man, and finally fan fiction in the guise of a potential NYTs bestseller, LeFarge's Night Ocean.

Which brings us back to Nick Mamatas. Unfortunately, there's no real Miskatonic University that might give out degrees for Lovecraft scholarship, but if there were you get the impression that he'd have a few letters after his name and a sheepskin (or is that a humanskin?) on his wall.

He creates a good mystery and knows how to move around the suspects in the murder of one of their own at a Lovecraft convention, where it's the coolest guy who gets offed -- no doubt to the delight of nerd readers -- letting the panel-going, cough syrup drinking, cosplaying, socially awkward HPL fans fall all over themselves (sometimes literally) in fear and trembling, if not outright geek dread, of the second sabot dropping. And it does, but read the book to find out what noise it makes.

As for the dead guy, Panossian, a character a cut above the others in obvious ways, and pretty clearly as loved and hated as anyone else who has the guts to put himself and his opinions "out there": He has the bad luck to get mixed up with the wrong geeks and winds up in a morgue, where he continues to hold forth about...things. I liked this little trick from Nick, who probably against the advice of some to "don't go there" went there and used a corpse to fill in some background details, as well as give some color to other characters who might have been rather sketchy without that from-the-slab voice.

Of course a very non-Joseph Campbellian hero(ine) rises from the unpleasant and darkly humorous milieu and it says something about the scene Mamatas is limning (thanks Michiko!) that the character is pretty much as delusional as the rest and a wannabe (at least midlist) author who (cliche ahoy!) pines for the day she doesn't have to eat ramen to stay alive.

I was entertained by this novel and appreciated Nick's authoritative voice. I suppose there's more to it than "write about what you know" but if you're going to put yourself in an author's hands you want them to know what they're writing about. (Duh.) And here there's no doubt he has made art out of real life. Somewhere Aristotle is smiling. And yeah, so am I.
Profile Image for Chris Roberts.
Author 1 book46 followers
December 23, 2015
In this novel, cliches are the order of the day and hackneyed prose rules the night. The protagonist is poorly composed and one is not sure whether to laugh or laugh harder at her.

The narrative is flat, without contrast, without authority and out of luck. This author is devoid of energy and that is why this work barely exists in the hands, blink once...gone.

Chris Roberts
Profile Image for DeAnna Knippling.
Author 162 books259 followers
October 26, 2017
Two Lovecraftian writers at a Lovecraftian conference become roommates. One of them is murdered and partially skinned. The other tries to solve the mystery of who murdered him. They both snark over the other attendees. One of them is dead and can't stop snarking over the other attendees.

This was a complex book to read, partially I think because the marketing was so weird. This isn't a horror novel, but a mystery--a dark cozy. There are a limited number of suspects, the gory violence (oddly) tends to happen offstage, and most of the book focuses on witty banter, albeit of the poisonously sardonic type. No tentacles involved.

Backing up and looking at this as a mystery, I'm both jealous of it (as a writer--because it hits on a lot of setting/character points and I've been trying to handle how to write dark cozies myself) and frustrated with it (as a writer--because it has flaws in handling the puzzles that I also have as a writer, and I subconsciously push away from anything that I'm struggling with). The mystery aspects aren't nailed, but they kind of seem inconsequential by the end anyway.

I think the fairest way to read this as a reader is to approach it as a satire of Lovecraftian fandom. On a surface level, I thought it was amusing--then I caught on to who one or two of the characters might be, and went, "OUCH." I don't think you need to be able to guess in order to enjoy the book, though. There are lots of thoughts on lost dreams, self-destructive tendencies, hypocrisy, group inbreeding, the egos of fish in a small pond, bitterness, poverty, and obsession. The book scratches a strange itch to rip away the veil and see the ordinary poseurs underneath. An expose? Not quite. But satisfying in that aspect nonetheless.
460 reviews9 followers
October 28, 2016
Is it too much to ask for a good modern novel that incorporates Lovecraft and his mythos into it? Carter & Lovecraft wasn't it, and this certainly wasn't it.

The book began brightly and I had high hopes, but none of the characters are well rounded, particularly the protagonist, and after a few pages the constant standing around talking about their fiction and asking who murdered the dead guy, etc, got very old and tiresome. The novel moves at a snail's pace and nothing of particular note or excitement happens. I made the cardinal sin of putting it down while about halfway through, and I didn't pick it up again for days. When I did, the prose continued to drone on, the characters continued to have uninteresting interactions, and I began to not even care who did it. Also, because of the paucity of characterization, I couldn't keep straight which oddball was which after a while.

One thing I did like was the dead body - or its mind - speaking to the reader, but I am not sure if it was helpful making all those asides from third person narrative. Now, if he had brought the body back to life and then he and Colleen set about finding his murderer - you might have something. This book was badly underdeveloped and underdone.
Profile Image for Grain.
12 reviews1 follower
October 28, 2016
I paid 16 dollars for this?

So I'll start with what's good about the book. It has a great premise. It has a great title. And the cover design is fantastic. All these added up to a book I was extremely excited to read.

Now the bad. The book didn't live up to any of it. The premise was undone by unlikeable and uninteresting characters. The title, which sounded so profound, promised an element of the epic or supernatural that is entirely absent from the story. And while the cover looked fantastic with the tentacles, having those tentacles pop up randomly on the pages inside seemed hokey.

The book gets worse the further you get into it, and it ultimately leads to the most unsatisfying resolution in recent memory.
Profile Image for William M..
571 reviews56 followers
September 20, 2016
I was not sure what to expect with this book, as I had heard a lot of hype about it on various podcasts and internet circles prior to the book's release. Although I appreciated the insiders experience and humor of some of the ridiculousness that goes on at a genre convention, the constant poking fun of nearly everyone that was not 100% politically correct got old very quickly, and more than a little annoying.

The writing, technically, was solid and the scenes and chapters flowed nicely into the next. However, none of the participants seemed genuinely concerned with anything that was going on, which, ultimately transferred to myself, the reader, and by the midway point in the novel, I really did not care who the murderer was, or the fate of anyone involved. I was hoping for something a little more serious and sophisticated with this book. But it all seemed to be an insider poking fun at the views and personalities of others at their expense, with very little actual substance. It came off many times as mean spirited, as if the writer cannot seem to handle others having their own opinion without negatively pouncing on them.

I'll probably read more by author Mamatas in the future, but I'll do my homework a little better when researching exactly what the book is about. I enjoy most anything related to Lovecraft, but this was one story that, for me, fell short.
Profile Image for Jaclyn Hogan.
349 reviews32 followers
January 20, 2018
I received a s digital ARC of this book from Edelweiss+.

Ugh. Great premise, extremely lackluster execution. Also a waste of an excellent title. Basically, a Lovecraftian murder mystery bogged down in how awful fandom is. Can't recommend.
Profile Image for James Ranger.
32 reviews2 followers
June 21, 2017
Not for me. The joke is on the reader. The result of a snarky author who thinks he is too smart for us all. Think again.
Profile Image for Tammy.
834 reviews138 followers
August 19, 2016

The nitty-gritty: A hilarious romp through the weird world of a Lovecraft convention, narrated by a murder victim and full of strange characters.

It seems these days you can’t swing a dead cat in a bookstore without hitting a Lovecraft-inspired speculative fiction novel. I’m not sure why 2016 seems to be the “Year of Lovecraft,” or maybe I’m just hyper aware of all these tentacle-filled stories. But in any case, I’m curious enough to read as many of them as I can. Enter Nick Mamatas, whose take on the Lovecraft mythos feels quite different from some of the other books I’ve read. For one thing, I Am Providence is funny. Mamatas has not only done his research on Lovecraft and the rabid fans who worship him, but he’s thrown in his first-hand knowledge of the ups and downs of being a small press published writer. This story is full of irreverent pokes at just about everyone and everything: fan conventions, writers, editors, publishers, fanzines, bloggers, social media, racists and more. But it’s much more than just a humorous look at a very specific subset of the SFF world—it’s also a fast-paced murder mystery that felt almost like a “locked room” mystery to me, since most of the story takes place at the convention hotel where attendees are told not to leave, after one of their own shows up dead.

It’s time for the annual Summer Tentacular, the premiere convention for Lovecraft fans and writers, which is held in Lovecraft’s home of Providence, Rhode Island. Horror writer Colleen Danzig is attending the convention for the first time and is anxious to make connections that might help her career along. Colleen’s first day of the convention is spent schmoozing in the bar, meeting an assortment of strange writers and publishers, and attending the (very odd) opening ceremonies.

But before the convention can really get underway, Colleen’s roommate, an unlikable writer named Panossian, is found dead, his entire face cut off. The local police are called in to question everyone at the convention, who are now suspects in the murder. But Colleen decides to take matters into her own hands, as the police don’t seem to be getting anywhere, and launches her own investigation. One of the attendees is most likely the killer, and Colleen is determined to find out who it is.

As the convention spirals out of control, the deceased Panossian lies in the morgue, dead yet still conscious in some way, able to hear everything around him but unable to see. He is trying to not only figure out who the shadowy figure was that he saw right before he died, but to reconcile his strange life as a writer.

Colleen’s and Panossian’s stories eventually collide as the investigation takes a dangerous turn.

I have to start this review by confessing that I haven’t actually read a lot of Lovecraft myself. When I was a kid, my parents let me buy the 1971 Scholastic paperback edition of The Shadow Over Innsmouth and Other Stories of Horror, probably from a school Scholastic book club order form—a decision that I’m sure they regret to this day. I remember struggling with the prose (a word I actually didn’t know at the time) and thinking "Get to the point, already!" In other words, I didn’t really dig Lovecraft. (Or maybe I was too young...)

Fast forward a bunch of years and suddenly Lovecraft is everywhere, and I’m finding I much prefer stories that riff on his themes than those by the writer himself. And I Am Providence is a great example. One of my favorite things about this book was its snarky humor. Mamatas has clearly lived in this world—I mean, you can’t write this kind of biting humor without first-hand experience—and although his story has made me fearful of ever going anywhere near a Lovecraft convention, there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that, despite being over-the-top, must have a kernel of truth to them.

The characters by themselves are all a bit on the annoying side and feel like caricatures rather than real people (which I think was the point), but when you put them all together it made for a ridiculously fun story. Despite Lovecraft’s legendary racism, many of the characters are people of color, including writer R.G. Gonzalez and even Panossian himself. Colleen was one of the more likeable characters, a writer trying to gain traction in the odd and insular world of Lovecraft. She’s even willing to be roomies with a man she’s never met (Panossian) in order to afford the hotel room. Once Panossian’s body is found, Colleen jumps at the chance to be Nancy Drew (and unfortunately, several of the male characters even call her this) and try to solve the murder on her own, since the local police don’t seem to have a clue about how to conduct a murder investigation.

I loved that Mamatas gave Panossian a voice, and I imagine having a dead character narrate half the book is something Lovecraft would have done. Panossian’s chapters helped shed some light on the mystery and gave the reader lots of insight into the motivations of the other characters—in his snarky and disapproving voice, of course. The only slow part was a long chapter near the end where Panossian’s soliloquy got to be a bit too tiresome for me, which I was tempted to skim (but didn’t).

I Am Providence was great fun, full of funny and irreverent commentary on all sorts of things related to the field of writing. Even if you aren’t a writer, you’ll probably recognize these characters, but for those who have attended fan conventions of any sort, you’ll probably feel right at home.

Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.

This review originally appeared on Books, Bones & Buffy

Profile Image for Shane Douglas Douglas.
Author 6 books63 followers
August 11, 2016
Full review here - http://www.thisishorror.co.uk/book-re...

When we think of weird Lovecraftian fiction, many things come to mind, things we’ve heard and read of so many times they’ve practically become embedded in our subconscious minds. Places and monsters like Innsmouth and Arkham, R’lyeh, Shuggoth, and Cthulhu all have been written about in repeatedly over the years, mostly in pretty creative ways. But by now, if one is being honest, the trope has gotten pretty tired. Until Nick Mamatas comes along. When Nick thinks of Lovecraft, very different sorts of things happen, such as in his novel, Move Under Ground, in which Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, and a pistol packing William S. Burroughs set out on a zany quest to save the world. Or again in The Damned Highway, his collaboration with horror legend Brian Keene in which Richard M. Nixon is the leader of the Cult of Cthulhu and Hunter S. Thompson finds himself on a drug-fueled bus ride to the presidential primary in Arkham. Everything Mamatas takes on, whether Lovecraftian or otherwise, becomes something brand new, a thing like nothing that has gone before or is likely to be seen again anytime soon. I Am Providence, the brilliant new novel from Night Shade Books, is no exception.
Profile Image for Benoit Lelièvre.
Author 8 books137 followers
October 7, 2016
I've had a blast reading this novel. Not only it is biting satire, but it confronts Lovecraftian culture and fandom cultures in general, really, to their own ideas. Nick Mamatas' message is clear: don't take yourself too seriously. You're allowed to take the work seriously, be passionate about the work for as long as you want, but when you start taking yourself too seriously, you become a problem for what you love. Not to mention there's a fun and engaging mystery aspect to it and sneaky Lovecraftian undertones. There's a lot more to I AM PROVIDENCE than just satire, guy. It's a fun, dynamic an deceptively deep novel.
Profile Image for Todd Bristow.
62 reviews5 followers
August 9, 2016
I didn't find the central murder mystery in the book all that compelling but everything else in the book kept me joyously moving forward. I enjoyed the social satire of lovecraftian fandom. the book was speaking to me the most when it was disseminating the celebration and criticism of HP Lovecraft, the person and his works as well as the fandom that sometimes goes along with it. I wasn't always able to keep the characters firm in my mind. but, that didn't keep me from enjoying the journey.
Profile Image for Matthew.
381 reviews137 followers
September 26, 2016
Brilliant, scathing, and always entertaining, Mamatas has lifted the veil with this fascinating tale of murder and conventions.

Full review to come.
488 reviews4 followers
January 9, 2017
Fans gather in Providence for a H.P. Lovecraft convention called the Summer Tentacular. When one of the authors attending the con ends up dead, his roommate tries to find out what really happened.

This book feels like someone who had heard of cozy mysteries and horror novels, but had never read any of either, decided to try and write a mash up of the two genres...and didn't do a particularly good job at either.

For positives, I liked the images of tentacles running throughout the book and I liked the inclusion of the the fanzine graphic, they were unexpected surprises.

I really liked the conceit behind the male characters point of view, I can't say that it's never been done before but it was new to me and his sections were the most enjoyable and well written in the book and I found myself trying to rush through Colleen's sections so I could get back to his.

I found the rest of the book sadly disappointing though. Early events felt totally random with no basis on anything that came before, the other POV character, Colleen I found to be flat and seriously annoying. Actually, I found all of the other characters so annoying, in fact, they felt more like caricatures to make fun of people rather than real characters. No ones actions made any sense.

The setting of the con itself, it may have been intended to gently poke fun at fandom, but to me it came across as mocking fandom and the people who are drawn to it, it really came across as mean-spirited to me. Possibly because not only were everyone eccentric to an extreme degree, but they all acted like complete idiots.

About half way through I started skimming the Colleen sections, they were starting to make me angry and the ending was very frustrating, I think I could see where the author was trying to go with it, but the payoff just wasn't enough after the struggle I had just getting through the book.

Worth reading for the chapters that were from Panossian's POV, but I can't say that I enjoyed it which is a shame because I was really looking forward to this one.
Profile Image for Robb Hoff.
Author 5 books16 followers
May 10, 2021
I Am Providence is one necronomicon of antrhopodermic bibliopegy to die for!
What better setting for a murder mystery than the Summer Tentacular Lovecraftian Convention in Providence, RI.
And who could make a better murder victim at the writers convention than Cosmic Horror writer, Panossian, whose face is skinned on site for potential book cover design!
What’s more, Panossian gets to tell much of the story – after he’s dead and battling the dissolution of his consciousness as he tries to remember who killed him.
Horror writer Colleen Danzig also sleuths her way through the narrative in her attempt to solve the crime and spare herself from the Lovecraftian cabal that permeates every sentence of the book.
Great read, this one. Infused with all the lore and legend that so many find alluring in the Lovecraft legacy, but you really don’t need to be versed in all of that to appreciate this one for the intriguing murder-mystery that it is.
2,335 reviews
June 3, 2019
A 'quirky' murder mystery take on a Lovecraft convention

I picked this book to read because it had the lowest average on Goodreads of any book currently on my TBR list. And now I see why. The 'quirky' should have warned me off. This is one of those books that requires your sense of humor to align with the book, and mine most definitely did not.
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