Craig's Reviews > Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
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's review
Mar 13, 2017

really liked it
bookshelves: to-read, horror

Werewolves don’t scare me. Neither do the walking dead (zombies), Voldemort, body-snatchers, Chuckie, Jason or Freddie.

People who have lost or buried or under-developed their empathy. Who see black and brown and female and trans bodies as things to be used, or scorned or destroyed. Those are the true monsters.

Reading Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country isn’t just a look at the bigotry of the past. Jim Crow isn’t dead. He just got a new suit, had a makeover. Now he wears thousand-dollar suits, has a chic hair cut, and calls himself James Corvid.

Ruff’s novel is loosely structured as a linked short story collection. It follows the Turners, a black middle class family in Chicago and their dealings with a white male sorcerer who wants to control an occult empire. Secret societies, inter-dimensional travel, eidolons, cosmic horrors, possessed dolls and body-thievery all appear in these tales, intertwined with the mundane horrors of life under the heel of racism.

Ruff does imbue the narrative with a sense of wonder. The appearance of Lovecraftian menagerie didn’t terrify me. It was thrilling and exciting and magical. But the big bad, Caleb Braithwaite, he was horrifying. He was a literal personification of Jim Crow--or, rather, James Corvid. Braithwaite, like Corvid, is outwardly handsome and charming. But he is determined to uphold his superiority, and uses (black) as pawns in his narcissistic game. He is the monster.

Like the Ballad of Black Tom (LaValle), LC directly challenges the undercurrent of white supremacy that undergrids H.P.’s fiction.
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Reading Progress

September 17, 2016 – Shelved
September 17, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
March 13, 2017 – Shelved as: horror

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by David (new) - added it

David Quick I want to read this but would love to have a little more Lovecraft under belt first. What are two or three of his stories to read first?


Craig David wrote: "I want to read this but would love to have a little more Lovecraft under belt first. What are two or three of his stories to read first?"


I'm not a Lovecraft fan by any means because racism, eugenics and white supremacy are the engines that fuel his fantasy. My favorite is called "The Outsider." It is very poetic and mercifully free of the unironic use of the n-word!


message 3: by David (new) - added it

David Quick Craig wrote: "David wrote: "I want to read this but would love to have a little more Lovecraft under belt first. What are two or three of his stories to read first?"


I'm not a Lovecraft fan by any means becaus..."


Thanks Craig. That is very helpful context!


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