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Lovecraft Country
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Lovecraft Country > LC: The muddle in the middle

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message 1: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (JohnTaloni) | 2555 comments So...like my earlier thread, great start to the book. Then it starts to drag.

Spoiler protected for courtesy, only modest spoilers within.

(view spoiler)


Dara (cmdrdara) | 2171 comments Agreed. I don't think the anthology style worked. The stories felt disjointed and the book wasn't cohesive. Each character having their own chapter/short story leads to favorites, if that makes sense. I liked some tales more than the others and I wanted more of the stuff I liked.

I also agree that the ending was rushed and I don't know what the point of the story was. Spoilers for the end: (view spoiler)


Iain Bertram (Iain_Bertram) | 545 comments Dara wrote: "Agreed. I don't think the anthology style worked. The stories felt disjointed and the book wasn't cohesive. Each character having their own chapter/short story leads to favorites, if that makes sen..."

My take was that the "Lovecraftian" elements were incidental to their lives. In the originals the smart white folk who encounter "old ones" tend to go mad. African Americans in the 50s go, hmmm, not so bad.

In the first encounter the horror is being locked in a mansion full of powerful white dudes. The horrors from beyond don't get a look-in.


Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 867 comments I'll try not to directly spoil anything that's not in the first story, but I'll heavily allude to the later stories so adjust your spoiler filters accordingly.

So I think the book has two primary goals:

1) Give a broad illustration of the kinds of racist oppression African-Americans faced before the Civil Rights Era,

2) Broadly touch upon the different kinds of stories H.P. Lovecraft wrote, e.g. otherwordly travel, time travel, black magic cults, body horror, cursed house, etc.

The Braithwaite coven plot is the framing device of the book, and is right in the vein of HPL's cults and men who delve into forbidden knowledge (Herbert West, Richard Upton Pickman, etc.), but also a good metaphor for the systemic white supremacy keeping the African-Americans down. The other stories explore the other kinds of tales HPL wrote: evil houses, body transformation, extraterrestrial civilizations, and so on.

(We talk about the "Cthulhu Mythos", but that's mostly HPL letting other authors play in his sandbox--while he used certain concepts and ideas in multiple stories, I don't think he set out to link all of them together, except thematically: There are things beyond all human comprehension, whether sleeping gods or tentacled horrors or alien psychics, but they're all terrifying.)

The characters then, were created to examine different forms of oppression in the pre-Civil Rights era: a woman trying to buy property, a man trying to eat at a diner, a woman trying to get and keep a job, a child, etc.

Each character is paired with each type of HPL story. Then Ruff has to find a way to tie it all together at the end, but there are difficulties when Lovecraft never cared how or why Herbert West and shoggoths are in the same universe as Cthulhu and the Great Race of Yith. I agree the ending's a little pat and tidy, but much like the Safe Negro Travel Guide, Lovecraft Country is more concerned with your journey than your destination.


Nils Krebber | 106 comments My take away was as well that, confronted with the constant horror of racism, the existential Horror of Lovecraft (the uncaring gods, etc.), really is not that bad. I mean, Cthulhu may one day wake and bring about the end of the world, but the Man is breathing down your neck every day.


Leesa (leesalogic) | 511 comments Joe Informatico, great post!

Nils, that's how I approach the story too.


Trike | 4743 comments Joe Informatico wrote: "I'll try not to directly spoil anything that's not in the first story, but I'll heavily allude to the later stories so adjust your spoiler filters accordingly.

So I think the book has two primary ..."


Exactly this. Insert favorite applause gif here.

Each of the stories riffs on a classic Lovecraft story. The main difference being that Ruff ties them together directly.


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