Last summer, while touring Geek Cons with Second Skin, I was astounded by this odd fellow Cthulhu. I’m perfectly ashamed at how little I knew of this tentacled extraterrestrial, being that I fancy myself a hardcore otaku, but the little cephalopod-faced brute was everywhere! Cthulhu was emblazoned on t-shirts, poked fun at in card games, the inspiration for RPGs, books- Cthulhu was somehow the punchline to every joke I heard at each and every convention. So I meekly asked my buddy and all around geek laureate Matt Ellsworth what Cthulhu was all about, and he patiently explained HP Lovecraft’s canon to me. Since Lovecraft only wrote short stories, poetry and the errant novella, his corpus is more confusing than most authors, but it also gives it a ton of mystique. Moreso, the more you delve into his life and the way he’s influenced just about every writer since him.
I’m not sure why it spent a year gestating inside me (very Lovecraftian, gestation) but exactly 52 weekends later I suddenly became inexplicably ravenous for Lovecraft. I started inhaling his books, guided by my tutor in all things eldritch, Matt. The past three months have seen me getting more and more odd looks from librarians as I ransack their stacks for anything even vaguely Cthulhu-related. But I can’t help it. Lovecraft is brilliant in just about every dimension. From his lyricism to his pacing to his unparalleled ability at withholding information and letting it out in distorted fragments- its enough to make a reader swoon.
Anyway, by some divine providence, it turns out my favorite blog io9 decided to publish (just today) a Lovecraft 101, so I didn’t have to. (I’d been piecing it together in my head for weeks- so glad they did the heavy lifting!)
Eerily enough, this makes for a spot-on description of my life over the past four months: what I read, what I watched. The only change I would make to their guide is the order of stories you should read. Do NOT start with Mountains of Madness. I’d read that close to last. Begin with Call of Cthulhu, don’t miss my favorite- Shadow Over Innsmouth, and definitely read The Colour Out of Space and The Dunwich Horror.
Mr. Ellsworth will hopefully provide some more guidance in the comments, as I am merely his Paduan in this realm… Until then, please do me the favor of picking up some Lovecraft. It’s as exquisite as good literature gets. Really.