H.P. Lovecraft is, without question, one of the most influential horror writers in history. His Cthulu mythos and his pervasive sense of dread all make for unforgettable and unsettling stories.
H.P. Lovecraft was, without question, hella racist. His writing is full of references to "Mongrel flesh," especially when talking about New York City and Chinatown.
And fans have often struggled with how to reconcile the two halves of that author. Many just choose to ignore it, glossing over the unpleasant aspects of Lovecraft to focus on the madness inducing tentacle monsters.
But, what if you can't just overlook that?
This brings me to my Pick of the Week, the novella The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle. Mr. LaValle is an african-american author in Harlem and a lifelong fan of Lovecraft. He takes the framework of the Lovecraft story "Horror at Red Hook" and then tells it through the eyes of the title character, Tommy Tester, a musician and hustler in 1920s Harlem. Tom is then folded into the Lovecraftian mythos, artfully contrasting the horror of the Old Ones with the everyday horror of the racism he faces just by being a black man. The first time Tom is introduced, he's on a subway to Forest Hills, Queens, growing more and more aware that he's the only black man on the train. To Tom, it's obvious what the greater evil is. “What was indifference compared to malice? Indifference would be such a relief.”
The book is fantastic, chilling, and a great read. It was my introduction to Victor LaValle and it will definitely not be the last thing I read of his.
Unless the Old Ones come...
When I signed with Red Adept Publishing, I was introduced to a ton of great authors in a number of different genres. The first one was the fabulous Katrina Monroe.
Sacrificial Lamb Cake is a funny and exciting tale of the Second Coming and the potential end of the world. Rain Johnson is a lesbian, a waitress, and the last person to expect that she'd be the new Messiah until she's informed differently by a very infamous biblical figure.
I'm a big fan of Christopher Moore and Kevin Smith, and this book reminded me of the best of both of them. It's quickly become one of my favorite reads.
Check it out for yourself!