It’s time to tie another story to a chair and shine a spotlight in its pulpy face. Today’s subject is Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. This book is soon to be an HBO adaptation from
It’s time to tie another story to a chair and shine a spotlight in its pulpy face. Today’s subject is Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. This book is soon to be an HBO adaptation from Jordan Peele, and we wanted to discuss the novel before everyone’s buzzing over what should be an excellent television show.
The true horror of this new pulp tale has nothing to do with the tropes of weird fiction. Instead, it comes from the institutionalized racism of the era in which the African American protagonists live, the 1950s. The characters must contend with segregation, discrimination, neighbors willing to commit injustice to keep their neighborhoods white, and cops hoping for opportunities to kill them. By comparison, the ghosts, aliens, and sorcerers in this novel don’t seem so bad.
Without getting too deep into the plot of the novel, the opening of the tale follows Atticus Turner, an army veteran, trekking up to a mysterious town in New England to find his father. After this section of the plot is resolved, the novel morphs into something more akin to a series of interconnected short stories. Each one has a slightly different flavor and focuses on a different protagonist dealing with a different horror trope. One character must contend with a haunted house, another finds a portal to an alien world, and there’s a character who falls for an occultist. All these tales weave together to arrive at a very satisfying conclusion.
It’s no secret that H.P. Lovecraft was an appalling racist and that greatly taints his legacy. In recent decades, authors have done fabulous jobs building on Lovecraft’s disturbing imagination while avoiding his harmful world views. Matt Ruff’s work stands out because it embraces Lovecraft’s imagination while also shining a light on Lovecraft’s ignorance. As a result, the novel manages to transcend into fresh territory while playing with the classic weird fiction tropes Lovecraft made popular.
If you enjoy Lovecraft or just weird fiction, this book is worth your time.