I look at lists of authors I have to read – H.P. Lovecraft, John D. MacDonald, Raymond Chandler, J.R.R. Tolkien, Isaac Asimov, and others.
They are part of the education of a writer in that particular genre. Gonna write mysteries? Better read Chandler. Horror? Gotta read Lovecraft.
Or do you?
There are plenty of articles about H.P. Lovecraft, his white supremacy views, racism, and sexism.
He was not alone. Possible Robert E. Howard? Some of Edgar Rice Burroughs maybe? Who knows for sure.
But my problem with Lovecraft is different.
I can’t get through his stories.
There’s a really interesting (to me) article defending Lovecraft, despite being a bad writer. But this is where I’m more careful.
H.P. Lovecraft did something I have not. He wrote stories that impacted entire generations of writers and his influence is felt in literature, film, and other genres.
But I can’t get through it, whether I’m reading or listening to an audiobook. To me, the prose is too luxurious. It is too heavy and dense. I get distracted and eventually wander off.
Lovecraft is in good company. I’ve yet to get through Frank Herbert’s Dune, despite trying several times, and a few other seminal pieces of genre fiction.
Does that make me a bad writer? A bad fan?
It isn’t just classics. Two attempts at Gardens of the Moon, Book 1 of Malazan, by Steven Erikson have failed.
Not a Criticism
When I read a book or author, or listen to a song or album, or watch a movie, I am careful in my words. I don’t want to say the artist is bad. Usually, they’ve accomplished something I either cannot or will not.
There are millions of people who have read and loved Lovecraft. Herbert’s fans are counted in the millions too.
At the end of the day, it is personal taste, no?
But still, I sometimes feel at a loss when I listen to podcasts or talk to other authors. They talk about how much they love Lovecraft and I’m just sitting there, twiddling my fingers, and hope they don’t ask me any details about Mountains of Madness or about some obscure reference about the Bene Gesserit in Dune.
I might be revealed as a horror/sci fi fraud, no?