shots-logo_180So yesterday found me in our garage unpacking a couple of boxes of books which have been in storage there for goodness knows how long, and I came across the Library of America edition of HP Lovecraft’s Tales, a handsome book which gives an air of scholarly gravitas to stories that are usually printed with more lurid covers. I’m sure I’ve said elsewhere that I have a huge affection for Lovecraft; I first came across him while I was still at primary school in the early 1970s (I must have been about 11); I still have the original paperback and looking at the cover I’m surprised my parents didn’t take it away from me, but there you are.

The first story in the collection is The Statement of Randolph Carter written in 1919 and full of things that would be familiar to all readers of his later work (Lovecraft himself described it as a ghastly tale and said that it was based on an actual dream). Carter and his friend Harley Warren head off into Big Cypress Swamp but only Carter makes it back out. This is his attempt to explain what happened based on the little he can recall.

It’s full of wonderful stuff; the pair have talked of “why certain corpses never decay, but rest firm and fat in their tombs for a thousand years” which gives you some idea of what they were off looking for. The tone of the first couple of pages put me in mind of Charles Gray as The Criminologist in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, though the story gets a bit more hysterical towards the end. Not one of my favourites but it was good fun to read it again.