Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It Always Comes Back to Squid

According to this silly engine, I write like H.P. Lovecraft.

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


As anyone who knows anything about me is aware, I have long been fascinated by tentacled beasts or, as they are more scientifically referred to, cephalopods. And also horror short stories from the golden age of short stories before The New Yorker made genre a dirty word and we all had to read about people's marriages imploding in the suburbs (that's what Mad Men is for!). We seem to be in the midst of a Lovecraftian revival.

Look! There are even accessories:

And I do have a documented fondness for native Rhode Islanders. So, yeah. I'm all for it. But genre short stories were written and published by the hundreds, and few are still read today.

One of my most prized possessions, book-wise, is a set of three elephantine short story collections edited by Dorothy L. Sayers titled The Omnibus of Crime (Second Omnibus, etc. for the two subsequent volumes). The first one is the most expansive, containing an excellent, long essay by Sayers on the history of mystery, detection and horror. She begins with the Romans (Aesop and stories from the Apocrypha). My God, I love Dorothy Sayers. If she was still alive, she would have an awesome blog. Anyway. The book is divided into two main sections with many (MANY) subdivisions. The first is Detection and Mystery, which is further divided into Primitives (further divided into Oriental, Latin and Greek), and Modern (too many divisions to list, but she does any literary taxonomist proud). The second section is Mystery and Horror, with two main sections. One being Macrocosmos (Stories of the Supernatural), which is further broken up into three sections (all of which are further broken down): Tales of Ghosts and Haunting, Tales of Magic, and Tales of Nightmares and the Borderland of the Mind. The second subsection is Microcosmos (Stories of the Human and Inhuman), which is further divided in two: Tales of Disease and Madness and Tales of Blood and Cruelty.

The first Omnibus of Crime is 1200 pages long, and the two subsequent volumes aren't much shorter, though less obsessively organized. Her choices are uniformly excellent throughout. Then, about 20 years ago, the indefatigable Ellen Datlow joined forces with frequent collaborator Terry Windling (I saw the two of them read at KGB a couple of years ago and almost died of happiness), and began editing an anthology of the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. The book grew to gigantic proportions, with essays in the front, and dozens of stories per issue. Starting in the 17th Annual, Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant took over for the doubtlessly exhausted Windling. Obviously, like all anthologies, they can be a little hit or miss, but over-all the quality of the stories is superb. Sadly, the 21st annual was to be the last. There are many wonderful anthologies out there, and lord knows I have a backlog of thousands of pages to read. But I want more.

And more tentacles would be nice, please.

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