Keeping in spirit with Halloween, Rhode Island Public Radio’s Catherine Welch filed a story Thursday involving Lovecraft himself and this year’s successful “NecronomiCon” convention for the show “Morning Edition.”
While the story’s audio segment didn’t go much past three minutes, what makes Welch’s piece worth a gander is its brief summary of all the efforts and projects the city of Providence, RI and its historical society have been pushing for over the last few years.
The projects have ranged from installing plaques on Angell Street where HP grew up to large-scale ventures such as making an intersection in the city the official “HP Lovecraft Memorial Square” and creating a bust of the horror writer.
All of this for a man who’s followers regularly make pilgrimages to Providence simply to visit his gravestone that was unmarked up until the 70’s when fans paid and installed the now famous “I AM PROVIDENCE” headstone in the Swan Point cemetery according to hplovecraft.com.
Overall, along with the smart phone application and tour site markers that will help bolster tourism (NecronomiCon brought in around “$600,000” according to local businesses), the attitude of the city towards commemorating the late author has been fascinating.
For context, a few decades ago, the works of HP only loomed in the backs of libraries, preserved and passed on by small publishers like Arkham House which founded by Lovecraft’s correspondent and fellow weird fiction writer August Derleth. For the longest time, only those with a taste for the strange and rare sought them out, some of whom included Stephen King, Guillermo del Torro, and John Carpenter.
But now through social media, constant reprinting and easier access to Lovecraft in general, a renaissance of weird fiction is going full-steam.
I suppose the only question I can muster here is whether or not the conventions and smart phone apps are totally warranted. After all, Lovecraft was a relatively obscure writer in his time (early 20th century) and his stories were commonly ran in pulp fiction magazines that cost a quarter.
Not to mention, his writing style was infamous for its “purple prose” (extravagant, dramatic writing) and, coupled along with certain texts that can alienate entire audiences altogether, made for hard reading.
These are but a few of the reasons why Lovecraft doesn’t enjoy the same “mainstream” status along with fellow 1920’s writers such as TS Eliot (whom Lovecraft hated and lampooned) or F. Scott Fitzgerald (who wrote during the same jazz age as HP).
To this, I say nonsense: without a doubt does Lovecraft deserve the recognition he’s receiving a bit less than a century after his death. One does not simply influence and shape the landscape of an entire genre of film and literature and make off with only a plaque on a street in his hometown.
What do you think?