Nick Mamatas interviewed, on Lovecraft:
As I argued in the Los Angeles Review of Books a couple of years ago, Lovecraft is wrongly considered a bad writer because he’s actually a difficult writer. He engages in polyphony, using the modes of everything from learned rhetoric to personal letters and newspaper reports to build a case for the verisimilitude of his creations. Lovecraft’s bad reputation as a writer comes largely from his epigones, who ape his style without understanding choices, or from people who really haven’t read him closely. Complaining about his prose is like complaining that a modern filmmaker made a film in black and white instead of color — it’s a choice with a purpose, not an accident or an artifact of incompetence. …
A hunt for discussion of neurosis in horror fiction (for a current writing project), led to this (from 2005). Prepared to respond with twitchy hostility, but it’s actually pretty good.
An erratic overview, with an off-beam title. This — for instance — is absolutely not getting it: “… the essential quality to truly terrify: an aspect of the unreal.”
This, though, is getting it:
Ligotti’s stories, which have been reissued in a new Penguin Classics volume that brings together the books “Songs of a Dead Dreamer” and “Grimscribe,” are fugues of the creeping unknown. They often begin with a moment of banality: a visit to a new town, an academic’s research project, the tearing down of an old building. His narrators are fairly nondescript, if occasionally a tad morose. But they are all sensitive to or attracted by a slight bend in reality. Something leaks through into the known world, and the protagonist, often already on the edge of sanity, is doomed by the encounter with whatever it is — say, the spectre of a demolished house that seems to exist in a liminal place between wintry nights and the realm of the dead.
Horror is about nothing at all except reality. Unreality is for everything else.
Abdul Alhazred writing the Necronomicon (by Robert Bloch, 1917-1994):
Ligotti becomes the story in The Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Ligotti’s stories are light on action and heavy on dread. Their motifs include puppets, harlequins, dying towns, deranged loners and the notion that humanity is an aberration spat out by a chaotic void. “There’s an inevitability about his fiction—of decay, rot, horror, the slow and unavoidable descent into darkness—that I find irresistible,” said Livia Llewellyn, a Shirley Jackson Award-nominated writer who contributed a story to “The Grimscribe’s Puppets,” an anthology tribute to Mr. Ligotti edited by Mr. Pulver. According to the scholar and critic S.T. Joshi, Mr. Ligotti is one of the premier writers of so-called weird fiction over the past 50 years. But Mr. Joshi isn’t convinced of the author’s appeal beyond the genre. “Without a thorough familiarity with [Messrs. Poe and Lovecraft], some readers may not ‘get’ what Ligotti’s tales are about, or come away with an incomplete understanding of them,” he said. Others, such as Mr. VanderMeer, said Mr. Ligotti has transcended Mr. Lovecraft’s shadow.
Some explanation here. A snippet: “This Cthulhu is found in the digestive system of the … Cuban subterranean termite. It turns out termite guts are a surprisingly popular place for protists to hang out, as a vast array of huge , shaggy microbes (see these images of Trichonympha, Spirotrichonympha, Dinenympha, and Pyrsonympha, for instance) hold court there.”
Lovecraft’s notes for At the Mountains of Madness:
The abstract of a peculiar paper:
In 1928, the late Francis Wayland Thurston published a scandalous manuscript in purport of warning the world of a global conspiracy of occultists. Among the documents he gathered to support his thesis was the personal account of a sailor by the name of Gustaf Johansen, describing an encounter with an extraordinary island. Johansen’s descriptions of his adventures upon the island are fantastic, and are often considered the most enigmatic (and therefore the highlight) of Thurston’s collection of documents.
We contend that all of the credible phenomena which Johansen described may be explained as being the observable consequences of a localized bubble of spacetime curvature. Many of his most incomprehensible statements (involving the geometry of the architecture, and variability of the location of the horizon) can therefore be said to have a unified underlying cause.
We propose a simplified example of such a geometry, and show using numerical computation that Johansen’s descriptions were, for the most part, not simply the ravings of a lunatic. Rather, they are the nontechnical observations of an intelligent man who did not understand how to describe what he was seeing. Conversely, it seems to us improbable that Johansen should have unwittingly given such a precise description of the consequences of spacetime curvature, if the details of this story were merely the dregs of some half remembered fever dream.
We calculate the type of matter which would be required to generate such exotic spacetime curvature. Unfortunately, we determine that the required matter is quite unphysical, and possess a nature which is entirely alien to all of the experiences of human science. Indeed, any civilization with mastery over such matter would be able to construct warp drives, cloaking devices, and other exotic geometries required to conveniently travel through the cosmos.