At the Mountains of Madness

At the Mountains of Madness and Other Tales of Terror - H.P. Lovecraft

Nope. This is the second time I've tried Lovecraft, I've given him more than a fair shake, and I'm going with a solid No. Even setting aside the problematic social issues, I just don't like his writing at all. Like many writers who hit on a big idea that births a genre (or mini-genre) he can't actually write.

Here is the thing: he reads like a particularly dry tome written in the Victorian era. I look at his contemporaries and the antiquated language and structure seem even more tortured. I think there were more pages devoted to descriptions of boring equipment, what the expedition packed, and geology than there was actual story. (If I read the word "Cambrian" one more time this book might actually get me to scream, though not for the reasons advertised.) Also, this story is such an ideal example of why "show don't tell" is a writing staple. Again and again I'm told how scary something is, how mind-shakingly terrifying such and such is, oh the horror the horror, and that stands in for actually writing something scary. His writing also suffers from a problem a lot of older sci-fi has where our understanding of science has progressed and made certain things unintentionally funny or absurd. Oh, they have wings so they can flap their way through space? Riiiiiiight. I try to give authors a break on this because it isn't their fault, but it really didn't help matters.

So yeah. Not my bag, and I'm officially giving up on Lovecraft. I know a lot of people love him, and that's fine, but it's not my thing. I'll stick to re-tellings from modern authors if I feel the need to re-visit Lovecraftian horror. The only thing I find scary about Lovecraft are his politics and sweeping popularity.