Monday, January 8, 2007

Comforts on a Monday

A long day. A long week. It's time to get back in the habit of five-day work weeks. So, after a long, cold, wintery day of clients, I get a hot bath with eucalyptus oil (I feel a cold coming on) and The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft. I know I have another copy lurking around the house somewhere; I just couldn't find it when I needed to reread "At the Mountain of Madness," so I bought another copy. Sue me.

Anyhow, hot baths, Lovecraft, and a lovely quiet evening ahead of me, and I stumble across this:

There is a party game at which we are asked, "If David Letterman had a vanity license plate, what would it say?" "If Betty Boop were real, what would she eat?" "If H.P. Lovecraft were a comic book, which would it be?" The last is the only one I can answer, but I do know that. H.P. Lovecraft would be The Sandman. "Comic book" is, of course, a poor description of The Sandman, and "graphic novel" isn't much closer; which fits perfectly, because none of the labels pinned on Lovecraft -- I mean the labels meant to pigeonhole his magnificent stories -- describe him very well. He was certainly not a pulp writer, merely one whose works appeared in a pulp magazine. Nor was he a horror writer, though there are horrors to be found in his stories now and then, especially if one does not look for them. Rather he was a tall and lonely man with many friends, whose soul dwelt in a haunted place beyond the world, a man who walked by night and always walked alone: a lord of dreams. A song of Lovecraft's time says that dreams come true in Blue Hawaii, but those are daydreams and too often they don't. C.S. Lewis has a bit in which people visit a region where dreams (real dreams like Lovecraft's and ours) actually do come true; and those people return white and shaken. They were lucky, I think -- very lucky to return at all through the gates of horn and ivory, the gates that are opened, sometimes, by the silver key.

What do you think, Mr. Carter?

-- Gene Wolfe

Anyone who knows me and my "comic book" reading habits will understand why I smile at this.

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