The Thing On the Doorstep

Goodreads link.

Start Date: 2018-10-08

Finish Date: 2018-11-06

This was on display at the Bedok library for the Halloween month, and I eagerly snapped it up; but then took ages to actually read it. Notable points:

  • Oh my, a preface by Guillermo del Toro! I had no idea that he took such a connoisseur’s interest in horror; and wasn’t a guy who was making his own horror storytelling on the fly.
  • The introduction by ST Joshi, which also gives a massive biography of Lovecraft, his troubled relationship with his aunts, and the impact of his getting married; is super too.
  • Overall, reading Lovecraft leaves me with the same impression as reading the original Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories – that the major contribution is not to write good stories, but to create a corpus of work that more gifted writers can draw upon to create better stories. Except that Lovecraft, IMO, starts off with better writing than Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • The early stories are very much in the tradition of cliche-horror with the obvious twists; but again, with somebody like Lovecraft, you can’t really be sure that he didn’t invent the cliche and that what makes it seem cliched are the stories that drew upon it but which you read before reading the original.
  • I never realised that so much of Lovecraft drew upon possession more than physical monsters.
  • It was fun to see cult lines (“The old ones are, the old ones were, and the old ones ever shall be.”) in their original setting.
  • There are stories in which weak willed and misled researchers are taken down by university professors, and others in which they are taken down by a sheriff and his posse. There is no elite / populist thread to be found here.
  • I am really impressed at how compelling Lovecraft manages to make a fictional history, as with the last, Antarctica story.


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