The Starry Wisdom
A Tribute to H. P. Lovecraft
Edited by D. M. Mitchell
An Occasional Look at Lovecraftian Anthologies: 8
Do you like wallowing in other people’s shit? No, I’m serious. Is your particular satisfaction based on getting right down there and rolling around in the excreted waste of others? Or reading loving descriptions of the same?
How about descriptions of male and female genitalia so extreme that they are more than likely going to turn you off sex for life?
Well, if that’s your thing, then rush right on out and buy yourself a copy of The Starry Wisdom; if you’re not quite so much into that, then avoid it at all costs.
Listen, I’m not stupid and I’m certainly not prudish. I can see what editor D. M. Mitchell is up to with his selection. A good thing to be said about it is that it certainly shakes up that feeling of sameness that some HPL-inspired tales have.
And there should always be room for something unusual, even if you don’t really agree with it.
Or get it.
Or are into it.
Calling it a tribute to HPL, though…woah, that’s a bit much, isn’t it? I mean, that whirring sound you can hear is the corpse of the man himself up in Swan Point Cemetery, spinning around at top speed.
Stories for True Romantics
Just to get things off in the right vein there is that very divisive wordsmith, Grant Morrison. With Lovecraft in Heaven we get to enjoy and have a fond few laughs over the dying writer’s final moments as he remembers pleasant interludes with his mother and later with wife Sonia:
“Blind, restless mouths, zodiacal pincers and claws, the deepsea smell of his death, like her smell, the archaic scent of his wife, his lunatic mother in her chains. His death that he smelled in the marine chambers of her cunt so long ago and failed to recognise.”
There’s more – by hell, is there more; we haven’t even gotten to his ‘father’s cock, bursting with maggots’ yet – but you get the idea.
And that’s followed by a five-page graphic art piece (with the emphasis on ‘graphic’) called Third Eye Butterfly by James Havoc and Mike Philbin.
I literally – literally – don’t have a clue what this is about. The closest I can make out is that it’s some sort of paean of praise to a strange lady’s asshole. What it has to do with Lovecraft I have not the faintest idea. It’s not even half-decent pornography.
There are 23 stories here in all and I’ve no intention of describing them individually. Those two that I’ve mentioned should give you an idea if this is for you.
I wasn’t even all that gone on the offering from that wonderful Lovecraftian scholar, Robert E. Price. His tale, A Thousand Young, has one of the most unpleasant protagonists that you can imagine. This creep even orchestrates, in a most appalling way, the anal rape of his own girlfriend. Again, I could see what Price was up to – I just didn’t care for it.
And I don’t normally care for Brian Lumley’s work either (for very different reasons); but his The Night Sea-Maid Went Down is really enjoyable – and with not a penis, vagina or tenderly described steaming pile of manure in sight. I even appreciated the ecological angle to it. After rereading some of HPL’s letters recently I was surprised to note that it’s a subject that he mentions himself, even back in the ‘20s
I think that the same eco-argument is being used for including Henry Wessels’ From this Swamp; but I’m not buying that line at all.
- G. Ballard isn’t a writer that I would associate with HPL, but one of his lesser pieces is here and it’s the relatively sane Prisoner of the Coral Deep.
And ‘sane’ isn’t a term that can be applied in any shape to the pretentious nonsense that is Dan Kellett’s Red Mass. This is utter, untreated crap. (See how the ‘shit’ motif is contagious?)
wind die you die we die is William S. Burroughs in restrained mode. Yes, well spotted: the words ‘William Burroughs’ and ‘restrained mode’ appearing in the same sentence. And in this anthology, of all places. That may be the most controversial thing about this book.
Or maybe not. Walpurgisnachtmusik by Simon Whitechapel is so extreme that even Creation Books carry a disclaimer. Put it this way, you’re likely to be offended if you’re Jewish.
Or a female.
Or a human.
You know, it’s interesting. I bought this book over twenty years ago, mainly for the Alan Moore tale, The Courtyard. I wonder if this collection looked fresh and unconventional back then; because now a great deal of it just looks like pretentious, shocking-for-the-sake-of-it rubbish.
Mind you, it’s almost worth it for the 32-page illustrated adaptation of The Call of Cthulhu by the brilliant artist John Coulthart; but I want to do a separate article on him next time around and so I’ll pass over it for the moment.
And something of a surprise was Black Static. I nearly gave up on this because of the opening section, which surprisingly enough described shit, excreta, physical waste, bodily matter and — running out of ways to describe crap – I think that some pus was thrown in. I’m not sure; my eyes had begun to glaze over at this stage. But once you wade (and I do mean wade) through all that, there is a decent story here that – incredibly – I do believe that Lovecraft himself would have approved of. It’s by David Conway, one of the founding members of that pleasant band of melodic tunesmiths ‘My Bloody Valentine’ — and the guy can write. You know, when he gets over his anal fixation.
There you go. Another public service from your favourite socially conscious blog. The Starry Wisdom is certainly not my glass of warm diarrhea — but it is different. And if you buy it and then claim to be offended, I’m sorry.
It’s not like you haven’t been warned.
Next: The Haunter of the Dark and Other Grotesque Visions
The Starry Wisdom
Published by Creation Books. 1994