Friday, August 10, 2007

Marblehead

A while back I talked about writers who seem to do their best work late in their careers. I'd like to say that about Richard Lupoff's magnificent stunning overwhelming Marblehead but even though it was only recently published in its original form it was actually completed around 1970. But that doesn't matter. Whenever it was written and published, it's Lupoff's masterpiece.

Marblehead (A novel of H.P. Lovecraf) is a faux biography, speculative fiction in the real sense of the term. A good deal of it is actual-factual, which is to say that Lovecraft was just about as loopy as his stories, an old-fashioned New Englander whom God or actually the dark gods chose to plunk down in a century he loathed. Early on Lupoff gives us a man whose neuroses are sometimes amusing--i.e., his snobbery, crankiness, his Bush-like penachant for giving everybody nicknames, almost pathetic Anglophilia...a dotty literary man not without his very real griefs such as constant lack of money, his even more constant lack of literary recognition and his odd marriage to the Jewish Sonia, odd especially because Lovecraft is anti-Semetic.

This is the first of many unappealing sides of Lovecraft that Lupoff shows us. The anti-Semitism and the outright racism are factors that Lupoff uses create an imaginary period in which Lovercraft is hired by a German Aryan supremacist to write a book about how white folks will eventually rid the world of all others. Lovecraft is reluctant but needs the money.

I'm not coming close to doing the book justice. Its wit, its wily melancholy depiction of Lovecraft, its careful depiction of Lovecraft's era and strange burdened grief give it a depth and echo you just don't find in most popular fiction.

1 comment:

Todd Mason said...

Jeeze, I thought it was odd that it should have to wait for Ramble House to publish it, but that it had to wait decades for that compounds the injustice. Not that the publisher doesn't deserve all credit, but when the likes of DEATH CLOUD are cooed over by publishers with money...