• Understanding Autism from the Inside

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Monsters: A Review of Lovecraft Short Stories

I can see why Lovecraft is the father of horror writing.  He writes the best monsters.  This week I’ve read three Lovecraft short stories, “Pickman,” “The Outsider,” and “The Call of Cthulhu.”  Lovecraft’s monsters worked for me on many levels.  Foremost, they are the supernatural horror monsters that are right up my alley.  Demons and old gods and horrific sights that are “not real,” but all too mysterious and real all the same.  Those things creeping in the underground of humanity and seep through into our world—those are Lovecraft’s monsters.

“The Call of Cthulhu,’ is by far the most famous of these three shorts. In fact, my 19-year-old has been talking about this for the past few weeks without knowing it was on my reading list.  There is a video game coming out based on this Lovecraft classic that he’d insisted I watch the trailer for a couple of weeks ago.  That’s his thing—wandering downstairs in the middle of mom’s writing time to make me watch YouTube videos and trailers of games coming out!  Then, if it is something that he really likes he hovers and talks about it for a few hours and spends the rest of the day interrupting me with stories and other downloads of different character storyline.  I don’t care about any of these video games, but that is my guy’s way of communicating, and so I listen, and will always love the interruptions even when they bamboozle my day!  #AutismMom’s Life, ya know?

So as an homage to Interrupto-teen, I will put the video game trailer (if I can find it) link in the post.  Another thing he came running down the stairs about the other days was a weird thing that happened several months back.

Disclaimer:  I do not know if this is fact or not!  I don’t have time to fact-check, so I am adding as fun only.  

Adam found reports of statues popping up all around the world one day (the same day) or an old world monster/god/legend.  Well, yesterday when I finally agree to look it up, it was Cthulhu!  I thought he was making it up, but again he loaded his YouTube videos and there he was: Cthulhu.  Again, did these things happen?  No idea.  But it was great fun.

Back to the stories:  Cthulhu needs no introduction.  Lovecraft created an effective monster.  I just wish I’d read it in Lovecraft’s day and not ours.  That is my main issue with the stories.  They are not long but are slow reads.  The language is “old fashioned” by today’s fast-paced reading standards and using “white space” is sparse.  It makes for long, cumbersome, blocky pages of text.  But as far as the story goes, and supernatural horror. Lovecraft is the craftsman of the slow-burning dread, and a perfect example of less is more.  The monsters in these short stories, I felt I could fully realize and yet on second inspections of the text, they are not definitively defined.  The description is sparse allowing me to insert my own visions of monsters.

This is true of “Pickman,” and yet, I felt as if those monsters were so real because Lovecraft did a fantastic job of making the monsters horrifically real to the narrator.  The writer’s style and choice Lovecraft made writing “Pickman” is not one I would have chosen—the whole story is told in a letter to a friend, and that was confusing.  It looks a few paragraphs for me to figure out what was happening. But otherwise, I enjoyed the story.  What stood out, as this was my first real introduction to Lovecraft, is that I recognized tropes, monsters, and even locations in “Pickman” that were used in other stories.  I am reading a middle-grade series at the moment that now appears this short story served as its inspiration.

My favorite of the short stories, however, was “The Outsider.”  I loved the idea presented here.  A monster, who does not understand, he is the monster.  Upon making his way out of the castle, climbing stairs and bursting into a ground level outside surrounded by a forest, he happens upon a gathering in which screaming and people flees when he arrives.  What horrors could they be running from?  Unfortunately, he sees the monster they are fleeing from—only it is through a glided reflecting glass. I am not sure why I loved this story so much, but it felt as if this Outsider character was climbing from the underground of hell. Perhaps, “The Outsider,” was one of “Pickman’s” monsters?  It would appear that Lovecraft acutely perceived the unseen world of monsters and demons.

Remember earlier in the term, I had said I had a complete misunderstanding of the horror genre?  I was correct. When I thought of horror, silly slasher movies, Halloween, Friday the Thirteenth, Nightmare on Elm Street is all that came to mind.  And those are horror, but not what I feel now is at the heart of a genre, that I am beginning to adore.  And one of which that I’ve always written and did not understand.  All of my stories involve angels and demons, monsters and gods from The Otherworld, and mystical creatures.  Oh, and supernatural—ghost stories and weird occurrences.  I love the weird. Even the awful romance I wrote (and its bad, its really bad LOL) was paranormal romance—so yep, weird is me!

I thought I was writing middle-grade and YA urban fantasy (monster hunter/demon slaying/magic portals)  kinds of stories, but I am wondering if I am writing middle-grade and YA horror types of stories?  What makes these two different?  Now I’ve no idea what I am writing—categorically, that is.

Favorite horror authors so far this term:  Barker and Lovecraft.  By the Way, Barker’s The Theif of Always was a great middle-school horror novel.  Horror for children, who knew?






Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.