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Culture

Nick Mamatas Delivers a Mystery with Horror and Wit

August 26, 2016
Eleni.Sakellis

If for whatever reason you happen to be a reader who has somehow managed to never have read anything by horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, you may be puzzled by the increasing interest in the author and everything Lovecraftian in recent years. The internet and the rise of nerd culture have certainly contributed, but Lovecraft’s influence on modern horror and fantasy writers including Stephen King and Neil Gaiman and in Japanese anime and manga have made Lovecraft more popular today than in his own lifetime. The prolific pulp author is best known for his weird fiction though he also wrote poetry, philosophical and scientific works, and about 100,000 letters many to his circle of writers who continued his legacy with the Cthulhu Mythos, freely borrowing from his work, especially for strange names and the ancient alien entities that inhabit Lovecraft’s fiction.

For those who are diehard fans, attending conventions and collecting figurines, it will come as no surprise that so many books inspired by Lovecraft have recently been released. Among those books, I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas is a wonderfully-constructed mystery, combining horror elements from Lovecraft with Mamatas’ own mordant wit in an homage/criticism that fans will love. With a thorough knowledge of Lovecraft that only true fans possess, Mamatas can comment on the literary criticism and the racism and sexism that are among the most controversial aspects of Lovecraft’s oeuvre and still manage to write a thoroughly entertaining mystery. That being said, the book is dark and not for the squeamish reader. The title of the book comes from the inscription on Lovecraft’s tombstone. The story follows the goings on at the annual Providence-based convention, the Summer Tentacular, where fans gather each year to share their love for all things Lovecraft. Colleen Danzig, a horror writer, finds her roommate, Panossian, an insufferable novelist, murdered, his face removed, but the convention-goers seem unfazed and the convention continues. Only a few cops interrupt the proceedings as nearly everyone there is a suspect. The convention is populated by writers, scholars, literary critics, creepy book collectors in search of human skin-bound books, and true believers trying to summon Cthulhu, Lovecraft’s cosmic entity that cultists have taken to worshipping. Solving the mystery is left to Colleen who delves into the darkness while Panossian, biding his time in the morgue, narrates a new Lovecraftian story. The book is available online.

Author, editor, and anthologist Nick Mamatas, whose family hails from Ikaria, was born on Long Island, NY. His novels have been translated into Greek, German, and Italian. His work has received nominations for Bram Stoker, Hugo, World Fantasy, Shirley Jackson, International Horror Guild, and Locus awards. Mamatas lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Last Weekend: A Novel of Zombies, Booze, and Power Tools was published in 2014. More information is available on online via Nick Mamatas’ blog and website.

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