Part Eight of the CONTROVERSIES thread which continues from Part One HERE and Part Two HERE and Part Three HERE and Part Four HERE and Part Five HERE and Part Six HERE and Part Seven HERE.

Further discussion will hopefully be made in the comment stream below. Everyone is welcome to contribute on any aspect of book reviewing controversies and related matters in the hope that we may be able to cauterise them.


H.P. Lovecraft, S.T. Joshi, Ellen Datlow…


imageHPL’s letters to Rheinhart Kleiner indicate to me that he was and he felt he was an extreme racist even beyond the racist norm of his era.

HPL is/ was execrable, provocative, with sometimes inspiring imagination, disarming hydromoronic fiction style, and he warned us about Trump with his Azathoth and about Brexit with his own deep dark xenophobia.

HPL does not belong to Joshi on 22.8.17 (nor to which versions of HPL’s texts are the most important for readers and for the cosmos itself that worked with and against HPL to produce such texts), nor to Datlow, nor to others too numerous to mention, nor to NecronomiCon 2017 (and nobody has yet answered my question on how his birthday was celebrated there this year).

HPL belongs to the cosmos that has given us, say, Brexit-Trump and to the long-seasoned literary theory of the Intentional Fallacy that I hoped to embody in Nemonymous during the Noughties. He belongs to, say, William H. Gass’s Omensetter’s Luck (my review) and to Trump’s punishment by an ostensible God or Devil via storms and mayhem for his views on climate change etc. (not to belittle the tragedy of some of these events.)


It is ‘THE AGE OF LOVECRAFT’, for good or ill, but mainly as a symbol for the literary power of fiction to provide catharsis, and I used this my original photo on my review of that book, possibly before Nicolay publicly talked about pissing on HPL’s grave.

HPL should be pissed on and adored in equal measures.

Any future relevant literary and small press controversies that may occur will be linked or commented upon in the comment stream below as and when they happen…

37 thoughts on “*

  1. I have glimpsed some controversy about a certain individual appearing on a panel at Fantasycon at the end of this month, and talk of at least one person withdrawing from that panel as a result?

      • This is an intractable debate. Of course, and I say of course advisedly, we all hate fascism as each of us understands the meaning of that word and we will always do our best to counteract it wherever we see it. My long-term rabid public attack on Trump and Brexit is one of the ways I do it. Equally, through life we accept, within reason, people’s mistakes or views that differ from ours. Mel Brooks said today that ‘political correctness’ (under which I infer today’s social media ‘virtue signalling’ and social justice warriors) has been the Death of Comedy. Has it also been the Death of Tolerance? Thus, creating unwise polarities. It’s a question of where the line is drawn and how one reacts when that line is crossed. This is also relevant to the equally intractable HPL debate at the top of this page.

        My real-time review in 2010 of the NEVER AGAIN anthology edited by Allyson Bird and Joel Lane: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/never-again/

      • I don’t get the level of surprise in that thread. If a highly prominent author is happy to be announced as part of a book launch for a publisher who has (for example) advocated the expulsion of all muslims from France, whatever that author’s personal reasons for doing so and their personal views on such matters, surely they would anticipate at least some blowback? It would make the newspapers in other genres.

  2. If you have a personal investment in issues such as racism (for example, if you are non-white or your wife is non-white) then you are inevitably going to have different ideas about what is offensive and what isn’t. It’s easy to have an theoretical, abstract, armchair attitude to the issues if you are a white male with a white family living in a white bubble in a white world, because you always have the option to retreat, to go back; you are never fully committed, your politics is always going to be something that isn’t a life and death question. But when it’s a personal issue, when the investment is personal, then the issue takes on a far deeper dimension. Because in such a case there is no going back, there is no retreat. People who don’t have a personal investment will never have the right to pronounce final judgment on racism. I salute those who have opposed David Riley not merely through vague words but through actions (such as standing down from panels on which he is present) and I have only contempt for those who regard membership of the National Front as an inconsequential thing.

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