So, I mentioned Stephen King in a post and, like clockwork comes the response:
"Stephen King? Pphhhhtt! Prolific hack!" two... three... four... waitforit! "Now, H.P. Lovecraft was the scariest writer ever!"
You know, it's very fashionable to pooh-pooh King, and his very popularity and prolificity are automatic strikes against him for anyone with the faintest pretensions to bohemian hipness or literary snobbery. But when he brings his A-game, the man sure can spin a yarn. I've found most of his novels to be pretty formulaic and dull, but when he connects, it's rarely just a dribbling grounder; he usually goes yard.
I like Lovecraft, but I also think that Lovecraft is the most overrated author among the neckbeard set. Given all the time I've spent among SF fans, among whom he's completely revered, there was no way his works could live up to the billing when I finally got around to reading them. Sure, he's good, but to hear the Cheeto-smeared-t-shirt crowd at DragonCon talk, the first three paragraphs of The Mountains Of Madness will cause you to run out and buy a nightlight, if they don't drive you stark gibbering mad from terror. Instead, I wound up disappointed because it wasn't bound in human leather a la the Necronomicon, nor was my sanity blasted from my mind by page five... or page 105, for that matter. I'd read so many Lovecraft ripoffs over the years that the real thing was hardly terra incognita when I got there; the haunted house just isn't as creepy if you've already been given the floor plan and know where the bogeymen are going to jump out. It's important to remember that every writer with pretensions to the "horror" genre feels obligated to write at least one Lovecraft pastiche, but that's all Lovecraft ever wrote.
So a great part of it is that I came to Lovecraft as an adult, and none of his stuff really scared me; a lot of my friends who have more affection for his works first read them as students in grade school, and therefore they get the benefits of the rosy glow of nostalgia that I well know, since I feel the same about Tolkien or Kipling.
(Incidentally the title of this post is both a clever reference to what the comments section is sure to look like, and an homage to a really scary story that has nothing to do with anything at all even remotely supernatural or gory.)