Providence02-wrap-e1505250489735-810x474Gordon Douglas at Public Books Monthly:

H. P. Lovecraft seems to have been, as his longtime interrogator and interpreter Alan Moore has written, “an almost unbearably sensitive barometer of American dread,” whose writing reflects precisely the fears of the “white, middle-class, heterosexual, Protestant-descended males who were most threatened by the shifting power relationships and values of the modern world.” In this way, the eccentric horror writer was also, however problematically, a perceptive observer of America’s growing cities and new social problems—a kind of Robert Park or Upton Sinclair, but more fearful and mean.

Moore is no generous devotee of Lovecraft’s work. He has been deeply engaged with it for a couple of decades now, and has just as long been engaged in simultaneous tributes and critiques that darkly tweak and parody it in ways that would have made Lovecraft squirm. This is important in the context of the 80 years since Lovecraft’s death, during which generations of readers and scholars have mostly embraced his work with far too little critique. His almost entirely posthumous fame spawned an entire genre of weird fiction and a still flourishing world of interconnected, self-referential fantasy writing (the so-called Cthulhu Mythos) that is somewhere between a shared fictional universe and nerdy fanfic. Only quite recently has his work received a spate of explicitly critical engagements, which not only call out, but also probe and prod, Lovecraft’s racism and other faults. Indeed this has to some extent become a new standard of popular engagement with his work, at least as judged by prominent additions to the mythos last year (Victor LaValle’s Ballad of Black Tom, Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country), and a new biography (W. Scott Poole’s In the Mountains of Madness). Strangest among these, yet perhaps also the deepest and in some ways the most faithful, are the multiple projects by Moore and his collaborator, the artist Jacen Burrows, the culmination of which is the just-concluded 12-issue comic book series Providence.

more here.