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Lovecraft Country: A Novel av Matt Ruff
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Lovecraft Country: A Novel (utgåvan 2016)

av Matt Ruff (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,1465412,822 (4.03)38
Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George-- publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide-- and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite, heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus's ancestors, they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours. At the manor Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus.… (mer)
Medlem:kongjie
Titel:Lovecraft Country: A Novel
Författare:Matt Ruff (Författare)
Info:Harper (2016), Edition: 1st Ed., 384 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek, Ska läsas
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Taggar:Ingen/inga

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Lovecraft Country av Matt Ruff

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» Se även 38 omnämnanden

engelska (53)  ungerska (1)  Alla språk (54)
Visa 1-5 av 54 (nästa | visa alla)
That’s the horror, the most awful thing: to have a child the world wants to destroy and know that you’re helpless to help him. Nothing worse than that. Nothing worse.

3.5 ⭐️
This review can also be found on my blog.

I found myself so drawn into this so quickly, but unfortunately that didn't last. I thought this would be one continuous story, but it's sort of more of a collection of interrelated stories that become more fully tied together as the book progresses. The start of the first was a pageturner and so, so eerie but shifted to more of a middling pace and became less outright spooky. I went through bursts of really wanting to read it and others where I was just kind of waiting for the next thing to happen. The characters, though, really made the book. I found them all to be distinct and realistic and didn't have to worry about mixing any of them up which I usually do with a slightly larger cast.

I had gone in a little nervous about reading a full cast of Black characters written by a white man, but I think Matt Ruff handled this pretty well (I'm not really able to fully speak on this, though). I was pleased to see that at the end of the edition I was reading, he had a recommendation list containing some historical books on the Jim Crow era as well as sci-fi books written by Black authors. It was nice to see him using his platform to lift up others and to point his readers in an ownvoices direction.

Overall, I found this very readable and will likely be recommending it to others!

I am a white woman and my review is written through that lens. If you are an ownvoices reviewer who would like your review linked here, please let me know!

content warnings: Jim Crow era racism

Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Ko-fi ( )
  samesfoley | Jun 18, 2021 |
4.5/5 stars.
Lovecraft Country was one of those books I always meant to read but never got around to doing so. I love revisionist takes on old genres, especially ones that bring something new to the table. In Lovecraft Country’s case, that was prioritizing the stories of Black Americans by placing Black characters as the leads in various genres that have often underserved them. But I just never got around to reading the book. Until now. In light of the imminent premiere of HBO’s adaptation of the book, it seemed exactly the right time to finally read it. And, man, I’m so glad I finally did. I really wish I’d done so earlier. Reading Lovecraft Country is like watching a season of a great show contains elements of serialized and episodic storytelling. There is an overarching narrative at play, but each story stands alone while being wholly entertaining, quite frightening, and extremely poignant.

Boiled down to its simplest elements, Lovecraft Country is about Atticus Turner and his family and friends who, through a series of unfortunate and supernatural events, find themselves in the middle of a brewing turf war between various lodges of an ancient order of “natural philosophers” (aka magicians). However, this narrative plays out primarily in the background, with only a few of the novel’s eight stories directly furthering that plot. Instead, the bulk of the book features a collection of mostly standalone stories, loosely connected to the central plot. Each story follows a different character (though most characters appear in multiple stories, just not as the focal point), through the lenses of various pulp genres, as they get sucked further into this weird world. It’s an eclectic way to tell the story, but it’s one that ended up working better than I thought it would.

As I finished the first story of Lovecraft Country, I felt a bit disappointed. I tend to prefer books where the story is told linearly throughout the novel’s page count. Short stories are neat, but I much prefer the character development and world-building that a novel can bring to a narrative. However, as I got into the book’s second story, it quickly became apparent that Lovecraft Country wasn’t just a collection of stories that were related only by theme, but a collection of stories that were connected by a plot - in much the same way as many genre TV shows are executed. With each story, I got to delve into the minds of these characters I’d become invested with. I got to see each of them be the star of a story, with each story’s atmosphere tailored to that character’s personality and backstory. It’s easy to see these characters grow and change in the wake of what they experience throughout the novel and it’s nice to get to jump between various points as the story goes on. At the same time, I got to see the novel’s world expand, with each story exploring a new facet of this supernatural universe. There were rules and stakes that became clear as the novel progressed and having different sections of the story devoted to specific parts of the world proved a particularly effective way to explore this world.

It’s impressive how well these seemingly disconnected stories end up building to the novel’s climax. Each story has its own feeling, being inspired by, and written in, the style of different pulp stories. Lovecraft Country has something for all genre fans; there are heists, ghost stories, space stories, secret societies, terrifying monsters, and all kinds of fun, supernatural ilk. But they are all connected by this ancient order - and by one member, in particular. At first, the connections seem to be loose, feeling more like Easter eggs than pieces of an ongoing story. But about halfway through the book, it becomes very clear that all of these short stories are actually connected in a much deeper, meaningful way, and that connection is what fuels the momentum for the novel’s second half. Ruff’s no-frills prose helps keep the tension high, allowing each story’s atmosphere and character development to do much of the heavy lifting. Even if you don’t love short story collections, Lovecraft Country manages to capture the best elements of short stories and novels and is beyond enjoyable.

Obviously, race plays a big part in the story - in ways you might expect, and in ways you might not. There’s the expected kind: the book is set in America during the 1950s. Much of the country is still segregated, with Jim Crow Laws still in effect (or the remnants of them still heavily felt) throughout the South. And even in the more “progressive” parts of the country, life still ain’t swell for Black citizens. Large chunks of the book deal with this. The characters are faced with racist law enforcement, racist citizens, and even racist societal standards. It’s haunting, partially in the context of how little we seem to have advanced from that. For these characters, horror is a part of their daily lives. If they already live in fear, why should the supernatural be much scarier? Lovecraft Country also tackles race in a more meta way: by examining both the racism of the novel’s namesake, H.P. Lovecraft, and the racism found throughout many pulp genres over the years. Multiple characters are fans of science fiction, as a genre, and choose to overlook some of the various authors’ less-than-stellar views because they want to imagine themselves as the heroes of the stories. Lovecraft Country, as a sort of commentary, takes these characters and subsequently places them in the center of science fiction and other pulpy stories. There’s a sort of karmic justice seeing the work of a renowned racist influence transformed into this story about the very people he hated so much. Ruff does a surprisingly good job with these elements - a lot of care and effort was clearly put into ensuring the novel did justice to the very real injustices suffered by Black Americans in the past (and in the present). It can sometimes make for a dark, upsetting read but I feel Ruff was able to find a balance between these darker themes and the lighter pulp ones.

At the end of the day, I thoroughly enjoyed Lovecraft Country. The stories are simultaneously varied and interconnected. As you get further and further into the book, it becomes clearer and clearer just how connected these seemingly disparate tales are. But the true joy of the stories is how well they standalone. Each story perfectly captures the genre being emulated while deftly exploring whichever character is leading the story. And with such variety, there’s easily a story for everyone in Lovecraft Country. As for the plot itself, it’s every bit as interesting as those contained within the various shorts. I appreciated the mixture of horrors - both supernatural and human - and, while it’s unfortunate that this is still the case, it’s so refreshing seeing mainstream genre stories revolving around non-white characters. Having read the book, I’m even more excited for the TV adaptation. If you haven’t read the book and you like any pulpy genres, you should really give Lovecraft Country a shot. ( )
  thoroughlyme | Apr 23, 2021 |
This is a set of stories set in a Lovecraftian world of dark magic and eldritch horrors, except with the added horror of racism - the characters are all Black, and have to deal with the mundane horrors of being pulled over by cops in the middle of the night on top of the horrors of evil magicians.

I stopped reading this about halfway through. It wasn't bad, but it didn't really hold my interest because it is a group of loosely-connected stories and I didn't feel like there was an over-arching plot. I probably would have finished it if there weren't a TV series, but I read enough to get the general idea and I'll see how it ends by watching the series (even though I know the book is better). ( )
  Gwendydd | Mar 6, 2021 |
I was late to the party on this one. I saw advertisements for the HBO series prior to its release and knew I’d check the show out on the strength of who was connected to it. I was not, however, committed to reading the book until I actually saw the first episode. Now I’m pretty invested.

Lovecraft Country is centered on Atticus, a young Chicago native who’s returning from military service at the request of his father, Montrose. Montrose has long been obsessed with understanding the family history of Atticus’ late mother. Things take an odd turn when Montrose sends a letter that compels Atticus to meet him in Ardham, Massachusetts. It’s the heart of Lovecraft Country, a literary world made famous by the author of the same name. It’s filled with evil creatures, but Atticus finds that not all monsters are figments of imagination.

What struck me most about this book is how deeply it looks at racism in America. Some examples are glaring — sundown town, anyone — but many are insidious, like the lies than are easily told about “the help” that cost them their livelihoods. There are also elements of sexism, classism, and colorism that arise for different characters. That’s what I found most compelling here; I’m not generally into historical fiction because I like suspension of disbelief. The state of the world right now does not make Lovecraft Country like this a place of respite. Instead, it’s a harsh reminder. With this book, the racism and white privilege served as character in itself.

I am not shocked that the book is better than its television counterpart. The story is robust and creative in ways I didn’t know I’d enjoy. I was most struck by different elements of science fiction that were centered in each chapter. Space travel, spells of protection, possession, magic potions, and the like. You name it, it’s here. I loved being able to get a little bit of all those elements, then seeing how they worked together across the book.

Lovecraft Country is almost like a series of novellas within a book. It comprises chapters that have a different character at the center, but each chapter builds on those previous. I enjoyed that each character had the chance to be the center of attention, even the women. To that end, no character felt like an afterthought because the book laid bare how they were integral to the ultimate resolution.

As someone who’s new to Lovecraft fiction, I wasn’t sure what I’d get. I expected more gore and horror. What I got was more suspense and fantasy and social critique all in one. I found it hard to put down and am eager to explore the genre. The verdict is still out on how it will compare to the full series, but I’ll be watching and comparing along the way. ( )
  lenabean84 | Jan 10, 2021 |
Visa 1-5 av 54 (nästa | visa alla)
“Lovecraft Country” centers on two ­African-American families navigating the Jim Crow ’50s. These pages are rife with unwelcoming diner workers, violent lawmen, unwarranted and belittling verbal and physical attacks that are both omnipresent and unrelenting.... At every turn, Ruff has great fun pitting mid-20th-­century horror and sci-fi clichés against the banal and ever-present bigotry of the era. And at every turn, it is the bigotry that hums with the greater evil.
tillagd av Lemeritus | ändraNew York Times, Manuel Gonzales (betalvägg) (Jun 1, 2016)
 
Lovecraft’s works of horror and science fiction in the early decades of the 20th century have had an outsized influence on popular culture.... Less highly regarded are Lovecraft’s ideas regarding race; a vehement believer in the superiority of white individuals over others, many of his stories were rooted in a fear of immigrants, miscegenation, and mixed ancestry....The superficialities are there — strange cults, rituals in the night, monsters with more body parts than strictly necessary — but none of the psychic horror of Lovecraft is found in Ruff’s work, none of the existential dread. The threats are real and obvious: a white man, often with a gun.
 
...the most terrifying moments in the story don’t come courtesy of the monsters. It turns out that even many-tentacled void hounds are nowhere near as scary as white people in Jim Crow America. Matt Ruff is to be commended for combining two genres that I couldn’t have considered further apart before now, and doing justice to both. You’ll come for the sci-fi, and stay for the history lesson.
tillagd av Lemeritus | ändraLit Reactor, B.H. Shepherd (Feb 16, 2016)
 
This timely rumination on racism in America refracts an African-American family’s brush with supernatural horrors through the prism of life in the Jim Crow years of the mid-20th century....Ruff (The Mirage) has an impressive grasp of classic horror themes, but the most unsettling aspects of his novel are the everyday experiences of bigotry that intensify the Turners’ encounters with the supernatural.
tillagd av Lemeritus | ändraPublishers Weekly (Nov 30, 2015)
 
Some very nice, very smart African-Americans are plunged into netherworlds of malevolent sorcery in the waning days of Jim Crow—as if Jim Crow alone wasn’t enough of a curse to begin with....If nothing else, you have to giggle over how this novel’s namesake, who held vicious white supremacist opinions, must be doing triple axels in his grave at the way his imagination has been so impudently shaken and stirred.
tillagd av Lemeritus | ändraKirkus Reviews (Nov 4, 2015)
 

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Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George-- publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide-- and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite, heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus's ancestors, they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours. At the manor Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus.

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