Where to buy: Tartarus Press and other fine book retailers.
World Gone Wrong: H.P. Lovecraft’s Mythology of Loss (part one) by Joel Lane
Songs of the Archangel: Halcyon & Other Poems of Gabriele d’Annunzio in English by Daniel Corrick
Reginald Hodder: Author of The Vampire by James Doig
Ernest Bramah’s Max Carrados: The Sightless Supersleuth by Gary G. Garner
Donald Armour’s Swept & Garnished: A Rediscovered Masterpiece of Supernatural Horror by Robert Eldridge
Lilies Among the Thorns: An Overview of American Decadence by rj krijnen-kemp
Some Notes on Aickman’s Plays by Douglas A. Anderson
Under Review by Reggie Oliver
Late Reviews by Douglas A. Anderson
The Horror by Arthur L. Salmon
Camera Obscura by Mark Valentine
Greetings to ill and sun-dried,
Today, I review another issues of the excellent magazine Wormwood: Literature of the fantastic, supernatural and decadent. I hope my reviews of this issue and the two preceding it will draw new readers to this superb journal.
The seventeenth issue of Wormwood more than lives up to the high standards set by the fifteenth and sixteenth issues. Once again, Mark Valentine has assembled an adept and well-read team of scholars who discuss fiction writers dealing in the unusual, whether famous, infamous, or obscure. Indeed, the lesser-known individuals are often the most interesting subjects.
Joel Lane gets the issue off to a strong start with Part One of “World Gone Wrong: H.P. Lovecraft‘s Mythology of Loss,” which deals with the legendary Rhode Island author’s life and early work. Lovecraft, besides being the most famous of the authors discussed in these pages, is also one of the few whose work this reviewer has already read, and therefore I enjoyed this essay a great deal. Lane’s analysis of Lovecraft’s inclusion of aspects of his own life and personality in his work is fascinating, and I also applaud him for not only acknowledging Lovecraft’s racism, but refusing to sugarcoat it, as so many fans seem to do (though, not, be it noted, this fan, who has detected a strong streak of anti-miscegenation sentiment in his work, with The Shadow Over Innsmouth being a noteworthy example.) Daniel Corrick‘s “Songs of the Archangel: Halcyon and Other Poems of Gabriele d’Annunzio in English” analyzes d’Annunzio’s poems and how they were influenced by his own worldview. Although there is not as much biographical information in this piece as in many printed in Wormwood (apart from a mention of the influence of his beliefs on the Italian Fascist movement,) Corrick more than makes up for this with a thoughtful examination of the man’s work. James Doig, who provided an interesting piece on H.T.W. Bousfield in the issue immediately preceding this one, contributes the equally excellent “Reginald Hodder: Author of The Vampire,” whose subject was a theosophist who, besides writing novels dealing with fantastic subjects, also wrote non-fiction about the occult. As an appendix, Doig provides Hodder’s essay “Vampires,” which is interesting despite its rather desperate attempts to convince the reader that supernatural vampirism is a real phenomenon. Gary G. Garner’s “Ernest Bramah’s Max Carrados: The Sightless Supersleuth” examines the stories of Bramah‘s blind sleuth, who anticipates such later sightless crusaders as Marvel Comics‘ superhero Daredevil and the Japanese cinematic hero Zatoichi. Robert Eldridge’s “Donald Armour’s Swept & Garnished: A Rediscovered Masterpiece of Supernatural Horror” discusses ArmourD’s incredibly rare novella, which involves a priest who becomes corrupted by dark forces. rj krijnen-kemp‘s “Lilies Among the Thorns: An Overview of American Decadence” is, as the title implies, a look at the few American writers to have contributed to the Decadent movement. Probably the best known work discussed is Robert W. Chambers‘ The King in Yellow, which heavily influenced Lovecraft. Douglas A. Anderson follows with “Some Notes on Aickman’s Plays,” which may have been a last-minute addition, as besides the table of contents, the front and back covers both list the contents of this issue, but none of these three lists includes this piece. Fortunately, this is no rush-job, as Anderson provides skillful synopses and critique of three plays (one written under a pseudonym) by author Robert Aickman. Reggie Oliver’s regular column “Under Review” includes, among other books, a biography of notorious artist Austin Osman Spare and a chapbook about author Hall Caine, a friend of Bram Stoker‘s. Anderson returns with “Late Reviews,” which highlights rare works, including another book by Robert W. Chambers and a collection by Arthur L. Salmon, whose short (4 pages) story “The Horror” follows. Editor Valentine’s “Camera Obscura,” as always, highlights fiction and nonfiction works the reader may not have heard about.
Wormwood is fast shaping up to be one of my favorite magazines currently being published. Each issue outdoes the one before it, which is no mean feat considering the quality of said issues. All the contributors, and especially editor Mark Valentine, should take a bow. I will be reviewing the eighteenth issue in the very near future, and I have every confidence I will love it as much as the three before it. Once again, this fan grants a terrific issue 5 out of 5 tentacles.
Sean Levin – Assistant Editor/Reviewer/Reporter