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149 pages, Paperback
First published February 16, 2016
Nobody ever thinks of himself as a villain, does he?
Walking through Harlem first thing in the morning was like being a single drop of blood inside an enormous body that was waking up. Brick and mortar, elevated train tracks, and miles of underground pipe, this city lived; day and night it thrived.
Tester knew how to recognize a room full of roughnecks. This bunch qualified. Suydam had haunted waterfronts and back alleys to find this crew of cutthroats. The kind of place Tommy imagined the Victoria Society would be was what these criminals called home sweet home.
They shouted back. They clapped each other on the shoulders. Founding fathers of a new nation, or even better, a world now theirs to administer and control.
Malone finally heard the last words Black Tom whispered down in the basement.
I'll take Cthulhu over you devils any day.
"The veil of ignorance has been set over your face since birth. Shall I pull it free?"While I'm generally familiar with HP Lovecraft and his work, including his Cthulhu mythos, I haven't read that much from him. From what I gather though, he was a hardcore racist, and one must look past some of the uncomfortable material in his work to get to the good stuff and appreciate him. It seems like this has been the case with author Victor LaValle, who begrudgingly considers himself a fan. But he decided to use this conflicted appreciation of the horror master as inspiration for his latest project. In this novella, he has taken what many consider to be one of Lovecraft's most xenophobic work, "The Horror at Red Hook," and remixed it, cleverly transforming it into a cosmic horror tale that is also a commentary on racial and immigrant prejudice, and a big clapback at Lovecraft's bigotry in his own work.
The smell of age, meaning undifferentiated time, had settled throughout the home, a musty odor, as if the winds of the present never blew through here.I don't want to say much about the plot other than it's about a young black hustler in Harlem that does whatever it takes to survive as a black man in 1920's New York, the strange world he encounters in the underbelly of the city, and how these things affect and provide an outlet for his frustration and anger at the oppression that he must endure everyday. There's some great creepy imagery in this that LaValle handles masterfully and with a steady pace that sucks you in, making this short book hard to put down.
A cataclysm was happening on Parker Place, and belowground the air here smelled of sewage and smoke and the threat of divination.
"“I bear a hell within me,” Black Tom growled. “And finding myself unsympathized with, wished to tear up the trees, spread havoc and destruction around me, and then to have sat down and enjoyed the ruin.”Read: October 11th, 2022
“You’re a monster, then,” Malone said.
“I was made one.”"