Personally, I am Team Poe. Ever since I was a child, gathering bricks around the farm to recreate my favorite scene from “The Cask of Amontillado”, I’ve been a bit of a Poe nut. Watching Vincent Price inThe Fall of the House of Usher cemented it for me—if you’re looking for scary, Poe’s your guy. Plus, he isn’t just terrifying—he’s clever. One of my favorite short stories of his is “The Sphinx,” in which a terrifying monster on the landscape turns out to be…well, I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you, but it makes you think. Mostly about how you’ll never write as well as Poe.
He also was surrounded by scandal and mystery. Kicked out of West Point, disowned by his step-father, married to his cousin…this guy had it all. Except money. The one thing Poe was not known for was being wealthy. In fact, he died broke and drunk inBaltimore, Maryland, after being found facedown in a gutter. Even his death is shrouded in mystery, which is only fitting for such a man.
Now, I can appreciate H.P. Lovecraft. I am well aware that there would be no plush teal Cthulhu dolls in the world if not for this man’s warped imagination. I just don’t particularly enjoy reading him. He seems to delight in confusing and bewildering the reader, to the point where I just don’t want to finish the story. If it makes my sinuses ache to read it, folks, I tend to put the story down. Nothing makes me reach for the Sudafed faster than hearing a story or an author described as “Lovecraftian”.
Cthulhu mythos aside, Lovecraft was known for his ideas on fate—specifically, that we can’t escape it, and that we’re responsible for paying the price of our ancestors’ crimes. This all sounds very familiar to me. Like I’ve read this before. About the house of Usher.
Also, Lovecraft didn’t lead the life of intrigue that Poe did. Sure, both of his parents wound up in an insane asylum, and he wound up spending his later years moving to smaller and smaller houses with his aunts, but still, a tiny hovel with your elderly aunts still beats FACE DOWN IN A GUTTER, doesn’t it? Lovecraft would die a slow, painful death from cancer of the small intestine. Sure, it’s not fun. But it’s also, I repeat, not FACE DOWN IN A GUTTER.
So, are you a Lovecraft, or a Poe? Do you like mystery, scandal, and quality writing? Or do you prefer garbled puzzles with no solution, bizarre sea monsters, and malnutrition? And don’t give me that “I like them both” garbage. It’s time to take a stand. And you know, deep down in your soul, in the bowels of R’lyeh under the waters, you want to.
Come on down to Worcester, MA this weekend to see me and my scary writer friends (including Kristi)! We'll be at Rock & Shock this weekend, where I will be signing books, speaking on two panels, and getting all goofy when I meet Rowdy Roddy Piper!