HP Lovecraft expert Leslie Klinger joined Ian Punnett (Twitter) to discuss the history and characters of the influential horror writer, including the mighty Cthulhu (pronounced KHHLOOL-hloo). Lovecraft was born and spent most of his short life in Providence, Rhode Island. When he was three years old, his father was committed to a mental institution where he died, Klinger reported, noting his mother was also institutionalized. Lovecraft married and briefly moved to New York, where he loathed the population of immigrants and the idea of racial mixing, Klinger revealed. "The sense of alienation from other humans, from other beings, is really Lovecraft translating this intense racism," he suggested.
Lovecraft was a dismal commercial failure despite writing 60 to 70 stories, dozens of poems, and perhaps as many as a hundred thousand letters, Klinger continued. After he died, his work was brought to the attention of critics and by the 1970s there were serious academic studies of his stories, he explained. "His work was deeply influential on writers like Stephen King, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Peter Straub, these are all writers who read his work when they were young and found it spoke to them," Klinger said.
He talked about Lovecraft's intense interest in science and his philosophy of storytelling which grounded his stories in the mostly real world. Many of those tales were placed in the mythical town of Arkham, Massachusetts - home of fictional institution Miskatonic University. The most famous of his literary creations, the cosmic entity Cthulhu, was likely an ancient god or alien being who came to Earth for some unknown purpose, Klinger proposed. He described Lovecraft's style of writing as deliberate, slow-paced, and meticulous, aimed at building a mood and with a revelation at the end that is horrifying.
In the first hour, Adrian Zink shared the intriguing events and colorful characters that show up in a deep dive into the history of the state of Kansas. Zink recalled the time he was shown a vertebra from a giant camel which he learned had once roamed The Sunflower State in abundance. He recounted the story of the ghost town of Ash Valley, where there is a forgotten memorial to a forgotten man next to a forgotten railroad. Zink reported on the discovery of skeletons from Walnut Creek which told the story of a massacre. A boy, Robert McGee, survived the massacre and later exhibited his scalped skull as a sideshow attraction, he noted. Zink also spoke about the Blizzard of 1886, when temperatures plunged 30 degrees below zero and people and livestock across the state froze to death. The storm stopped two trains near Kinsley, Kansas. The town's residents welcomed 270 passengers into their homes until the trains could once again depart, he explained.