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THE NIGHT OCEAN by Paul La Farge


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#1 GRWelsh

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Posted 29 September 2017 - 08:30 PM

Has anyone read this book?  I just started it.  I'm not sure what I think of it, so far, as it seems to be one of those books that takes historical people (HPL, R. H. Barlow, Sam Loveman, etc.) and adds fictional elements to their stories.  I'm not sure how I feel about this.  It blurs the line between the biographical and the fanciful.  And that makes me wonder: is this a fair treatment of HPL? A major element in in this book -- and this isn't a spoiler as it shows up early on -- is that HPL (in this book's universe) is gay, has sex with men and even underage boys, and his relationship with Barlow may have been more than mere friendship.  Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I was not aware there was any evidence that HPL was (in reality) homosexual.  He had one brief marriage to a woman (Sonia Greene) in the 1920's, and that's all we really know.  Is this a fair way to treat a historical person?


Edited by GRWelsh, 30 September 2017 - 07:47 PM.



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#2 ElijahWhateley

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Posted 29 September 2017 - 09:09 PM

At this point, we've seen enough fantastically fictionalized versions of Lovecraft - actual wizard Lovecraft, Nazi-punching Lovecraft, Mythos-fighting Lovecraft - that adding gay Lovecraft to the mix can't hurt, especially if it's clearly marked fiction (unlike the even more dubious "lizard-person" and "secret theosophist" versions of Lovecraft). In terms of historical reality, people have thrown around the theory that he might have been gay for decades at this point - he probably wasn't, although he had a number of homosexual friends (despite being generally down on it, at least according to some of his correspondence).


In the Mythos, there is no such thing as cannon.

#3 Nick Storm

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Posted 30 September 2017 - 12:44 AM

Haven't read the book. Not of fan of the 'gay supposition' theories but had a chance to hear Mr. La Farge speak last August in Providence and was VERY impressed with his knowledge and scholarship of Barlow ect. 


'Sure, as long as the machines are working and you can dial 911, But you take those things away, you throw people in the dark, you scare the shyte out of them, no more rules. You'll see how primitive they can get' . 


#4 Ningauble

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Posted 30 September 2017 - 04:47 PM

A major element in in this book -- and this isn't a spoiler as it shows up early on -- is that HPL (in this book's universe) is gay, has sex with men and even underage boys, and his relationship with Barlow may have been more than mere friendship.

 

As most reviews I have seen point out, this is not actually what happens in the book, as you may have found out by now.

The way I see it, it is a book about lies, hoaxes, deceptions and disguises, and pretending to be -- or being forced to pretend to be -- something you are not. I found it to be a very compelling read, even though there are virtually no sympathetic characters with the exception of Barlow. It is very well-researched (but Barlow hated being called "Bobby", so that the constant use of this nickname jarred my suspension of disbelief during reading), and Paul La Farge had very insightful things to say on the Barlow panel at NecronomiCon (unlike myself, who was also on that panel but did not contribute much of importance).



#5 GRWelsh

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Posted 01 October 2017 - 12:16 PM

Okay, I stand corrected.  It is revealed in the book, fairly early on that (spoiler) the EROTONOMICON (that name makes me cringe) -- HPL's secret diary that describes sex acts in code using Mythos words and/or 18th century vernacular (ugh) -- is a fake.  La Farge does something clever, since this reveal means it isn't he who is besmirching HPL's reputation, but rather it is a character in his book who is doing it.  I haven't finished the book yet, but it is well written and flows along quite well.  I'm curious to see where it goes, and if it will have any supernatural or Mythos elements in it, or if it will just turn out to be about hoaxes, deceptions, etc.  I have the impression it will be the latter, as this seems moreso literary than genre, if you know what I mean.


Edited by GRWelsh, 01 October 2017 - 11:42 PM.