Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Old Book, New Book #12: The Best of H.P. Lovecraft -> The Miracle of Forgiveness
After what seemed like a pretty long time, I finally finished up "The Best of H.P. Lovecraft", and I have to say that it was a pretty good collection of short stories, and especially interesting considering how old these stories are, written at the beginning of the 1900s. Lovecraft has some favorite words ("eldritch", "Cyclopean", "foeter") that appear in probably all of these stories, and most of them fit within a mythology all of Lovecraft's creation, commonly known as the Cthulhu Mythos. The crux of this mythos is that at one point in the far distant past, the Earth was ruled by "Great Ones" who came from outside of our solar system and then were somehow killed off or forced to hide under the sea. These Great Ones, including Cthulhu, are waiting for their chance to retake power and rise again, and dark cults deal with them and work for their renewal. There were many variations on this theme in the book, dealing with creepy things coming from space or from under the sea. Other common themes were dreams, the ability to travel across space, and the ability to separate one's consciousness from one's body. Anyway, towards the end, the theme seemed to feel a little repetitive, but overall it was a decent read. The other interesting thing that Lovecraft almost always does is start the stories at the end. Like "the story behind the mysterious death/disappearance/etc of so-and-so is an interesting one". That kind of thing, where you usually already know how the story ends. Which is definitely not typical in today's fiction, and, for me at least, seemed to limit the suspense of some of the stories. However, sometimes there was a twist in which the story then continued forward once we'd caught up to the beginning, after going back and telling the backstory, if that makes sense.
The next book I've started is obviously a big change in theme, topic, subject matter, etc. I'm generally not the best at reading non-fiction, including books of a religious nature. But I was at the library the other day with just a few minutes to find something new to read, and after looking for a few works of fiction that I've been meaning to get to and not finding them, I remembered that I'd been thinking about reading this one. I've already heard "The Miracle of Forgiveness" spoken of highly, but at the same time, it seemed to carry a stigma with it along the lines of it being something that was only read by people working through serious sins. Which, from the few pages I've read so far, doesn't seem to be the case at all. A lot of what Pres. Kimball is talking about is the universality of sin and the universal need for repentance and forgiveness. Certainly having heard about this book for a very long time, it feels like I should know everything that's going to be said, but I'm sure there's more to it than might be assumed at first glance.