This is TOO Delicious! Can’t see how any lover of occulture, let along Lovecraft aficionados will not be intrigued by Paul La Farge’s latest novel The Night Ocean. So this is a fictionalized account of freelance writer Charlie Willett who goes in search of the fabled “Erotonomicon,” a rumored account of Lovecraft’s love life with the decades younger Robert Barlow. Willett lands a fat book deal for his account of the relationship between Lovecraft and Marlow — titled The Book Of The Law Of Love — but when this is exposed as an apparent hoax, he commits suicide, setting his widow on a hunt to get to the bottom of things. The fact that this is all grounded in a good amount of minutely researched facts make it all the more wonderfully disorienting a read.
Here’s an excerpt of the New York Times Book Review coverage:
“Working on a book about Lovecraft, he had come upon a volume called the ‘Erotonomicon,’ which appeared to be Lovecraft’s record of his sex life. As one would expect, it isn’t pretty. ‘In a Vile Shack in ye Warren-Streete (aptly named!),’ Lovecraft supposedly writes, for example, on Feb. 24, 1925, ‘we tried a Lesser Summoning, but nothing Came. . . . The boy reek’d of Tobacco, a smell that pleases me not.’
“Charlie quickly discovers that the book has already been exposed as a fraud, the true author its supposed editor, a man named L.C. Spinks. But Charlie doubts that Spinks, a Canadian appliance repairman, was really responsible. ‘It’s the riddle of the Spinks,’ he jokes to Marina. Digging deeper, he finds a more satisfying answer: The author of the ‘Erotonomicon’ is none other than the adult Barlow himself, motivated by anger at the Lovecraft acolytes who spurned him. This goes against what is publicly known. Barlow never claimed authorship. He committed suicide in 1951 in Mexico City, where he was teaching, fearing exposure as homosexual.
Barlow is dead, then — a fact that seems incontrovertible, one of the few in this bubbling stew of a book. (La Farge even includes a photocopy of his death certificate.) But Charlie soon picks up a trail that suggests Barlow faked his death and is living quietly in the town of Parry Sound, Ontario, to which Charlie now goes for the scoop. He gets the true story of what happened between Barlow and Lovecraft. Charlie’s persistence pays off when HarperCollins buys ‘The Book of the Law of Love,’ as Charlie titles his inquiry, for $200,000.”
Read the entire excerpt here:
“Lesser Summoning”? “The Book Of the Law…of Love”? HMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We’d blogged about the relationship between Lovecraft and Barlow before: http://zeroequalstwo.net/the-connection-between-lovecraft-and-burroughs/