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The Night Ocean (2017)

af Paul La Farge

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
4283359,407 (3.41)20
"From the award-winning author and New Yorker contributor, a riveting novel about secrets and scandals, psychiatry and pulp fiction, inspired by the lives of H.P. Lovecraft and his circle. Marina Willett, M.D., has a problem. Her husband, Charlie, has become obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft, in particular with one episode in the legendary horror writer's life: In the summer of 1934, the "old gent" lived for two months with a gay teenage fan named Robert Barlow, at Barlow's family home in central Florida. What were the two of them up to? Were they friends--or something more? Just when Charlie thinks he's solved the puzzle, a new scandal erupts, and he disappears. The police say it's suicide. Marina is a psychiatrist, and she doesn't believe them. A tour-de-force of storytelling, The Night Ocean follows the lives of some extraordinary people: Lovecraft, the most influential American horror writer of the 20th century, whose stories continue to win new acolytes, even as his racist views provoke new critics; Barlow, a seminal scholar of Mexican culture who killed himself after being blackmailed for his homosexuality (and who collaborated with Lovecraft on the beautiful story "The Night Ocean"); his student, future Beat writer William S. Burroughs; and L.C. Spinks, a kindly Canadian appliance salesman and science-fiction fan -- the only person who knows the origins of The Erotonomicon, purported to be the intimate diary of Lovecraft himself. As a heartbroken Marina follows her missing husband's trail in an attempt to learn the truth, the novel moves across the decades and along the length of the continent, from a remote Ontario town, through New York and Florida to Mexico City. The Night Ocean is about love and deception -- about the way that stories earn our trust, and betray it"--… (mere)
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Viser 1-5 af 33 (næste | vis alle)
“No reality, but in books”

In his affecting novel The Night Ocean, Paul La Farge crafts a truly intricate tapestry of interwoven historical fact and fantasy, one that kept me enraptured and craving more. Building a mysterious and compelling narrative that travels back and forth through time, he grapples with the fraught legacy of H.P. Lovecraft, one in conversation with the true horrors of the twentieth century and the sexual, racial, and social realities of the twenty-first century. Like the best work of Lovecraft, La Farge writes with a pseudo-authentic voice, imbuing real life with eerie meaning, interrogating truth, fiction, and the fuzzy liminal space between them, capturing and critiquing the strange appeal of the horror author and of fandom in general.

Narrated by Dr. Marina Willett, a New York psychologist whose husband Charlie has disappeared in typical Lovecraftian fashion after his investigations into Lovecraft’s relationship with his young fan Robert H. Barlow began to spiral out of control, Marina too finds herself investigating Charlie’s research. Relying on the unreliable and eventful life of an unassuming elderly Canadian, Leo Spinks, who back in 1952 published the Erotonomicon, a salacious lost diary of Lovecraft himself admitting his sexual relationship with Barlow, Marina delves into a dozen striking stories within stories. Leo seems to know more than he lets on, and in fact, is the axle upon which the story revolves. Or is he?

It turns out that, like the Necronomicon of Lovecraft’s writing, what is real and what is imaginary begins to blur, as hoaxes and revelations compete for the reader’s attention. Just when you think the truth is coming out and a great revelation is at hand, it is pulled away, leaving our narrator and the reader scrambling for meaning. In this Russian nesting doll of a narrative, the way La Farge interweaves these narratives into a believable whole provides a perfect homage and criticism of Lovecraft’s place in fandom and popular culture, and why he remains relevant.

I write about other works that use Lovecraft as a fictional character in my article Lovecraft Reanimated at Fandom Fanatics. ( )
1 stem Spoonbridge | Apr 17, 2023 |
Many years ago I was a fan of HP Lovecraft, so I picked this up due to the affiliation with the master of horror and sci-fi. As I made my way through it, the story bogged down heavily taking away from the essence. The varying plot lines become a bit dizzying, though I fully realize the intertwining elements were needed. Regardless, I lost interest due to an extremely laden back story about L.L. Spinks, a character that claims he 'became' another.

"And that's all I'm going to say about that" ~ Forrest Gump ( )
  Jonathan5 | Feb 20, 2023 |
Boy, I really don't know what to think about this one. I'm going to have to let it settle a bit. First of all, I'm uncomfortable with a narrative about real people, mixed with fiction. I don't like not knowing what's true, or at least what the author is putting forth as being true. But that's exactly what the book is about, so maybe discomfort is the right response.

On the other hand it's kind of fun to read a story about the science fiction greats I grew up adoring, when they were geeky misfits. And it was interesting to see one person after another sucked in to the developing revelation of histories or lies, or whatever it was, about H. P. Lovecraft and his admirers and detractors.

As I said, I'm going to have to let this one settle. Either it will be a confusing episode in my reading history, or it will be one of those stories that keeps coming to the surface in unexpected contexts. Which is sort of my definition of a classic: a story that sticks with you. ( )
1 stem JudyGibson | Jan 26, 2023 |
I was very excited to find this book, since I have enjoyed Lovecraft’s work for many years. However I was terribly disappointed. This is just a stupid fantasy about Lovecraft’s supposed sexual interactions with strange young men. Awful!!
  CasSprout | Dec 18, 2022 |
I highly recommend THE NIGHT OCEAN (2017) by Paul La Farge. It is less H. P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos and more Roberto Bolano and The Savage Detectives.

This novel is a love story to literature through the lens and lives of some of the purveyors of weird fiction. Plus there are jellyfish!



Frederick Pohl, Clark Ashton Smith, August Derleth, Donald Wandrei, Hart Crane, and many other weird authors and science fiction authors make cameos. Ambrose Bierce is mentioned. William S. Burroughs makes appearances in multiple storylines as Bill and as Lee.

The main stories are anchored upon two apparent (although maybe not) suicides—Charlie Willett in the present day and Robert Barlow in 1951—and the author/weird fiction fan L. C. Spinks who is their connection. A possibly homosexual relationship between Barlow and Lovecraft and the discovery of "The Erotonomicon" underlie all. And it is all complicated by Charlie Willett's fandom of Lovecraft, as a black man who reads and relishes a (now) known (and known to him) racist. ( )
4 stem troysworktable | May 23, 2022 |
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"From the award-winning author and New Yorker contributor, a riveting novel about secrets and scandals, psychiatry and pulp fiction, inspired by the lives of H.P. Lovecraft and his circle. Marina Willett, M.D., has a problem. Her husband, Charlie, has become obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft, in particular with one episode in the legendary horror writer's life: In the summer of 1934, the "old gent" lived for two months with a gay teenage fan named Robert Barlow, at Barlow's family home in central Florida. What were the two of them up to? Were they friends--or something more? Just when Charlie thinks he's solved the puzzle, a new scandal erupts, and he disappears. The police say it's suicide. Marina is a psychiatrist, and she doesn't believe them. A tour-de-force of storytelling, The Night Ocean follows the lives of some extraordinary people: Lovecraft, the most influential American horror writer of the 20th century, whose stories continue to win new acolytes, even as his racist views provoke new critics; Barlow, a seminal scholar of Mexican culture who killed himself after being blackmailed for his homosexuality (and who collaborated with Lovecraft on the beautiful story "The Night Ocean"); his student, future Beat writer William S. Burroughs; and L.C. Spinks, a kindly Canadian appliance salesman and science-fiction fan -- the only person who knows the origins of The Erotonomicon, purported to be the intimate diary of Lovecraft himself. As a heartbroken Marina follows her missing husband's trail in an attempt to learn the truth, the novel moves across the decades and along the length of the continent, from a remote Ontario town, through New York and Florida to Mexico City. The Night Ocean is about love and deception -- about the way that stories earn our trust, and betray it"--

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