S.T. JoshiPhoto by Leslie B. Joshi
S.T. Joshi
Photo by Leslie B. Joshi
The celebrated horror writer H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) conceived of a hideous cosmic menace he called Cthulhu, replete with octopus-like tentacles descending from its lower face. Seattle's own S.T. Joshi, one of the premiere living Lovecraft scholars, has almost as many projects going as his longtime subject's creation had tentacles.
Over the past year Joshi has helped edit a new edition of Lovecraft letters; edited a collection of critic and humorist H.L. Mencken; and most recently prepped a new, expanded edition of his earlier Lovecraft biography.
Entitled "I Am Providence" (the inscription on Lovecraft's headstone in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island) and clocking in at a monstrous 1,127 pages, Joshi's new biography shall almost certainly prove the definitive word on this singularly eccentric legend.
Lovecraft never published a book during his lifetime, and sold most of his work to pulp magazines, notably "Weird Tales." His darkly simmering prose interlaced paranoia, treachery, and otherworldly terrors driving those who beheld them into gibbering lunacy. As literary and historical trends caught up to Lovecraft, anthologies began to appear, published at first by his friend August Derleth at Arkham House Press. Lovecraft inspired fiction tributes, films, role-playing games, and video games; he even had a 1960s rock band named after him. In 2005 the prestigious Library of America honored the scribe, 68-years dead, with a collection entitled simply "Tales."
In his pursuit of knowing all about Lovecraft, Joshi logged time researching in Indiana, Illinois, New York and a stretch in Providence itself, where he attended Brown University. But his love for his adopted hometown began with the love of his life. "Leslie [his wife] is a Seattle native," he explained, "and has never been happy living anywhere else. What struck me, on my repeated trips to the city and especially from my actually living here, were: a) the spectacular natural beauty of the city (trees, vegetation, bodies of water, mountains in the background), in contrast to the concrete jungle of Manhattan; and b) how, in spite of the fact that the city is a vibrant and thriving metropolis with a flourishing arts scene and big business, it is really a series of small communities, as each neighborhood has its own distinctive character."
Joshi also reveres his participation in Seattle's own Northwest Chorale. For all his literary accomplishments, he avows, "the fact that I've sung Bach's 'B Minor Mass' ranks, in my mind, with any of my books as one of the major personal accomplishments in my life."