Friday, July 17, 2015

"The Nameless City" (a book review post)

[Note: I am working my way through a complete collection of H. P. Lovecraft's works. Although I will give my thoughts about Lovecraft in a more general sense when I've finished the collection, I think it's worthwhile to look at the individual stories (or at least some of them) as I'm going through.]

"The Nameless City" is a city so horrible and horrifying that it doesn't even have a name, hence the title. It's only spoken about in whispers and as threats to children and its facts have long been lost in antiquity. It's the murmurings that draw the unnamed protagonist to find it, but just its skeleton in the desert causes such fear in the man, he says that no other has even known fear like him.

So, of course, he goes in.

But he does wait till morning.

Lovecraft's writing is very atmospheric, and the city he describes is truly creepy. Not just because it's abandoned but because it's... alien. All of the proportions are wrong, not to mention the strange winds and noises.

And anything else I say about it would be getting into spoiler territory. I'll say this, though: I was not satisfied with the ending. Everything else was great. Lovecraft's language and imagery make it a story well worth reading despite the ending, and, I think, other people may not have the issue with the ending that I had. Which I can't talk about without giving it away. If you like stuff like this:
"...afar I saw it protruding uncannily above the sands as parts of a corpse may protrude from an ill-made grave."
then you will like "The Nameless City."

18 comments:

  1. Wow, a whole city as cautionary tale!

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    1. TAS: Yeah, it's pretty creepy. If I was a kid, I'd be scared.

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    2. Horror isn't really my thing but you never know.

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    3. TAS: It's not conventional horror. It's actually classified as "weird fiction," and Lovecraft is often credited with originating the genre.

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    4. He seems to have quite a following these days. I don't think I'd even heard of him until adulthood.

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    5. TAS: I heard of him through the Cthulhu RPG when I was in college. I think I'd heard of Lovecraft as an author before that, but I didn't know anything about him until I was introduced to the game.

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  2. I haven't read that one, but I enjoy most of Lovecraft's work (except for all the horrifyingly racist stuff) about men going places that they know they aren't supposed to go. They are really atmospheric. It's very evocative and his word usage is amazing.

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    1. Jeanne: I haven't had any of the racist stuff so far, though I have read that about him somewhere.

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  3. All I know about Lovecraft is the stuff I saw on South Park, and that was pretty creepy. This sounds pretty good, actually.

    Have you heard of "Annilation" by Jeff Vandermeer? It's part of a trilogy. The way you described this reminded me of that. The first book was really good; I'm waiting on the second from the library.

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    1. Briane: I have never heard of that or the author. I'll have to look it up.

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  4. I've got the complete works of Lovecraft here on my bookshelf. Haven't started it yet. Sigh. Someday.

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    1. Rusty: Hey, I know all about "someday." It took me years to get my "someday" for Lovecraft.

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  5. I have not read much of HP Lovecraft. I'm hoping to secure a Folio Society or illustrated collection before I dive into them more... but his writing is a lot like Poe's, so I'd probably enjoy it a fair deal. :)

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    1. Alex H: I think Lovecraft is up your alley.

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  6. I used to read some Lovecraft when I was in high school. I loved the language and the atmospheric creepiness he created. I may have to try some again...

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    1. Megan: It does have a lot of atmospheric creepiness.

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  7. I like that brief teaser. Thanks!

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