Yes, it’s time, with no apologies, for that story.
Raw Feed (2005): “The Horror at Red Hook”, H. P. Lovecraft, 1925.
This is the first of what I term the “I really hate New York” stories of Lovecraft. Part of their charm is the sheer hatred and disgust of the city that comes through Lovecraft’s vituperative prose. The city and its mongrel, money-grubbing inhabitants are base, degraded, devolved, unimaginative, and unregeneratively evil.
The evil (Yezidis — devil worshipping Kurds from Kurdistan) is still festering, growing again at Red Hook at story’s end. [Yes, I am well aware that Yezidis are not exactly Satan worshipers — at least not of a Christian version of Satan and have been aware of that since reading Arkon Daraul’s A History of Secret Societies in 2002.]
Unconquered evil, is of course, hardly exceptional in Lovecraft, though.
This story sort of stands at a cross road for Lovecraft. Like the story Lovecraft wrote immediately before it, “The Shunned House“, that features a rather traditional horror creature: the vampire with its reference to Lilith, this story has a traditional evil.
However, the international cult of devil-worshipers points the way (even though inspired by Margaret Murray’s spurious TheWitch-Cult of Western Europe) to the much more sinister and widespread Cthulhu cult of “The Call of Cthulhu” which Lovecraft was to write a year later.
This is another of the rare Lovecraft story’s where the protagonist actually has a job, specifically as a policeman. Of course, he’s a Lovecraft policeman which means he speaks several languages and is up on his occult lore and is highly imaginative. He finds a balm for his sanity by retreating, at story’s end, to a village in Rhode Island though, rather like the narrator’s friends in Lovecraft’s “Hypnos” from three years earlier, who are terrified by the site of certain stars, he is horrified by the site of buildings reminiscent of some he saw in New York.
This story does have a curious bit in it. Lovecraft’s famous Necronomicon is said to have been inspired by Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow. However, in this story, he mentions a book cited by “Poe’s German authority, Es Lässt sich nicht Lesen,” which Lovecraft translates as “the book that does not permit itself to be read”.
More reviews of Lovecraft related materials are on the Lovecraft page.