Today is H P Lovecraft’s 120th birthday!
HPL is my favorite writer, and is generally regarded as the most important horror and weird fiction author of the 20th Century. He never wrote about zombies by name, but several of his stories feature zombielike creatures (my favorite is “Pickman’s Model“) and his work is bursting with exotic cults, native swamp rituals, and other elements that are obviously influenced by the zombie folklore of his day.
So, how ought one to commemorate Lovecraft’s birthday? I have a few suggestions based on my readings of his biography and letters:
- Eschew fiber, fruit, and vegetables of any kind. Lovecraft’s diet was terrifying. His typical menu (as he often described it in letters to friends) was: “Breakfast: A donut. Lunch: A piece of cheese. Dinner: Tinned meat from a can.” And that was all he ate. (It’s no wonder that he died of intestinal cancer in his 40’s.) So make like HPL and stick to meat, cheese, and white flour for the day.
- Be less racist. Over the course of his life, HPL went from being very incredibly racist to not racist at all. Celebrate this by being less racist yourself.
- Mooch!!! Lovecraft was almost as talented a moocher as he was a writer. He more or less never worked a day in his entire adult life. Lovecraft lived off his parents, then his wife (who ran a hat shop), and then off of elderly aunts and relatives until he died. (In the documentary Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown, Peter Straub identifies this as HPL’s greatest personal failing. But I think Straub ought to stop and also appreciate the breathtaking degree of mooching acumen it took for Lovecraft to pull this off.) So make like HPL and try to live off of others whenever possible today.
- Write a letter to a friend. Lovecraft was an incredible epistolarian, writing several letters a day for most of his life. The communication this created made HPL a kind of nexus for the horror and fantasy writers who were his friends and associates. So commemorate HPL by writing a letter or an email to your buds.