I started reading A HEADFUL OF GHOSTS by Paul Tremblay. I am reading it because I am going to the Providence NecronomiCon this year, and Paul Tremblay is one of the guests of honor, and this is a book he wrote a few years ago that won that Bram Stoker Award. I don't know anything about it other than it may be about demonic possession of a young girl exploited by reality TV, blogging and the internet to put a modern spin on the old "Exorcist" trope.
Incidently, the director of THE BLACKCOAT'S DAUGHTER and I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE, Oz Perkins (son of Anthony Perkins from PSYCHO), is going to direct the film version of A HEADFUL OF GHOSTS which will be produced by Team Downey (Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan Downey).
I kept trying to con the family into going to Providence as a stop off to somewhere else but no takers. Once this adventure is finalized I'm probably to going to check out the Lovecraft spots on my own.
The walking tour is actually what I'm most excited about. I'm not normally a con person, but I wanted to go to this one. None of my friends from my gaming group can go, but I mentioned it to my cousin (not a gamer but horror fiction fan) and he wanted to go also. I've been kicking myself lately for all of the times I traveled to Providence for business yet never did the walking tour. A lot of the appeal comes from how much I know about HPL's life and local places that inspired his stories. For example, walking from where he lived on College Hill when he wrote the short story "The Haunter of the Dark" up to St John's Park on Federal Hill. The real life church (St John's Roman Catholic Church built in 1871) that inspired the one in the story (the Free-Will Church built around 1810 or 1815 and bought by the Starry Wisdom sect in July, 1844) unfortunately was demolished in 1992, but luckily there are photos of it posted online, and one can still walk to the park where it once stood. I was playing around with Google maps and those photos and Google prompted me to make a video so I made one just for fun and posted on YouTube here:
P. S. I guess I should have included an image of the Church of the Holy Ghost on Federal Hill, which is still standing, and was probably the inspiration for the Spirito Santo Church that Father Merluzzo is from in the story.
Last Edit: Aug 10, 2019 13:30:31 GMT -5 by GRWelsh
The front yards with the stone bottom and iron top fencing seem straight out of a story. Did he describe that?
My brain is so crusty ever since this past year with Facebook (Ugh!) where I would get HPL posts in passing and see Providence references but forgot to notate it down anywhere. Were we talking about an HPL statue a while back or am I losing it?
HPL did describe a fence in the story, with the stone bottom as part of a wall. In the story at least, the church was built upon a sort of raised ground in a square at the end of an alley and not on a main avenue:
At last he saw the tower plain against the southwest, and a huge stone bulk rose darkly at the end of an alley. Presently he stood in a windswept open square, quaintly cobblestoned, with a high bank wall on the farther side. This was the end of his quest; for upon the wide, iron-railed, weed-grown plateau which the wall supported—a separate, lesser world raised fully six feet above the surrounding streets—there stood a grim, titan bulk whose identity, despite Blake’s new perspective, was beyond dispute.
I don't remember talking about an HPL statue but you may be thinking of that controversy from a few years ago when the World Fantasy Award that used to be a bust of HPL was switched to a sort of twisted tree with a moon sculpture in 2016, due to HPL being a known racist. Oddly enough, back in 1984 Donald Wandrei who knew HPL personally refused his award because he thought the HPL bust was an offensive caricature. No matter what you do anymore, someone is going to be offended.
To follow up, I finished A HEADFUL OF GHOSTS and I would recommend it but I can't say what I liked about it best because that would be a spoiler. But I can say something I did like which was the characterization of Merry, who mostly narrates the story, and her older sister Marjorie. They felt like real people and that kept me engaged. It made me think the writer must have daughters, because that is an aspect of the story he got across perfectly. It is an easy, fun read that keeps you wondering through most of it.
I arrived at NecronomiCon today and did the Lovecraft walking tour as well as the "Starry Wisdom" tour I made a video about, and it was completely surreal because I did the whole thing with Google maps street view and researched it thoroughly beforehand so that was weird. It was hot out, but I wanted to get it in before my cousin arrives since he is wheelchair bound and I am not sure he cares about seeing all the sites the way I do. I'll post photos when I get a chance. Here are my impressions:
- Colonial 'old town' Providence is a mixture of quaint and run-down, and I found a great place to get cheap sliders and not so cheap local microbrews at Harry's Bar. - The streets going up from the river and 'old town' are very steep and I got my cardio in for the day. Lots of side walks with colonial era brick, including being pushed up by old trees and roots. - The Shunned House doesn't look so shunned, it's well kept and painted yellow now! But some other colonial era houses definitely have an eerie look. - I totally bypassed the house HPL lived at on 10 Barnes Street from 1926 to 1933 when he wrote most of his major works. Duh! - The John Hay Library has many of HPL's papers that were donated to it, and you used to be able to handle them, but they wisely switched to making copies sealed in plastic that you can still handle, as well as images viewable online. I read a hand written letter HPL wrote to Frank Belknap Long around 1926 when he moved back to Providence and was ecstatic about it -- just before he wrote "Call of Cthulhu"! Also got to look at type written and hand written first pages of first drafts for "The Dunwich Horror," "Shadow over Innsmouth," and "At the Mountains of Madness" as well as drawings by HPL of Elder Things and, oddly, the layout of where everything was in the rooms of his own house (position of desk, windows, doors, etc). - I went inside a Brown University building behind the John Hay Library which is exactly where HPL lived at 66 College Street before the house that was there was moved to 65 Prospect Street where it still is. In the university building, I went up to the 5th floor and out on a balcony and therefore had almost the exact same view HPL had of Federal Hill when he wrote "The Haunter of the Dark," although higher up. In a photo you can see the monitor roofs of the houses lower on the hill. - The art deco "Superman Building" built in 1927 and referred to by HPL as the one with red Industrial Trust beacon has been abandoned since 2012 and will most likely be demolished within the next few years. - Downtown Providence is undergoing a lot of construction which I suppose is good but makes it difficult to get around in some streets. - The Providence Graduate Hotel, formerly the Biltmore praised by HPL and finished in 1922, is where I am staying and I'm happy to say it has been renovated and is very nice. I asked the receptionist if I could upgrade to a haunted suite, and she rolled her eyes.
The biggest discovery of all was a tombstone I found in Cathedral of St John graveyard, but I will have to save that for when I post the image...
Last Edit: Aug 23, 2019 12:00:25 GMT -5 by GRWelsh