Here’s how we came to listen to Lovecraft Country. After approximately 20 attempts of going to the movies with friends collapsed in last-minute mishaps, Kaitlyn and I watched Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele. Get Out was and is our favorite film of 2017– Peele weaves the classic tropes of horror films together to show the endurance and adaptation of racism in America today. Get Out has been a critical and box office break-out success, and HBO spent little time hiring Peele and his Monkeypaw Productions to make a series adapted from Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country (2016). So, driving through the mountains of British Columbia and Alberta and cruelly deprived of access to Game of Thrones while camping, Kaitlyn and I decided to listen to the book that will no doubt be our favorite tv show one day soon.
Lovecraft Country is a novel composed of episodic chapters that follow different members of two African American families living in Chicago during the 50s. When Montrose, the father of Atticus, disappears into a notorious sundown town of rural Massachusetts, Atticus, his Uncle (the publisher of the Safe Negro Travel Guide) and a friend, Leticia, embark on a journey to find and save Montrose. They confront the horrors of 1950s Jim Crow and Northern racism, but these horrors blend seamlessly with supernatural horrors that pay homage to the sci-fi stories Atticus, George and Leticia devour in their spare time. The episodes cover a lot of ground; the sinister manor stories (like Get Out), space-travel, haunted houses, creepy doll stuff, transformations, and witchcraft. But in every richly imagined story, it’s the banal violence Jim Crow that cements itself as the most pervasive and dangerous.
Kaitlyn writes that “at first I wasn’t sure about the style of episodic stories, but it worked. It really worked.”
As I am writing this NPR is describing the violent clash of white supremacists and counter-protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia. As both Get Out and Lovecraft Country show, the horror of Jim Crow and racism are the stuff of nightmares, and nightmares alive today.
Availability: COSMOS (Print & Audio)
Review Submitted by: Shane D. Hall
Rating: Highly Recommended