Evil Jim (evil_jim) wrote,
Evil Jim

Crouch End

Mr. H. P. Lovecraft turns 115 a week from Saturday so it is only fitting that I have been reading his work as of late. Tonight however, as I discovered the story within a recently purchased volume of Stephen King's shorter works on audio cassette, I read Crouch end to occupy my mind while labouring over menial yet necessary tasks. I first read the piece, as I recall, in 1993, shortly after the publication of Mr. King's Nightmares & Dreamscapes, and at least five years before I discovered the work of Mr. Lovecraft. I was well versed in Mr. King's works by then and at the time was hungerly devouring every volume I could find. N & D was an expensive acquisition at the time, being a new hardcover and I still too young for a job, but I bought it nonetheless and immersed myself completely.

I've only read the collection from cover to cover once but there are a few stories so vivid that they haunt me to this day. First and foremost by far is the short tale inspired by Lovecraftian horror, Crouch End. I repeat that I had never heard of Lovecraft at this time, so one can imagine the shock and dread I felt several years later upon immediately recognizing the names YOGSOGGOTH and NYARLATHOTEP within the works of their creator. Names bizarre and nearly unpronounceable, yet somehow had burrowed deep within my brain and remained whole and unrotted, long after my bibliophelic fancies had wandered to other things.
"How could you remember such gibberish?" Farnham asked her."

Doris Freeman shook her head, slowly and tiredly. "I don't know. I really don't. It's like a nightmare you want to forget as soon as you wake up, but it won't fade away like most dreams do; it just stays and stays and stays."

Few stories shadow me with such trepidation after I've turned the last of their leaves, and the only other by Mr. King that equals the affect this had upon me is 1408. I dare say I'm creeped out.

Crouch End differers significantly in style from Mr. Lovecraft's work in that its horror is derived primarily from situational events rather than cosmic revelation. Wherein a typical Lovecraftian tale horror grows upon the protagonist as pieces of a strange situation come together to show a much more terrifying view of the world they thought they knew, Crouch End offers a more personal viewpoint of someone experiencing these events firsthand. It's a simple difference in narrative perspective, but very effective and well drawn out to its conclusion.

Crouch End is a very real suburb of north London bordering on Archway and Finsbury Park with a population of 10,762. Most of its residents are between the ages of 20 and 39 and the largest industry is the real estate business. Indeed some rather mundane statistics but keep in mind that until tonight when I began researching I thought it was merely the product of Mr. King's imagination. Granted, many fictional locations are based on those that aren't but somehow it never occurred to me that this one ever could be real. I feel foolish now for even Mr. Lovecraft based a number of his stories in or near real towns of New England and I never doubted their existence. The story, I suspect, has once again exerted it's strange power over me.

For more on the story you will have to read for yourself, for I am poor at summarizations without revealing too much. The book is old and easy enough to find at used books stores. Or if you prefer, I would be happy to loan you my own personal copy. The audio version I have is quite well done, read by Tim Curry and accented here and there by ominous music. Either are suitably experienced during the dark of a quiet night when little else is able to occupy your fevered mind.

Related Links:

Crouch End virtual tour

An informative biography on Mr Lovecraft

A satellite image of his family home

A satellite image of Crouch End

- J I M O U T -

Current Music: the thudding of my own heart and shiver of my tortured nerves as I strain to see past the curtains into the shadows beyond the darkness framed my window
Tags: lovecraft

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