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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

Lying in Wait
Liz Nugent
Progress: 28/310 pages
The Shape of Water
Guillermo del Toro, Daniel Kraus
Progress: 72/313 pages
To Siri with Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines
Judith Newman
Princess Prince
Tomoko Taniguchi
Progress: 310/336 pages
Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness
Peter Godfrey-Smith
Progress: 41/255 pages
FREE: Locke & Key
Tatiana Maslany, Audible Studios, Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodríguez, Kate Mulgrew, Haley Joel Osment, Full Cast
Progress: 91/806 minutes

DNF: The Collected Public Domain Works of H. P. Lovecraft - Librivox Recording

The Collected Public Domain Works of H.P. Lovecraft - H.P. Lovecraft

Update, 6/9/14 - Okay, I'm going to DNF this, 14 tracks into the 25-track collection. There's a possibility I will get back to these stories eventually, but not via this Librivox recording. The narrators were all over the map and, unfortunately, there were very few really good ones. I had to skip several tracks because the narrators grated so much.


My overall rating is an average of the ratings I gave the individual stories I did listen to before I finally quit.




I'm dipping my toes back into Librivox recordings. Since the readers are volunteers, they can be pretty hit-or-miss. I debated how I'd keep track of what I listened to and what I thought about it and decided I'd write one post and keep it updated.


This particular recording can be downloaded here. It includes 24 stories, none of which I've ever read or listened to. It features more than a dozen readers, and I'm hoping I'll find a few really good ones in the bunch.


Track 1 - The Alchemist, read by Keith Worrell


I had to skip this one. The reader didn't work for me.


Track 2 - The Beast in the Cave, read by Scott Carpenter


A story about a man who separates from his guide and gets lost in a dark cave. He calls out for help and attracts the attention of a beast he can hear, but not see.


Lovecraft could not have made the ending of this story more obvious, and the reader didn't exactly help. Not very creepy at all.


Track 3 - Beyond the Wall of Sleep, read by D.E. Wittkower


The narrator of this story is an intern at a mental hospital who takes a particular interest in a new patient, one Joe Slater, who killed someone in a fit of apparent insanity.


As I listened to this, I realized that I had, in fact, read this story before. I'd just blanked it out because of how badly it grated on my nerves. Joe Slater is described by the narrator as a "typical denizen of the Catskill Mountain region, who corresponds exactly with the 'white trash' of the South." This sets the tone for the rest of the story, as the narrator sneers at Slater, this lesser being, this animal, this mentally deficient piece of filth. Oh, I hated the narrator. The being he ends up communicating with isn't much better. The one bright spot of this story is the reader. Wittkower's cold and vaguely disdainful tone was a perfect fit for this story and this narrator. I'll have to try more of his recordings.


Track 4 - The Cats of Ulthar, read by jpontoli

In this story, it is explained why "in Ulthar, no man may kill a cat."

Meh, this one was okay. As a cat lover, I thought it was darkly humorous.

Track 5 - Celephais, read by Garrett Fitzgerald

Another one I skipped. The reader didn't work for me.

Track 6 - The Crawling Chaos, read by Joseph Canna

The narrator has some kind of opium induced hallucination in which an angelic-looking child gives him the opportunity to go someplace better, as long as he doesn't look back. Of course, he does look back, and behind him is...something. Chaos?

Okay, so this one left me feeling confused. The reader gets points for enthusiasm.

Track 7 - Dagon, read by Michael Sample

The narrator recounts his experience after escaping a German warship and ending up stranded on a disturbing island. After some travel, he came across sculptures and a monolith with strange hieroglyphs. These artworks depict huge fish-beings, which he at first assumed were fish gods once worshipped by people on that island. The things he witnessed after that changed his mind and left him terrified to the point of contemplating suicide via a morphine overdose.

This reminded me a lot of Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness. In both works, the narrator recounts a terrifying past experience in which he discovered strange ancient artwork in a remote place and then narrowly avoided the nightmares depicted in that artwork, only to be mentally affected by what he saw forever after. Personally, I think At the Mountains of Madness was better, but that may be because I read it first.

Track 8 - The Doom That Came to Sarnath, read by Matt Bohnhoff

In ancient times, a group of people colonized Sarnath, killed the creatures that originally lived there, and pushed many of the statues of their gods into the sea. Later generations celebrated this day, and the people of Sarnath experienced much prosperity, until one day doom befell them.

Meh. This was pretty dry and overly detailed.

Track 9 - Ex Oblivione, read by jpontoli

Another opium-using narrator. He longs to see more of a particular scene that appears to him in his opium dreams, and to go beyond the gates of bronze.

This one ended very abruptly - possibly with the narrator's death? I'm starting to get a little tired of these opium-user narrators. Lovecraft has so many of them.

Track 10 - Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family, read by Victoria Horsman

I skipped this one a quarter of the way through. The reader's reading speed was too slow for my tastes.


Track 11 - Herbert West, Reanimator, Part A


A story, told by a former friend of West, about his early attempts to reanimate the dead. In secret, they arranged to dig up a fresh body and reanimate it. When it cried out, they ran off. Later, they learned that the building had burned down and the reanimated man may have tried to go back to his grave.

Wow, but this story is racist. One of West and his friend's specimens is a black man who appears "gorilla-like" with arms so long the narrator considers them "forelegs." And white people are so very different from black people that the reanimation solution that worked on white people doesn't work on their black specimen. :(

Then the narrator dismisses an Italian mother's fears about her missing child as merely the superstitions Italian people like her are prone to. Oh Lovecraft, stop it.

General comments about the world of this story: The Miskatonic University is screwed up. The professors only object to West's research because it doesn't appear to work. Wanting to raise the dead is apparently just fine by them. Um... Also, huh, I had no idea Batman's Arkham Asylum was named after Arkham, the city where the Miskatonic University is located. Makes sense.

Track 12 - Herbert West, Reanimator, Part B


I'm surprised that West's friend was so shocked about West killing someone. That's the easiest way to get a very fresh body, after all. Miskatonic University people aren't very bright, are they?


Track 13 - Memory

OMG, the narrator is almost unintelligible to me, a combination of her accent and possibly sound quality. I had such trouble telling her consonants apart that I opted to skip this, even though it was a short track.

Track 14 - The Music of Erich Zann

When the narrator was a poor student, he became fascinated by the music of one of the other tenants in his building, Erich Zann. He was so intrigued by the man's wild, genius playing that he asked to be there when he played. Zann did everything he could to keep the narrator from hearing him play the wild notes, which he hadn't realized anyone else could hear, but finally the narrator was there for Zann's last performance.

I twitched a little every time Zann was referred to as "dumb old man" - Zann was mute and communicated via writing. Otherwise, though, this story was okay. Like many of Lovecraft's narrators, this one was a bit of a jerk, refusing to listen to Zann's requests or warnings. Although the narrator finally gets a glimpse of the reason why Zann plays so wildly, he never gets an explanation, and neither does the reader. That disappointed me a little, but such is Lovecraft.

The reader for this one wasn't entirely suited to the story/narrator, but he was so easy to listen to that I didn't really care. I need to see about downloading other things he has read.