As is tradition, we’re going to do something spooky around here for October. This year, it’s a retelling of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Shunned House.” I have never been a huge Lovecraft fan. I mean, I respected that the man managed to convince people The Necronomicon was a real thing, but tentacled horror doesn’t really do it for me. I just couldn’t slog through those stories.
But earlier this year I realized that too many writers I respect were too influenced by Lovecraft for me to continue to be like “eh, whatever” and I would have to dig in and at least get the gist of what he was up to. And so I came across “The Shunned House,” which is such an amazing haunted house story that I about couldn’t stand it. You know when you hear a new song you instantly love? How you want to learn it and sing along with it and then sing it in the shower and then sing it in an opera version and a bluegrass version and the imagine what it would sound like if Mick Jagger sang it?
That’s how I felt about “The Shunned House.” I wanted to learn it. I wanted to tell it in the shower. I wanted to tell it in a Tennessee version. I wanted to tell it to you in a way that would let you see what it is about this story that hit me right in the gut.
And so I shall. Starting tomorrow night at 6 o’clock in the evening and continuing until Halloween.
Just a few notes before we get started. First, I want to openly and clearly acknowledge that this is a retelling of Lovecraft’s story. I think what I pulled off is pretty cool, but it’s just a redecoration of Lovecraft’s house. If you like my story, please, please, go back and read the original.
Second, I postulate a pretty extensive backstory for Joseph Deraque in this story. Since I know this blog is occasionally visited by the descendants of ole Joe and the story strives for a certain amount of historical verisimilitude, let me be clear–I made up every single thing pertaining to any part of his family. I don’t know his father’s name. I don’t know where in French Canada Joseph was from. There’s not a single hint of any rumors of this specific ailment being associated with the family. I’ve not found any evidence that Deraque would have been known at Fort de Chartres. If anything, he was probably operating out of St. Louis (where his boss, Mr. Fagot was from) before he made the move permanently to Nashville. He wasn’t living up in what would be Gallatin with his father. It’s all made up. And therefore none of the rest of us should hesitate a moment to sleep with any of Joe’s descendants if they prove lovely, nor to sleep above their graves, if they prove dead.
Third, along those same lines, no one from Maine needs to come to Tennessee to find good pot. That also is obviously made up.
Okay, I think that’s everything. Let’s meet back here at six tomorrow evening to get started.