“The Call of Cthulhu” by Howard Phillips Lovecraft

Quite a famous short story.  (Not a book perse … but, hey, gotta pad my 2011 “books read” numbers before the end of the year!  🙂  Also this is the first book I read entirely on my fancy new Android phone via Aldiko reader … nice to be able to read a few minutes in the grocery store line, another few waiting for the baby to fall asleep, etc.  But I digress.)

The first person narrator discovers a letter from his recently late (suspiciously so) uncle detailing the investigation into a strange, secret, ancient cult that seems to exist in similar form across many cultures, from Greenland to cajun Louisiana.  Furthermore, several creatively-attuned individuals simultaneously experience, for a few days, a bout of strange dreams and visions of ruins with impossible, odd-angled architecture and a huge, horrible, tentacled, mind-bending monstrosity.  The narrator continues his uncle’s studies and tracks down what happened during those days – deep in the South Pacific, a luckless steam ship crew are accidentally witness to the culmination of the cult’s existence – the reawakening of Cthulhu, one of the ancient gods of the world.  Whether the Earth’s sanity may be preserved is undecided at story’s end, but seems to be intact for the time being.  Cthulhu can afford to take his (its?) time…

I liked Lovecraft’s consistently creepy writing style – somehow there is a sense of foreboding and impending doom wrapped up in each sentence.  Some choice quotes:

“I will tell its gist enough to show
why the sound the water against the vessel’s sides became so
unendurable to me that I stopped my ears with cotton.”

“There was a bursting as of an
exploding bladder, a slushy nastiness as of a cloven sunfish, a
stench as of a thousand opened graves, and a sound that the
chronicler could not put on paper.”

“I have looked upon all that the universe has to
hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of
summer must ever afterward be poison to me.”

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