Love a Good Literary Conspiracy?

The Night Ocean

By Paul La Farge

Paul La Farge conjures up a myth regarding the sexual life of weird science writer H. P. Lovecraft.  In best metafiction style, he makes it feel so real that you find yourself wondering and then searching for a copy of the supposed “Erotonomicon,” purported to be Lovecraft’s own account of his love life, particularly his relationship with Robert Barlow, author and anthropologist, when Barlow was a thirteen-year-old boy.

To further the ruse, La Farge has even created a webpage for the reissuing of the volume by fictitious Black Hour Books. Further, he festooned the book with dozens of real science fiction and fantasy writers, most still well known within the genre, and footnotes, all of which lends further veracity to the tale. It’s all quite masterfully done, and educational to boot.

He then couches all this in a mystery concerning a freelance writer, Charlie Willett, who writes a book claiming that Barlow did not commit suicide in 1951 (which he did, of course; La Farge even includes a copy of his death certificate in the novel text, but who wants to believe truth when fantasy is so much more appealing?). In Charlie’s telling, Barlow authored the “Erotonomicon,” which he explains in his book titled “The Book of the Law of Love.” When, after enjoying considerable notoriety, Charlie’s book is exposed as completely wrong. In despair, he kills himself. It’s left to his wife Marina Willett, a psychiatrist, to discover who wrote the “Erotonomicon” and for what purpose.

Here’s where the whole affair gets even more delicious. Enter L. C. Spinks, whom Marina hunts down in Parry Sound, Ontario (yes, a real town). Is the “Erotonomicon” real and witten by Barlow? L. C. Spinks tell his story, the real origin of the “Erotonomicon.” Wait, though, is it real? Is Spinks who he professes to be? Time for yet another unraveling of fact and fiction.

Here’s the thing about The Night Ocean: the fiction about Lovecraft, about the “Erotonomicon,” even about L. C. Spink’s version of how it “truly” came about, all of it proves much more satisfying than the reality revealed at the end. And what are you, the reader, left with at the end? Well, engaged as you become in myth and make-believe, in the concoction of fibs and big lies, you begin to understand the attraction that conspiracies hold for even the most rational among us.  For don’t we all just hate loose ends and voids, not to mention uncomfortable and unsatisfying reality? The experience of The Night Ocean (incidentally, the title of a story filled with a subtext of sexual longing written by Lovecraft and Barlow in the time they shared), in addition to being quite a story, helps us understand the attraction.

(Please note that La Farge’s little subterfuge with Black Hour Books can be maddening. If you are curious, click on Black Hour Books.) w/c

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New Novel: Secrets of the Lottery Winner

Would You Go Off the Rails if You Won a Lottery

Beginning next Monday, June 6, a new serialized novel titled Secrets of the Lottery Winner. Here’s what to look forward to:

Sudden wealth bestows upon a hapless man success, sex, and a startling revelation.

Gari Garibaldi is a typical guy. He struggles in a difficult marriage, having fallen out of love with his wife and grown unhappy with his borderline existence. He trudges to an ad agency job, where he is resentful of the boss and unfulfilled as the shoe account guy.

Then he wins a state lottery, not the biggest jackpot, but enough to change his life completely. Contemplating his win between the lottery office and his home, he succumbs to the notion of keeping his good fortune secret from everyone, including his wife Emily, with whom he decides to share his pot of gold on his own terms.

His decision proves fateful and supercharged with fantasy, as he encounters the lascivious banker Catherine Lourdes, establishes a second life in Los Angeles where he surrenders to the perfect California woman Loretta Heavencrest, plunges into a Jamaican adventure where he stumbles into the clutches of Patty Pink and her gang of bungling revolutionaries, and then rockets to the top of his profession as the rainmaker in his ad agency and head of its newly established West Coast Division. His concocted new world comes to a fiery end at the Beverly Hills Hotel when everybody important in his life meet at a, literal, Hollywood bash.

To read previously serialized novels, click on the links below to go to the first chapters:

The Inside-Out Woman (a tale of cults, religious mysticism, and mental illness)

Behind Lori Baer (a murder mystery with a twist)

w/c

New Novel: Secrets of the Lottery Winner

Would You Go Off the Rails if You Won a Lottery

Beginning Monday, June 6, a new serialized novel titled Secrets of the Lottery Winner. Here’s what to look forward to:

Sudden wealth bestows upon a hapless man success, sex, and a startling revelation.

Gari Garibaldi is a typical guy. He struggles in a difficult marriage, having fallen out of love with his wife and grown unhappy with his borderline existence. He trudges to an ad agency job, where he is resentful of the boss and unfulfilled as the shoe account guy.

Then he wins a state lottery, not the biggest jackpot, but enough to change his life completely. Contemplating his win between the lottery office and his home, he succumbs to the notion of keeping his good fortune secret from everyone, including his wife Emily, with whom he decides to share his pot of gold on his own terms.

His decision proves fateful and supercharged with fantasy, as he encounters the lascivious banker Catherine Lourdes, establishes a second life in Los Angeles where he surrenders to the perfect California woman Loretta Heavencrest, plunges into a Jamaican adventure where he stumbles into the clutches of Patty Pink and her gang of bungling revolutionaries, and then rockets to the top of his profession as the rainmaker in his ad agency and head of its newly established West Coast Division. His concocted new world comes to a fiery end at the Beverly Hills Hotel when everybody important in his life meet at a, literal, Hollywood bash. w/c

New Novel: Secrets of the Lottery Winner

Would You Go Off the Rails if You Won a Lottery

Beginning Monday, June 6, a new serialized novel titled Secrets of the Lottery Winner. Here’s what to look forward to:

Sudden wealth bestows upon a hapless man success, sex, and a startling revelation.

Gari Garibaldi is a typical guy. He struggles in a difficult marriage, having fallen out of love with his wife and grown unhappy with his borderline existence. He trudges to an ad agency job, where he is resentful of the boss and unfulfilled as the shoe account guy.

Then he wins a state lottery, not the biggest jackpot, but enough to change his life completely. Contemplating his win between the lottery office and his home, he succumbs to the notion of keeping his good fortune secret from everyone, including his wife Emily, with whom he decides to share his pot of gold on his own terms.

His decision proves fateful and supercharged with fantasy, as he encounters the lascivious banker Catherine Lourdes, establishes a second life in Los Angeles where he surrenders to the perfect California woman Loretta Heavencrest, plunges into a Jamaican adventure where he stumbles into the clutches of Patty Pink and her gang of bungling revolutionaries, and then rockets to the top of his profession as the rainmaker in his ad agency and head of its newly established West Coast Division. His concocted new world comes to a fiery end at the Beverly Hills Hotel when everybody important in his life meet at a, literal, Hollywood bash. w/c

An Intimate Margaret Sanger

Terrible Virtue

By Ellen Feldman

Authoring a biography of a life lived publicly can be fraught with challenges, among them the question of veracity, as Virginia Woolf artfully and humorously lampooned in Orlando. Harder still is digging deeper into a famous life, down to the emotional self of the person to illuminate the sacrifices a person makes, particularly if the person engages in a virtuous crusade against centuries of belief and tradition, as did Margaret Sanger. Ellen Feldman lifts the title of her novelization of Sanger’s life from her subject’s own words: in the pursuit of a virtuous cause, Sanger suffered in many ways, among them the sacrifice of a home life with her three children, with the haunting self-accusation that she contributed to the death of her daughter, to a broken marriage and love affairs, to alienation of family and friends.

Sanger witnessed firsthand as a girl growing up in Corning, NY, the toll of unlimited childbirth on her mother and her very large family. She also saw that well-off women avoided having a half dozen, even a dozen, children, as did poor women who could ill afford them. She set about learning everything she could about limiting family size, until, while only a visiting nurse, she knew more than most doctors. And unlike those doctors who did understand birth could be prevented with a bit of education, some of whom were familiar with methods used in more liberal European countries, she set about disseminating that information and those methods, particularly the diaphragm (known then as pessary, and earlier as a womb veil). The latter she learned about when pursuit by the federal government under the guise of Anthony Comstock, a U.S. postal inspector dedicated to preserving Victorian morality at nearly any cost, forced her to flee the U.S. for Europe.

A movement like birth control certainly could not be achieved by just one person. As Feldman’s novelization dramatizes, many of the leading radicals of the day and leading society women supported her cause. However, as was illustrated with her coopting of her sisters Ethel’s hunger strike, Sanger was not above directing the spotlight on herself, alienating many, not the least of whom her own sons who wished for a mother, or at least a bit more of her in their young lives. She also wasn’t immune to stumbling down and supporting discredited causes, the most notable being eugenics, though as Feldman has Sanger point out, this was a couple of decades prior its use to eliminate and prevent what one group or another felt were “undesirables,” namely the Nazis, as well as practitioners of serialization in the U.S.

Sanger proved herself, too, to be a woman of interesting contradictions. Socially and philosophy, while herself engaging in her own version of free love, she did not advocate excessive sex, though she did believe, and found this to be true herself, that birth control could allow women to enjoy and better express their sexuality. She enjoyed time with many famous lovers, with the likes of Hugh de Selincourt (Brits will know him), Havelock Ellis, and H.G. Wells appearing in Feldman’s novel. Also, while a woman firmly rooted in the social causes and pleasures of a worldly life, she was a spiritualist, as the final pages of her life illustrate, her particular expression being Rosicrucianism.

Feldman’s novelization follows a linear path from early life, to working life, to death. From time to time, and with great effect and insight, she interjects statements highlighting and criticizing aspects of Sanger’s life. These statements come from her sister Ethel, her sons Stuart and Grant , her first and second husbands, her legal defender and lover J.J. Goldstein, as well as others, and serve to add dimension showing the effect she and her driven determination had on those close to her.

All in all, Feldman’s novel is a worthwhile and at times penetrating look at a woman who in the eyes of many changed the world for the better by starting a campaign that by no means is anywhere near over. w/c

New Novel: Secrets of the Lottery Winner

Would You Go Off the Rails if You Won a Lottery

Beginning Monday, June 6, a new serialized novel titled Secrets of the Lottery Winner. Here’s what to look forward to:

Sudden wealth bestows upon a hapless man success, sex, and a startling revelation.

Gari Garibaldi is a typical guy. He struggles in a difficult marriage, having fallen out of love with his wife and grown unhappy with his borderline existence. He trudges to an ad agency job, where he is resentful of the boss and unfulfilled as the shoe account guy.

Then he wins a state lottery, not the biggest jackpot, but enough to change his life completely. Contemplating his win between the lottery office and his home, he succumbs to the notion of keeping his good fortune secret from everyone, including his wife Emily, with whom he decides to share his pot of gold on his own terms.

His decision proves fateful and supercharged with fantasy, as he encounters the lascivious banker Catherine Lourdes, establishes a second life in Los Angeles where he surrenders to the perfect California woman Loretta Heavencrest, plunges into a Jamaican adventure where he stumbles into the clutches of Patty Pink and her gang of bungling revolutionaries, and then rockets to the top of his profession as the rainmaker in his ad agency and head of its newly established West Coast Division. His concocted new world comes to a fiery end at the Beverly Hills Hotel when everybody important in his life meet at a, literal, Hollywood bash. w/c

New: Secrets of the Lottery Winner

Would You Go Off the Rails if You Won a Lottery

Beginning Monday, June 6, a new serialized novel titled Secrets of the Lottery Winner. Here’s what to look forward to:

Sudden wealth bestows upon a hapless man success, sex, and a startling revelation.

Gari Garibaldi is a typical guy. He struggles in a difficult marriage, having fallen out of love with his wife and grown unhappy with his borderline existence. He trudges to an ad agency job, where he is resentful of the boss and unfulfilled as the shoe account guy.

Then he wins a state lottery, not the biggest jackpot, but enough to change his life completely. Contemplating his win between the lottery office and his home, he succumbs to the notion of keeping his good fortune secret from everyone, including his wife Emily, with whom he decides to share his pot of gold on his own terms.

His decision proves fateful and supercharged with fantasy, as he encounters the lascivious banker Catherine Lourdes, establishes a second life in Los Angeles where he surrenders to the perfect California woman Loretta Heavencrest, plunges into a Jamaican adventure where he stumbles into the clutches of Patty Pink and her gang of bungling revolutionaries, and then rockets to the top of his profession as the rainmaker in his ad agency and head of its newly established West Coast Division. His concocted new world comes to a fiery end at the Beverly Hills Hotel when everybody important in his life meet at a, literal, Hollywood bash. w/c