An unusual angle on Weird Tales. When Lovecraft mentions, in his letters of the mid 1930s, that the latest edition of Weird Tales is on his desk or shelf ‘hot from the news-stand’ this is what he saw, ready to lift and peruse.

Peruse somewhat reluctantly, as he is often heard bemoaning the unevenness of the magazine in its mid 1930s form. I get the impression from the Barlow / Bloch / Sterling letters that Lovecraft didn’t obtain his copy by subscription via the mail at this time, but preferred to walk down into town and patronise a local news-stand or store. Presumably he used the opportunity to browse the racks and shelves, casting a professional eye over the competition and near-rivals, while forming a rough idea of the state of ‘the slicks’. Incidentally, in his mid-1930s letters he refers several times to the ‘book-stalls’ of Providence, at which bargains could evidently be had by determined browsers such as Barlow, Loveman, Kenneth Sterling and himself. One imagines that, as the Great Depression set in, the four main bookstores of Providence saw competition from used book-stalls popping up in indoor markets and at regular fundraisers.

Talking of unusual angles, Black Gate has a short but perceptive review of the new academic book Weird Tales of Modernity (2019). The book’s author was also interviewed at length recently, on episode #140 of The Sectarian Review podcast.