Sunday, January 20, 2019

Lesser than Lovecraft - The Fisherman

I was dragged The Fisherman by a nice-looking cover (yes, I shop with my eyes), and the suggestion that this would be a Lovecraftian story. Well, it was. Sort of.

The book starts off dealing with the protagonist's grief at the loss of his wife, and finding solace in fishing. Fishing takes up all his free time, and he eventually gets another man who lost his whole family to come fishing with him as well. Just when they're going up to a new fishing spot called Dutchman's Creek, and you start to get the impression that this is going to be more like Pet Sematary, the story screeches to a halt so that the cook at a diner can tell the two men (and by extension, you) a story that takes up 80% of the book. All in one hour talking to these guys at the diner. Yeah, ok. This is the meat of the book, make no mistake. Why it's couched in this idea of a contemporary frame story is beyond me. It goes way past the old gothic trope of someone telling you of a tragedy long ago that you are now doomed to repeat through your own folly. There's entirely too much length and detail dedicated to the story of resurrected people/fish in the past for it to operate as simply a marker of trope within the book.

That's not to say there weren't good moments, or some interesting concepts - the description of the black ocean in which the Leviathan (not Cthulhu of course, that would be unoriginal) rests was good, but it was also entirely predictable. Things that did go off the Lovecraft path were not very believable. People don't just grumble about dead men walking and let it go on for weeks and months - that stretches my imagination just a bit too far. And I don't know what the ending was supposed to be about, traveling through the coastal city of the black ocean. It was too left-field.

I regret that Langan didn't take the idea of the "Man in Black" (true HPL fans know who this is) and run with it. That's a less developed part of Lovecraft's literary mythos, and it would have been cool to see a really good rendition of such a storyline outside of an Arkham Horror encounter card. Oh well, I guess that means I'll have to do it. Eventually.

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