Pulp Consumption: The Ballad of Black Tom
Today I talk about the novella The Ballad of Black Tom, a retelling of Lovecraft’s infamous “The Horror at Red Hook.”
Victor LaValle’s novella The Ballad of Black Tom reimagines H.P. Lovecraft’s original story “The Horror at Red Hook,” notorious for being one of the most blatantly racist stories by the older author. “Red Hook” was originally published by Weird Tales in 1927, but it’s notably racist even for the time period. Additionally, Lovecraft himself wasn’t much a fan of the story. Some of Lovecraft’s proteges and biographers (Lin Carter the former and ST Joshi the latter) agree with his assessment. I don’t think there’s a need for me to agree with others, but I’ll just add in my personal dislike for the story, its narrative device (used to better effect in “Randolph Carter”), and the unchecked xenophobia, which is more than uncalled for.
Black Tom has won awards and was nominated for many others, primarily because it manages to add story beats that give the characters purpose. If “Red…
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