Saturday, September 3, 2011

Guest Blogger: Alex Lugo reviews "Some Unknown Gulf of Night"

The Cosmicomicon is proud to welcome back ace reviewer Alex Lugo, who offers up his review of W. H. Pugmire's latest inspired and fantastically original work Some Unknown Gulf of Night, which is, according to Bloodletting Press"One of only 100 signed and numbered hardcover copies. Cover and interior illustrations by Matthew Jaffe." 

Get your copy while it's still slippery and hot, and before it goes into a second printing, as everyone knows that owning a first printing copy of a legendary tome means your contributing greatly to your present and future sex life.  Because, as John Waters famously uttered, "If you go home with somebody, and they don't have books, don't fuck 'em."  Don't be caught dead - or trouserless - without treasures such as this adorning your creaking shelves.

So now, as I often do and hope to do for the unforeseeable future, I turn my pages over to Master Alex....
 Some Unknown Gulf of Night
By W.H. Pugmire
Review by Alex Lugo

           Some Unknown Gulf of Night is the latest, strangest, and undoubtedly greatest book thus far from modern master of the weird tale, W.H. Pugmire. Before even getting into the story itself, one must really appreciate the production and design of the actual tome. It is a very small book, a tad bit bigger than the novella line from Delirium Books. I have always favored over-sized books, but I feel that the small size of the book does it proper justice. It gives off this appealingly ghoulish cuteness, if that makes any sense. The publisher is Arcane Wisdom, the weird fiction imprint of Bloodletting Press. I proudly possess all of the Arcane Wisdom titles, and the owner, Larry Roberts, always delivers a fine production. Some Unknown Gulf of Night is no exception. Along with all the other books of Arcane Wisdom, it has an extremely low print run. Only 100 limited edition copies are for sale, and nearly all of them are gone, so if my review tickles your fancy, you should hurry over to Horror Mall to secure your copy before they disappear into the night.

            Like most of Pugmire’s work, Some Unknown Gulf of Night is extremely Lovecraftian. What Pugmire does with this book is portray his own unique response to Lovecraft’s brilliant sonnet sequence, Fungi from Yuggoth. The book is split up into 36 numbered prose poems and vignettes spanning 191 pages, meaning this is Pugmire’s largest single work yet. Each segment is Pugmire’s own interpretation of that numbered sonnet from Fungi from Yuggoth. Many of the segments are connected, whether it is due to a recurring character, or a straightforward continuation of a previous segment. Other segments are standalone stories. My personal favorite was one of the standalone pieces, which centered upon a weird artist named John who inherits a house near Dunwich and is driven insane by the cosmic lunacy evoked by a strange photograph with which he is obsessed, and attempts to reproduce through his art. This madness carries over to his friend, who is the narrator of the segment. 
            Some Unknown Gulf of Night is not a book you read in one sitting. Although it is under 200 pages, the reader must think of the book as 36 different stories, each needing to be digested with the proper time, like a rich meal, served bloody and rare. To read it in one sitting is too much. There are segments in the book that are two pages long, but are so decadent and powerful that they alone have as much depth and wonder as a ten-page work. The brain of the lucky reader risks over-saturation, and the possible bursting of brain tissue, should they attempt to complete the tome in one, unbroken read, as Pugmire’s sumptuous and poetic style is something to be sipped slowly, like a fine aperitif. 

            While not absolutely essential, it will help if the reader is not only familiar with the Lovecraftian universe (as there are some explicit references to his places and characters), but also with Pugmire’s own richly crafted world as well, for there are many call-backs to Pugmire’s past work. For example, one of the most frequent characters is a red haired, black skinned girl (although oddly devoid of African features), who dons a yellow, silk dress. People familiar with Pugmire will know that this woman is Marceline, an avatar and soul-sister of Nyarlathotep himself.  If you are not familiar with both writers, you might be a bit confused when you read this book, although enjoyment is assured, be you Lovecraftian/Pugmire novice or well-read sage.
       Some Unknown Gulf of Night is a dream come true to fans of Lovecraft and fans of Pugmire. For the Lovecraft fan, you can expect all types of cosmic horrors, weird locales, and blessedly archaic phrasing. For the Pugmire fan, you can expect mentally deranged characters, beautiful prose, and disturbing atmosphere. What’s not to like? Gulf has a small page count, but it is thick with content. Gulf can be as disturbing as coming across a clown in the middle of the forest, but it can also be as beautiful as a misty Kingsport night. Gulf will disgust you, and caress you. It is a grand paradox of Lovecraft’s world, and Pugmire’s adoring view of it. I assure you that although this book is super Lovecraftian, it is beyond the realm of pastiche. Pugmire writes in a way Lovecraft never could, yet he pays homage to the master at the same time. It is something truly magickal and I honestly can’t explain it. The best way to discover those nighted and weirdly horrific things that Wilum H. Pugmire has carefully arranged in the shadowy corners is to pick up this fine work for yourself.  You won’t be disappointed, nor will you be the same when you close the book as you were when you first opened it.

by Alex Lugo 

The Gorgeous Lovecraftian Legend


  1. I am speechless with gratitude. Alex, you are one of the finest reviewers I have ever read, you write well, you keep to the point, you lay out the essentials, and your honesty is beautiful. Thank you so much for this wondrous review, and for your friendship.

  2. No problem, Wilum. It's one of my all-time favorites.

  3. Wow.. just wow.

  4. The Cosmicomicon is extremely blessed to have the skills of Alex Lugo at our disposal. His reviews of fantastic tomes adds much to these humble electronic pages.

  5. Wow…and when I say wow, I mean, how do you think you’re paying homage to H.P. Lovecraft by ripping him off? Are you really so creatively inept that you have to launch yourself off of someone else’s work? I mean fanfare is one thing, but don’t pretend to be this great literary genus because you paraphrased the work of another author that’s been dead for 80 years.

  6. To whom are you directing this reply?

    Because we're all HPL ripoff artists and literary geniuses here, so you can see why I'd be confused.

  7. I think that Anonymous is obviously an impotent troll of no significance. Such creatures seem to enjoy attacking works that they have never read and could not possible comprehend. I have never "paraphrased" Lovecraft, as this clueless creature has insinuated. It's amusing how these moronic freaks are almoft always "anonymous."