On “I Am Providence”

“Mamatas isn’t trolling, exactly — in his admittedly merciless way, he’s laying bare the dysfunction, arrogance, and entitlement of Lovecraft fandom, and geek culture at large, with the finesse of a sociologist. A cruel sociologist, but still. At the same time, the plot involves arcane tomes bound in flesh and other such Cthulhu-tastic tropes; Mamatas celebrates the weirdness and wonder of Lovecraft even as he subverts the writer and his followers.

But does it all make for a good mystery? Mostly yes. Colleen is both an intrepid investigator and a funny, wise, charismatic protagonist, and the plot unwinds breezily at an Agatha Christie-esque pace. And Panossian, for all his beyond-the-grave crankiness, is an absorbing narrator, even though it becomes clear that he’s basically a mouthpiece for Mamatas himself.

The biggest problem with I Am Providence is its insularity. As deep as the book gets, it’s equally narrow, and no matter how accessible Mamatas makes his mystery, it’s still mired in the in-fighting and minutia of a subculture that few can relate to. But he does play with some universal themes, up to and including our fascination with fantasy and horror in general, and why that sometimes crosses over into pathology, hatred, and fanaticism. In that sense, I Am Providence is pointed social commentary wrapped in a bilious in-joke — but one that’s more than worth getting in on.”



[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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