Praise for In the Mountains of Madness
"H.P. Lovecraft is having one hell of a resurgence. Luckily, the author of the man's latest biography is the smart, shrewd, and insightful W. Scott Poole. In The Mountains of Madness gives a welcome accounting of Lovecraft's career but, importantly, urgently, Poole also offers a new outlook on the women in Lovecraft's life. His mother and wife, dismissed or vilified for so long, are cast as some of his most essential supporters. What a welcome new point of view this book offers about this issue and so many others. What a wonderful testament to the lasting power and influence of H.P. Lovecraft." Victor LaValle, author of The Ballad of Black Tom
"As Poe was to the 20th century, Lovecraft is to the 21st, and W. Scott Poole's book is his Horrible Holiness's Gospels, his Revelations, and his Necronomicon, all in one, like some kind of twisted trinity guiding us deep into the mountains of madness." Grady Hendrix, author of My Best Friend's Exorcism
"Poole's grasp of Lovecraft's life is wide reaching and impressive as is his understanding of Lovecraft's current place within popular culture. Readers will find it impossible to ignore Lovecraft after this." Carl Sederholm, author of The Age of Lovecraft
"A fascinating journey of H. P. Lovecraft's visions of things to come. The secret of Lovecraft revealed a page at a time. A must read for all true fans of horror." Jonny Coffin, owner of Coffin Case
"A deep plunge into the Lovecraft-ian dark side. Poole enthusiastically explores how H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) influenced modern pop culture . . . Poole seamlessly weaves biography and criticism as he shows how the fodder of Lovecraft's mental state was transformed into the eerie, occult-infused stories Nail Gaiman calls 'where the darkness begins' . . . [T]horoughly enjoyable and highly readable." Kirkus Reviews
"Must reading for both loyal Lovecraft fans and biography lovers." Booklist
"This work by Poole makes Lovecraft's story accessible to casual readers without forsaking the level of detail expected of a more scholarly work... this book entertains and surprises, as with Poole's decision to write in the first personhe's a wry and jovial narrator. He also takes pains to explore Lovecraft's influence upon art and popular culture... This interesting biography also provides new perspectives on the author's character that will incense the keepers of Lovecraft's mythos." Library Journal
Praise for Vampira
"W. Scott Poole has written a fascinating and illuminating socio-sexual history of the last half decade of American Pop Culture.…W. Scott Poole explores deftly and accurately the history and the politics of both feminism and "the outsider," the parts of America pushed to the curb but yearning for acceptance, love, and financial success, the "new and shiny" promise of the (supposed) post war era. Poole has done a great job in bringing such a variety of disparate pieces into a singular whole, and this book should be bought and read by anyone interested in the unspoken history of Hollywood, and the darker story of our culture." The Examiner
"A fascinating journey through 1950s America…this pioneering book is a tribute to the change that Vampira incited and the awakening that so many unknowingly received from her presence." Pasatiempo (Santa Fe)
"Poole is as concerned with the larger social changes afoot in mid-century America and uses the Vampira narrative to approach the second half of the 20th century from a fresh, and new thought-provoking perspective...[ Vampira ] provides an interesting and singular window into a time in the nation's past that can hardly be over-examined, especially as so many of the battles described are still being fought and it can often seem as if some of the hard-won gains of the era are slowly being given up." Charleston City Paper
"Poole goes to great, and effective, lengths to identify the attempts at social engineering that fostered specious notions of maleness and femaleness in the name of governmental control and selling the American dream. But the most impressive thing (besides his impeccably researched historical insight) is his understanding of Nurmi and her character in that context." Delirium Magazine
"Finally, Poole lovingly gives Vampira her due." Booklist (starred review)
"Before there was Dr. Morgus, Svengoolie, and Elvira, there was the titular Vampira. This stone-cold winner belongs in every American studies collection." Library Journal (starred review)
"Scott Poole has the chops, the Hollywood savvy, and the horror genre's insider smarts to write a killer book on Vampira. I'll be first in line to grab a copy." Jonathan Maberry, multiple Bram Stoker Award winner and New York Times bestselling author of Assassin's Code and Dust & Decay
"Horror hostess, bondage goddess, Charles Addams cartoon come to life, Vampira was every first-generation fanboy's wet dream. Scott Poole takes us on an unforgettable ride through the overlapping underworlds of B+D magazines, Hollywood noir, and early political liberation movements that inspired actress Maila Nurmi to challenge a postwar culture bent on stifling women's, choices, bodies, and desires. This book is a subversive masterpiece." Sheri Holman, author of Witches on the Road Tonight and The Dress Lodger
"W. Scott Poole's last book, Monsters in America , was a dazzling work of cultural history: smart, funny, subversive and wildly entertaining. He showed a special gift for playfully saying serious things. His new book is even more wonderful. The life of Maila Nurmi, better known as the late-night TV hostess Vampira, is a great, strange story in itself, but also allows Poole to explore our attitudes about sex, death, fear, and difference. 'The Lady of Horror' was famous in the 1950s, but she is a remarkable symbol who connects backward to Poe and forward to Goth. She is as American as the Statue of Liberty." Christopher Bram, author of Gods and Monsters and Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America
"Vampira is up there with Vincent Price for lovers of the macabre, an icon whose shadow and influence lingers long after death. She's not only important to modern children of the night for being the first TV horror host, but as the original 'Glamour Ghoul,' whose style has inspired generations of Goth Girls to adopt the sexy undead look as their own. But there is more to her story than her ability to look good screaming, and Scott Poole, whose writing on the dark side of popular culture has proven to be some of the smartest, sassiest commentary on American society around, is the man to tell it." Liisa Ladouceur, author of Encyclopedia Gothica
"An expert critic of pop culture, W. Scott Poole is one of the finest historians of all that is wicked, salacious, and sexy in America. By looking into the life and times of Maila Nurmi, the former stripper turned television's dark goddess of sex and death, Poole unveils a new side of midcentury America, which we too often forget the steamy, scary, and sensational." Edward J. Blum author of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America
"Vampira represents a way to talk about fifties culture, especially about its political and moral pressures. Scott Poole has shown how brilliantly he can unearth cultural fears and desires." James R. Kincaid, author of Erotic Innocence
Poole (History/Coll. of Charleston; In the Mountains of Madness: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of H.P. Lovecraft, 2016, etc.) brings a scholar's eye and a devotee's heart to a study of the literary, film, and artistic incarnations of horror from the World War I period to today.
This is really two books, one an excellent examination of the nightmare repercussions of the Great War and a second that is only partially successful in tying it to the origins of horror as entertainment—and catharsis. Tales of the macabre existed long before the war, but the author argues that the war remains the true wellspring of the modern genre. His evidence makes a persuasive case, up to a point. The book is obviously the result of significant research, but Poole spends too much time playing amateur psychologist in an effort to support his premise, frequently interpreting the facts to fit his conjectures. The author's command of literary and film studies is evident, and he takes care to examine a wide range of noted works and their creators rather than just the standard-bearers. But he also undercuts his arguments through overstatement—e.g., claiming that the recent rash of zombie films and TV is "a national obsession." An astute exploration of the cultural significance of a film like Nosferatu is one thing, but some readers may have a hard time taking seriously the claim that an orgy of ooze like the dreadful 1982 remake of The Thing is a "classic." This is not a matter of being dismissive of genre works, which can be superb, or of the author, who is clearly a sharp, talented historian.
A mixed bag studded with insights and flaws. Poole, who tends to conflate his personal tastes with high art, fires pre-emptive strikes against critics dismissive of the horror genre, but he fails to accept the legitimate reasons why these judgments hold sway.