Short Story Review: "Old Bugs" by H. P. Lovecraft
In this un-Lovecraftian tale, set in the then future year 1950, Sheehan’s Pool Room is not a nice place. A benevolent government has banished “strong, wicked whiskey” so it shows up only in dark place like Sheehan’s in the heart of Chicago’s stockyard district.
In this disreputable place works an even more disreputable man, known only as “Old Bugs.” He performs dozens of menial tasks in exchange for whiskey and “hasheesh.” He never speaks of himself and no one knows where he came from. Sometimes, when he is loaded, his speech makes everyone wonder. Sometimes, he bursts forth in prose and verse that no one understands. One regular patron thinks he might have been a writer or a professor at one time.
The only memento he has of his past was a woman’s picture. He never speaks of her. No one knew who she is.
One day, a young man by the name of Alfred Trevor comes in to Sheehan’s to have his first sip of whiskey, to taste life to its fullest. Old Bugs, to everyone's surprise, objects strenuously.
This is a morality tale, told with Lovecraft’s usual old-fashioned language and a seemingly rather heavy hand. It was not published during his lifetime, but written during a time of impending Prohibition in the US. It thought to have been something of a private note to a friend. There is a sentimental streak a mile wide in it.
Title: “Old Bugs” written 1919 first published in The Shuttered Room and Other Pieces 1959
Author: H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937)
Yesterday’s review: Pindar from World Poetry
Last Lovecraft review: “The Temple”
© 2015 Denise Longrie
An earlier version of this review appeared at another site. It has since removed from that site and is no longer visible there or anywhere else. It had been updated and expanded for its inclusion in PP.
Image Credit » https://pixabay.com/en/monster-alien-creature-kraken-154205/ by OpenClipartVectors
msiduri wrote on August 5, 2015, 9:03 AM
This is not the best or more fun thing that Lovecraft ever wrote, but it is quite short.
CoralLevang wrote on August 6, 2015, 5:17 AM
This sounds almost "fun." Where do you find all these old stories? How did you get interested in them?
msiduri wrote on August 6, 2015, 9:57 AM
They're all e-books. Most of them are freebies or in collections for a couple of dollars downloadable from amazon. I've always loved sci-fi, ghost stories and creepy-crawly stories/Twilight Zone-ish stories. I would have been in hog heaven to read these things as a kid.
CoralLevang wrote on August 6, 2015, 10:05 AM
I do not care for downloadable reading. Reading here is fine, but I like real books.
I wonder if there are still libraries which carry these things.
msiduri wrote on August 6, 2015, 1:25 PM
Almost certainly. If not, used book stores.