Happy Thanksgiving: Here Are Two Approaches to Classic Horror Conventions


This week's Waypoints has us returning to horror from a new angle. First, we consider the domestic horror of Channel Zero: The Dream Door and what it has to say about the baggage we all carry, and how the past's survival tactics can become deadly as they follow us through life. Then we take a look at The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, which reimagines a famously bigoted Lovecraft story through the eyes of a young black man. How do the horrors that tormented Lovecraft—the vast indifference of creation, the limits of science and reason—change when they're juxtaposed against the daily life of a Harlem hustler and the pervasive cruelty of the society he inhabits?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/43934d/happy-thanksgiving-here-are-two-approaches-to-classic-horror-conventions

What'cha reading?

I need to dig out pictures for this because it’s absolutely the weirdest thing. My childhood home is, of course, my parents house except that up until the age of about six without the house part. It was just a basement with maybe two feet above ground. My finished basement is almost an apartment of it’s own now. The oven isn’t hooked up and the refrigerator went into the normal house part once it was built, but it has all the hook ups you could want.


I’m sure Waypoint’s Lovecraftian introspective is over now but I would love for them to check out some of Thomas Ligotti’s corporate horror stories.


I am 100% picking up the Ballad of Black Tom on my way home from work today. Thanks for the recommendation.

I LOVED lovecraft when I was in my early 20s. In classic white guy fashion I was just like “oohh demon fish people, awesome” and really didn’t think too much about it. In my late 20’s I reread some of my favorite stories and they didn’t sit right with me at all. I look forward to tucking in to some modern critique from a person of colour.

Keep up the great work!


Black Tom was great. I grabbed the audiobook version and listened to pretty much the whole thing over the course of a hike, which was a really good way to experience it.

I have a fair amount of nostalgia for the Lovecraft Mythos from back before I understood the gross undercurrent to it, so getting to revisit that setting while directly confronting the grossness was nice.

The two half structure of the book really worked for me, that whole first half is just progressively more uncomfortable and distressing and then as soon as I saw where the second half going I was fully on board with whatever had to happen to get there. It’s particularly notable that the bad stuff in the first half is mostly people / 1920s society being horrible, while the bad stuff in the second half is full blown Mythos cult stuff and yet the first half was far more distressing. Of course that is largely because the one doing a lot of the nasty stuff in the second half is the most sympathetic character. I loved getting to see Tom be a full blown Wizard with weird drone magic.

I’m definitely going to check out some more of LaValle’s stuff.