IT’S THE WAY HIS PROSE wraps me up like an amorous and itchy octopus. It’s the slow building of his narratives. It’s his quaint and dark sense of humor. It’s his search for literary identity (“There are my ‘Poe pieces’ and my ‘Dunsany pieces’ — but alas — where are my Lovecraft pieces?”). It’s his backward politics, which he eventually awoke from. (It’s also that he awoke from his antisemitism.) It’s his sense of atmosphere. It’s his malign genius. It’s the joy he took in corresponding with budding horror writers. It’s his love of cats. It’s his love of cheese (“How can anybody not like CHEESE?”). It’s his settings. It’s his love of big words. It’s his sense of lurking terror. It’s his ineffectual main characters, even though many of them are semi-autobiographical. It’s the way he sets a literary trap before springing it. It’s his tragic sense of false economy. It’s his love of antiquity. It’s his hard-headed materialism. It’s his ability to portray — and instill — cosmic horror. It’s his loyalty to his friends. It’s the inventiveness of his critters. It’s his seclusion and hypochondria. It’s his adoration of New England. It’s his affectations. And it’s the way he leaves me shivering after midnight.