This is my first Lovecraft, so I can’t judge whether this particular collection has all his “best”. It did have the stories that were recommended to me as being representative of his work: The Dunwich Horror, The Colour Out of Space, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, and of course, The Call of Cthulhu. I enjoyed all of these. The quality of the other stories was variable.
Rather than trying to review the stories individually, I’ll just offer a few random thoughts. Yep, now that I’ve read the source material, the influence of Lovecraft on several of my favorite modern authors is pretty obvious, especially Stephen King. Lovecraft does seem to have a wide variance in style, with stories ranging from so floridly verbose that they’re almost unreadable (a la EA Poe) to more straightforward, but still atmospheric, little horror stories. I like his monsters, which seem to run from mundane creatures acting in supernatural ways, to crazy mixes of various creature parts, to creatures who aren’t even entirely corporeal. One common choice of style that I don’t care for is how they narrator always seems to be telling you a story of something that happened a while ago – this puts too much distance between the reader and the horror experienced, IMO.
Last, and specific to this edition, is the truly excellent foreword by Robert Bloch. I learned something about the author, who is interestingly defensive on the subject of moral hygiene and authors. I also learned a bit about the evolution of the horror genre.
Foreword 1/24/15 (yes I started this ages ago, then reshelved until this month)