H.P. Lovecraft always intended his Cthulu mythos to live through other authors' pens. If Lovecraft were alive today he would certainly find William Spencer Browning's treatment most entertaining. In "Resume with Monsters," Browning artfully welds together the infinite horrors of Lovecraft's Old Ones with the modern banalities of life in the corporate world. The result is a book loaded with hilarious dialogue, humorous scenes, and a good deal of light horror.
Philip has a big problem. He sees monsters at work, behind every filing cabinet, around every corner, in the eyes of his fellow co-workers, and in motivational pamphlets handed out in his paycheck envelope. In order to maintain his slipping sanity, Philip spends his free time constantly rewriting his sprawling 2000 page book called "The Despicable Quest," a Lovecraftian tome full of references to Azathoth, Yog-Sathoth, and other unpleasant beings from beyond space and time. Philip is aware that spouting off about monsters from dimensions beyond our own tends to alarm people, which brings in Lily, an aging psychologist who promises Philip she can help him through his troubles.
Philip probably would not have many problems with his demons if he gave up trying to save his ex-girlfriend Amelia. Philip's relentless quest to expose the monsters coupled with the undying devotion to his book infuriated Amelia, spurring a rancorous split. When she moves to Texas Philip follows her, desperate to convince Amelia that he once saved her from eternal doom when the two worked at MicroMeg, a giant international corporation (the details of which can be found in the section of the book hilariously entitled, "The Doom that Came to MicroMeg). Philip drifts from one low paying job to another, always on the lookout for the reemergence of the evil ones. Not only does Philip see potential evil at his own jobs, there seems to be something seriously astray at Pelidyne, a big company where Amelia just started a new job. It looks like Philip will have to return once again into the belly of the beast.
Spencer really has a grasp of Lovecraft's horrific intentions. His style does not reflect Lovecraft's ornate use of the English language, but many of the adventures Philip embarks on mirror a trip through a Lovecraft novel: the weird bending of time and space, the strange rituals of the Old Ones, and the feeling of helplessness one gets when confronting an evil beyond the comprehension of the human mind.
I suspect there is a lot of the author in this story. My copy has a painting on the front cover of a man who looks suspiciously like the picture of Browning on the back cover. The detailed descriptions of corporate stupidity and the shrieking mindlessness of working a low paying job tell me that the author spent many years working in the same type of jobs as Philip does in the novel. Anyone who has ever worked in a boring job with high pressure jerks as bosses will recognize and sympathize with Philip's plight. Ultimately, that is the greatest horror in "Resume with Monsters": the pressures of a job in today's world are worse than seeing monsters with dripping scales falling out of a time rip in the ceiling.
The comical aspects of the book abound throughout the story. Everything from Philip's confessions about the evil ones to the motivational pamphlets is gut bustingly funny. Be sure and pay attention to the group sessions during Philip's stay in the mental hospital. These scenes are some of the funniest in the book.
"Resume with Monsters" is essential reading for Lovecraft fans. Those who are unfamiliar with Lovecraft may want to read at least one collection of his stories before settling into this book because the references to particular entities are meaningless unless you understand the mythos. I am placing Spencer's book in my top five list of books read this year, and I hope you will too.