Resume with Monsters, William Browning Spencer

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Resume with Monsters, William Browning Spencer, White Wolf, 1995, ISBN 1-56504-913-6, $5.99

Darrell Schweitzer’s blurb for this book reads, “If Woody Allen had ever written a Cthulhu Mythos novel, it might have come out like this.” Pithy, short, moderately funny, interesting, and entirely wrong. Yes, there are Cthulhu references here, and yes, Spencer can write with humor, but this is not “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about the Necrinomicon (But Were Afraid to Ask).” If we must resort to comparing Spencer to other writers, Resume with Monsters owes the most to Philip K. Dick rather than H.P. Lovecraft.

The main character is Philip (what a giveaway, eh?) who works at Ralph’s One-Day Resumes in Austin, Texas. He moved there to find his girlfriend Amelia, who ran away from the high-tech company Micromeg that they had both worked at previously because of an accident which Philip crazily attributes to the workings of the Great Old Ones. Amelia attributes insanity to Philip, likely brought on by his obsession with the characters of H.P. Lovecraft, and manifested in the magnum opus of a novel that Philip is constantly revising entitled The Despicable Quest. Philip claims that the novel is the only thing keeping Yog-Sothoth at bay.

Is Resume with Monsters funny? Yes, but it is in its incongruities, the warped reality of what Philip sees and how others react. The strength of the novel is wrapped up in the ambiguity of Philip–we recognize him as an unreliable narrator, but, as in Philip K. Dick’s novels, the question is not whether to trust the narrator, but how much one can trust the world. Spencer handles this well, and there are quite a few plot twists to make things interesting, including having Philip’s consciousness flung back in time to relive the Micromeg incident, the zombie co-workers, and a management recruitment program straight out of Dilbert (well, if Scott Adams worked for Nyarlathotep, Inc.). Resume with Monsters is not as well done as Spencer’s latest, Zod Wallop, but is well worth checking out, especially for fans of both Dick and Lovecraft.

[finished November 1996]

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