Summer of Unknown Writers: Résumé With Monsters

By David Nicklin

resume-monstersSpencer, William Browning. Résumé With Monsters. Borealis, 1995.

The following review is part of our Summer of Unknown Writers series, in which we look at works of horror that are not very well-known nowadays.

The cover of Résumé With Monsters has a quote from Darrell Schweitzer, former editor of The New York Review of Science Fiction, that reads: “If Woody Allen had written a Cthulhu Mythos novel, it might have come out like this.” I most strenuously disagree. Woody Allen isn’t funny; William Browning Spencer is.

And so is Résumé With Monsters. Incredibly funny, as it turns out.

Published by the now-defunct Borealis imprint of White Wolf Publishing, this 1995 novel is a riot of satire, slapstick, corporate malfeasance, and the soul-sucking horror of dead-end jobs.

Philip Kenan, a failed horror novelist, toils at Ralph’s One-Day Resumes, where he is slowly going mad. Elder gods reside in employee lockers; Cthulhu’s tentacles smudge photocopies; and crypto-zombie co-workers show up for work early. The evil truly begins when hapless Philip manages to escape Ralph’s for the supposedly-greener pastures of the mega-corporation, Pelidyne.

As Philip’s sanity slowly unwinds, he realizes that Pelidyne is a front for Nyarlathotep and he must rescue his ex-girlfriend Amelia (at the possible cost of the loss of his new love) and save the world.

The real joy of this novel is not the dry wit or the brilliant satire, but that Spencer never really takes himself seriously, and he never makes clear if it is all some ever-worsening delusion of Philip’s unraveling mind or if Philip’s madness allows him to see and react to threats from beyond the universe.

And my slight against the famed Woody Allen aside, Spencer is funny, in a twisted way. I have not ready anyone since that has mixed humour and Cthulhu in a way that didn’t seem trite or too self-conscious. There are laugh-out-loud moments and moments of the kind of cutting, snarky satire that doesn’t evoke laughter but knowing, sardonic grunts of amusement. Anyone who has ever worked in a dead-end service job or a soulless corporate cubical will recognize the true horror and humour of the novel.

And I am not alone in finding Résumé With Monsters hilarious and horrific; Spencer won the Internation Horror Critics’ Guild Award for Best Novel in 1995.

If you can find a copy of this forgotten and out-of-print novel, buy it. Read it. Laugh. Repeat. You will not be disappointed.

Résumé With Monsters can be found on Amazon.com.