Our untimely summer weather turned back into winter again this weekend, and I was thus looking for proper winter fare: light, humorous reading. This is a task that gets increasingly difficult with the passage of time, because there's a finite amount of good light reading out there, and it gets read quickly. My best bet for light reading would probably have been P.G. Wodehouse's Something Fresh, but I have that secreted away in my pile of books to bring with me on my incipient move to Detroit (plus, Wodehouse is forever associated with summer reading in my mind); something else was required.

I knew I was reaching a little when I picked up William Browning Spencer's Résumé with Monsters , but I didn't realize how much I was reaching.

The high concept of the book, as I understood it, is that it mixes humdrum office life with Lovecraft's monsters in a humorous way -- Dilbert crossed with Cthulu. Well, that's largely accurate, but the book is rather darker than that description makes it sound. In a lot of ways, in fact, it's very like The Wasp Factory -- you've got the calmly insane protagonist with a messed-up family history, and a madness involving magic rituals in the everyday world.

It's not quite that bleak, though. For one thing, it's deliberately ambiguous throughout the book whether or not the protagonist is insane or describing reality accurately; for another, the book has passages of sly, witty humor -- the kind of passage that makes you want to turn to the person next to you and read aloud for a bit. (The kind of passages, moreover which would be ideal to type out here if I weren't a bit too lazy to transcribe long passages of text, and if most of them didn't depend on too much context.)

This is unquestionably an excellent book, and I have no hesitation about recommending it to all and sundry; but do be aware that it's not quite as fluffy as all that.


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