What if author H.P. Lovecraft abandoned his career as a horror writer and instead found his true calling as an advice columnist? What forbidden mysteries hide inside the letters from those lonely hearts, and in Lovecraft's florid words of relationship wisdom?
James Warner, author of the novel All Her Father's Guns, has imagined an installment of Lovecraft's relationship advice column, in which his readers questions drive the writer ever-deeper into madness:
A change has overcome my husband. He likes to pore over forbidden manuscripts, and often returns home late, giving the excuse that he has been attending debauches in a neighboring swamp. So why am I never invited?
I have been under a great nervous strain since reading your words, which I feel brought me to the brink of an ultra-dimensional realm of nameless terror. It is a wonder I can even bring myself to pen a response. Dalgaard has appeared to me in a dream, begging me to stop answering mail, as this can only draw attention from - but he was too overwrought to finish his sentence. Persuade yourself, if you can, that the cephalopods coming up behind him were but phantasmata, that your husband's dissipated habits are harmless, that eternal oblivion is the worst we have to fear, that the dreadful exaggerations in the Saracenic Scrolls are without factual foundation - I fervently wish I could still be as credulous myself! Unless it is too late, expunge from your brain all tenebrous speculation about rubbery, faceless lobsters scuttling down onyx flumes onto nether altars, etc. Dalgaard should evidently never have borrowed from the library The Chronicle of the Slime, which must be horribly overdue by now, or taught himself how to swap minds with the fennel folk, who he insists have the abominable knack of wreaking demented changes upon space-time itself,
Yr. Most Oblig'd, Most Obt. Srvt., – HPL.
As the column progresses, Lovecraft's non-Anne-Landersian "advice" attracts some cosmic letter-writers, all of whom seem like better relationship material than Lovecraft, fanged orifices and all.
Illustration by Yael Levy.
H.P. Lovecraft Answers Your Relationship Questions [The Bygone Bureau via The Mary Sue]