The Motley Fool invokes zombies and Lovecraft to describe booksellers’ financial woes

Great Cthulhu, high priest of the Old Ones and destroyer of bookstores

You’ve seen me talk here before about the delicious rise of monster metaphors, specifically zombies and Frankenstein‘s monster, to describe the apocalyptic economic troubles of the past few years. Now a writer for The Motley Fool — always a useful and amusing site for its combination of investment advice and cheeky humor — has invoked both zombies and, more pointedly, Lovecraft’s eldritch horrors as metaphors for the current titanic troubles facing the bookselling industry.

In “Living Dead Booksellers” (The Motley Fool, August 4, 2010) — a title with an overt and obvious zombie connotation — Alyce Lomax opens with the following piquant description of what Barnes & Noble, specifically, is facing:

Big booksellers’ current situation is an eldritch tale straight out of H.P. Lovecraft’s fevered, shadowy brand of horror. Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) shares may have spiked more than 20% today, on word that the company’s putting itself on the block, but the ultimate outcome might read a little too much like the cursed Necronomicon Lovecraft alluded to in his works. No thanks!

She goes on to discuss the serious challenges being posed to traditional booksellers by the likes of e-books, especially Amazon with its monstrously popular Kindle — okay, that’s my injection of monster talk there, not hers — and the bargain bookselling practices of big box chains like Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco.

She then returns to the Lovecraft shtick:

[B & N’s] shambling financial condition places Borders (NYSE: BGP) in greater danger than its rival big-box bookstore, but that doesn’t mean Barnes & Noble is completely out of the woods. The overall competitive landscape for the bricks-and-mortar pure-play booksellers remains perilous, and investors should avoid booksellers’ stocks like they’d beware the call of Cthulhu.

And she finishes with this:

Big bookstores are perfectly fine places to pick up horror stories from the likes of Lovecraft. But big bookstore stocks could fill your portfolio with soul-curdling horror. Who will survive? Who will perish? Buyers should keep a safe distance until the grisly spectacle is finally over.

Reading all of this, I feel a lot like Sean Connery’s James Bond when he was greeted by a lovely and voluptuous vixen who introduced herself as Pussy Galore: “I must be dreaming.”

Recall that last year James Howard Kunstler similarly referenced Lovecraft to talk about economic decay in his own beloved upstate New York. Bryan Alexander talked about the invasion of zombie and other (e.g., vampire) language to describe the economy. Other example are easy to come by.

Recently I’ve been chatting with my friends John Morehead, creator of the excellent blog/website TheoFantastique (“a meeting place for myth, imagination, and mystery in pop culture”), and Kim Paffenroth, zombie horror author and religion scholar extraordinaire, about the infiltration of horror imagery throughout modern Western culture, often, but not always, in a specifically religion-related guise. This latest evidence of that trend in action is oh, so fun to see.

But on the downside, Lomax at The Motley Fool misspells the name Nyarlathotep in the bio that accompanies her piece. It doesn’t pay to insult The Crawling Chaos!

About Matt Cardin

Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin is the author of DARK AWAKENINGS, DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP, A COURSE IN DEMONIC CREATIVITY: A WRITER'S GUIDE TO THE INNER GENIUS, and the forthcoming TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN. He is also the editor of BORN TO FEAR: INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS LIGOTTI and the academic encyclopedias MUMMIES AROUND THE WORLD, GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND PSYCHICS: THE PARANORMAL FROM ALCHEMY TO ZOMBIES, and HORROR LITERATURE THROUGH HISTORY.

Posted on August 8, 2010, in Economy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Good catch, Matt. Isn’t this Great Recession Gothic something else?
    Maybe we can write up something on it.

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