If the clue on Jeopardy! is “H.P. Lovecraft and Kanye West,” you’re playing a weird category (and don’t try to get away with “Who are two people who have never been in my kitchen?”). But just because the two have little in common on the surface doesn’t mean that their worlds could never intersect. In a new novel out September 1 by author Joshua Chaplinsky, they come together in the weirdest possible way: in a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies-style mashup from new publishing imprint Yolo House that morphs Lovecraft’s Herbert West–Reanimator into Kanye West–Reanimator.
“It kind of started as a joke,” Chaplinsky explains. “I needed an out-there idea for a submission for a Lovecraft-themed issue of [literary journal] Lazy Fascist Review. Initially I had just written the first section as a standalone, but at the end of the pitch email, I floated the idea of Lazy Fascist putting out an expanded version as a novella. Six months later, [head editor] Cameron Pierce contacted me saying he liked the idea. Luckily, I had already gone ahead and written the whole thing.”
Chaplinsky describes the book as “quite bizarre,” which seems like common sense here, and explains that Kanye West–Reanimator follows the basic structure of the original, and uses a fair amount of Lovecraft’s original text. “I started by just replacing every instance of ‘Herbert West’ with Kanye, but I quickly realized the potential in making it its own thing. So I did some research and really tailored the story to Kanye’s biography–and then I went off the rails with it.”
The project may have started as a lark based on West, but Chaplinsky believes he’s also found a missing link between Lovecraft and Yeezy in developing the story. “Thematically, I found a lot of similarities between [Kanye] and the story of Herbert West,” he says.
Meanwhile, the cover image based on the original poster for 1985’s Reanimator is pretty hard to tear your eyes from. Kanye in the lab coat and Jay-Z’s head in the dish depict what Chaplinsky describes as “a bizarre mix of Lovecraftian horror and hip-hop history,” which is sure to delight the probably larger-than-you’d-think intersection of the venn diagram that those two entities create.