In August Moldenhauer’s debut The Kathu Journals out of Lovecraft’s Providence we encounter the the classic transmedia story of a book about a book, or in this case, the author’s analysis of a odd pair of journals called “The Kathu Journals”, written by an unknown author. Moldenhauer’s book begins as a analysis of these journals, their origins in Providence R.I., and their subsequent travels to the beaches of Kathu in Southeast Asia. The Journals are Lovecraftean in nature, written in H.P. Lovecraft’s home city by an ever frantic and fearful manuscript author who claims that much of what Lovecraft wrote about is not fiction at all, but real. Moldenhauer performs analysis of the examples of R’lyehian script provided by the journal author, which speak of the Cthulhu’s dead dreaming, the sunken city of R’lyeh, and the influence of Cthulhu over the minds of human cultists. Throughout the book, Moldenhauer begins with the calm and steady mind of a rationalist, simply grounding the possibilities with references to historical works and scholars.
Then something happens in the book, as Moldenhauer begins to delve deeper into the fragments and their preternatural details, discarding with abandon his initial categorization of the conclusions of the journals as possible and deems them in all likelyhood probable. The Kathu Journals present several texts in the Cthulhulian dialect of R’lyeh, but with the so called ‘Necronomicon Fragment’ Moldenhauer succumbs to Stockholm Syndrome, drinks the Cool-Aide, and takes the liberty of calling it that himself based on some occult references to Lovecraft’s mother Winfred. Moldenhauer then begins his own decent in madness, as his queries go beyond the words of the texts, looking into the forensic evidence within the printed ink, the fibers of the paper, the stitching of the book, with fantastic renderings of the texts that Moldenhauer interprets around the themes of demonic possession, ancient aliens, and extra dimensional beings watching and influencing a humanity unaware. By the end, not only do we feel Moldenhauer has bridged a link to the dread Cultists of Dagon, but we almost feel he is recruiting we the readers, with his barrage of transmedia, when he exclaims “Perhaps ‘the Reader is Dead’ lest he not forget that which he has read.” Perhaps our fleshy mammalian minds even now here the Cthulhu’s call, if only in our nightmares.
The Kathu Journals out of Lovecraft’s Providence brings the reader along for the ride from Providence, to Kathu, to R’lyeh itself. More then a book within a book, the reader is dropped into the bottom of a deep well of madness within the alien fragment within the book within the book, in the same transmedia realm of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. In conclusion, Moldenhauer speaks with the mouth of madness of things that should not be.