The Coolest Thing I Own: A Leather Grimpendium

August 25, 2013 — I want to show you the coolest thing I own. I’ve had it for a whole 19 hours now. You might not recognize it, but this is my book, The New England Grimpendium…hand-bound in leather…custom-embossed with a human skull.

I’ve never meant ellipses so earnestly.

If you’ve been following my posts on Twitter and Facebook, then you know I’ve been at NecronomiCon in Providence on and off for the past couple of days. Thursday, I was hanging out in the yard of the First Baptist Church in America (it’s both a name and a fact), trying to decide between the convention keynote that was being hosted there and the gin and tonics being hosted at a nearby bar. The gin and tonics won, but as I was about to leave, a guy walked up to me and said, “You look like a man working on a Poe-pendium.”

There’s a lot of backstory in that last word, but let’s just say he recognized me from OTIS/my books, although he’d have been closer to correct if he’d have said, “You look like a man who’s been vomited up by a giant cat with a cheese grater for a mouth.” I’d been walking the extremely vertiginous streets of College Hill checking out Poe and Lovecraft locations. I was sweaty, dirty, disheveled, and, well, in need of gin and tonics.

The man’s name was Christian Haunton and he was there with his girlfriend Sara. Like the rest of us, he was in Providence to celebrate Lovecraft, but he was also there to give a talk entitled Xenophobia, Atheism, and Tentacles: The Slender Man Myth as Communal Lovecraftian Tale. It’s that kind of stuff that makes you want to attend a Lovecraft convention.

He was on his way into the keynote, so we didn’t have time to talk, but he asked me if I’d sign his copy of The New England Grimpendium the next time we saw each other. Of course, I said yes, and not a fake yes, either. NecronomiCon’s a small enough convention that it was a lock that we’d run into each other again.

It happened Saturday afternoon, in the lobby of the Biltmore Hotel, where most of the convention was taking place. He pulled out the book for me to sign…and it was totally unrecognizable as any product of my life.

He had personally hand-bound the entire Grimpendium in leather, continuing the skull motif by pressing it into right into the cow. The entire book, including the original cover, is still intact within its new leather duds. I can’t remember exactly why he did this (I believe he said, “It just seemed fitting.”), but it certainly makes the book more durable, more like the field guide I wanted it to be, more awesome (or, if you’d rather, finally awesome).
Don't worry, Brian. Your cover art is still there.
I mean, you see the pictures. It’s a beautiful thing.

I’m so glad he didn’t buy it as an ebook.

Obviously, I immediately asked him how much for him to do one for me, to which he graciously just gave me his copy in exchange for an autographed book to be mailed later (which I will do, I promise).

I then had him sign it...which is pretty funny to me that he ended up having to sign the very book he wanted me to sign. I think I might do that from now on, actually.

To show you how excited I was by this, I gave he and Sara each a two-handed handshake in parting. You know, the kind where you do a regular handshake and then place your left hand on their forearm.

I’ve never done that in my life.

Thanks, Christian. Even though you might have just forced me to put a fire safe on my credit card and up my insurance policy premium for personal items.

Great work, man. Sorry I guilted you into parting with it.

By the way, I’m naming it Leatherface.

UPDATE: Christian graciously surprised me with a companion copy of The New York Grimpendium similarly cow-skinned as a Halloween present. Now I have something for each hand when I need to save my valuables from a house fire. Thanks again, man.


  1. That’s so strange! When I was in Providence last week a sweaty, dirty, disheveled man muttering about gin pushed me down and took my book. (It was one of those two-handed push-downs, the kind where you do a regular push and then place your left hand on their forearm to keep them from recovering their balance.) Probably just coincidence.