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The Show That Smells

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  125 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
The Show That Smells is the most SHOCKING story ever shown on the silver screen! It’s also the tale of Jimmie, a country music singer dying of tuberculosis, and Carrie, his wife, who tries to save him by selling her soul to a devil who designs haute couture clothing! Elsa is a powerful Parisian dress designer, and a vampire. She wants to make Carrie look beautiful, smell ...more
Paperback, 108 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by ECW Press
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(showing 1-30)
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Aug 08, 2009 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a delicious, delicious surprise. I picked it up after reading the plot summary on Dennis Cooper’s blog (the book is published by Cooper’s “Little House on the Bowery” series). I expected a delightful, quirky and enjoyably subversive summer read. I was completely unprepared for what “The Show That Smells” really is: startling, funny, full of unexpected twists and morsels of horrific glee. It is almost a novel in verse, and reading it is more like the experience of watching an ...more
Joey Comeau
Jun 03, 2012 Joey Comeau rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommendations
The Show that Smells is a book for when you start feeling like you'll never read anything that surprises you

This book is insane. I didn't know books could be like this. It is a mirror maze of a book. It is a string of dead baby jokes and high fashion references. it is a vampire love story, loaded with gay sex and the monster hunting, gospel singing Carter Family. I have never read anything like it.

I think Derek McCormack is easily the best writer in Canada.
Nov 01, 2009 Brenna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Derek McCormack's The Show that Smells assaults the senses like an opium-induced train-wreck into absurdity.

That is to say, it is a wild ride that is all but impossible to turn away from.

Staccato sentences collide with gruesome grotesquerie, with a collusion of familiar faces - Lon Chaney, The Carter Family, Coco fucking Chanel, a myriad host of others - interacting as if infested with hornets inside their living brains. Narrative? None to be seen. ...Or at least, nothing so overwrought as to be
Blake Fraina
Sep 09, 2011 Blake Fraina rated it really liked it
It’s fitting that filmmaker Guy Maddin’s review is so prominently featured on the cover of Derek McCormack’s latest. These two have much more in common than their shared Canadian roots.

Like Maddin’s films, McCormack’s wicked little novels are a style unto themselves; unlike anything else on the literary landscape. The Show That Smells manages to evoke the atmosphere of a grainy, sepia-tinted early talkie, while at the same time being nearly impossible to place in any particular time period. Writ
Sep 30, 2008 Stacey rated it it was amazing
Here's a snippet of my Torontoist review:
Only a few pages into this sprint-paced novella, it's immediately apparent that McCormack has created something innovative, entertaining, and quite possibly ground-breaking. With its biting beats of refined prose and inventive storyline, it would certainly be easy to label this release as one of the best books of the year. To sum it up as a vampire story is to belittle its complexity—it's a pleasurable mash-up of high experimental literature and low Holly
Jeff Jackson
Apr 27, 2012 Jeff Jackson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Endorsed by both John Waters and Guy Maddin -- which should give you some idea of Derek McCormack's immaculately freewheeling short novel that explores the intersection of iconic hillbilly singers, vampires, carnival freaks, haute couture, and perfume in the midst of a mirror maze. There's a good review of it here.
Brian Henry
Mar 15, 2013 Brian Henry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I don't know how to feel about this book.

Freaks. Fashion. Vampires. Country music.
All in a whirlwind of a Mirror Maze at a carnival.

I half loved this book, and half almost didn't make it through.

Chanel N5. The Carter Family. Jimmie Rodgers. Sequins.
The blood of little girls, the blood of little boys.

Insanity in book form. It got a little wearisome at points...but it was still enjoyable.
Peter Darbyshire
Feb 24, 2009 Peter Darbyshire rated it it was amazing
McCormack is the love child of Dracula and Houdini.
May 22, 2011 zxvasdf rated it it was amazing
This year I've come to depend on chance for brilliant books. I walk the aisles of the library and pluck what appeals to my fancy, based on the title, the cover, the first few pages, whatever criteria appeals to me at the moment.

This slender volume of The Show That Smells had a severed monkey head in a state of decomposition on a white background. The text on the back was something from the roaring 20's. I was hooked.

What a treat! McCormack is a genius. Punny, insane, and hilarious, the story tak
Charles Dee Mitchell
May 12, 2012 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary-lit
In carney talk, a "show that smells" is an animal act. In McCormack's nifty stinker of a novella, the only animals are the hordes of bats summoned by the vampiric Elsa Schiaparelli -- and maybe a werewolf. Brief as this book is, things take place at so dizzying a pace that even having just now set it down, I can't say for sure if there was a werewolf in it or not. But there might as well have been.

McCormack loves carnivals, and he sets this story in a house of mirrors. Proposed as a film directe
Jan 19, 2012 Tempest rated it really liked it
I was given this as a completely unexpected Christmas present from my sister, who knows well my affinity for strange books. Though it took me a bit to get into the rhythm of the writing, I got hooked on the outrageous cast of characters, typographical visuals, and the overall ridiculousness of the premise. The splashes of humor come unexpectedly, and are juxtaposed with the overall darkness of the story so that the reader is left with a perpetual sense of bewilderment. This is not a bad thing--I ...more
Jul 29, 2009 A rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009
Woah. Reading this book was an absolute delight; I highly recommend it. It's unlike anything you've ever read before -- surreal, hypnotic, lyrical, and VERY funny, just like the carnival funhouse that is its setting. Totally blew me away, and blew away all conceptions I had of what writers, gay fiction, horror fiction, and Canadians are capable of.

PS. I love Akashic Books and all they stand for, but they're really pushing it to call this a novel (or even novella) and charge $16 for it. This is d
Russell Hubley
Mar 11, 2015 Russell Hubley rated it it was amazing
Not for everyone (thankfully), but a great, nasty, bloody fusion of classic horror and twisted creativity. It is unlikely you will read anything like it. It flows poetically and visually like a great, forgotten Tod Browning movie from 1930. But it's more twisted than that. Highly original and highly entertaining. A great companion to The Haunted Hillbilly, which I also recommend (if you like this one).
Gary Lee
As always, I loved McCormack's incredibly minimalist style, and his frequent word play and repetition was fun -- but, I thought the plot was a bit lacking.
But, at the same time, I also got the impression that I was missing out on a few things by not knowing more than broad, passing tidbits about his various references.
Jan 03, 2010 Juliana rated it did not like it
Shelves: just-read
This may be an unfair review as I only read half the mini-novel and could not continue. Perhaps its just not a style for everyone. I was not invested with the characters and really could not make sense of the purposeful non-sensical plot.
Patrick Wensink
May 26, 2010 Patrick Wensink rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Combining McCormak's usual minimalist muscle with a slapsticky homo-erotic Scooby Doo ghost story featuring country legends Jimmie Rogers and the Carter family into one of the funniest books I've read all year.
Sep 01, 2014 Craig rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Struggling with this one being SO similar to HAUNTED HILLBILLY, although McCormack seems much more playful and experimental with word geography here, ie the way words can evoke tangible spaces AND the way words are placed on a page. Beyond that, though, this verges on inane.
May 27, 2011 Mallory rated it really liked it
I loved this book. It's another one that I would love to quote, but I'd probably end up quoting the whole thing. Everything about it is relevant to my interests. Such an inventive, amazing story.
May 08, 2009 Kevin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: weird-stuff
This one is a bitter disappointment after the superb double whammy of Grab Bag and The Haunted Hillbilly. I just couldn't get that interested in this weird vampire drama.
Vestal McIntyre
Another weird delight from McCormack that spans the hilarious and horrible, fabulous and freakish, sublime and sick. Is this prose? Poetry? A nightmare? Who cares, it's brilliant.
Peter rated it really liked it
Jul 05, 2013
Dustin Reade
Dustin Reade rated it really liked it
Dec 04, 2012
Nom Chompsky
Nom Chompsky rated it it was amazing
Jun 27, 2015
Danny rated it really liked it
Jun 04, 2014
Jesse Dunstan
Jesse Dunstan rated it really liked it
Jul 17, 2010
Tom Carey
Tom Carey rated it really liked it
May 24, 2013
Oe Nj
Oe Nj rated it liked it
May 12, 2012
Kelly rated it it was amazing
Jan 22, 2009
Pat rated it it was ok
Feb 21, 2012
Sophie rated it liked it
Aug 02, 2015
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“All monsters are queers. Who is able to bring the dead back to life? God and the Devil. The Devil makes dead men into monsters: immortal, immoral—and queer.” 2 likes
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