“You’ve got to read this,” my boss says. “This kid actually shits diamonds!”
“Shits diamonds?” I ask.
“And rubies! He shits them!”
If Ste“You’ve got to read this,” my boss says. “This kid actually shits diamonds!”
“Shits diamonds?” I ask.
“And rubies! He shits them!”
If Stephen King calls Bentley Little “a master of the macabre,” who am I to argue? I, after all, am but a simple man. This jacket quote, perched right up there at the top of the book, revealed to me that, after all this time, I apparently lack an understanding of what “macabre” means. Thank you, Stephen King.
I fear that I may not be the only one in this boat, so I will elaborate:
“Macabre” refers to flat storytelling, characters so thin and flimsy that they might actually give you a papercut if you spend too much time with them, horror entirely reliant upon gross-out situations, and adolescent sex fantasies. Oh, and shitting things that ought not be shat.
Little is certainly a master of those things. It’s been a long time since I’ve read the work of anyone quite so skillful in those areas. The feelings of terror related to probable death that I had previously associated with tales of the macabre were sorely lacking from this silly little collection masquerading as a novella. If only a little effort had been extended toward building tension and providing description, the book could have been interesting. But there wasn’t, and it wasn’t.
By all means, though, if you have coprophobia or something, please read it. You will be terrified....more
I suppose the obvious comparison here is to The Outsiders or Grease or West Side Story or pretty much any story of a couple of social groups at odds wI suppose the obvious comparison here is to The Outsiders or Grease or West Side Story or pretty much any story of a couple of social groups at odds with one another for superficial reasons. It certainly applies here. The Crud Masters, a group of ragtag misfits, are in a constant battle for supremacy with the NOLAs, the guys who are rich and better looking. In that regard, it’s better than The Outsiders, because there’s fucking sea monsters and Transformers.So it’s like The Outsiders meets Mothra vs Godzilla... or maybe Gamera? I don’t know. The point is that it transcends the typical gang war-style story because it’s all jacked on Pop Rocks and methamphetamines.
But what I really want to compare it to is The Lost Boys. Boogers is a sad, lonely kid. He lives in a seaside town where there’s not a whole lot to do. But there’s some weird supernatural shit going on (in this case, sea monsters), in addition to the normal pressures associated with belonging to a marginalized fringe group. So Boogers has to band together with a smelly NOLA girl, a large-breasted bear, and a doughy, spineless waste of flesh in order to make it through the day. At its heart, it’s a story of teen angst. This is some straight Catcher in the Rye shit here.
Which is pretty fucking fantastic. I have often thought that, if it were not for sodomizing the baby Jesus or stabbing assholes in their assholes, bizarro fiction would be perfect for teens. Successful young adult fiction has to keep its audience in mind while not showing its cards. The Crud Masters comes as close to pure YA as I’ve seen. It’s definitely got the appeal. It’s the sort of YA book that could be assigned in remedial school English classes for kids who set fire to their pets. It’s weird and accessible, with just the right amount of robots, sex, and profanity to keep the interest of a fifteen-year-old boy who might not otherwise come near a novel that addresses these themes.
It’s a classic in a brand new trench coat, standing at the bus stop and flashing you its cock....more
There are lots of bizarro books that are referred to as the literary equivalent to a B-Movie. Until I finished Gigantic Death Worm, I hadn't realizedThere are lots of bizarro books that are referred to as the literary equivalent to a B-Movie. Until I finished Gigantic Death Worm, I hadn't realized how wrong that idea is. The stories might be outlandish and filled to the brim with sex and violence, but they typically miss some integral pieces.
That’s not meant as a criticism. Bizarro novels are intended to be bizarro novels, not movies. The books work like books. There is a certain degree of literariness to them. Vince Kramer’s novella, though, is probably the closest thing to a midnight movie that literature has ever produced- more so than even the odd horror screenplay that finds publication.
There is a certain sense of freedom when a novice filmmaker heads out into the woods with a group of friends, a video camera, and no money. The individual elements that make up the movie are, more often than not, less successful than they would be with adequate funding. But. The resulting creation is often free from the binds of marketability. If a character dies in the opening scenes, but is needed to cameo in the film’s finale, so be it. Did an arm get cut off of a character who needs to operate a stick shift? Bam- maiming never happened. Does a guy need to protect himself from wolf-spitting bears? Cue samurai sword.
Vince Kramer wrote the book he wanted to write. This is the sort of work that is born from boredom. Why do so many books have to be mediocre? Why let the novel suffer just so that it can remain within established conventions? Kramer could have made all sorts of boring choices, but he didn’t make one of them. Every time he was posed with a plot development dilemma, you can tell that he just ate some crack rocks, snorted a few lines of pure caffeine, and soldiered the fuck on. That is why the Mayans just blew each other all day. That is why Wormhead Girl has a worm head. That is why the ninjas are Mexican. That is why Phoenix gets completely fucking destroyed. Because fuck Phoenix.
This book was fucking amazing. I laughed myself stupid while compulsively turning its pages. It truly is a labor of love. It lacks anything resembling pretentiousness. If you’re sick of books, as I tend to get from time to time, this one will be a game changer. If you’re not to that point yet, buy it and keep it for an emergency, packed lovingly away with your fire extinguisher, bottled water, and cyanide pills....more
I love bizarro fiction, but, let’s face it, it’s a huge sausage fest. I can count the number of female authors in the genre on one hand and still haveI love bizarro fiction, but, let’s face it, it’s a huge sausage fest. I can count the number of female authors in the genre on one hand and still have room for a couple of finger puppets and a Chinese finger trap. Trashland A Go-Go was the first bizarro I’ve read by a woman- and it delivered.
At its core, the story seems to be a retelling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Coco is a stripper who dies in a tragic pole accident and is unceremoniously thrown in the trash by her employer. Against all odds, she wakes up and finds herself in a magical world that she first mistakes for the dump. It quickly becomes apparent that is is no ordinary landfill, however. She befriends a fly (a Cheshire Cat of sorts), who is simultaneously annoying and helpful. He guides her through her journey, sees her through her interactions with the denizens of Trashland (oddball characters that make Alice’s Mock Turtle and March Hare seem almost normal), and delivers her unto the Queen.
There is one truly notable difference between Trashland and Alice, though. The most fearsome aspects of Wonderland are never of much concern because Alice knows they are not real. She finds herself torn from her life of logic and reason and thrust into this world where nothing is as it should be. Coco, on the other hand, is no child chasing rabbits in a field. She’s lives in a world that’s kind of unreal, a Liberty City sort of place where she takes her clothes off for a living and is horrifically killed by something as simple as petroleum jelly on a pole. Waking up in an alternate reality on the other side of a dumpster is not that great of a stretch. From the beginning, Coco wastes little time trying to verify the reality of the situation and much more doing what she can to survive.
What we have here is a bizarro story that brilliantly interweaves feminist insights into the natural tropes of the genre. Coco is a strong female lead who is forced to battle other strong females in order to hold on to her place in the social hierarchy. In her real life, it’s an angry coworker; in Trashland, it’s the evil Queen. All of these female characters hold power and it is only through elimination of one another that any of the others can advance. Sit back and think about the implications there for a moment.
As a stripper, Coco (and her homicidal rival) exhibits her power over men with her sexuality. The Queen she eventually meets bends men to her will with the aid of a spore that binds itself to their necks and keeps them loyal. In both worlds, a single woman must hold the power over the group of men in order to stay dominant. This is why both the evil stripper and the Queen want Coco dead. There is not enough room in either world for shared female power. The women want other women out of the way so that they can have the men all to themselves. Not out of some need based in sexuality, but, rather, in a need for power that just isn’t available in any other way.
Coco, however, is the antithesis of this idea. She is catty toward her coworker, but doesn’t do anything bad to her. She’s content to dislike the woman and get on with her life. Likewise, she has no beef with the Queen until the bitch starts some shit. Coco doesn’t want the power the others strive for. For the most part, she simply wants to be. Enticing men, be it for prestige or to fill a gaping void in her self-worth, is of no interest. She’s strong all on her own. She needs no one’s affirmations of this. She’s kind of a bad ass.
As far as feminist images go, there was one I enjoyed above all others. Coco is arrested by the Queen and locked inside of a cell made of dirty diapers. In a show of anti-domesticity, the dead stripper forcibly claws her way out, refusing to be held back by the festering vessels of shit. Martha Stewart, eat your heart out.
When all is said and done, Fitzgerald holds her own against the heavy-hitters in the bizarro scene. Her gross outs rival the later challenges in Steve Lowe’s King of the Perverts, and her fantastical world is as lovingly crafted as Cameron Pierce’s Ass Goblins of Auschwitz....more
It is the dream of every aspiring writer to be targeted with legal action by a major American whiskey company.
As such, when Jack Daniels sent him a cIt is the dream of every aspiring writer to be targeted with legal action by a major American whiskey company.
As such, when Jack Daniels sent him a cease-and-desist order over the cover of this book, Patrick Wensink made indie publishing history. What’s especially unique is that it’s probably the most kindly worded document of its kind in the entire history of the world. For a brief time, various media entities picked up the story and tossed it around, sending Wensink into the limelight.
Which is a good thing for bizarro. Broken Piano for President is about as good an introduction to the genre as one could wish for. It is accessible, well-written (reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut and Christopher Moore) and really fucking entertaining. It’s about a guy who gets blackout drunk and finds himself in the midst of a fast food burger war. He’s completely clueless, but, somehow, manages to entomb himself in burger politics.
There’s just something about bizarro and burgers, I guess. Back in 2006, Carlton Mellick’s book Satan Burger was the subject of controversy when a man in Alaska was arrested for giving a copy of the book to a minor. That’s the key, bizarro writers- write about burgers and the books will sell themselves....more
“Hold me closer tiny dancer Count the headlights on the highway Lay me down in sheets of linen you had a busy day today.” --Elton John
As hard as love is,“Hold me closer tiny dancer Count the headlights on the highway Lay me down in sheets of linen you had a busy day today.” --Elton John
As hard as love is, relationships are harder. In today’s day and age, it can be hard for a man to express his love in a union, which, more often than not, leads to confusion, arguments, and bickering. No one wants to come home at the end of the day to a loveless, tepid partnership with a complete stranger. Prostitutes are cheaper and less judgmental.
But, as we all know, sex with hookers, good though it may be, leads to low self-esteem and social diseases. What’s more, families can suffer from the perceived infidelity that comes with soliciting the services of a lady of the evening. And that’s not even mentioning the jail time. In the long run, it seems that the best approach to a happy love life is to approach one’s relationship as Bob Villa would- with a power saw and a hammer.
Remember that the small things count. Your spouse will easily be won over by small gifts that show you care. Her favorite chocolate bar, a single flower, and filling up the gas tank in her car are all low-cost, minimal-effort things you can give her to show her you care. Heck, in the case of the chocolate bar, maybe she’ll even give you some!
Remind her of all your good times together. Can you pull up obscure details from your wedding day? How about the birthday picnic when it rained? If you can, great. If not, make something up! She’ll follow right along to make it look like she didn’t forget such a nice memory. The key is to keep it vague. That way you won’t have to waste time trying to figure out if it was actually your wife you’re remembering! She’ll never question you if you remark on her beauty that spring in the city, even if that particular beauty belonged to that Puerto Rican transvestite!
Tell her how amazing she is. It’s what she wants to hear. It’s hard raising kids, balancing a career, and still finding time to look nice. Cut her some slack. If she’s cranky, give her a foot rub!
If all that fails, pull out the ace up your sleeve: the Alligator Fuckhouse. Invite your lady to the bedroom for an apology massage. When you’ve got her all relaxed and peaceful, clamp your pearly whites down on her neck and flip the bitch over. You’ll need to hold her limbs down if you don’t want the shit knocked out of you. Once you’ve completed the death roll, your marriage will be saved. Just be careful not to break the skin.
Keep in mind that not all relationships were built to last. Some were made like a 1985 Yugo, out of nothing but booze, bad decisions, and ugly yellow paint. In cases like those, just cut your losses. There are, as they say, other fish in the sea. But, before you go, be sure to test out the Abe Lincoln, the Dirty Sanchez, and the Donkey Punch on the old lady before you bring ‘em to the singles scene. They don’t call it assault for nothing....more
I’ll admit it: I’m kind of a sucker for body parts that revolt against their owners. The downside to such tales is that they tend to get repetitive.
EvI’ll admit it: I’m kind of a sucker for body parts that revolt against their owners. The downside to such tales is that they tend to get repetitive.
Evil, possessed, and sentient hands make sense as monsters. They can crawl along like spiders and do pretty much everything we can do. Because of their utility, there is something extra horrifying about losing our hands. Not only does the loss result in a weird looking, virtually unstoppable mobile appendage, we’re also left with a handicap we cannot overcome. Our hands can open doors, but our stumps cannot.
But what if you lost your eyes? And I’m not asking if it would be scary to go blind. I’m asking you to consider for a moment a scenario in which your eyes decided they no longer wanted to inhabit your head. And what if, once you were blessed with these empty sockets, you were not able to choose what to fill them with. No glass eyes for you. No, not when a pack of wolves moves into your head like it’s a vacant apartment. And not just wolves- party wolves. A bunch of drunken, stoner bastards who howl inside of your skull and smoke so much ganja your head looks like a fucking hooka.
What would you do? Norman, our protagonist, does what any sane person in that situation- he dry swallows a fistful of pills and takes off after the little fuckers. The ensuing narrative is just as fucking nuts as you’d think it might be, complete with shady, by-the-hour motel couplings, a crude and possessive walrus, and some trigger-happy rednecks. It’s less like reading a book and more like...well...dry swallowing a handful of pills.
I was enticed by the concept, but ended up, oddly enough, staying for the romance. Norman’s love interest is so hot that he doesn’t need eyes to recognize it. The two of them spend the duration of the story trying to come to terms with the past and each other’s somewhat uncommon flaws. They’re like Edward and Bella, just less pale and with more stilts.
In sum, fuck hands. Eyeballs are where it’s at....more
“I’d like to renew my driver’s license,” Alice said as she walked up to the counter. She was a youthful woman in her mid-forties (though you wouldn’t“I’d like to renew my driver’s license,” Alice said as she walked up to the counter. She was a youthful woman in her mid-forties (though you wouldn’t know that to look at her) with a radiant glow and attractive laugh lines. She was modestly dressed, business casual, but with a cool vintage ribbon in her hair.
“Next!” the woman at the counter shouted.
Alice frowned. “Excuse me, ma’am. I’m next.”
“Next!” the woman shouted again, quite ignoring Alice’s words.
A large sweaty man rushed past her, bumping her on his way. “Excuse you,” he said.
“You bumped in to me!” Alice said indignantly.
“Yes, I know,” he said and turned to face the counter.
Alice tapped him on the shoulder. “That was quiet rude, you know. You don’t just bump into someone, nearly knocking her off her feet, and act as if she should apologize.”
The man looked momentarily perplexed, then angry. “You made me miss my turn!”
“It wasn’t your turn,” Alice said calmly. “It was mine.
“I am standing at the counter. Clearly it is my turn.”
Alice thought on that a moment. As she did, a pair of twins ushered their way past, bumping into both her and the sweaty man. They didn’t say anything.
“Excuse you!” Alice snapped.
“That’s very rude,” the sweaty man scolded. “You said so yourself.”
“I said no such thing,” Alice replied quickly. She turned away from the man, who kept repeating over and over again that she was being rude and how would she like it if someone spoke to her that way. With both hands, she reached out an tapped a shoulder of each twin at the counter. They did not turn around.
“I just wanted to say that you are very rude,” she said to their backs.
The woman at the counter leaned out over the twins, using their heads for support, as she shouted, “Next!”
“Why do you keep calling for more people,” Alice asked. “When you haven’t even help those who are standing right in front of you?”
The woman glared at her. “They,” she said, pointing. “Are identical twins. Identical twins have to fill out this form in order to be helped.”
“Why do they have to fill out a special form?”
“Because we have to be able to tell them apart if we’re to give them their licenses. They’re identical.”
The twins turned around and shrugged. They watched Alice’s face turn red. “They are not identical!”
“Yes, they are.”
“No, that one’s a man and that one’s a woman.”
“It doesn’t matter what they are; they look the same.”
“They don’t look the same.”
“Yes, they do.”
“They have strikingly different genitals,” Alice said, pointing to their open trench coats.
“Hold on one moment,” Alice insisted.
“Next!” the woman yelled again before balling up the form and heaving it at Alice.
“How very rude!” she exclaimed. She could feel a headache coming on. Wearily, she picked up the form and smoothed it out. The poor naked wretches before her looked as though they might be simple.
“I will help you with this form,” she explained. “What are your names?”
“Ted,” they said in unison.
“What’s your name?” she said to the woman.
“You’re both called Ted?” Alice asked in disbelief.
“How did your mother tell you apart?”
“She didn’t,” the one on the left said. “She killed herself.”
“Oh,” Alice said. “I’m very sorry to hear that.”
“We forgive you,” they replied.
Alice furrowed her brow. “What’s your last name?” she asked, deciding it was best to just move on. She held her pen over the top of the paper, prepared to write.
“Smith,” one said.
“Jones,” said the other.
“You have different surnames?”
“Are you married?” she asked the woman. After receiving another nod, she asked, “Where’s your husband?”
The woman pointed to the man standing next to her.
“He’s your husband? I thought he was your brother.”
“You fuck each other?” Alice asked.
“That’s not right,” Alice proclaimed. “Fill out your own form.”
She marched up to the counter.
“Next!” the woman shouted.
“I’d like to file a complaint,” Alice said, ignoring the fact that she was being ignored.
“Next!” said the woman.
Alice closed her eyes and took a deep breathe. This was supposed to be a normal outing. Just a half hour at the DMV to get a replacement driver’s license. But this shit was always happening to her. It was like the syphilitic hallucinations she used to have as a kid, filled with talking rabbits and angry queens and other such nonsense. She’d had enough of such a rude and irrational world.
Alice reached into her purse and wrapped her hand tightly around a snub-nosed revolver. There were six rounds in the cylinder, but she had an entire box of ammunition in her coat pocket.
Gripping the gun in her hand, she stepped up to the counter.
“Next!” the woman screamed.
“This is for the Disney adaptation,” she said as she shot the woman in the face, her final “Next!” still echoing in the air.
She turned to the sweaty man and shot him in the balls. “That’s for Dodgson and his wandering hands.”
She lined the twins up in her sights. “You two are late for a very important date....with death.”
And, with that, Alice took it upon herself to kill fucking everyone.
My thought process upon stumbling across this book:
Fish, you say? Dead fish? With legs?
An invasion? Great Whites? With legs?
Great, where do I sigMy thought process upon stumbling across this book:
Fish, you say? Dead fish? With legs?
An invasion? Great Whites? With legs?
Great, where do I sign up?
Tadashi has a problem. His girlfriend, Kaori, won’t kiss him. She says his breath stinks. And it’s not just in the morning, but any time. If he wants to kiss, he must first brush his teeth.
This upsets Tadashi. Every kiss requires a tooth brushing? Fuck that noise. So Tadashi fashions a shiv out of his toothbrush and stabs his girlfriend to death. When he’s done, he dips the bristles into the pools of her fresh blood and maniacally scrubs his pearly whites, never pausing to spit out the foam generated by the friction.
Okay, that doesn’t actually happen. Instead, Tadashi yells at her about the selfishness of her request. Kaori stands by her decision, though, and Tadashi gets no action for the rest of the book.
Which seems totally unfair. Because it isn’t Tadashi’s breath that smells so bad! It’s the Death Stench Creeps (see “Thought Process” above)! Kaori seems to have a sixth sense where the Creeps are concerned. It’s pretty goddamned funny, actually. She spends the whole book complaining about the smell. Tadashi keeps telling her it’s all in her head, even after the Creeps have attacked them and it becomes evident they’re being chased by rotting fish. That’s a special kind of delusion Kaori has- an unwillingness to pretend things are okay.
It’s Kaori who is the interesting one to me. I don’t know exactly what the author is trying to say, but I think it has something to do with female subservience. Kaori won’t kiss Tadashi because of the foul odor coming from his face hole. Afterwards (or, perhaps, as a result of that), she is plagued by this smell of rotting flesh. At every turn, she’s told, flat out, that she’s wrong. She’s not understanding. She’s just smelling things that aren’t there. That plastic bag full of rotting fish that chased her from Okinawa to Tokyo? Yeah, that’s a different floating bag of dead fish.
But what does it mean? Is it a morality tale? A “listen to your man and everything will work out just fine” sort of story? Or is it commentary on male chauvinism?
Fuck if I know. I’m just here for the fish....more
I've spent the afternoon trying my damnedest to figure out what the title of this book means in relation to the stories contained within. I refuse toI've spent the afternoon trying my damnedest to figure out what the title of this book means in relation to the stories contained within. I refuse to believe that it's to be taken literally (which I think would mean a fun place to miscarry fetuses). Here's what I came up with:
abortion: the willful termination of a pregnancy (which I am tying directly into the metaphorical concept of quickening, and not limiting to biological functions)
arcade: a passageway; an establishment established for the purpose of playing games for a fee
More than any bizarro I've ever read, these stories fit neatly into the category of absurdism. You've got three different tales of a protagonist attempting to find meaning in a meaningless world only to be beaten to a fucking pulp by said meaninglessness. There's the werewolf who seeks acceptance in the world that rejects him, the guy who stakes his live on the existence of incorporeal strings sprouting from everything, and the gent who fights to break out of a zombie ruled post-apocalyptic world in order to make it to the wasteland on the other side. You've got these people with good intentions who are just obviously spending their lives fucking themselves over. It's goddamned painful to watch.
So I think that the "abortion" part refers to the destruction of an idea. Each character experiences a quickening of his own: a means of popularity, escape, or survival. But the uncooperative world decimates that idea, striking it down almost as soon as the epiphany is felt. This seems familiar....where have I experienced this before.... Oh! Yes! Ass Goblins of Auschwitz! And who wrote that again?.... Oh yeah.....
It seems as if Cameron Pierce is actually trying to say something...
But is he saying that it's really the fault of the unforgiving universe? There is that sad theme of self-sabotage. The willful destruction of the love letter. The willful eating of the face. The willful cutting of the strings.* It's all about these guys destroying their own dreams. Aborting them, if you will.
But that's the easy part, isn't it? It doesn't take a philosophical heavyweight to argue that one can abort oneself or one's ideas. The arcade, I think, is the thing. The obvious answer (the house of fun and frivolity) is misleading. Why? Because this book may be bizarro, but it isn't fun. At least not in a funny way. Even hitting sloths with a bicycle can be given an air of solemnity.** It's got to be more. Of course, that also has to be part of it, or the joke would be in absentia. And that wouldn't be fair at all.
I think the "arcade" refers to a passageway. Something like the passage of time, but less measurable. The passage of a life, perhaps, or an idea. Because the pain doesn't come with what happens at the end of each story. They're all pretty goddamned fucked up (don't get me wrong), but it's the sense of loss we experience as readers. We've traveled a ways with these characters an, on some level, we wished them the best. Because they're not characters to be loathed. They're you and me. They have dreams, but, unfortunately for them (and us) they live in a fucked up world completely devoid of purpose. So their pain is our pain. Those cut strings are your divorce. That missing face belonged to your high school boyfriend. That love letter was what could have been, but wasn't.
Because, folks, our collective experience is the abortion arcade. It's the details that don't make one bit of difference.
*These things might possibly be construed as spoilers if only you had any idea what the fuck I was talking about. Muahahahahahaha!
It isn’t often that I encounter a book that is starkly different from anything I have ever read. I spend a lot of time these days with novels that tryIt isn’t often that I encounter a book that is starkly different from anything I have ever read. I spend a lot of time these days with novels that try to push the envelope with outlandish plots or sickening characters. They do add a little spice to my normal reading habits- I will not lie- but they’re nothing like this.
When I first started reading, I thought karen was nuts for recommending this to me. I mean, I understand that it’s weird, but the plot is so mundane and poorly thought out. There is a kid who instills this blinding hatred in everyone he meets. His father hates him, the kids at school beat him up, the crossing guard only allows him to cross the street when there’s a bus coming- it seemed to be typical shock territory. But everything changes when little Madison Beach gets her cute little feet chewed off by a trio of pit bulls.
Because it is at this point that the author of the book gets pulled into the story. He has no idea why he’s there and no idea what to do. He regrets writing such a bad story because the scenery is so generic and the people are so two-dimensional and pointless. And, like many of the peripheral characters he created, he cannot remember his name. “There is a heavy price to pay for writing a bad book,” Burgess states somewhere in there. And that’s the point. It has little to do with the characters and even less to do with the plot.
This, I think, should be considered as sage advice for writers everywhere. If you were to suddenly be literally transported into your story, would it suck? If yes, then why are you wasting our time?
This book should be required reading for all indie writers. It shows what pushing the envelope really means. It represents a near perfect blending of style and substance. It has two motherfucking endings. Two. How many endings does your book have?
So why does it lose a star? Well, it’s like the author says- the story kinda sucks. ...more
A couple of years ago, I was blown by a German boytoy.
By “I,” of course, I mean “my mind,” and by “German boytoy,” I mean Herman Hesse. I was readingA couple of years ago, I was blown by a German boytoy.
By “I,” of course, I mean “my mind,” and by “German boytoy,” I mean Herman Hesse. I was reading a book called Steppenwolf, in which a relatively ordinary man, Harry Haller, grows to believe that his body harbors two distinct personalities: his own mundane self and another that is based and animalistic. As the novel progresses, Haller is subjected to a number of strange and surreal situations that lead him to question his identity. Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, I think, does something very similar. However, rather than restricting such an outlandish course of events as Hesse does, Sands extends the satirical philosophy to our society at large.
Stick with me here.
Rico Slade is about an action movie actor who loses his grip on reality and starts believing that he is his character. He is constantly blowing things up, fighting people, and trying to destroy his arch nemesis. It’s fairly easy to sit back and giggle quietly to yourself while you watch his insane antics. But, as I see it, if you’re brain works, you won’t be doing that for long.
The events in Rico Slade are every bit as surreal as those in Steppenwolf, only we don’t really recognize them as such. Just below the surface, we see that Sands is saying something about the acclimation our culture has experienced where the fantastic is concerned. It’s not completely unreasonable to think Rico Slade might, in real life, tear someone’s throat out. It’s become pretty goddamned realistic to go into a battle with a gang of cops. It is, I think, much easier to go the route bizarro typically takes and draw out the surreal through the exploitation of Seussian juxtapositions. In this one, however, Sands is using our present day existence as the fantastic setting for his surprisingly normal characters. He’s doing what Huxley did with Brave New World, only he isn’t laying down prophecy; he’s watching you live and is taking notes.
As a culture, we idolize people. We love our celebrities so much that we elect them into office. We let these professional fakers run our country. Am I wrong, or does that say something? Chip Johnson, Rico Slade’s real-life persona, has a breakdown and resorts to becoming the person he pretends to be. Suddenly, he sees himself worthy of respect and admiration. He becomes his own man by embracing a cultural cliché. He highlights the dual personalities existing inside of Chip and allows them to fragment in the same way Hesse does with Haller.
The key difference there is that Haller achieves something as result of this fragmentation. Does Chip? Or is Sands merely pointing out the absurdity of our lives? Is our search for meaning in this world we’ve crafted out of celebrities and psychoanalysis and really big explosions worth living? Does life have a point if we’re living it as Chip Johnson? Or does it only begin to approach meaning when we forge ourselves into the overwhelmingly unreal action hero?
No matter what the answer is, I want to fucking kill you. And Rico Slade will fucking kill you. Put that in your existentialist pipe and go fuck yourself with it. ...more
Eh! said it already, but I’ll say it again. In fact, I’ll just quote her: “This book is motherfucking meta to the motherfucking extreme, bitches!!!”
ThEh! said it already, but I’ll say it again. In fact, I’ll just quote her: “This book is motherfucking meta to the motherfucking extreme, bitches!!!”
This is the first “....with zombies” book I’ve read. I was underwhelmed with the idea before it took off. I can’t even say how many times well-meaning coworkers put my name on the hold list for Pride and Prejudice with Zombies. It got so bad that I had to post a sign on my workspace requesting that people stop checking it out to me and putting it on hold. It just looked fucking stupid to me.
But then Eh! sends me this motherfucker. I’ll admit, I was kind of excited. I’d been wanting to read something by Arganoff. I mean, shit. There are only so many straight-edge vegans writing bizarro fiction these days, right? This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. But there was a part of me that was dreading the whole thing. Zombies in literature, more often than not, suck donkey.
Can I even say how happy I was when the protagonist of this little tale got a job working for a publisher of “...with zombies” books? And that she hates them? I was on board from that point forward. What ensues is a political food-drama in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.
Agranoff addresses all sorts of hypocrisies in personal food views. The shit hits the fan when some scientists create a drug that prevents animals from feeling any sort of stress. This, in theory, results in a humane death for animals being slaughtered. And, as such, flesh-eaters can enjoy the meat they love without guilt. Of course, the drug hasn’t been properly regulated and is passed on the the consumer of the meat, zombifying his/her brain. The only ones left....dun, dun, DUN....are the vegans.
But the satire doesn’t end there. Agranoff pits the different types of vegetarians- the raw foodists, the freegans, the welfarists- against one another. Do animal rights extend to the undead? Or is this a chance to start society over from scratch? While delivering an understanding of the ethics behind these questions, Agranoff provides the eager reader with many a hipster death and various other hilarious situations. There’s just something to be said for a group of vegans driving around in a bus with a zombie harpoon attached to the hood.
The political commentary runs deep in this book, which is rather deceptive in light of the goofy subject matter. I really liked the parallel between meat-eaters and zombies. The human carnivores essentially earn their fate through their unhealthy/unethical dietary practices, but does it really change anything? Were the flesh eaters not zombies beforehand? I mean, flesh is flesh, right? Are humans not zombies in the eyes of animals?
And then there are the potshots at pop culture: a caricature of Michael Pollan, outspoken criticism of the PETA methods that perpetuate sexism, and the idiocy of mindlessly following any established belief. Agranoff holds nothing so dear in the vegan world that he isn’t willing to give it a long, hard look. I liked this book because the man who wrote it is not a follower. He knows what he believes and he sees the flaws in those beliefs, but recognizes that he has to live in some manner.
The ending was hopeful and unique, perhaps the best ending possible under the circumstances. If nothing else, this book gives readers a lot to think about. I only hope it will cause reluctant, easily bored readers to give some thought to what they eat, much in the same way zombies made them think, for once, about 19th century literature.
Which band will provide the sweet music of the apocalypse? a) Earth Crisis b) Minor Threat c) Slapshot d) Impact Unit
Whose veganism can never be trusted? a) Freegans b) Raw foodists c) Vegans d) All of the above
This book is... a) Too meta b) Just meta enough c) I don't know, I'll have to ask MFSO d) All of the above
When I am sick, I like to lie on the couch and watch horror movies. I like to do this anyway, but I get a lot of time to do it when I’m sick. The lastWhen I am sick, I like to lie on the couch and watch horror movies. I like to do this anyway, but I get a lot of time to do it when I’m sick. The last time I had this opportunity, I was suffering from nausea, dizziness, and just general ickiness. It was one of those bad spells that restricted most movements and activities. I felt bad. Really bad. So I popped a movie into the DVD player and deposited myself on the couch for some relaxation.
What the fuck is the point of this, you ask?
Wrong question. Ask me what movie it was.
What movie was it, you ask?
It was called Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. It is not the movie to watch when you’re sick. I am no stranger to gross out horror films and I should have known better. It’s a fucking Troma movie, for crying out loud.
So that was my fault. What I went through yesterday is Cameron Pierce’s fault.
Ass Goblins of Auschwitz is the literary equivalent of a Troma film. It features all sorts of disgusting situations, from toads that crawl into asses to find sustenance to children being forced to eat the skin of their peers. Pierce takes the crude and nauseating and crafts it into something beautiful and profound. It’s like a painting that takes your breath away, but upon closer inspection, you see that it hasn’t been done in oil as you had suspected, but, rather, in human feces.
There is a heartbreaking message lurking in this slim volume. Pierce puts kids in a horrible atmosphere where, at best, they’ll eventually turn into ass goblins themselves. Ass goblins, I think, are a metaphor for adulthood, a time when fun and imagination is leached from life. This thing we hate so much ourselves at times is what we thrust our kids toward. It isn’t difficult to see the parallels between living with an authoritarian parent and living in a nightmare-cartoon version of a concentration camp. The ending speaks of redemption and the ability for all of us to discard the hand we’re dealt and start anew with an entirely different game.
This book is fucked up, gross, and brilliant. Bizarro at its finest. ...more
I work in public service. I am around assholes all day. When five o’clock rolls around, though, I get to go home, washTalk about worst fears realized.
I work in public service. I am around assholes all day. When five o’clock rolls around, though, I get to go home, wash my hands of them, and settle into my relatively tranquil home environment. I’m pretty good at dealing with assholes. Some of my coworkers have nightmares, because assholes are that bad.
Assholes fucking suck. If you’re resolve isn’t set, they can completely ruin your day. There have been times that I have been so horribly frustrated with inconsiderate douchebags that I’ve wanted to quit my job just so I could throttle them without being terminated.
I’m glad I never did. Because, apparently, once you’ve been an asshole to an asshole, you become an asshole. You defecate on lawns with the sole intention of smearing your own byproducts on someone’s house. You slash tires, grab women in inappropriate ways, and ride strapping young football players around wearing only assless chaps.
Of course, that’s not the best choice of apparel for an asshole, as their Achilles’ heel is more of an Achilles’ asshole. That’s right, the only way to kill an asshole without becoming an asshole is to stab him/her in the asshole. The preferred tools for dispatching assholes are umbrellas, broken sticks, and poles of all varieties. All of these things fit nicely into the assholes of assholes.
Kevin Donihe has knocked another one out of the park. This book was so much fun that I couldn’t be bothered to stop reading it and managed to put almost all of it away in a single sitting. He reprises the sheer joy of The Greatest Fucking Moment in Sports and combines it with the sheer absurdity of Night of the Living Dead. It’s funny, weird, and crude all at the same time and in all the right ways.
Wordcounts: chaps - 1 and - 6 the - 13 asshole(s) - 15 ...more
So I’m sitting at a table with a plate of Portland-style Mexican food when famous author Mykle Hansen sits down next to me. I immediately notice that,So I’m sitting at a table with a plate of Portland-style Mexican food when famous author Mykle Hansen sits down next to me. I immediately notice that, while we’re talking, he’s eating his taco with a fork and a knife (just another instance of how he is, and will always be, classier than me). I watch this, enthralled. Whilst staring, I notice something else. A big something else: Mykle’s taco has no meat on it.
I sheepishly look down at my own taco, filled with beans and lettuce and whatnot. Me and Mykle- we’re the same in this regard. We’re both eating these sad little veggie tacos. So, being the intrusive asshole that I am, I point out to him that there is a surprising lack of meat in his taco (I fully realize that there is some ‘twss’ potential here, but I’m not going there. Any takers?). He gives me a thoughtful look (much more than I deserve) and asks if I want the short version or the long version. As I was sitting next to famous author Mykle Hansen for only the second (and perhaps last) time in my life, I humbly request the long version.
But the fucker shorted me! He told me the goddamned short version and I didn’t even realize it. It was only this morning, as I enjoyed (not really) an old fashioned glazed doughnut and a tall salted caramel hot chocolate, that I realized the long version is The Cannibal’s Guide to Ethical Living. That shit he told me- I don’t even know what to think of it.
This book is more of a treatise on eating than it is a piece of fiction (though it is most definitely that as well). Hansen’s well-honed reasoning convinced me, alarmingly quickly, that the only ethical food source is millionaires. In recent years, there has been a push for conscientious eating. Should you eat meat? Is what you’re eating local? Organic? Free range? Harvested by illegal immigrants?
If you think you’ve been eating ethically, you’re wrong. And there are very few exceptions to that statement. Even the rare soul who has managed to live on the healing powers of sunlight could be doing more. Our eating habits are passive. They’re all about doing nothing. We can avoid pesticides. We can avoid suffering. But what are we doing about it?
Mykle Hansen has the answer. Many a vegetarian can wax poetic on the cruelties perpetrated by factory farms. But does protesting the farm make any difference? Does shutting down a single slaughterhouse do a single goddamned thing? No. It doesn’t (idealists- please stop here. Go here instead. You’ll be in good company). The people responsible for the meat industry are the same ones responsible for the rest of agriculture and transportation and politics and everything else that’s awful in the world. If you shut down one thing, they’ll just move on to something else. They adapt; they rise to the challenge.
But what about addressing the problem at its source? Eating millionaires, and only millionaires, is the best possible solution. Not only would they be delicious (as Hansen points out, the Kobe beef of the human race), their disappearance would make a real difference. Let’s eat the people who are causing the problems.
Of course, famous author Mykle Hansen does a much better job of persuasion than I do. His book is simultaneously brilliant AND fun. The narrative is essentially an extended monologue performed by a cannibal chef as told to a food critic. All while they’re aboard a sinking bistro on international waters. The narrator’s voice is strikingly similar to Humbert Humbert of Nabokov’s Lolita, but, instead of romanticizing the love of children, he obsesses over the consumption of human meat. Much like Sweeney Todd, but driven by taste rather than revenge.
So, yeah. Long version, indeed. I’ve read a lot of books about eating. And let me tell you, Michael Pollan has nothing on this guy. ...more
I could go on and on about the stories that I loved in this collection- from the insane personal ads to the tale of the man who was born typing, the gI could go on and on about the stories that I loved in this collection- from the insane personal ads to the tale of the man who was born typing, the guys who trace a phone call with their television to the crazy Mykle Systems Labs advertisements urging the reader to send a dollar to what is presumably the author’s address in Portland- but that would be too easy. Instead, I’d like to focus on the afterward.
See, these stories were written by Mykle Hansen before he became famous. These were the things he composed when he wasn’t in the international spotlight, before he began considering the perspectives of cannibals and bear hunters. Mykle Hansen may not have always been famous, but he was always badass.
Eyeheart Everything is a zine. It was originally photocopied at Kinko’s and given out to whoever wanted it. It sold some copies at Powell’s and caught the attention of a few people. This book is the physical manifestation of one man’s vision. A man who was unwilling to wait for the publishing industry to take note. A man who was too hardcore for Dave Eggers.
Dave Eggers. Fucking Dave Eggers. I swear to Jesus, I will kick that man’s ass one day.
But I digress.
I love this collection because it represents the humble beginnings of a brilliant mind. Some of the stories are weird, others are hilarious, but all are endearing. This is a book that you want to keep with you, stuffed in your backpack for emergency use. I liked finding the tidbits that would evolve into his later work, the experiments with voice and narrative that would, one day, inspire me.
The afterward is the story of this book and, arguably, is the best part of the collection. The tale of a guy trying to get his work out there at his own expense will always be inspirational to me. And, if nothing else, this book is a testament to the fact that just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s bad. Look at what this thing has become. Seriously, fifteen bucks for a fucking zine? That’s highway robbery.
Thanksgiving has been long overlooked by popular culture. Sure, we like to get together and gorge ourselves on too much food and watch football or whaThanksgiving has been long overlooked by popular culture. Sure, we like to get together and gorge ourselves on too much food and watch football or whatever, but, largely, it's a holiday without meaning. Nothing good has been done with Thanksgiving since Charlie Brown and Garfield cartoon specials.
Until now, that is. Chris Genoa will be remembered throughout history as the man who brought meaning back to the holiday. I'll be honest- in the past, breaking bread with family held no appeal for me. I'd rather stay home with my whiskey and pornography. But that was then. Now, I've developed a fond appreciation for the holiday and all of its flaws.
Howard Zinn taught us that everything we knew of Thanksgiving was a lie. He made it sound awful. Genoa brings the fun back. Zinn may have been a real smart cookie, but he glazed over the really interesting parts of history. He made no mention of talking whales or ninja turkeys. And nowhere in A People's History of the United States will you find a witch dancing with a deer in the moonlight.
If you took Christopher Moore and slipped him six pounds of amphetamines, you'd have Chris Genoa. There isn't a page that goes by without hilarity and wit. If you're looking for a good way to spend your holiday, pass on the family gatherings and stay home with a bottle of cheap bourbon and Lick Your Neighbor. I swear, on all that I hold dear, that it will be the best Thanksgiving of your life. And the best twelve bucks you ever spent. ...more
As a vegetarian, I have a strange relationship with fruit. It seems like the perfect food. It almost willingly drops from trees, resulting in thFruit.
As a vegetarian, I have a strange relationship with fruit. It seems like the perfect food. It almost willingly drops from trees, resulting in the death or harm of nothing. Monkeys eat it. Hell, Eve ate it. Awesome in theory.
But I just don’t like it. There’s something about it that rubs me the wrong way. Occasionally, I’ll get the idea in my head that I’d very much like to eat a nice crisp apple or a perfectly ripe banana. But, even when I find these things at the right time, after one bite I know I’ve made a terrible, terrible mistake.
I went through a phase a couple of years ago where I decided I needed to eat more fruit. I was not convinced that my multivitamin was doing anything, so I was taking a handful every day to try to get all of the good things that I felt were avoiding my body to stay in there. But it didn’t seem to work. I choked the bastards down, but I couldn’t feel them in my bloodstream like I knew I would if I consumed the necessary nutrients from actual food sources. So I went to the farmer’s market and bought a fuck ton of fruit. I took it home and set to juicing.
This plan worked well for me until the first sip. It smelled nice. It got my hands all sticky. But it tasted wrong. The vital parts of the fruit are apparently in the pulp that was produced in the juicing process. So I ate a spoonful of that. It was like a mushy multivitamin. Like Jack the Pumpkin King trying to discover the secret of Christmas, I worked with my meager ingredients long into the night.
But, like poor Jack, I just couldn’t get it right.
But I’ve come to understand that it wasn’t my fault.
Fruits are fucking jacked up.
Not only do they drink the juice of one another, they form creepy little fruit mafias, making oodles of money in the underground face-trade. There are some more progressive fruits that intermarry with humans (read: fruit sex), but, as a whole, they’re a rather unsavory bunch.
Eric Hendrixson does a lot in this short book. When I started, I decided that forgetting the main characters were literally fruits would be necessary for me to get lost in the story. But, like any bizarro author worth his cliche, Hendrixson makes sure you know, all along, that you’re dealing with the strange. It’s the imposition of the usual turned unusual that is the hallmark of surrealism, and Hendrixson is a master of this skill of unlikely pairing.
The subtext says something about the way we eat. You’ve got fruits drinking fruit juice and eating doughnuts. You’ve got people coexisting with fruits, but still enjoying their inclusion in their doughnuts. You’ve got fruits torturing fruits with the equipment used for making doughnuts. Hendrixson is saying something, but I have no idea what the fuck it is. Perhaps commentary on our schizophrenic eating habits? Or maybe he’s just fucking with me.
Either way, if you’re a Michael Jackson fan, this is the book for you....more
It is not often that I have no idea how to review something. This book is kind of like minding your own business while enjoying a peaceful lakeside piIt is not often that I have no idea how to review something. This book is kind of like minding your own business while enjoying a peaceful lakeside picnic and having the calm destroyed by an MTV party boat, covered in flames, being driven by topless poodles. You just kind of scratch your head as it flies by and think to yourself, what the fuck was that?...more
Bizarro love stories are quickly becoming my favorite types of love stories. You just never know what’s going to happen. There’s no worry about fallinBizarro love stories are quickly becoming my favorite types of love stories. You just never know what’s going to happen. There’s no worry about falling into clichés or trite storylines because everything is different when the burgeoning romance crosses species.
Love in the Time of Dinosaurs is the story of a man who falls in love with a dinosaur during a time of great social instability and war. The Jeremies, evil motherfucking dinosaurs, are doing battle with humans and are looking to eradicate them from the Earth. The humans, led by monks, try to find humane ways to dispatch their enemies (weapons that encase them in plastic), but, really, they’re no match for the Jeremies who attack with live ammunition. If you thought the tyrannosaur from Jurassic Park was intense, strap a couple of bazookas to his back and reevaluate the motherfucking situation.
But amidst the species-hate going on, there is a group of dinosaurs living on the fringe. And one of them is hot. How could a guy not fall for a lizard sympathetic to the plight of his people? The romantic aspects of the story have a fantastic appeal to them, as more feeling exists in a single moment of eye contact than in Nicholas Sparks’ entire oeuvre. Instead of blatant sex, there’s subtle allusion- physically riding the dinosaur lover as a means of transport, attempting to decode the facial expressions of a creature that pretty much lacks the means for such expression.
Throughout the narrative, Alene keeps a sort of detached voice, something like Sarah Connor’s narration in Terminator 2. The impending dinosaur apocalypse is in the air, but humans are still fighting back. I loved the voice, which rendered the weird not just palatable, but enjoyable.
I will be eagerly awaiting Alene’s next contribution to the genre. She is, I think, a woman who will have an impact on bizarro in the years to come. ...more
If you are under the age of 18, please get the fuck out of here. If you are over the age of 18 (and are not of a delicate constitution), please scrollIf you are under the age of 18, please get the fuck out of here. If you are over the age of 18 (and are not of a delicate constitution), please scroll down and behold the power of the Sacred Thor.
This is the mighty Thor:
It was taken from one of these:
It has these powers:
And some other powers, too!
And one more time for good measure:
I love satire. I love it so much that I might use a Thor on it if it manifested itself physically. Steele’s book is full of satire. In the beginning (in a bit of expository gonzo autobiography), the protagonist, Felix, is working at a retail job. He’s pulled in too many directions and is subject to the whims of absurd and surreal customers who kill themselves if they don’t get their way. This is only made worse by the overbearing supervisors who literally sodomize their employees to demonstrate their power. I thought for sure that the beautiful, beautiful satire would end there, but I was wrong.
Steele goes on to criticize our country’s educational system which churns out thousands upon thousands of highly qualified individuals into the job market with nowhere for them to go. This hit me personally, as I’m going on three degrees now and have yet to put one to use. These people, with degrees in various useless disciplines all related to the nocturnal emissions of animals, end up waiting in long lines for months for the opportunity to work for nothing.
I’m going to digress for a moment because this part really pisses me off. I have a very good friend who is a geologist. After he graduated from school, he couldn’t find a job, so he ended up joining the Peace Corps. After two years of digging holes in Mali, he came back to the U.S. only to find the job market in a worse state than he had left it. He found a part-time, low-paying, temporary position with the National Parks service in California which lasted him all of two months. After that, he was broke and without any prospects. He was applying for jobs as a janitor, a Walmart employee, a dishwasher, or any other menial job he could find. But there was nothing. The student loan companies were hounding him about paying back money and sent his account to collections so he couldn’t even think about going back to school. So a couple of weeks ago, he joined the Army. This move was not out of any sense of national pride or some bullshit like that, it was a last shot at hope. The system lied to him.
And I’m grateful to James Steele for bringing that out in the open with this story. By breaking down these things that we go through every day and turning the metaphors into their literal counterparts, he exposes everything that’s wrong with this country. I would like to send this book out to major figures in our government and the key players in our educational system and demand that they respond. Under threat of Thor.
Go back up to the top and look at that dildo again. I’m getting kind of depressed here. Okay. Moving on.
The story isn’t all depressing topics. Really, it was all kinds of fun to read. In essence, it was a tale of the unlikeliest superhero with the most unlikely powers. It was kind of like a middle-of-the-night-Captain-Planet-type-show-on-Adult-Swim. I liked that the sex toys, metaphors for so much, had super powers. Bad ass super powers. And I liked that they were also used for sodomy.
Anyway, whether you want a good time or a long spell of depression at the state of our country, this is the book for you. ...more
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t prepared for the ending. It was like a slap in the face at the close of a pleasant conversation. But that’s all life is, anywI’ll be honest, I wasn’t prepared for the ending. It was like a slap in the face at the close of a pleasant conversation. But that’s all life is, anyway. Isn’t it?
Quick plot break down: A bunch of people wake up in the wrong bodies. The protagonist and his wife are switched; the neighbor and his sheep are switched. Everyone’s baffled. But no one more so than Billy, who, after waking up in his wife’s lactating body, finds that she poisoned him the night before. Tina’s dead, trapped in Billy’s body.
Is that some serious existentialist shit or what?
What Billy is put through is absurd and cruel. Not only does he have to respond to biological urges he doesn’t understand, he also has to come to terms with the fact that his wife offed him. Billy’s not the most hyper-aware guy on the planet, but he’s getting hit with a rush of reality at a head-spinning rate. It quickly becomes apparent to him what is important in his life and how it all fits together- only it’s too late. You can’t bring back the dead. You don’t get a do-over.
Oh, shit. I’m depressing myself here. My problem, I guess, was that I could really identify with Billy. There were somethings he said and did that were just textbook Caris. It was painful seeing those things laid out in front of me, perfectly fitting pieces to a puzzle of absurdity. But that’s helpful, right? Just because Billy’s fucked doesn’t mean I have to be, too.
Ick. On to the funny bits. There are a lot of funny bits. In fact, this book made me laugh more in its whopping 57 pages than any other book I’ve read in recent memory. Or extended memory, for that matter. The set up and delivery of each situation was done beautifully and made for an extremely satisfying experience.
My favorite part was near the beginning. Billy (in Tina’s body), his pal Tucker (in Julia’s body), and Edgar (in his sheep’s body) all go down to the neighborhood bar to see the extent of the body switching damage. While there, they learn a great deal about the nocturnal habits of their buddies. Where the bar would usually be filled with grown men, it’s now filled with women- including a couple of teenage girls. What I enjoyed the most was how surprised and impressed the guys were with some of their peers. And when the body switches meant certain death (by the hand of spouse or teenage girl’s father) for the fellas. I can’t possibly articulate it, but it was fucking hilarious.
So I was sitting in my living room this afternoon, just chillin’ and reading this book. I had to stop about midway through to try something. After carSo I was sitting in my living room this afternoon, just chillin’ and reading this book. I had to stop about midway through to try something. After carefully marking my place and putting the book in a safe spot, I promptly removed the laces from my shoes and cracked them like whips.
“Copulate!” I said to the couch and gestured toward a rocking chair. It didn’t move. “Goddamn you! Copulate!”
And, yet, it still did absolutely nothing. And it made me sad. Because a world in which you cannot make your various pieces of furniture fuck one another is a world that isn’t for me. I had to compromise with myself by returning to the book and leaving my laces, virtually unused, on the coffee table.
What I just wrote may or may not be true. But that’s not for you to decide. What is also not for you to decide is whether or not you want to read Kirk Jones’ furniture fucking extravaganza. Dear friend, you do.
Here’s what I really like about Mr. Jones. He’s all about something he calls “pure bizarro.” What this refers to is bizarro that is free from the gratuitous sex and violence that seems to dominate the genre. Jones is looking for a story that’s weird and not just about shock value. Because of this, his narrative is strikingly different from others of its kind. His is a sad story about a man composed entirely of human tears. There is so much weird shit going on that you’ll think you’ve been dropped into some cross between Dr. Seuss and the Twilight Zone.
And this, of course, is a wonderful thing. In addition to the protagonist, you’ve got Liberty, his lady friend. She’s niece to Uncle Sam (proprietor of the carnival) and lacks eyes. What she does have are the loveliest, darkest sockets you’ve ever seen. And then there’s Mr. Wakefield, the dishonest, unethical hardware store owner (who is not averse to hiding the dead bodies of his customers in the dumpster behind his store) whose tutelage leaves a lasting impression on Gary, the boy made of tears. It’s disorienting, really, to watch this quest unfold, undertaken by such strange characters and to, simultaneously, care about what’s going on.
With this book, Kirk Jones has proven himself to be a forward thinker in the bizarro movement. I look forward to his next project with much anticipation. Now, if you’ll excuse me, the couch is whispering my name and I think she means business. ...more
I was lucky enough to see Bradley Sands do a reading from this book back in November. He looked a lot like an insane Shel Silverstein trying to tear aI was lucky enough to see Bradley Sands do a reading from this book back in November. He looked a lot like an insane Shel Silverstein trying to tear a book apart with his eyes. That evening, he read a piece (one of my favorites from this collection) called “A Suicidal Amputee Tries to Kill Himself by Rolling Off His Bed, Down the Stairs, Through the Screen Door, and Into Traffic; Some Dominican Kids Poke Him With Sticks Too, and an Eagle and an Eagle Shits on Him.” And, yes, it is every bit as awesome as it sounds.
What I like the most about this book is that it consists of a number of short pieces that walk the line between fiction and poetry. As a reader, I would have a hard time classifying it as one or the other. The short fiction pieces remain me a great deal of Etgar Keret, only weirder (and that saying something because Etgar Keret is pretty fucking weird). They are short and to the point, packing as much into the minimalist prose as is humanly possible.
There were some surprisingly tender moments as well. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting any at all. One story that comes to mind, entitled “Invincible,” is about a boy being accosted by bullies and rescued by his mother. The surrealistic aspects of the story have the bullies shooting the mother with live ammunition, only to have their efforts rendered useless by the woman’s invincibility. Bullets cannot harm a little boy’s mother. It’s really profound in its simplicity.
Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy includes everything that makes bizarro great. It’s got odd juxtapositions of characters and situations, wicked sharp satire, and no wasted words. If you’re new to the genre, I’d highly recommend this as a way to jump into the pool headfirst. But there’s weird shit under the surface, so be careful. ...more