Judging by the title, I had been expecting some sort of extremist radical fiction examining the damnation of a particularly promiscuous group of modelJudging by the title, I had been expecting some sort of extremist radical fiction examining the damnation of a particularly promiscuous group of models. Such ended up not being the case with Gina Ranalli's "Suicide Girls in the Afterlife," however, and I was instead presented with a tongue-in-cheek tale of one condemned gal's quest to extinguish her boredom in the realm beyond death. The characters are traditionally bizarro and interesting enough, as they include a naive former junkie with maturity issues, a pale pussycat who becomes tired of Purgatory's dullness, an ex-Rockette whose glory days have long passed, and a certain celebrated hippie who loves to play Mario Kart. As the protagonist's journey into the afterlife is followed from destination to destination, the mood/style of the plot shifts uncomfortably from grim and mystical to silly and satirical then back again, but as saturated and downright stupid as some moments may be, this brief novella does manage to achieve one of bizarro fiction's primary goals: to entertain. For that reason, it is worth reading overall....more
First came Gregor Samsa, then came William Lee, and now comes Oscar Legbo. It is not very often that a protagonist is thrust into an all-encompassing,First came Gregor Samsa, then came William Lee, and now comes Oscar Legbo. It is not very often that a protagonist is thrust into an all-encompassing, obsessive world of bugs. Whether the bugs are becoming the protagonist himself or conversing with the protagonist through their rectums or being mercilessly crushed by the protagonist, you more than likely have a thrilling piece of literature in your hands. Such is definitely the case with "The Greatest Fucking Moment in Sports," at least. Oscar Legbo doesn't simply represent the athlete: He represents the American athlete, so for him to possess such an irrational sympathy complex for the tiny insects which he once annihilated without remorse is indeed a tragic flaw.
Throughout the novella, however, Donihe makes sure that you root for Oscar from start to finish, just as the vast majority of the world population (including a relentless news team, a schizophrenic ninja, and the ghost of Oscar's trident-wielding coach, among others) does despite whatever heinous obstacles may stand in his way.
Also of note is that this tale may or may not be a true instance of bizarro comedy. All bizarro fiction seems to contain that hint of satirical voice to accompany the ludicrous occurrences, but Donihe's storytelling tone is especially jesting, and pretty funny at that (even when the plot takes a grim yet still satirical turn). Overall, "The Greatest Fucking Moment in Sports" accomplishes bizarro fiction's primary goal to entertain; thus, it is an excellent counterpart to the genre's introductory bundle....more
I enjoyed each and every piece of bizarro (non)fiction contributed to this anthology, and I now intend to explore the other works of these authors, buI enjoyed each and every piece of bizarro (non)fiction contributed to this anthology, and I now intend to explore the other works of these authors, but I will never read nor purchase anything from Bradley Sands ever as long as I live. After all, Bradley Sands is a dick....more
Just as one of Stephen King's best short story collections encourages the reader to work the "Night Shift," this riveting anthology from Jeremy RobertJust as one of Stephen King's best short story collections encourages the reader to work the "Night Shift," this riveting anthology from Jeremy Robert Johnson encourages the reader to enter the "Angel Dust Apocalypse." Reading this book does indeed have the feel of entering a newfound, blissful end of the world (or, more accurately, of the world as we know it). Johnson's writing clearly pulls influence from not only great horror authors such as King but also great satire authors such as Vonnegut, literary authors such as Wallace, and even occasionally, experimental authors such as Pynchon. With these influences in mind, however, Johnson also manages to clearly present a unique style of his own. Each of these 20 or so short stories, be it classified as bizarro in the context of a man's determination to shock the most residents of an already shocking world, or as tragedy in the context of an irrational phobia gradually consuming a life, or as slice-of-life in the context of a burdening brotherhood driven by spite and circumstance rather than love, is narrated with a conversational yet captivating voice that perfectly accompanies the hilarious, heartbreaking, or horrific plot.
The only short story collection I've read that seemed absolutely flawless to me has been James Joyce's "Dubliners," and literary fanatics ought to know the obvious reasons. "Angel Dust Apocalypse" comes very close though, for these stories range from surreal to unreal to ugly to beautiful, and everywhere in between, and regardless they are always gripping and powerful. They serve as proof that Jeremy Robert Johnson possesses an unparalleled talent for storytelling and deserves to have a great writing career ahead of him....more
Now that that is out of the way, I must begin by stating that little else in life thrills and enthralls me in the way that an incrediFirst off, I WON!
Now that that is out of the way, I must begin by stating that little else in life thrills and enthralls me in the way that an incredible book from a still new or undiscovered author does. As an aspiring writer, I tend to have those occasional moments of doubt, panic, and uncertainty that I am sure any wannabe author has. Despite what people may say about my work or what praise I may receive, I sometimes wonder whether or not I will be able to actually make anything of myself one day. After all, Creative Writing is such a competitive field. Folks such as Christy Leigh Stewart (as well as Megan Hansen) then come along at just the necessary moment, helping me to keep my chin up and reminding me that it is still possible for someone to capture the dream of reaching out to others with writing. All sentimental fluff aside (which seems so unfitting for this particular book), "Loath Letters" is thoroughly impressive, every single page of it. Stewart's short stories tell of the macabre, the absurd, the surreal, the disheartening, and the hilarious in distinctly tongue-in-cheek mannerisms, and her flash fiction packs pure adrenaline and emotion within the context of spacious, detached sentences along with a vividly depraved imagination. Think the fanzines of Harmony Korine plus the transgressive fictions of Anthony Burgess multiplied by the empty narratives of Anton Chekhov. Whether the tale is that of a woman who cannot accept the reality behind her deformity, or a teenager who has "a problem fitting in," or a father who is struggling to separate his past from his future, you will be left somehow inescapably affected by this anthology.
As a side note, it seems that people dog Christy Leigh Stewart for her sparse mistakes and typos throughout this book, but for now "Loath Letters" is self-published and we are all human beings. However, I honestly believe that if the author wills it to happen, this publication shall become an early draft of an authentically published masterwork. Until then, consider this edition the "Stephen Hero" to James Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man."...more
Jeremy Robert Johnson seems to pride himself very much on how esteemed author Chuck Palahniuk spoke of him and his collection "Angel Dust Apocalypse":Jeremy Robert Johnson seems to pride himself very much on how esteemed author Chuck Palahniuk spoke of him and his collection "Angel Dust Apocalypse": "A dazzling writer. Seriously amazing short stories - and I love short stories. Like the best of Tobias Wolff. While I read them, they made time stand still. That's great." I myself have never read anything from Palahniuk, nor have I been exposed to the short story within "Angel Dust Apocalypse" which apparently precedes the plot of this novella, but regardless, I am thoroughly impressed with Johnson's writing ability and with "Extinction Journals."
The post-apocalyptic survival scenario is always so fascinating because of how broad, how devastating, how wonderful the storytelling experience is. It is a situation that usually begins (or...ends) very similarly, then continues completely upon the author's individual imagination. The settings of most bizarro fiction pieces have a tone teetering on the brink of an apocalyptic nightmare, but tend to keep a steady course of otherworldly dystopia. (See "Ass Goblins of Auschwitz," "The Baby Jesus Butt Plug," etc.) What makes "Extinction Journals" so much more extraordinary than some other bizarro novellas is the balance of realism in spite of the necessity for weirdness. Yes, Dean does live day by day wearing a suit constructed of live cockroaches, but his personality and his strive for survival in a meaningless wasteland and his doubting the value of bothering to continue on are all immensely relatable to the modern pre-apocalyptic human condition. "Extinction Journals" manages to not only entertain with moderated absurdity but also attach the reader to an adventure not far off from those of our own. So quote Palahniuk as much as you'd like, Johnson, because I will gladly keep reading as long as you keep writing....more