I am torn about this book because it has so much going for it yet pings a lot of problems I have with female characters in fThis is a 3.5 star review.
I am torn about this book because it has so much going for it yet pings a lot of problems I have with female characters in fringe literature. It’s almost become a cliche to me that when a badass female character is introduced and she has an unnatural hair color, I’m gonna hate her because her hair serves as her personality. Imogen, the heroine of this book, has blue hair and is not my cup of tea, so my dayglo-hair theory is still intact. The characterization in this book, as a whole, isn’t great but it’s also a plot-driven book. In fact, it’s a pretty decent plot, but like so many NBAS books, it suffers from being novella-length. This is another one that really needed space to expand and develop its plot.
The gist of House Hunter is this: Imogen is a House Hunter. Houses, in this novel, are living creatures, some domesticated for human use, some still running wild. Imogen is a very good house tamer and is pulled into a plot wherein a cabal of architects are trying to use a legendary house called the Jabberhouse that can destroy homes and create new ones, entire communities, that will permit the architects to take control of the houses and control all the communities and the people who live within them. The wild houses will be stamped out and liberty will be lost. Imogen is drawn in by a man named Clint and they engage on a quest to stop this from happening. Clint is not who he says he is, and that plot twist really doesn’t change things as much as you might think. There are interesting details, like cockroach people and pygmy houses and overall, this is a pretty good first effort.
Review snippet: This subtly weird little book is perhaps my emotional favorite of the bizarros I’ve read for this themed-week. ItThis is a 4.5 review.
Review snippet: This subtly weird little book is perhaps my emotional favorite of the bizarros I’ve read for this themed-week. It’s got its gross moments – vomit, biting into insects and earlobes – but even the grossness was sweetly restrained given what I have come to expect from the Bizarros. But it must be said that sweetly restrained bizarro is not going to be awesome in and of itself. No, I’m far too sophisticated to be taken in by sweetness. But I do have to say that it is nice to be able to read a bizarro book that I can describe to my mother without making her cry. (And Mama Oddbooks is no lightweight. She was the chief text editor for Deutschland Erwacht when it was published in the USA in the 70s. She knows some stuff. She’s seen some shit. And I still hesitate to share most bizarro plots with her. In short, most of you are monsters.)
The main reason I like this book so much is because I get Mortimer. I’m an Avoider, though I don’t experience anything close to Mortimer’s level of neurotic and thanatotic depression. I love avoiding people. Not because I’m mean or cruel but because I am introverted on a genetic level. It’s actually considered a psychological disorder on my part but I sort of don’t care, even though I enter therapy for it every few years. I prefer not to leave my house and, interestingly, “I prefer not to” is a perfect way to sort of ground yourself when reading this book. There is something very Bartleby about this novella. Though Mortimer ultimately finds a way to stop preferring not to, at least when it matters, folk who just feel tired and itchy around other folk have a hero in Mortimer, whose essential nature is eventually how he manages to become a hero.
Poor David Barbee. He has the decidedly bad luck to have his book come up for review when I am bizarro-ed out. I don’t think I can be as enthusiasticPoor David Barbee. He has the decidedly bad luck to have his book come up for review when I am bizarro-ed out. I don’t think I can be as enthusiastic about this book as I would have had I not been reading so much bizarro that not even the strangest bizarro trope seems the least odd or outre anymore. But even as I am thisclose to eliminating bizarro from my reading diet until I can enjoy it again, I can say that I found Barbee’s novel amusing. I have a fondness for southern-culture-on-the-skids and this book totally delivers on that front.
Excuse me as I try to summarize this book, because it’s pretty heavy, plot-wise: Suckhole is a degenerate Southern town. It’s pretty much The Hills Have Eyes, Two Thousand Maniacs! and The Dukes of Hazzard with a dash of Matlock if Matlock was a genetically mutated abomination. It’s white trash, Mad Max and the Land the Civil War Forgot. So it’s going to be nasty and offensive. Sheriff Jesco Ray Bledskoe becomes the law in Suckhole upon his father’s death/murder. Suckhole’s denizens have been falling victim to a killer and what with the Hell-Yeah Heritage Jamboree coming up, he has to find the killer and quickly. Because he is an inbred simpleton, Bledskoe knows he must get help to solve these murders so he finds a horrifying mutation named Dexter Spikes ,who is the only creature smart enough to be of any use to him. Together, these two characters explore a really foul, post-apocalyptic landscape to find a killer. There are subplots with feral children that seem to hark back to Children of the Corn and there are succubi that are out to thwart Bledskoe and Spikes, but mostly you want to focus on the sheriff and his strange buddy-cop configuration
Review snippet: The story is about witches who have become persecuted and deals with the specific experiences of a witch called Misadora. Misadora has several other names in this book, and given that several other characters have several other names, I lost the thread of who was who several times, which makes it difficult to write a good plot synopsis. At any rate, a man called Volatile finds Misadora floating in a river after she is attacked. He takes her in and shelters her, though he has a lot of trepidation about Misadora that I cannot share because it would be a spoiler. He lives, I believe, amongst what are called the Treemothers, women whom, when called by the witches, ran into the forests and merged with trees. These Treemothers exude a sort of sap/jewel called Amalis and only women can touch it. Misadora was caught wearing an Amalis ring and had all the fingers on that hand cut off. Friends who also have several names help her out with a bionic hand. Misadora has to stand up against the ever increasing persecution of the witches and the soldiers who try to kill the Treemothers, but at the end is faced with a horrifying truth that changes everything she thought she knew.
If this description seems very vague, that’s because I often could not get a grip on what this book was about. That is why it would have been better had this novella been written into a longer novel. To have multiple characters with multiple names, all the world-building with the towns, the history of the witches and the families, the Treemothers, Misadora and Volatile, and to cram it all into a book under 60 pages, is too much for the reader. That’s no insult to Romero because even though I have to review the book in front of me, it’s no small compliment to say that a book needs to be longer so that the author has to room to fully show off her chops. As it stands, this book is a small wave of names and places that will wash over the reader without being understood unless the reader is willing to take notes to keep track of who is who, which names are towns and what exactly being a sleepwalker may indicate. Finally, when you factor in that this book is told from different character perspectives, characters whose names switch in the book, it’s all a bit too much....more
In this novel, Iglesias creates a perverse dystopia that can best be described as 1984 with extreme body modifications and mutations. Extreme pain is pleasure, pleasure is demented and everyone is amoral and marginally insane. There is a Church of Albert Fish, Carlton Mellick V is writing brutal fiction, people can genetically cross themselves with salamanders and a body modification expert deconstructs his ex-girlfriend into a motorcycle. This is a fun, perverse and at times really gross dystopic book, and it even has something for the paranoid types who like to visit here from time to time. The dystopia is a capitalist hell hole and Dedmon plays his part as a “hunter” for MegaCorp.
The job, as the name implies, involved hunting down people who refused to comply with MegaCorp rules and regulations and bringing them to the local Consumer Rehabilitation and Punishment Center. I would usually get a call or text with a crime, a name and an address and then I would track down dissidents – folks that refused to buy their allotted quantities of products each month, stubborn citizens who wanted to grow their own food, horny individuals that raped someone else’s pleasurebots, things like that. From the inside of the cell, that life looked like paradise.
Dedmon loathes the stoma-mouth that penetrates his abdomen and you can’t really blame him. Philippe forces Dedmon to interact with him and if ignored Philippe chews up whatever is in his way, including Dedmon’s clothing. Philippe also puts a lot of financial and emotional pressure on Dedmon.
Philippe was misogynistic and racist, which made me feel guilty about having him. Plus, his extravagant tastes clashed with my financial reality. A hunter couldn’t afford a steady diet of bipolar midget brains, Angora cats and chocolate-stuffed olives.
This is a book you will either love or hate. I don’t think there can be much gray area. The reason for this is because this book relies on a teenagedThis is a book you will either love or hate. I don’t think there can be much gray area. The reason for this is because this book relies on a teenaged narrator, a particularly stupid teenaged narrator whose brain is given to repetition. Lots of repetition. I suspect a real teenager would find this book interminable. But if you can remember yourself when you were annoying as the day was long, yammering about ANARCHY and hating everyone around you because they were norms, you may find Artie Pendragon as funny as I did.
This book is a retelling of the King Arthur story using ridiculous suburban schmoes in the place of heroic figures. Excalibur is a remote control and Camelot is inside a television. When Artie’s father dies and his mother marries his uncle, no one can work the television until one night Artie uses the Excalibur 3000 to navigate the TV and his entire family finds themselves sucked into a netherworld wherein actors really are inside the television. Artie has to engage in a struggle against his stepfather and little sister as he hunts for the Holy Grail. Can he save the land in the television? Can he achieve his goal of anarchy? Can he get his wife back from his stepfather and take his place as the rightful ruler? Will his struggles be so silly that it makes the mythos of Arthur seem like little more than the backdrop to a Bill and Ted film? The only question I will answer for you is the last one and I think you know what the answer is.
As I mentioned earlier, this book is told from the perspective of an irritating and somewhat uninteresting teenager, a teenager upon whom fate has thrust greatness of sorts. Through showing examples of Artie’s thought processes, I can demonstrate how simple and repetitive he is and, in my opinion, utterly hilarious. Here’s a scene wherein he is watching his younger sister playing in a soccer game:
I sit in a folding beach chair on the sidelines, watching my little sister play out on the field. The chair is uncomfortable. A strip of polyester fabric is poking me in the ass. I do not like to be poked in the ass. But it is worth being poked in the ass. It is a really great pee wee soccer game. It is total anarchy, super-retardo anarchy awesomeness. It is the most anarchist thing on Earth.
Oh wait, I forgot about riots in the streets.
But riots in the streets don’t have little girls picking up clumps of grass out of the ground instead of defending their goal, little girls chasing butterflies instead of the ball, little girls tripping over the ball, little girls kicking the ball into the wrong goal, little girls calling their opponents cuntbags, little girls screaming as they run away from the ball.
Riots in the streets don’t have soccer moms. Riots on the streets don’t have soccer dads. Riots on the streets don’t have riots between soccer moms and soccer dads over pee wee soccer games. Riots in the streets are over real world issues. Real world issues are fucking lame.
I say it out loud, “Real world issues are fucking lame.”
This is a long quote but I throw it out here because it’s a litmus test. If you find this particular style of writing annoying, you will want to stop reading here and give this book a miss. But if you find this strangely charming and exactly like the tiresome kid you sat next to in health class, the one who scrawled Anarchy! symbols all over his Trapper Keeper and quoted Metallica lyrics back before they “sold out” and totally did not give a fuck, you’ll enjoy the rest of this book. And this really is the bulk of the book – the Arthurian myth as filtered through the mind and life of a kid who will remind you a bit of Dermott from The Venture Brothers. There are the usual fantastic elements that accompany bizarro books but this book is quite simple in its execution – teenage dirtbag as King Arthur.
Review snippet: I started this book with no small amount of trepidation. As it is, about 35% of the search strings that bring people to my site involve necrophilia and horse dildos. I wondered what legacy this book would leave behind in the searches I view daily in my site statistics. Moreover, the title itself is enough to give one a bit of pause, I think. Planet Anilingus was likely to be a place wherein a tired woman would find little solace as she read late into the night, her husband snoring lightly, the suburban street silent as the normal people slept on, unaware that there was a place in the literary landscape dedicated to anus-licking.
Luckily for me, Janitor of Planet Anilingus is not the utterly ass-centric debauch I thought it would be. It has its moments of sexual lunacy but this is mostly a quest novel wherein a man loses everything as he tries to save the woman he thinks he loves. It has some atrociously gross moments, don’t get me wrong, but one of bizarro’s secrets is that the stories are the same as those you will find on the best-seller list. The stories differ only because they are peppered with unusual sex, weird species, grotesque details and strange and over-the-top humor.
The hero of this novella, Jack, as the title implies, is the janitor of Planet Anilingus. Planet Anilingus is a sort of destination spot, a DisneyWorld of sorts, for people deeply involved in butt-licking. Jack is completing a 40-day period, a time of Lent, wherein the planet is closed to visitors, spending his time tidying up and doing a deep clean before the revelers return. He is the only person on the planet, until a hairless, humanoid woman with helicopter blades that shoot up from her back lands on the planet. Someone is trying to kill this hairless woman, Nimue, and Jack does his best to protect her. In the course of his interactions with Nimue, he stops going to work and his boss, Bishop Eichmann, replaces him with his nephew Tommy. Tommy and Jack enter into a rivalry for Nimue’s attention and both end up, god help me, pregnant after her sexual ministrations. What the pregnancy does to the men is easily the grossest part of the book but I enjoyed it because poopy stuff makes me laugh. Nimue ultimately is not what she seems and even knowing of her sexual perfidy with Tommy, Jack still wants to save her from the rocket launching lunatic chasing her. Jack is not a man given to much in the way of emotion, probably because all the ass licking he witnesses has numbed him, and it’s an interesting choice on Adams’ part to insist that Jack be so removed emotionally because in the midst of all the chaos, any one else would have freaked out....more
Review snippet: "Foster’s prose at times is reminiscent of old tales with characters who have sing-song names are often faced with moral dilemmas, but even as he engages in familiar story formats, his prose is malleable. As the quotes from “Matilda Goes Shopping” demonstrate, Foster creates his stories not just in details but also in the very structure of his sentences – gluttonous sentences for a story about a gluttonous man. A later story, “Snowman,” wherein a man befriends a snowman, the word choice and sentence structure almost seem as if they come from a different writer. Some might find this an unsuitable way to write but to me it seems as if Foster’s passion for his stories fuels the words, rather than using words to reveal his passion. It’s like he becomes temporarily possessed by his stories, expressing them in the voice the story demands, rather than forcing his ideas into a static style of writing. It’s really quite extraordinary to read."...more
My only problem with this book is that it felt like the first section in a larger work. I hope Keene revisits this book one day and tells us the restMy only problem with this book is that it felt like the first section in a larger work. I hope Keene revisits this book one day and tells us the rest of what happens to the protagonist, a key player in the world coming to an end.
Very good book, and while at times what is happening is broadcast very clearly, I am unsure if there is a way to discuss the beginning of the end of the world based on Biblical texts without what is happening being clear to a large portion of the readers.
An excellent, dark, sad, absorbing book. This is actually a 4.5 star book....more
Meh. There are better books about serial killers, there are worse books about serial killers. Unless this is the first book you have ever read about kMeh. There are better books about serial killers, there are worse books about serial killers. Unless this is the first book you have ever read about killers, you won't learn much and there is some outright bad information in this book but it's too "meh" for me to give a crap.
Yeah. I don't know. I'm not feeling it but I'm not hating it. Like, if you're on a plane and have nothing else to read, this book will help pass the time and maybe that is all we can ask from yet another book about serial killers....more
So, let's see... Author's sister, who had polio, was physically disabled as a result of the disease and as a child spent a long time in an isolated waSo, let's see... Author's sister, who had polio, was physically disabled as a result of the disease and as a child spent a long time in an isolated ward and grew up to be disconnected from her family and selfish. Author speculates her sister is DUN DUN DUN, evil, despite giving evidence of her sister being completely screwed up. Screwed up. Not evil. She invokes some of history's worst monsters to compare to her sister, invokes human genetics and muses that the gene for a propensity for getting polio is located near the gene for being an evil monster.
Bad science, bad psychology, and a sister who has a vendetta against her dead sibling whom she calls evil without even presenting enough information for the casual reader to determine whether or not her sister was an asshole, let alone evil.
This is a bad book and the woman who wrote it should feel bad. Bad. Very, very bad. But she probably doesn't and maybe she should then write a book about what makes people write hit jobs against dead siblings. Perhaps it's evil? Perhaps?...more
Review Snippet: "Oh, this was a fabulous book, and it gives me an excuse to create a “cannibalism” category. It’s one of those books that is the exception that proves the rule. Hansen tells without showing and 90% of the book comes from the protagonist’s one-sided conversation with a man called Louis, both of which are in chapter one of What Not to Do When You Write a Novel, but Hansen gets away with it. Why André’s conversation is one-sided is one of those things I cannot reveal lest I utterly spoil the book. In fact, this is going to be a bear to discuss because I cannot reveal many plot elements without just ruining the book.
Bearing that in mind, here’s as brief a synopsis as my enthusiasm will permit: Aboard the good ship l’Arche, along the coast of an island called Cristobo, André and his partner Marko have been engaging in questionable culinary behaviors. One is that they serve unusual meats to millionaires. They lure in jaded millionaires with offerings like giraffe, dining aboard the ship in monied secrecy. But André and Marko also have an ulterior motive catering to millionaires – millionaires evidently make good eating and André embraces the idea of eating the rich. But millionaires also have friends with ships and the L’Arche is under siege as André and Marko scramble to find a way to escape. Louis, a long-time frenemy of André’s, plays a crucial role in all these goings-on but that’s where I have to stop. To discuss his role will expose too much of the story."...more
Review snippet: "I’ve read Rauch before and found his collection of short stories in the book Laredo to be serviceable and entertaining enough to be worthy of a good review. However, Eyeballs Growing All Over Me… Again is a better collection. Less verbose, less neurotic, more confident – this collection is all together a tighter, cleaner, more relevant book. Rauch’s confidence as a storyteller has improved since I last read him. His stories show their purpose without a lot of hemming and hawing, sometimes even eschewing what I would consider a typical ending or a normal resolution. Not every story in this collection worked for me, but those that did not strike a chord likely failed to reach me for subjective reasons. With one exception, there isn’t an objectively bad story in the bunch."...more