Review snippet: I haven’t had much luck with extreme horror over the last five years or so. There’s the occasional gem but for the most part the genre is a toilet into which many otherwise fine writers crap their id. Which would be fine if the crap was at least well-written crap. Crap can be fun if it doesn’t insult your intelligence. So believe me, I picked up this book fully expecting to have my intelligence insulted as the same old, same old substandard verbiage was cloaked behind horrible details that would hopefully hide how substandard it truly was.
This book is a gem, a gem that is all over the map. It’s noir. It’s horror. It’s extreme fiction. It’s literary fiction. It’s a really good book. And it’s edited very nicely, though there are problems wherein wrong words are used. It’s a weird place for me to be, to say that a book wherein the occasional word is misspelled is finely edited, but it’s all a matter of comparison. In comparison to most small press books, this book is immaculate.
Rautembaumgrabner, to be called LVR for the rest of this discussion, divides his book into two sections: Murderers and Lunatics. Within those two divisions, the reader is treated to stories that, while united by LVR’s style and sly humor, spread across a lot of genres. LVR’s stories really are quite something because in some cases you think you are reading a basic noir or a character sketch of a murderous loser and suddenly you realize you are in the middle of some very gruesome horror. Some of the characters are peppered with instincts and interests that make no sense, bordering into bizarro, but the human pathos and disgust they generate are all too understandable.
See? It can happen! It is possible to write excellent extreme horror without treating your readers like you think they are a bunch of assholes who don’t care about plot, characterization, spelling and grammar! It can be done. After reading this book I suspect I will be all the harder on authors who flog mediocre extreme horror because it will be harder to make excuses for the poor writing that seems to dominate the genre when this unlikely-named author has pulled it off.(less)
A couple of the real articles jumped out at me, mainly because they were utterly disgusting, though strangely fascinating. Some were just interesting in a web macro sort of way, like articles about relative penis size of various animals. The article “Strange Sex Laws” was pretty amusing.
ALASKA: Moose are not allowed to have sex on Fairbanks city streets.
Well, that just makes sense, right? Nothing worse than copulating mooses clogging up the snowy streets. But then we get to this:
Iowa: In the town of Ames, husbands must take no more than three sips of beer while in bed with their wives after sex.
I am left wondering what the hell happened in Ames that forced the city officials to think this was necessary. I’m sure it was epic. I could go on and discuss the foreign laws Goad dredged up, because they mostly involve animals and we covered the whole animal-sex thing with pugs and I’m bestiality-ed out at the moment.(less)
Best collection of insane but utterly fake letters ever. I ordered this book not knowing the letters were fake, and throughout the book, I kept clingi...moreBest collection of insane but utterly fake letters ever. I ordered this book not knowing the letters were fake, and throughout the book, I kept clinging to hope after hope that these letters were real. Mr. Oddbooks and I laughed until our bladders hurt upon reading the first letter from Carl Plaske. This book is meta and was meta before any of us were hip enough to use the word meta
This is by far and away the most hilarious and random book I have read in a while. Based partially on insanity, and partially on the trope that Rollins released an album called � Nap TIme� in 1993 to capitalize on his extraordinary appeal to children, this book contains � letters� from an angry Christian woman, a strange 13-year old girl, a psychotic from Henry's youth, a youthful offender who wants Henry to send him a letter dammit, an oily publicist, a man playing a one-sided game of Battleship with Rollins, a small child, a golfing instructor who gives Henry advice on how to avoid common golfing mistakes, and several others.
Utterly random, utterly insane, I cannot help but think this book was inspired largely by the real mail that Rollins actually received (Charlie Manson contacted Rollins out of the blue after seeing him on television). But for me, a diehard Henry Rollins fan, the true odd delight inherent in this book comes from the fact that people who do not know Rollins' career may not know these letters are ringers and read this thinking it true. Mr. Oddbooks, who is not quite the Rollins fan I am, did not know even the most outrageous letters were fake until I told him. Not even the letter from KROK radio seemed to give it away.
It's gonna be hard to give two craps about this book and review if the following do not apply to you: --You have a mild crush on a balding man who used...moreIt's gonna be hard to give two craps about this book and review if the following do not apply to you: --You have a mild crush on a balding man who used to write jokes for David Letterman. --You read and had a violent reaction to Patricia Cornwell's Portrait Of A Killer: Jack The Ripper - Case Closed, in which she pins the Whitechapel murders on a famous painter, using less hard proof than I use when I look at my nine cats, the hairball befouling the living room carpet and decide Wooster did it on the basis of his twitchy whiskers (actually, this is a mildly unfair assessment - if the wad of wet fur is white, it was undoubtedly Wooster).[ --You read and found interminable Caleb Carr's The Alienist.[ --You read and were largely ambivalent about The Da Vinci Code. --You find puerile humor as hi-larious as I do. --You embrace the ridiculous more than anyone else you know. Read the rest of the review here: http://ireadoddbooks.com/ire/shroud-o...(less)
This is really a 4.5 star book because there were editing problems throughout the electronic copy I was sent to read. Which is a shame because this wa...moreThis is really a 4.5 star book because there were editing problems throughout the electronic copy I was sent to read. Which is a shame because this was an unexpectedly amazing book.
It won’t give away too much of the plot when I reveal that Telby gets a job with the executive board at Pet Furnishings. On his first day, he meets his staff and coworkers, as one does. It is here that we meet Abel, Telby’s assistant and one of the randomest and silliest characters in a book fairly teeming with random and silly characters.
“Abel,” said my secretary, offering his hand. “I’m profound.” “You’re what?” “I’m profound.” “In what way?” “I’m a writer. I’m only doing this to pay the bills. In fact, I’m an undiscovered great.” Abel seemed to have an impossibly long body, not thin, but long, as if all his mass had been extruded without losing the breadth. He had enormous nostrils like the vents of jet engines from which a few hairs fluttered between thin lips like a series of mahjong tablets from which the offending spots had been wiped. His puppety arms were continually restless in florid piques of outrage and condescension. “Also, I don’t do shorthand, it cramps my style.”
Telby’s interactions with Abel are always a bit unsettling.
“Abel?” “Yes?” He turned his head like a nut on a bolt. “Why is there a fish swimming in the water cooler?” “It’s a Pampas fish; it gobbles up the detritus and keeps the water clean. They harvest them from whales.” “Doesn’t it, you know, contaminate the water?” “It makes a very nutritious effluent. It charges the water with vitamins, electrifies its micronutrients. I add them to my bath at home.” “Your bath?” “They nibble my body perfectly clean. And it is only when I am perfectly clean that I write my best work. I get out before they micronutrient.”
Abel is writing his magnum opus a syllable a day. But no worries. I won’t share Abel’s work in progress as it progresses. But Abel is the source of so much pretentious silliness that he became my favorite character in this often brutal book, because even as he annoys, he is largely benign. There are so many scenes of Abel being a perfect little pedant that it’s hard to pick just one. (less)
This book was pretty instructive, Dad Humor and intrusive cultural references notwithstanding, in teaching me some essential canonical facts about zom...moreThis book was pretty instructive, Dad Humor and intrusive cultural references notwithstanding, in teaching me some essential canonical facts about zombies. Among them: –Zombies really aren’t interested in brains, contrary to popular opinion. –There is no cure if a zombie bites you. There is no cure for existing zombies. This is a point that bore much repeating. –Zombies are monsters and their weapons are their mouths, which is such a manifestly obvious statement that I had to wonder why it seemed so revelatory when I read it. –One has to have died in order to have become a zombie, which also is a pretty obvious statement and explains why people refused to accept 28 Days Later as a zombie movie. (I still think it’s a zombie movie but I’m also not vested enough to be a purist.) –The only way a zombie can be killed is to destroy its brain. Which, in my opinion, may have given rise to the idea that zombies somehow need brains in order to survive.
If all of that is obvious to you, chances are you are far more advanced in your study of the genre than I am but as the week progresses, I will be discussing fare that is not so obvious and books that outright subvert the genre, but you gotta walk before you can run.
Overall, this was an amusing, interesting book. Given that it is literally a dictionary of all you need to know about zombies and what you will need to do to survive the inevitable zombie apocalypse, there’s really not much I can discuss outside of just quoting the parts that I found amusing or informative. Read the entire review here.(less)