Thank you to the author for allowing me to read and review this book!
I have NEVER defined myself by how much extreme, graphic material I can be exposeThank you to the author for allowing me to read and review this book!
I have NEVER defined myself by how much extreme, graphic material I can be exposed to without flinching. In point of fact, I am a wimp. But I'm also curious, so I often get myself into situations I later regret. Unfortunately, reading this book definitely falls into that category. I just can't unread this stuff!
Having given it the standard 100 pages, I can't really give a detailed review, but I will comment on what was in that portion:
Definitely Bizarro, FOR SURE, this is a world completely unlike the one we live in. I found the characters interesting, and I'm actually kind of sad I don't know what happened to them as the story progressed. As mentioned, there are revolting images on virtually every page, and the sex -- I really don't even know what to say about that, except that this might be the first (and only) time I've worried about someone getting salmonella as a social disease.
When you read the reviews and the reviewer mentions that it is GROSS -- please, I beg you, BELIEVE THEM. If that really isn't your cup of tea, just walk away -- you'll be happy you did. If you've got curiosity in spades and a cast iron stomach to go with it, have fun -- I look forward to reading your review!...more
This is chock full of the seriously bizarre! There are a lot of hits and a few misses -- the truly great are five star stories, but there are a couple This is chock full of the seriously bizarre! There are a lot of hits and a few misses -- the truly great are five star stories, but there are a couple that aren't as good. I think each reader would probably put different stories in each of those categories -- a lot of these stories will strike a different note with different people.
There were a few real stand outs for me:
Douglas Hackle's peculiar and haunting "I Think I'm In Love (Or The Stranger In The Stall) -- initially I wasn't sure if I liked this story, but I've found myself thinking of it again and again in the weeks since I first read it. Love it or hate it, I found it both moving and thought provoking.
"A Hand Walks Into A Bar" by John McNee -- I really loved this one, and it might even be my favorite in this book. A noir-ish story with a bizarro twist, it reminded me just a little of Steve Aylett's Beerlight stories in The Crime Studio. Which is not meant to imply that this story is at all derivative -- it has its own vibe, but still has a playful quality reminiscent of Aylett. I would happily read more stories set in this world, and was pleased to see that McNee seems to have other works that feature it. I'm looking forward to checking them out!
As always, James Steele delivers, this time with his cerebral "Life Cycle" -- this is another one I'll have stuck in my mind for some time.
"Clear Skies Today, God Willing" by Christy Leigh Stewart is a very short but amusing piece on the nature of God -- or, rather, our perception of God? This is the first of Stewart's work I've read, but I'll certainly look for more in future.
Patrick D'Orazio's "The Interstellar Quest For Snack Cakes" is one of the funniest stories I've read -- I loved this one. The characters are very well thought out and described -- reading this was almost like watching a movie. This would be a great story for sci-fi fans who want to test the Bizarro waters.
"Bread Alone" by David Raffin has a chilling quality that will sneak up on you -- this one seemed more like horror than Bizarro to me, but I'm not complaining.
These are just a few of the stories in this book -- it's a great sampling of some really interesting writing. Recommend!...more
This is a very interesting collection of short stories -- I found it online after seeing it contained work by Andersen Prunty. Some stories are betterThis is a very interesting collection of short stories -- I found it online after seeing it contained work by Andersen Prunty. Some stories are better than others -- all are bizarre, but intriguing. I would definitely recommend this collection for fans of the genre....more
Okay, I'm going to keep this short -- I normally love Prunty's work, and I've read and reviewed several. This one just missed the mark for me. There wOkay, I'm going to keep this short -- I normally love Prunty's work, and I've read and reviewed several. This one just missed the mark for me. There were many things I liked about it -- I thought the characters were very well done, and the interactions between them (for the most part) were believable. There was, initially, a lot of tension to the story, and I was very anxious to see how things would work out. But the negatives outweighed the positives for me. In a lot of ways, this felt like a Stephen King book -- but one of the bad ones, like The Tommyknockers or Needful Things (my apologies to those who love these books -- I just thought they were awful). And that's also kind of how I felt about this book -- it was a rambling, disjointed mess with a lot of gratuitous violence and sex. Just not my thing, I guess. I'm still a fan, and I'll certainly continue reading Prunty's work, but I just didn't like this one....more
This is possibly the most whimsical of the bizarro books I've read -- it has a very light, playful quality to it, with many charming illustrations. I'This is possibly the most whimsical of the bizarro books I've read -- it has a very light, playful quality to it, with many charming illustrations. I'll definitely read more of Goldfarb's work, but this one didn't really resonate with me. I kept wanting for there to be just a bit more to the story. ...more
I have to give this one 4 stars on the writing alone -- Prunty is just an amazing writer. Did I like it? I'm not sure. But I have to give credit whereI have to give this one 4 stars on the writing alone -- Prunty is just an amazing writer. Did I like it? I'm not sure. But I have to give credit where it's due.
From the back cover:
Four interconnected tales set in a darkly surreal post-apocalyptic world.
A slag is what survivors are calling the slug-like maggots raining form the sky, burrowing inside people, and hollowing out their flesh and their sanity. SLAG ATTACK features four visceral, noir stories about the living, crawling apocalypse.
"The Devastated Insides of Hollow City" -- Hack detective Shell joins in the insane search for a girl named Pearl, who just might hold the key to restoring order.
"Vincent Severity" -- A woman is taken hostage by a very severe man in a sleazy El Camino.
"Corpse Mountain" -- Two guys named Cobra and Commando chug gasoline and help build grotesque robots to save the world.
"All Alone at the End of the World" -- Re-introduces Shell in a radically different light, building to a ferocious conclusion.
Okay, first I have to comment on the copy from the back -- in "Corpse Mountain", the two guys are actually Cobra and Rambo, although Commando IS also in the story; and "All Alone at the End of the World" is titled "All Alone at the EDGE of the World" inside the book.
Now, I know this is a little nitpicky, and I didn't actually notice this until I started writing the review, but I'm a little disappointed to see the differences (not quite errors).
It's a tossup over which of these stories is my favorite -- I really liked the first story, "The Devastated Insides of Hollow City". It's funny, with a cheeky humour to it, despite the fact that the slag apocalypse has already begun. (If you were going to put these stories in order chronologically, I think they would go "Vincent Severity", "The Devastated Insides of Hollow City", "Corpse Mountain", then "All Alone at the Edge of the World".) In this story, private detective (kind of), Shell, is searching -- along with everyone else in Hollow City -- for the mysterious Pearl. Shell has a lot of the wise-cracking noir gumshoe to him, which is always fun to read. That doesn't necessarily mean this story doesn't have its dark moments -- it does -- but this is probably the lightest of the four.
"Corpse Mountain" is the other contender -- Commando is hard at work on a project he believes will save the world. Rambo and Cobra drive aimlessly around town, drinking gasoline, while another group of survivors works on their own plan for salvation. I think the appeal for me here was the characters. I really liked Commando, although I'm not sure he's necessarily meant to be a likable character. Rambo and Cobra also had a certain sweetness to them -- there's a poignance to their struggle to remain human, despite circumstances and their own deterioration. This story also has a few humorous moments.
I really was uncomfortable reading "Vincent Severity", and I suspect many other women would be as well. Set slightly before the beginning of the slag plague, Amber Toulouse is abducted by the brutal Vincent Severity. He has a very disturbing plan for Amber, and when he finally reveals why he chose her it is honestly horrifying. Vincent is disgusting, and it was very difficult to read about the trials Amber endures. This one left me feeling very very sad.
The book closes with "All Alone At the Edge of the World", which revisits Shell from the first story. Written from the perspective of Darren Welch, a survivor of the second (and more devastating) wave of slag infestation. Darren has lost his wife and children, which is even more wrenching since the author tells us that the family had survived the first wave (and probably expected things to improve). The world is a frightening and desperate place at this point in the book's timeline -- the slags (originally the size of maggots) are now the size of buildings, and there are very few humans left. Darren struggles through each day -- mostly waiting for the right time to kill himself, it seems. How he meets Shell, and what happens next, is interesting, but I just didn't like Shell in this story. Prunty (IMO) explains the change in Shell adequately, but I missed the Shell from the first story. I also didn't like the bleakness of this final world -- although the author offers a bit of hope at the end, re-introducing another earlier character in an unexpected way.
I would definitely recommend this for fans of bizarro -- anything of Prunty's is a must-read. Just don't expect the lightness (I'm tempted to say whimsy, but that isn't quite right for his work) of some of his other stories. He's very much exploring the darker side of life here. ...more
I'm not even sure where to begin with this one . . . There are a lot of wonderful and intriguing ideas here, but just too many problems for me to getI'm not even sure where to begin with this one . . . There are a lot of wonderful and intriguing ideas here, but just too many problems for me to get past.
Let's start with the positives:
The setting is interesting, a sort of alternative old-west that is close enough to read as genuine history -- but just try looking up some of the people and incidents mentioned and you'll quickly see that the author has well and truly convinced you to accept fiction as fact.
Most of the characters -- while not likable, necessarily -- will keep you reading, as you attempt to see what fate (and the author) has in store for them. Some of the secondary characters are worthy of books of their own. I especially liked the Martian Ambassadors, the Quists, St. Ives, the Professor and his wives, and Fast Fanny.
I also loved the story of Junius Rutherford and his Villa of the Mysteries -- I was really hoping the plot was leading toward resolving that story line. I was very taken with the author's use of this story, re-telling it at the end of the book, with crucial details changed. Sadly, the author never really resolves this issue.
And . . . that's about it.
Oh, I loved the cover.
Now for the negatives:
Apparently this is a sequel of sorts to Zanesville: A Novel, so I should have read that book first. However, the order -- or even their relation to each other -- is in no way made clear. In fact, I only realized my error after reading other reviews.
A big fat UGH for precocious six year old protagonists -- not a favorite at any time for me, but even less so here, where the author insists on this six year old being sexually aware and active. I'm sure there are legions of fans for this book who will insist on this characterization being absolutely necessary, but still -- Ick.
The "Gullah" accent spoken (and written) phonetically by Rapture -- the sexually precocious Lloyd's mother. This was difficult to read or understand, and I'm sure I missed most of what she was supposed to be saying. I'm as much a fan of dialect writing as I am of precocious child protagonists, as in not at all.
As bad as the above was, though, the very worst was the character of Hattie, who shows up about two thirds of the way through the book. Thirteen and a runaway slave, the author has subjected this character to all manner of torture -- including an apparent sexual mutilation -- at the hands of her white father's wife. Despite this, she is the very embodiment of wisdom, who becomes both mother and lover to Lloyd (remember, he is only SIX). I cannot begin to describe my complete and utter loathing for this character. There is zero depth or reality to Hattie, and I can only assume this is one of those cases where the author describes his own dream partner -- which is another huge dislike for me.
Saknussemm has these amazing ideas and creates these (mostly) wonderful characters -- again, I have to stress, the secondary characters are wonderful, the main ones are just irritating -- but then he just gets bored or something, leaving loose ends every which way. I really don't need everything spoon fed to me -- I enjoy a bit of mystery in a book, and I'm generally okay with having to draw my own conclusions, but that just isn't the case here. It's like the author had these great ideas for plot and character, but just didn't know what to do with them, so he just threw them in then abandoned them -- and I found that extremely frustrating.
Okay, so where does that leave us . . .
I may decide to pick this up and re-read Enigmatic Pilot after I read Zanesville: A Novel, just to see the story in context. If I can bring myself to read the first book after reading this one. Yep, that's how much I disliked this book, and that upsets me even more because there was just so much here that was really different and exciting -- what should have been an amazing book turned out to be empty and, ultimately, meaningless....more
I'm not sure what I can say about this book -- it's weird and funny, with quotable lines on every page, and I wanted to read it again the second I finI'm not sure what I can say about this book -- it's weird and funny, with quotable lines on every page, and I wanted to read it again the second I finished it. In fact, I might just do that . . .
This is a collection of interrelated stories about the citizens of Beerlight, where apparently everyone is a criminal -- although criminal aptitude varies, of course. There is a running theme of . . . I want to say joy . . . in these stories. As often as not, these burglars and con artists have become what they are due to an appreciation of the absurd, or a desire for hilarity -- I found the combination of mayhem and glee to be irresistible.
Oddly enough, the writing reminds me very much of Catch-22, with surreal situations, wonderful wordplay, and the occasional shot to the heart.
Jimmy Plush is your typical noir hardcase -- except for the fact that he's actually a down-on-his-luck writer, Charles Hatbox, who switched bodies wit
Jimmy Plush is your typical noir hardcase -- except for the fact that he's actually a down-on-his-luck writer, Charles Hatbox, who switched bodies with the vile Jimmy Plush when faced with gambling debts he couldn't pay. He's a little bit Bogart, a whole lot of Snake Plissken, and just a teensy pinch of Peter Sellers (although Plush's chauffer routinely tries to help, rather than harm, him).
This book -- divided into six parts -- started out really well. "Mr. Plush, Detective" had me laughing out loud on the first page. This is the most "noir" of the stories, with furries, a faux-Chinese mob boss, and Plush's nemesis Mittens O'Hara (who happens to be a talking cat). Garrett Cook, what the heck were you smoking when you thought this one up?! It's a lot of fun, and I think I enjoyed it the most out of the stories because it stuck fairly close to a noir-ish story line.
"Mr. Plush and the Dead Horse" explored the dynamic between Jimmy Plush and his chauffer, Chang, a bit more -- I really enjoyed the parts with Chang, although I found Plush to be more abrasive in this story. There is a great twist in this chapter, which I found interesting and thought provoking.
In "Jimmy Plush and Mittens O'Hara in Zuvembie Soiree" we find Plush and Chang reunited with Mittens O'Hara at a high society party. This is where the book started going off the rails for me -- it got a lot darker in this story, and I didn't really like the direction Jimmy was headed in.
"Mr. Plush and the Chief Inspector" pushed a bit farther into this darker direction, and, again, I wasn't prepared for it. I guess I just like my teddy bear detectives a little less violent.
The book finishes with "Jimmy Plush in the Tomb of the Martian Pharoah". As crazy as the book was up to this point, it really goes full on bizarro in this last story. I found this one to be a bit confusing, but there were a lot of other elements I really enjoyed. The characters were fun, and there were a lot of unexpected twists.
All in all, I thought this was a good book, but I definitely wouldn't recommend it for everyone. If you strongly dislike violence or don't like your bizarro too bizarre, you might want to read something else.
I really hate it when I don't like a book. I'm always tempted not to write a review of it, maybe because of that old "if youBoy oh boy oh boy oh boy.
I really hate it when I don't like a book. I'm always tempted not to write a review of it, maybe because of that old "if you don't have anything nice to say" adage. Especially when I'm in an extremely tiny minority.
But . . . you can't like everything.
This book just didn't click with me at all. I loved the idea of the book, I loved the unusual collection of narrators, I loved parts of the book . . . I just didn't love it all put together.
I found the writing to be very disjointed and confusing -- and I would point out that I'm normally a big fan of disjointed, as long as it all ties together at the end. But this book just didn't gel for me. I was left with a lot of unanswered questions -- again, I'm usually okay with stories that leave you to ponder a bit, but this one just felt unfinished and jumbled.
My biggest problem, though, was with the characters. I just didn't like any of them. Every time I'd start connecting with one, they would do or say something that put me off again.
That said, though, I'm still interested in reading more of Wensink's work (although he may prefer I didn't write any more reviews). There was a lot of potential in this book that I'm hoping will be much better realized in his other stories....more
I have to say up front, I was initially charmed, then skeeved, by this book -- I really didn't think I could finiHoo boy! This book is one crazy ride!
I have to say up front, I was initially charmed, then skeeved, by this book -- I really didn't think I could finish it. But I just wasn't going to let this book intimidate me, no sir. And you know what? I ended up LOVING it!
I read all these glowing reviews, and I just couldn't understand -- did these people read the same book I was reading?? Well, yeah, but they had pushed past the part that I got hung up on. And once I got past it, I could see what all the rave reviews were talking about.
Ohime is utterly adorable as the mutated starfish girl. She's naive and sweet, and she's got a secret that just might save the world. Timbre is an anemone badass who hasn't lost her faith in others -- she never had any faith to begin with. This pair is a definite odd couple, but you know that they will somehow manage to come to an understanding, and work together to save themselves.
This book reads like an action movie -- actually, anime would be more suitable. With a little tweaking, I could see this as a Miyazaki film -- and I would LOVE it!
Here's my sticking point -- which comes fairly early in the story. We're introduced to Ohime, and the tone is very playful, even though she finds herself in danger practically from the get go. Before too long, though, Ohime is in SERIOUS danger, and the descriptions here are just awful. I was really upset about the things that were going on, and I was very concerned for Ohime (even though I suspected she would be okay eventually). Why the extreme reaction? I'm not sure. Possibly the subject matter, which had a lot of graphic sexuality. Which is really my problem, not the author's.
But I mention it because I was honestly considering not finishing the book, due to my feelings about this one part. And I would encourage anyone who hits this point and has the same reaction to just stick with it! I promise it will be fine!
Once again, the Bizarro genre surprises me with the wonderful quality of the writing, and the inventiveness of the story and characters. I'm not sure where these hyper intelligent folks are coming from, but I'm just thrilled to be able to reap the benefits of their creative little brains.
Highly recommend, especially for fans of anime....more
Bradley Sands' collection of super short stories is unlike anything else you will read. These pieces are unusual and strange, but many are quite touchBradley Sands' collection of super short stories is unlike anything else you will read. These pieces are unusual and strange, but many are quite touching, and I found myself re-reading several of them. Highly recommend....more
When I was in my 20s, there was this kind of cute guy who used to come and see me at work. He was an actor, and he kept asking me to come see him in oWhen I was in my 20s, there was this kind of cute guy who used to come and see me at work. He was an actor, and he kept asking me to come see him in one of his plays. I was happily dating someone else, so I wasn't interested in going out with him, but I finally agreed to come see him at the theater. And I became seriously starstruck --a majorly head-over-heels, couldn't talk without stuttering, blushing, giggling moron. And, of course, he then wouldn't give me the time of day.
Well, I've seen James Steele all over the Bizarro groups, saying funny things and being clever, but OMG, I had no idea he was SO SMART and SO TALENTED. And now I just want to sit and watch him work on his next book, while I giggle and flutter my eyelashes at him.
This book has a killer premise -- Felix sets out to save the world, wielding the sacred Thor, a sex toy modeled on a horse's penis.
I have to take a moment here to say that I actually thought the . . . swords . . . were dealt with rather tastefully. And who would have guessed there would be so many ways to reference said . . . tool? Impressive! (giggle, flutter)
Felix and the Sacred Thor is incredibly well written. There are zero parts where I thought "oh, well, that's okay, kind of drags, but whatever". I was so caught up in this crazy world, where people work without pay, simply for the privilege of saying that they have a job.
There is so much going on here. Much like Uncle Sam’s Carnival of Copulating Inanimals, another NBAS title, this book is DEEP. It's saying a whole lot about what's happening here and now in the U.S. Felix and the Sacred Thor was more accessible for me, though -- I wasn't straining my feeble mental powers to grasp the symbolism -- although I'd be the first to admit that there's probably quite a bit more that I wasn't getting. That's okay -- even without getting each and every reference, it's a great read.
My favourite parts were the ones that stepped outside of Felix's immediate story line -- "At Home with Bob", "The Standout", "Booth", "iTha" (oh, man, I really loved iTha), and "Why All Great Employees Drive a Minihearse" (sheer greatness) -- that took big swings at American culture. These were brilliant -- and, again, there was this poignancy I'm seeing with all the Bizarro titles.
Would I recommend this book? Hell yeah! But be warned, reading it may turn you into a head-over-heels, blushing, giggling moron.
Oh, Bradley Sands -- why the truck stop incident?!
Okay, it would be easy to focus on RICO SLADE (said in a deep, booming voice), but I found Chip JohnOh, Bradley Sands -- why the truck stop incident?!
Okay, it would be easy to focus on RICO SLADE (said in a deep, booming voice), but I found Chip Johnson to be the more interesting character. Watching Chip's mental deterioration was heartbreaking to me, even as I laughed at the rest of the book.
This is another one of those books that I don't want to say too much about for fear of ruining it for those who haven't read it yet. I can't imagine anyone reading this and not enjoying some aspect of it. It can certainly be read for the humour alone, but there's so much more to the story than that. Definitely recommend....more
Andersen Prunty is a weird guy. I assume. I mean, I don't know him personally, but anyone who has this stuff inside their brain can't be normal, rightAndersen Prunty is a weird guy. I assume. I mean, I don't know him personally, but anyone who has this stuff inside their brain can't be normal, right?
The Overwhelming Urge is chock full of strange people doing even stranger things. The stories are brief -- sometimes only a couple of paragraphs -- so it has the feel of an overheard conversation or catching something bizarre out of the corner of your eye as you drive down the street.
The main themes here seem to be alienation and sorrow -- the wisest man in the world comes to your house and craps on your rug, a new haircut changes a man's life, a walk to the mailbox ends in tragedy . . . I'm not sure what any of it means, but it sure is fun trying to figure it all out.
My favourite story was "The Bright Side", where the narrator discovers his father has turned into an antelope. I'm not sure why, but I found the idea charming, and Prunty's description of the transformed father was exactly how I image a human/antelope would be.
This book is a very fast read, perfect for keeping in a car or purse for something quick to read while waiting at the bank, carpool line, etc. Highly recommend, especially for fans of Bizarro....more
What is up with these Bizarro authors? Are they all just brilliant, or what? Honestly, I've never run across another genre with such uniformly wonderfWhat is up with these Bizarro authors? Are they all just brilliant, or what? Honestly, I've never run across another genre with such uniformly wonderful writing.
"Bucket of Face" is another book that pulled me in with its surreal humour, then sucker punched me with poignant moments -- Eric Hendrixson starts it all off with an hysterical description of acorns plummeting from their trees, only to sprint away (screaming!) the moment they reach the ground. That one page alone is worth buying the book for, IMO.
In addition to the offbeat story and humour, Hendrixson has put a LOT of thought into this world. There are crucial plot points that I would be giving away by citing examples of this, but let me assure you that this man has apparently spent a great deal of time contemplating the lifestyles of animated fruit.
I found the ending to be very touching, and completely in keeping with the world the author presented, as well as with the characters' relationships with each other.
I think this would be another great book for those interested in Bizarro, but afraid of getting into something too weird or disturbing. The violence in it IS over the top, but probably wouldn't be too much for most people.