The setup of The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes reminded me of Sarte’s existentialist play No Exit, wherein three dead characters are locked in a roThe setup of The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes reminded me of Sarte’s existentialist play No Exit, wherein three dead characters are locked in a room together for eternity, a situation that eventually leads one of them to famously assert, “Hell is other people.” In Pancakes, three people find themselves inexplicably trapped in a Village Inn. And while it’s business as usual for this bustling franchised dining establishment, and other people can come and go as they please, the doors of the restaurant remain closed to the three main characters as if by a curse.
Cassandra, our first-person narrator, finds herself trapped in the restaurant with her ex-boyfriend and her ex-best friend, who are now dating one another. While this situation could have lent itself to much more tension than is actually present in Atkinson’s narrative, we discover soon enough that these three people get along fairly well, all things considered. They all sit at the same table, eat together, play games, converse, reminisce, sleep, and amuse themselves by judging the other patrons in the restaurant. But beneath the conversations, games, and seemingly endless cups of coffee lies the specter of their disconnect with one another. The absurd quandary they find themselves in could afford Cassandra a unique opportunity to perhaps reconnect with her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend in some meaningful way. But does she even want to do that? Is this Hell they are in? Purgatory maybe? Or could it be something else altogether?
One of the aspects of the book I enjoyed the most was Cassandra’s habit of relieving her boredom by making up stories about people she knows nothing about—e.g., the dishwasher, the waitress, the manager, etc. And these “histories” of hers, as she refers to them, are not restricted to people; she also tells the tale of the perfect batch of pancakes (Leonard by name) and a creation myth story that unfolds in a magical garden of pancakes and other breakfast goodies. Such stories within the larger narrative served to keep things interesting and perhaps prevent the reader from feeling the same sort of claustrophobia the principal characters endure as a result of their predicament. ...more
In this parody of the high fantasy genre, an audacious drag queen by the name of Sleazellla LaRuse gets whisked away against her will to the realm ofIn this parody of the high fantasy genre, an audacious drag queen by the name of Sleazellla LaRuse gets whisked away against her will to the realm of Houmak—a land of swords and sorcery. Sleazellla must attempt to get back to her homeland of Green Bay, Wisconsin—where she enjoyed status as the reigning mc of the Bar Belle nightclub—or else figure out how to enjoy a new sort of queendom in this D&D-inspired place of magic and monsters. If you’re looking for a fun, funny, fast, fanciful, and fabulous read packed with action, gore, drag queen humor, gross-out humor, strange beasts, stranger sex, and bizarro hijinks galore, then look no further than Dungeons & Drag Queens. Shit's totes bonkers....more
As you read this book, its suggestive title is always at the back of your mind, like a metafictional finger constantly pointed at the story as it unfoAs you read this book, its suggestive title is always at the back of your mind, like a metafictional finger constantly pointed at the story as it unfolds, a story that distills, deconstructs, and satirizes the small-town-besieged-by-ancient-evil archetype that has dominated mainstream horror fiction forever. More of a long short story than an actual novel, The Last Horror Novel is at turns dark, melancholy, unsettling, and humorous. Awesome stuff. I’m drunk, so this review might be a bunch of bullshit. Whatever. In any event, I high-fived the hand on the cover when I finished reading it....more
Like much of Bradley Sands' work, TV Snorted My Brain is itself a sort an exercise in controlled anarchy: anarchy of plot, character, theme, and moralLike much of Bradley Sands' work, TV Snorted My Brain is itself a sort an exercise in controlled anarchy: anarchy of plot, character, theme, and morality. So it’s appropriate that this insane parodic retelling of the Arthurian legend begins with the line, “Anarchy fucking rules.” This book is a must-read for fans of bizarro and absurdist humor and a great starting point for readers new to Sands' work, as it is more accessible than some of his earlier stuff. ...more
Journey to Abortosphere tells the story of Ed Baile, a 40-year-old objectophiliac who still lives with his parents. Six months after the death of hisJourney to Abortosphere tells the story of Ed Baile, a 40-year-old objectophiliac who still lives with his parents. Six months after the death of his first love (a slutty little shoehorn by the name of Katherine), Ed thinks he just might have found love again in the form of an enigmatic radio-like machine acquired at an auction, thus setting the stage for Kirk Jones’s whacked out bizarro take on the “Philadelphia Experiment.”
Time travel, wormholes, a kerrrrrazy creation-cosmology myth, temporal chaos, a 12-ton iron fetus, gory battle scenes, body horror, gross humor, waffles, disembodied anuses, and gluteomancy (the arcane art of buttock hair divination)—Journey to Abortosphere has all that and more.
Just go read it. It’s fun for the whole family. Well, maybe not for the whole family, but it’s definitely fun for YOU—and YOU are all that matters, duuuuuude!
Born in 1971, Tiffany is an American singer, actress, and former 80's teen icon most famous for her 1987 cover of "I Think We're Alone Now", a song fiBorn in 1971, Tiffany is an American singer, actress, and former 80's teen icon most famous for her 1987 cover of "I Think We're Alone Now", a song first recorded by Tommy James and the Shondells in the 60’s. Tiffany also posed for Playboy at one point. Her musical nemesis was Debbie Gibson. This one time at some stuffy red carpet affair in Hollywood, Tiffany slapped Debbie Gibson so hard that Ms. Gibson’s face flew off like a cheap Halloween mask, exposing a screaming, beet-red, bulging-eyed, muscly-face that, up until that point in her life, had always been concealed behind her moisturized, unblemished, milky white face-skin....
Oh, wait...oops. Sorry. Wrong Tiffany!
Rather, we’re talking about Tiffany Scandal here, author of There's No Happy Ending. In this apocalyptic bizarro love story, two separated lovers attempt to find their way back to one another before the world dissolves to nothing. Don’t be put off by the spoiler alert in the title: Yes, we know where things are headed from the get-go, but that doesn’t make the ride any less entertaining. Scandal balances out the sentimentality of her story with a simple but visceral prose style, touches of surrealism (e.g., the Earth literally bleeds as it dies), and a creepy sci-fi/horror subplot concerning the male protag and his diabolical mother, so that the pathos of the separated-lovers-attempting-to-reunite trope never becomes stale or maudlin. Another solid debut from this year’s NBAS bunch. ...more
In this blood-soaked, green guck-spattered whirligig of a novella, Grefe pays homage to the exploitation film genre, revenge films in particular. ThinIn this blood-soaked, green guck-spattered whirligig of a novella, Grefe pays homage to the exploitation film genre, revenge films in particular. Things start off with a bang as a gang of vixens torture and leave a schoolteacher for dead under the rubble of his own house after ripping his only son to pieces and kidnapping his wife. Yes, it is time for some major—nay, MONDO—comeuppance.
This is familiar, well-trodden territory, but Grefe keeps things interesting with regard to both content and form. For one, there’s the unique army of brutal, lawless female antagonists. These vixens are many and myriad—we’re talking pirate vixens, clown vixens, preppie vixens, dental vixens, punk rock vixens, bikini vixens, and more—the lot of which collectively imbue this story with a cartoonish yet luridly sexy surrealism.
One of this book’s major strengths is the shifting narrative voice. Though the third person voice dominates the narrative, the narrator often switches to first person plural, in effect yanking the reader into the hyperreal fray, informing “us” when “we” pan away from some object or zoom in on it. But this cinematic conceit is not limited to camera directions. In fact, at one point "we" are even offered a drink in the vixens' compound, where at another turn a vixen strokes our chest hair and pulls us in for a kiss. In addition to busting down the fourth wall (and pulling us in through the breach), Grefe’s narrator often slips into a sort of choppy, broken style characterized by sentence fragments and clipped sentences that omit connecting words, articles, pronouns, and agents of action (e.g., “We slow dance around them, shuffle past the rats, the limbs, the fires swelling” and “Bat cracks skull, skull cracks nose”), this jazzy, zigzagging sort of prose style complementing and enhancing the cinematic conceit.
The overall unconventional form of Mondo Vixen Massacre suits its nightmarish, surreal subject matter well. And surreal it is: Though in many ways a traditional revenge tale, this story takes place in a world where vixens shoot fire from their asses, where sympathetic rats assemble themselves into makeshift legs for the legless, where the moon itself “…twists into a python and back to a bleached orb.” ...more
A strong authorial debut from Andy de Fonseca. Video games, Internet culture, and humorous sci-fi collide in this entertaining novella, which reads soA strong authorial debut from Andy de Fonseca. Video games, Internet culture, and humorous sci-fi collide in this entertaining novella, which reads something like The Matrix meets Wacky Wednesday. Great pacing, quirky characters, snappy dialogue, and an interesting fictional treatment of the simulated reality hypothesis all made for a fun, engaging read. ...more