Archive | May, 2014

TV Snorted My Brain by Bradley Sands (LegumeMan Books; 2012)

31 May

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Deeply in love with the cover art of this one–I wonder if this artist actually does comics? This one did not have the same emotional depth as some of the other bizarro writers I’ve been reading lately. Nonetheless, you will find some imaginative absurdist mayhem within these pages. Check it out if you feel like some lighter/consistently slapstick and scatological bizarro fare.

Buy TV Snorted My Brain by Bradley Sands

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Die You Doughnut Bastards by Cameron Pierce (Eraserhead Press; 2012) Review

31 May

Die You Doughnut Bastards

The title probably sounds overly goofy, silly, and inane–but this book will surprise on many levels with its inventiveness. It is a very unique collection of Russell Edson-inspired poems, childish drawings, and short stories as only Cameron Pierce can write them–which combines absurd content imbued and emblazoned with a tragic and haunted human element. My favorite in the entire collection was “Lantern Jaws.” Although I only read it this morning in my flat in Istanbul, I already know that it will remain one of my favorite short stories. Cryptic, sad, simple, surprising, and genuine. I will not soon forget the image of what lay beneath Vanessa’s bandage, which proves to be both beautiful and horrific or the comedic yet haunting (and very Lovecrafitan) scene when David joins Vanessa’s parents for dinner. I could ramble on and on about the intricate beauty of each and every piece, but I ask that you discover them for yourselves, take a chance on Mr. Pierce’s dreams, and wander beyond the threshold of your previous imaginative barriers.

Buy Die You Doughnut Bastards

Bizarro Central

Carnageland by David W. Barbee (Eraserhead Press; 2009) Review

26 May

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This bizarro sci-fi/fairy tale hybrid was pretty fun and odd, if you don’t mind a kind of lazy adherence to the heroic journey structure–no, Harry Potter or The Hunger Games this ain’t…although both the aforementioned works are still-born, tiresome works for a brain-dead planet. Why are many pop culture addicts so comforted by patterns? One may never know…the truth could be too horrible ever to discern.

Invader 898 is assigned to conquer a specific planet where hermaphrodite wizards/witches rule and Rapunzel-esque princesses dot the aforementioned hero’s golden brick road through threshold guardians and potential gateways to return with the elixir. But, again, this is all done in a mostly satirical fashion, albeit with some explicit scenes of violence and perverse humor.

Buy Carnageland
Eraserhead Press

Shatnerquake by Jeff Burke (Eraserhead Press; 2009) Review

26 May

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I finally got around to reading this one the other day. I found it enjoyable in many ways, yet it caused me to ask myself a recurring question: what is like to write with characters that already exist?

Fan-fiction.

But is this fan-fiction?

No. Not at all.

Actually…despite the excessively nerdy setting (a William Shatner convention), the Shatner impressions (by various Shatner performances) aren’t even pedantically accurate. Having only seen a few Star Trek episodes, there appear to be very few stock phrases in evidence.

Therefore, one begins to wonder: if this is not a heavy-handed ode to nerd, doll-collecting culture…then what is it?

I feel, like the best of bizarro, it is a sort of half-hearted attempt a satirize a given concept or subculture without actually ridiculing it too harshly and, in that misadventure/misdiagnosis, creating some bold, original, and quick–a kind of blitzkrieg of an idea, half-executed and kind of spinning in a psychedelic direction while, due to the quick speed of its execution, it retains its b-movie robes so it can never quiet rest and dusty itself into a certain brand of literary experimentalism.

Instead, its intention remains like a blur of excitement, fun, and a weird idea never fully perfected.


Buy Shatnerquake

Eraserhead Press

Hurt Others by Sam Pink (Lazy Fascist Press; 2012) Review

25 May

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I’d read Person a few years ago and ended up selling it at my garage sale before moving to Istanbul. Someone did buy it for 1$, but my dislike of it seems baffling in hindsight after reading this magnificent collection of anti-stories entitled Hurt Others.

The style is deceptively simple; at first, it seems slightly juvenile–but then, every so often, Pink will dash off a line that is casually brilliant, cryptic, or a sentence that contains a circular thought…forever spiraling and leaving unanswered what was never in fact a question in the first place.

Sam Pink is the kind of writer–like Bukowski, Fante, Moravia, Hemingway, Raymond Carver, and Frederick Exley–that takes you into their personal life, but the crystal waters of reality at first depicted are soon sullied and blurred as the painter goes to work with his bloody brush.

Buy Hurt Others

Lazy Fascist Press

Abortion Arcade by Cameron Pierce (Eraserhead Press; 2011)

25 May

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I realize, yes, the title of this collection of three novellas may be slightly off-putting, but, rest assured, this is a terrific kaleidoscope of candy-flavored-surreal psychedelia.

First off we have an original-in-concept zombie tale (sort of a sci-fi zombie work) entitled “No Children” that is pretty eerie and Phillip K. Dick-like, although even more pulpy (yes, that is possible); the doomed/grotesque love story at its center is very Carlton Mellick III-esque (I was reminded, at times, of The Cannibals of Candyland(which this does not surpass(in terms of greatness)).

Then we turn to our next tale: “The Roadkill Quarterback of Heavy Metal High”–which is my favorite of the collection. In a dystopian future flavored with the perversity of J.G. Ballard’s Crash, students studying heavy metal 24/7 must stage accidents; our hero, a werewolf, manages to stage a magnificent accident–the aftereffects of which lead to one of the most baffling/hilarious scenes I have ever read. Long live Dio.

“The Destroyed Room” was also fantastic. I especially loved how casually these little blue elephants just wandered in through the walls. The shark head in the sky visual is also one of incendiary power.

Step in to Cameron Pierce’s dreams or nightmares. Step inside today.

Buy Abortion Arcade

Eraserhead Press

You Are Sloth! by Steve Lowe (Eraserhead Press; 2013)

24 May

sloth

This book, written in the 2nd person, is a hilarious send-up of our online, email-obsessive-checking culture. For what resides mostly in our inboxes: spam.

What if your job was to edit terrible self-help books and your current project was a cliched, bumbling mess about harnessing your spirit animal. The narrator’s battle against being a sloth (despite the fact that it is OBVIOUSLY his spirit animal, even if you believe in this spirit animal theory only slightly)–for that is what this surreal piece forces him to become–is hilarious. Yes, you will joyfully be reminded of “The Metamorphosis,” but in the same way, say, that you were reminded of Wilder’s The Apartment when watching some modern sitcom or RomCom about a failing relationship or hilarious but inconvenient roommate situation–but, ahem, that is not to degrade this excellent, and incredibly entertaining, new work of modern fiction in any sense. And have you ever wondered what it is exactly that dogs are saying? If so, look no further than this excellent work about a couple of Jonah Hill-esque slackers simply minding their own business when the supernatural occurrence strikes our slothy hero like a bold of surreal lightning.

I might as well admit: I LOL’ed. You might too. Then again, there are certain sequences that may scar you for life. But would a landlady really do that? When under the reign of the true spirit animal lord with a hatred of linking verbs, apparently yes.

Buy You Are Sloth!
Eraserhead Press

Pus Junkies by Shane McKenzie (Eraserhead Press; 2014) Review

24 May

pusjunkies

This is possibly one of the grossest books you will ever read–if, that is, you can make it to the surreal and violent conclusion without burning the book with flammable hand sanitizer and running to the shower with a two gallon tub of soap and a three gallon bottle of shampoo. I read it in about two days.

The writing is precise and direct and the voice feels authentic, even though the premise is nightmarish and disturbingly disgusting: you see this kid Kip’s numerous zits contain a pus substance that is a highly addictive drug. And his blood? Well, I won’t spoil that surprise…but if you dig the imagery of Lovecraft at his most body-horror-ish, you will love this.

Reading it feels like watching a b-movie (as many books of the bizarro genre); so, while it is not exactly a literary masterpiece, it is pulpy, fast, and fun.

So what’s different about this bizarro stuff than your ordinary, run-of-the-mill police-procedural drivel that you can pick up at your local drugstore? Originality. This weird fever dream has never been written before.

Eraserhead Press
Buy Pus Junkies

Palace of Clover

10 May

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“What were you looking for?”

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The storm forced us back inside, but then we left again to lick the lightning.

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I met a tiger who gave me a prickly fruit tasting better than wine.

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I found it then: a whole world trapped inside my closet behind the hundred or so hanging neckties.

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“I’ll get up for you today.”

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“Well…what did she say?”

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“She gave my money back. Her face turned white.”

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And so: sighing, I opened the closet door. I brushed aside my neckties.

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We descended the ramp and took our rightful places at the palace, and we never did turn back.