Review: The Invention of Sound by Chuck Palahniuk

Buy here: Bookshop

Synopsis:

Gates Foster lost his daughter, Lucy, seventeen years ago. He’s never stopped searching. Suddenly, a shocking new development provides Foster with his first major lead in over a decade, and he may finally be on the verge of discovering the awful truth.

Meanwhile, Mitzi Ives has carved out a space among the Foley artists creating the immersive sounds giving Hollywood films their authenticity. Using the same secret techniques as her father before her, she’s become an industry-leading expert in the sound of violence and horror, creating screams so bone-chilling, they may as well be real.

Soon Foster and Mitzi find themselves on a collision course that threatens to expose the violence hidden beneath Hollywood’s glamorous façade. A grim and disturbing reflection on the commodification of suffering and the dangerous power of art, THE INVENTION OF SOUND is Chuck Palahniuk at the peak of his literary powers–his most suspenseful, most daring, and most genre-defying work yet.

Review:

I used to be quite a big Chuck Palahniuk fan, my first books being Survivor and Fight Club. I read his first few books like they were the best horror literature that I’ve ever read. I read most of his earlier stuff, but quit around the time when he wrote the book about the guy waiting in line for the porn star who trying to set the world record for sleeping with the most people in a row. I kind of felt Chuck Palahniuk is for the young, and I had aged out of enjoying his new work. I still had fond memories of many of his books, particularly Haunted and Choke.

Fast forward to over a decade later. His new novel, The Invention of Sound is coming out by his new publisher, Grand Central Publishing, and I was thinking, “Maybe I should give him a try again. See what he’s up to.” I requested the ARC, and after a few days of reading, I knew that maybe it was time for me to pay attention to him again. The Invention of Sound is two stories that eventually intertwine. The first is Gates Foster trying to find his daughter, whom disappeared seventeen years earlier. He is kind of going crazy with grief, thinking that many little girls are actually his Lucy, even though Lucy would be much older than his memory of her. He spends his life trying to find her and trying to capture sex traffickers on the internet. The second story is Mitzi Ives, a person who works for Hollywood, selling screams to film productions. These screams are farmed with her special techniques, passed down to her by her father. Mitzi is a mess of a person, and her entire story seems to be her trying to find something other than herself to hold onto. These two stories crash into each other, and the novel feels like all of the characters are in a car, speeding toward a brick wall. 

I did not know that this was how Palahniuk is writing now. There is still the crazy, shock horror elements, and some of themes still seem to be about longing to belong and creating a space in a society that does not exactly what to give you that space, but there is also a maturity here that I do not recognize from some of his past works. It feels like Palahniuk might have realized that his audience is growing up, and instead of trying to go with “let’s overthrow the corporate structure,” like in Fight Club, it is “let’s prey on the biggest fears of parents and adults.” This can be the novel that brings back those older fans that have strayed away from his works while continuing to satisfy everyone with the shock and horror that he has brought since the beginning. I know that I will start following his works closely again because I feel like he is maturing with his audience. 

I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: It Came From the Multiplex: 80s Midnight Chillers

Synopsis:

Welcome to tonight’s feature presentation, brought to you by an unholy alliance of our spellcasters at Hex Publishers and movie-mages at the Colorado Festival of Horror. Please be advised that all emergency exits have been locked for this special nostalgia-curdled premiere of death. From crinkling celluloid to ferocious flesh—from the silver screen to your hammering heart—behold as a swarm of werewolves, serial killers, Satanists, Elder Gods, aliens, ghosts, and unclassifiable monsters are loosed upon your auditorium. Relax, and allow our ushers to help with your buckets of popcorn—and blood; your ticket stubs—and severed limbs; your comfort candy—and body bags. Kick back and scream as you settle into a fate worse than Hell. Tonight’s director’s cut is guaranteed to slash you apart.

Review:

I was looking forward to reading this anthology of 80s themed stories, and now that I am finished and have had a few hours to reflect, there are some things that this collection does well and some things it does not do well. One of the things that I really like is that most of the stories have one setting, most of them a movie theatre, and the authors do a great job in varying their stories told in this setting. It would be easy to have 15 stories about theatre hauntings, but there are only a few, and those few are really good ones. Many of these stories involve many different themes, from alien invasions to murders to crime cover ups, the variety kept me interested in the collection. I thought the art was very well done, and I have thought about getting a physical copy of this so that I could do the flipbook animation. One of the things that I did not like was that there was only one story that involved the multiplex, and this was in a story where they use the multiplex as a prop instead of a setting (where the kids saw a movie at the multiplex and did not come out the same.) The rest of the stories were set in old, one screen theatres and drive-ins. I know that it makes for great, and easier stories, but the idea of many of these stories being set in the 80s or being inspired by the 80s just does not come across very well. These stories seem to be more inspired by the drive-in movies from the 60s and 70s than the mall culture of the 80s. 

This is not to say that the collection does not have some highlights. I really enjoyed the first two stories, “Alien Parasites from Outer Space” by Warren Hammond and “Return of the Alien Parasites from Outer Space” by Angie Hodapp, a alien story with a legitimate sequel as the next story. I have not seen this very often in anthologies, and the stories were fun so I was fully engaged in the plot with both of these stories. I did not know what I thought about Keith Ferrell’s story, “The Cronenberg Concerto” while I was reading it because it is written in a more passive, reflective way, but in hindsight, I think about this story more than most of the others. This is a quiet, body horror story, and it is more interesting in concept than it initially appears. The only story that involves a Multiplex, “The Devil’s Reel” by Sean Eads and Joshua Viola is a great Satanic Panic story, which seems to capture the spirit that this collection felt like it was trying to gear toward. There are a few other pretty good stories, particularly Stephen Graham Jones and Steve Rasnic Tem, but there are not many that really stick out and make me think I’ll remember much about this anthology in six months. They are good stories, but not memorable. I know how hard it is to work on these types of anthologies, and if anyone wants to read it, I would not discourage it, but this is a soft recommendation from me.

I received this as an ARC from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: The Book of X by Sarah Rose Etter

Buy Here: Two Dollar Radio

Synopsis:

The Book of X tells the tale of Cassie, a girl born with her stomach twisted in the shape of a knot. From childhood with her parents on the family meat farm, to a desk job in the city, to finally experiencing love, she grapples with her body, men, and society, all the while imagining a softer world than the one she is in.

Review:

I have been a big fan of Sarah Rose Etter since her first book of short stories, Tongue Party. To say that I love this collection is an understatement. I have read this collection more than any other book and there are certain stories in there, especially “Cake” and “Tongue Party” that I have read aloud to different girls through the years. Their reactions to them were how I gauged them as people. (One girl did say that they were stupid and a waste of time. We did not date after that.) “Tongue Party” is one of the books in my life that has really changed the way that I looked at writing and storytelling. 

When The Book of X came out, I bought it immediately. I held it in my hands for a long time before I put it on the shelf. There were eight years between Tongue Party and The Book of X, and there were two reasons why I didn’t want to tear right into it. The first is that I did not want to be disappointed. In my mind, topping the greatness of Tongue Party was almost impossible. The second was that it took many years to get another Sarah Rose Etter book, so if I read this one too quickly, would I have to wait another eight years? I put it off for quite some time. What made me pull it out again and finally read it was the fact that it won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best novel. I knew that my procrastination was us.

I read the entire thing in a day. I mean there are many pages without many words, so the pages move past at a record speed, but the story is so good, so interesting, and so sadly beautiful that I had to know what happened next.

The novel centers around Cassie, a girl born tied in a knot. Her family owns a quarry where they harvest meat and make good money. This does not seem to change the way that Cassie is treated by her peers, and even though she wants to be liked, she also knows that she has a knot and everyone makes fun of her. The novel is written in three separate alternating pieces. The first is the actual story, the second is lists of facts and trivia, and the third is visions. Between the reality and the visions, there are many moments that are just heartbreaking, particularly the moments when Cassie has a life experience that is traumatic or disheartening and the next piece is the vision that starts with the same scene but ends with a more favorable outcome. The pace is fast and even though there are many surreal elements to this, the focus is strong and very narrow. This makes The Book of X much more successful than it could have been. There are many chances where the story could have ran off the rails, but Etter has control the entire time, telling the story that she wants to tell in the way that she wants to tell it. I loved this book, but I don’t think that anything can match my love for her story collection. Tongue Party just has too much history for me that nothing that she does can top it. This does not take away from the fact that Sarah Rose Etter could be one of the top novelists of our generation. I cannot wait to see what she does next.  

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Kanye West – Reanimator by Joshua Chaplinsky and H.P. Lovecraft

Synopsis

Of Kanye West, who was my friend in college and after he dropped out, I can speak only with extreme sadness…

So begins this epic cautionary tale of ambition and hubris. A bizarre mix of Lovecraft and hip-hop history, Kanye West—Reanimator reimagines the classic story “Herbert West—Reanimator” with everyone’s favorite petulant genius cast in the titular role. In it, Kanye West attempts to reanimate a moribund hip-hop scene, only to come to the conclusion that his music is so powerful, it should be used to reanimate the dead. And who better to reanimate than those two legendary titans gone before their time—Biggie and Tupac? Hilarity and carnage ensue.

Review:

I was browsing Amazon one day, looking through those $2 and $3 digital books, and as soon as I saw the cover of Kanye West – Reanimator by Joshua Chaplinsky, I knew that I had to buy it, regardless of price. I know that you are not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but the cover art by Dyer Wilk and design by Matthew Revert, a rendering of the famous movie poster for the Stuart Gordon movie adaptation of Reanimator

The Lovecraft story, “Herbert West – Reanimator” is about a guy who in college starts experimenting with reanimating bodies. A story about obsession and chaos, it is a cautionary tale about making sure that you do not lose your path while trying to figure out a problem. Kanye West – Reanimator is Chaplinsky’s take on the story. He basically takes the text by H.P. Lovecraft and transposes Kanye West’s musical and social history into the original story. He uses the same idea as those used for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters where it is not a rewriting of the story but a mashup, adding Kanye into Lovecraft’s story. I never knew how well these types of books worked, but in this case, with Chaplinsky at the helm, the end product is pure enjoyment. I loved the story and it feels like the threads run deep, sewing Kanye into this story, and there is not one time where it feels forced or gimmicky. I know that this is not going to win any awards, but it is fun, funny and definitely a great addition to my library. 

So to give a good example of how funny and well this is written, I will give an example. Here is a passage from the original H.P Lovecraft story, “Herbert West – Reanimator”

” Gradually I came to find Herbert West himself more horrible than anything he did—that was when it dawned on me that his once normal scientific zeal for prolonging life had subtly degenerated into a mere morbid and ghoulish curiosity and secret sense of charnel picturesqueness. His interest became a hellish and perverse addiction to the repellently and fiendishly abnormal; he gloated calmly over artificial monstrosities which would make most healthy men drop dead from fright and disgust;”

And here is the same passage from “Kanye West – Reanimator”

“Gradually I came to find Kanye himself more horrible than anything he did — that was when it dawned on me that his once normal musical zeal for reanimating hip-hop had subtly transformed into a morbid and ghoulish curiosity and secret sense of charnel megalomania. His interest became a hellish and perverse addiction to the repellently and fiendishly abnormal; he gloated calmly over artificial monstrosities which would make most healthy men drop dead from fright and disgust;”

So you can see that there are tweaks to the original text, but the storytelling and the feel are very similar. I have read both the Lovecraft and the Chaplinsky stories, and I actually prefer Kanye to Herbert.

The original story was written for a call for Lovecraft type stories. This was not the first story Chaplinsky wrote and submitted for this collection, the first being a story called “Beyond the Wall of Sleep in Redhook, Brooklyn,” which is included here. This story is more like an imitation of the style of a Lovecraft story, and it is not that interesting. It might be because it is tacked on the end of Kanye West – Reanimator and he knocks that one out of the park that this is kind of a letdown, but I was not ever engaged in the story. Also included is a short review of the Reanimator Musical, which is no longer playing anywhere. The review gives me a severe case of feeling left out. Maybe one day they will do a revival. Until then, I have this review. 

The browsing for cheap ebooks on Amazon will probably never cease, but it will be a long time before I find another gem like Kanye West – Reanimator. I have recommended it to so many people that it is my go to book to add to those Twitter threads that start, “I’ve ran out of books to read. I need some recommendations.” I hope that a few of these people take me up on my suggestion. This is the best that mashup books probably will get.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Death Fortune by Sean Thomas Fisher

Buy it Here: Amazon

Synopsis:

It begins with your fortune.
And ends with your freak death.

After inheriting an animated fortune teller machine, Jimmy’s luck is finally about to change. But for better or worse? He hauls the old cabinet home and, after a series of odd coincidences, quickly begins to suspect the hand carved gypsy inside is handing out fortunes with a deadly twist. Is the beautiful Rozelda made of more than just wood? Or is the brown bottle getting the best of Jimmy yet again? When his girlfriend, Rebecca, takes a fortune, he will soon find out. Only an energy greater than darkness can stop what’s coming next.

Fortune favors the bold…

Review:

I received this from the author in exchange for an honest review. Death Fortune is a pleasant surprise. It starts with Jimmy inheriting a packed storage unit from his dead aunt. There is an auctioneer that meets them because he is to sell the unit next to them. In a lucky bet, which might have been a little bit of unethical business practices on the part of the auctioneer, they trade their junk filled aunt’s unit for the unknown in the unit next door. The unknown is a fortune telling machine, with a “beautiful woman inside the box” named Rozelda. The mystery and horror commences as Jimmy takes it back to his house, thinking he is going to add to his bar when he opens it as a novelty piece. And then the man in black starts to show up and people start to die.

The story is fun and fast paced. It reminds me of a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episode because the suspense and pacing is fast and powerful. It really moves and sucks the reader into the story. I zipped through most of it, until there was a break, toward the 80% mark, the story stops and hits a huge flashback that turns into an information dump. I understand why this happens, and it does really set up the finale, but there was so much momentum that immediately is gone, also makes it hard to get back into the current story.

I do like the ending, and I do like the story as a whole. I did not expect as much as what I received from this novel so most of it was a nice surprise. I found this to be engaging, cinematic, and a great deal of fun. I would recommend it to anyone who likes a good suspenseful horror book. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: African Psycho by Alain Mabanckou

Buy here: bookshop

Synopsis:

Its title recalls Bret Easton Ellis’s infamous book, but while Ellis’s narrator was a blank slate, African Psycho’s protagonist is a quivering mass of lies, neuroses, and relentless internal chatter. Gregoire Nakobomayo, a petty criminal, has decided to kill his girlfriend Germaine. He’s planned the crime for some time, but still, the act of murder requires a bit of psychological and logistical preparation. Luckily, he has a mentor to call on, the far more accomplished serial killer Angoualima. The fact that Angoualima is dead doesn’t prevent Gregoire from holding lengthy conversations with him. Little by little, Gregoire interweaves Angoualima’s life and criminal exploits with his own. Continuing with the plan despite a string of botched attempts, Gregoire’s final shot at offing Germaine leads to an abrupt unraveling. Lauded in France for its fresh and witty style, African Psycho’s inventive use of language surprises and relieves the reader by injecting humor into this disturbing subject.

Review:

African Psycho is the first novel translated and published in English by Alain Mabanckou, and even though it has been out since 2007, this is a novel worth finding and reading. Gregorie wants to be a serial killer. He is kind of a loser, was abandoned by his parents, works a menial job, has no family, no romance, no real friends. All he has is the admiration for Angoualima, an active serial killer that is cutting the heads off of his victims and stuffing them with cigars for the police to find. Gregorie wants to be him, wants to make him proud. This causes him to think and think and overthink and eventually plan to kill Germaine, his whore girlfriend who was having trouble with some people so he is giving her a place to live. 

This is such a good novel, and there are really no predictable moments. The writing and translation are engaging and superb, and there are moments that Mabanckou uses some writing that could be gimmicky if it had lasted longer (like an interview he describes on TV using a “Well then…trust me” structure, and a six page, stream of conscious sentence), but they are not so much taxing that they are distracting. It makes the madness feel genuine and perfect.

It has been a long time since I have read American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, but I know that this is not a comparable book. Where Patrick Bateman is disengaged and fully into the killing for sport, that his life is just the same as everyone else’s so he has to do something to feel, knowing he can get away with it. Gregorie is trying to get people to notice him, to make him a celebrity so that people will talk about him. He has felt marginalized his whole life, and killing is the way to get people to finally see him. The common theme is that they both feel invisible, but other than that, you are getting a completely different experience out of both of them. Both are good in different ways. Read them both.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

Buy it here

Synopsis:

People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn’t there.

Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father’s head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping.

A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?

Review:

I have read The Ballad of Black Tom before. When it first came out, I read some interviews with Victor LaValle, and I thought it sounded like an interesting concept. I was getting into the Tor.com novella series, and even though I had never heard of LaValle at that time, I still thought that it was interesting to take on a Lovecraft story and make it his own. I did not know much about Lovecraft, did not pay much attention to him, only tried to read him once or twice but was put off by the structure and language. This means I didn’t know that he was a piece of garbage human being, a racist and misogynist, until the interviews with LaValle in regards to “The Horror at Red Hook” and his new novel. Needless to say, in 2016, when I read this, I was in way over my head. I knew LaValle is talented, but I did not quite get all of the nuances or the meanings behind the story.

Flash forward to this reading, four years later, in a different world and with clearer vision. There is so much in The Ballad of Black Tom that is so engaging and lyicial. The social commentary alone, set in the 20s with Tommy Tester going around the burroughs, playing his guitar and singing in a fashion that was not too great but mesmerizing, with his problems with white people staring, with the police for being out of Harlem, for society to see him only as the cloak that he was wearing, a poor street performer. The truth is that Black Tom is much more than this. He is a human that is trying to find his way out of the hurt and anger that society has given him.

The story is told in two parts. The first part is Tommy Tester getting a job to play guitar and sing at the party of Robert Suydam, a character whom I still haven’t quite figured out his intentions. It is almost as if he is trying to help People of Color but in doing so his speech and word choices are very insulting and racist. I don’t know if his heart is in the right place, but most likely it is not. Most likely, Suydam is only being friendly to immigrants in general and Tommy Tester in particular because they can do something for him. Tommy is also being followed by the police, Office Malone, and Mr. Howard, a detective, both of them using their nature to harass Tommy on his daily business.

The story that unfolds is filled with sadness and revenge, and I like the turns that it takes. I like The Ballad of Black Tom, and the punches land hard and square. There is not a single sentence or scene that feels like it is not needed, and the scenes and feelings are much clearer than they were the first time. I loved every page of this. I knew the first time I read this that it was my perspective that was faltering, not LaValle’s writing, and having read other things by him, I knew it was time to revisit this novella. I was not disappointed. This is a great introduction to one of America’s best authors, something that you can read in an afternoon that runs the gambit of the things that LaValle tries  to accomplish.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Detroit 2020 by Jeffrey Conolly and B.L. Daniels

Buy it here

Synopsis:

“Sharknado” meets “Sin City” in this high-octane adventure that explodes off the page in an alternate future where Motor City has become a mutant-filled urban nightmare. Prepare for a book with a body count!

Praise for Detroit 2020:

“DETROIT 2020 is a pitch-perfect sendup of a “boobs and ‘splosions” style actioner.”

“If you enjoy graphic novels, zombies, one-liners and uncomplicated plots, then this is probably exactly what you need”

“Moves at a very brisk pace and the action is relentless”

Dr. Julia Blaze recruits mercenary Dagger Estevez to escort her across the ruins of Free Detroit. He kills mutants on sight, but as long as she takes her pills, he’ll never know she’s changing. Will Julia find a cure for her mutation before time runs out, or will she be captured by the maniacal cyborg mayor RoboKwame and his murderous thugs?

Review:

I love stories about the future that were written in the past and the future is nothing like how it was written. From 1984 to Back to the Future II to  The Class of 1999 to Children of Men (which takes place later this year), I love how far the predictions are off. Having said this, Detroit 2020 was published four years ago, and the writers did not even try to predict the future but make Detroit a city overrun by mutants and police, headed up by Mayor RoboKwame. The story is about Julie Blaze trying to get out of Free Detroit with the help of Dagger Estevez. It is short. It reads fast, and it is exactly what you think it is. A ridiculous amount of action, death, and gore. I loved every minute of it, and the only thing that I wish was done better is a better sense of the decay that the city has endured. There is talk about Ford Field, but I would’ve also liked to heard more about what happened to other landmarks in the town. I would have loved more about Woodward Avenue and the Cass Corridor and even the overrunning of Bloomfield Hills. They are trying to get to Canada, and the way to Canada is through downtown, toward the large Joe Lewis fist sculpture and bridge into Windsor. The only thing that could have made this better is more landmarks.

I was drawn to this as soon as I saw the word “RoboKwame.” Kwame Kilpatrick was Detroit’s mayor who is now in federal prison for a slew of charges. His mayoral years were amazingly filled with corruption, sexting scandals, embezzlement, drama, and even a fight when his wife came home to catch him with a stripper. I love that RoboKwame is the mayor and that he is running the police state he promised in his State of the City speech in 2008. If I could think of any person who is an amazing villain, it would be a robot version of this guy. His years as mayor of Detroit are fascinating, and if there is anyone worth the time to read all about, it would be him.

Detroit 2020 is a great little novella, and I would love to see more Detroit inspired bizarro and horror fiction. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Hybrid Moments A Literary Tribute to the Misfits Edited by Sam Richard and MP Johnson

Buy it at the publisher here

Synopsis

You know the songs. They’re etched into every punk’s brain. Not just because they’re catchy, but because there’s something else there. Glenn Danzig’s lyrics evoke intense imagery. Beautiful, dark, monstery imagery. There’s poetry between the whoa-oh-ohs. There are stories in those songs. They just need to be told.

Now, underground fiction’s most talented fiends have created a series of tales inspired by the Misfits. In these pages, an astro zombie contemplates the life she left behind as she goes into flesh-ripping battle. A team of organ harvesters shows just how violent the world can be. A wannabe true crime reporter goes on a grisly road trip that takes him a little too close to his subject matter. A mysterious set of skulls pushes a young woman to create a collection of her very own. A teenager from mars excavates the fetid product of his earthly lust.

These new twists on the songs you love are sure to surprise, startle, sicken and force you to see this timeless horror punk in a completely different light.

Review:

Of the top five most coveted anthology subjects I have come across, Weirdpunk Books has published three of them. “The New Flesh” is themed around David Cronenberg, “Blood For you” is themed for G.G. Allin, and “Hybrid Moments,“ is themed around the songs of the Misfits. (The other two are the Wu-Tang Clan one from Clash Books and the C.H.U.D. one from Crystal Lake Publishing). When I found out that this is the aesthetic of everything Weirdpunk Books publishes, I knew that I had to read everything. “Hybrid Moments” is only the first in the catalog that I plan to read this year.

“Hybrid Moments” is a literary tribute to the Misfits. Many of us have been fans of the Misfits for years and years. I have been a fan since my friend gave me a (now long gone) bootleg cassette tape of their songs for my birthday one year. (It was a copy of a bootleg show from ‘88 so the quality was piss garbage, I couldn’t understand many of the garbled lyrics, but I liked the way the sound made me feel.) Being someone who was into horror and a lot of weird cinema, I knew they were one of the groups for me. However, I was not a die hard fan outside of that tape. I had actually not listened to them for a decade before I started reading “Hybrid Moments,” so reading the stories and listening to the music again really brought me back to a younger version. 

“Hybrid Moments” is a great collection, but like any anthology, there are stories that I really enjoyed and others took me some time to get through. With the themes of the Misfits songs varying, the stories vary as well. It is just common sense that some of them are more enjoyable than others, and my favorites might be your least favorites. 

My top three:

“American Gods, American Monsters” by Jose Cruz. 

Maybe this is because this is one of the first stories in the anthology, this is my favorite. The story surrounds a man who is trying to find a killer, Marylin Prescott Ford, a beauty queen that is also going around Florida murdering. This was a great cat and mouse story, and the payoff was satisfying. Now that I think about the way that it unfolds and the subject, this might be one of my favorite short stories I have read in awhile.

“Slice-and-Grab” by Mark Zirbel

Stealing body parts has become so lucrative that it is now a business. The narrator, an old-timer in the business, is breaking in a new employee, Kyle. This is a clash between the old school and new school, the story is quick and fun with a great ending.

“Helena Drive” Glen Damien Campbell

A man goes on a first date and tries to hide that he is a superfan of a TV show, “Helena Drive.” He feels embarrassed by his date learning, but the date goes well. When he follows her back to her home, he learns why the date went so well. 

Bonus Favorite:

I am learning quickly that anything Sam Richard writes is amazing. His contribution, as editor and lifelong Misfits fan, “The Verdant Holocaust” is another story right up my alley about a secluded cult. Everything I have read of his seems to be a story that I would want to write myself. 

As I go through this collection, looking for my top three, I realize that there are so many that I could have chosen, and my top three could be different depending on the day. There were a few I did not care for, but as a whole, this is a great collection and a great tribute to an awesome band from one of the most exciting publishers.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Elephant Vice by Chris Meekings

Buy it Here

Synopsis:

He’s the master of post impressionism. He’s the Hindu Remover of Obstacles. They’re cops.

Vincent Van Gogh is a cop with a dark past. He painted some of the greatest artistic masterpieces of our time. He cut off his ear out of love for a prostitute. He was a great painter. He isn’t anymore. He’s a tough as nails loose cannon cop who plays by his own rules. When a drug called **** hits the streets, it starts turning people into the object their essence most resembles. Van Gogh is put on the case. But this hard case has a new partner. His methods are unusual, his attitude incompatible and he has the head of an elephant. He’s the Hindu God Ganesha. Can these two put aside their differences and learn to work together? Probably. It’s a buddy cop thing.

Review:

Elephant Vice is Chris Meekings contribution to Eraserhead Press’s New Bizarro Author Series. Several of these books come out a year and most of them do not get much traction. They go out of print, the publishing rights return to the authors. The authors sometimes revamp them and re-release them (see “Rock ‘N’ Roll Head Case”) or they disappear into the ether. I like these books and it is fun to try to find them. Some of them are really expensive on eBay and Amazon and other used book sites, and some of them cannot be found at all. I don’t have many of them yet, but I have been reading them as I find them. They are all short, they are entertaining, and most importantly, they are satisfying.

Stop me if you have read anything like this before. Elephant Vice is a hardboiled crime story. The mayor’s son is found overdosed on a street drug called, ****, and it is up to two renegade cops, post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh and Ganesha the Hindu god with the elephant head to solve the crime. They are thrown together (they are reluctant partners like in most buddy cop stories) and have to learn to work together to solve this case. 

I’m not going to lie. The writing of Elephant Vice is impressive and sometimes brilliant. Meekings sets up each chapter alternating between Van Gogh and Ganesha with two obviously unique voices, with sections written in Hindi, Dutch, and French and well as English. I don’t know if these sections translate, but really sets up the difference between the characters. Also the Van Gogh chapters feel like it has captured some of the essence of how he saw the world, seeing colors and swirls everywhere. These are not a distraction as much as a dimension that makes the writing of this novella pretty impressive. 

I loved Elephant Vice because of the way the story is told. At the most basic layer, it is a simple cops find drug ring story, but the characters and the writing make it so much more, so entertaining and wonderful. The paperback is out of print but the kindle edition is still available. The story feels familiar but totally unique, and I will be looking for Meekings’s name attached to other projects in the future. He should not be one of the bizarro writers that just disappears. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment