Review: Rock ‘N’ Roll Headcase by Lee Widener

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When Alice Cooper’s head starts telling you what to do, you probably shouldn’t listen. Chaino Durante did. And this is his story.

Chaino Durante works at the worst fast food restaurant ever. He has the worst job in this fast food restaurant. And the worst life he possibly can. When he discovers a mysterious bag in the fryer, he takes it home. The bag contains the head of rock and roll icon Alice Cooper. This is unfortunate. What’s more unfortunate is that Chaino gets the gun he’s going to use to rob his workplace stuck in the head and the head stuck on his hand. A new weapon is formed. A weapon that lets Chaino rob his workplace and subvert the order of the world around him. A weapon that blasts holes in reality itself, which does not come without consequence. A no holds barred psychedelic cartoon in the tradition of Bill Plympton and Ralph Bakshi, with Pink Floyd’s The Wall thrown in for good measure, Rock’n’Roll Headcase explores the ins and outs of expanding consciousness with a madness that never lets up. 


I had the pleasure of getting this novella from the author in exchange for an honest review. When I received the request, I was prepared to pass, but when I read the synopsis I knew that I could not pass up the opportunity. 

The opening scene is our hero, Chaino Durante is working a dead end job at the Nuclear Burger when he finds something in a bag at the bottom of the deep fryer he is cleaning. The bag holds the head of Alice Cooper. From there, the novel turns into a road trip, at first with the purpose of running from the police and later with a purpose. They run into many different characters along the way, some real people, some fictitious, some dead, some alive. The truth is that time and life are flexible throughout Widener’s novella, and this makes for a story where absolutely anything can happen. 

If anyone were to ask me what the Bizarro genre is all about, I could give them Rock ‘N’ Roll Headcase and one of the more strange examples. It has all of the elements that I would say sum up a great deal of my favorite parts of the genre. A celebrity as part of the main characters, a great deal of grisly, oddball deaths, a fluid plot, and of course existential thought. The book is one of the more absurd examples, but it is also short, moves fast, and is filled with humor and gore. There cannot be enough of these books for us to read. Rock ‘N’ Roll Headcase is a wonderful example. It is really a shame that it did not get the readership it deserved when Eraserhead Press initially released it in 2015.  

I love that Alice Cooper is a character in this novel. I have been listening to him since I was a teenager, and i think that if anyone can be in any bizarro novel, it could be him. I would love to see more stories with him, maybe make an Alice Cooper subgenre. In this story, he is the voice of advice, not always sound, not always wrong, but advice nonetheless. I like him as the sage in the story, and his head is really the reason why this novella is going so stick out. I loved every sentence in this book and would recommend it to anyone. 

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