Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Bizarre Collection of Reviews

I'm still riding the bizarro train all the way to...hell, I have no idea where this is headed, but I'm having fun, entertained and kinda grossed out. Yeah, that's a good thing! I'm posting a variety of book reviews together because they have one thing (some more) in common, they are absurdist, bizarro fiction. I want to draw attention to the genre in an effort to expose the growing number of authors and books available. The community is small, but populating and for those hipsters looking for something different, unique and just well, bizarre...these reads are for you!

Uncle Sam's Carnival of Copulating InanimalsUncle Sam's Carnival of 
Copulating Inaniamls
Pages 92
Author Kirk Jones
Reborn as an oozing humanoid composed of vitreous humor after a sudden death via a disembodied hand and a wood chipper, Gary Olstrom found no difficulty in saying goodbye to the life he once knew. After all, he had become quite adept at saying goodbye, to his right arm in a hardware store accident at eight, to his parents in a fiery car crash, to his right leg in a factory mishap, and to the only person who ever tried to help him in an untimely bus collision. What he never prepared for was saying goodbye to misfortune, until he found Uncle Sam's Carnival of Copulating Inanimals. Therein, Gary finds refuge training furniture to copulate before spectators who vomit in applause. But while Gary's luck shifts for the better, cities left in the wake of the carnival's visits disappear; many are murdered. With his pet desk Akimbo and his empty-socketed girlfriend-turned-futon, Liberty, Gary attempts to unravel this mystery, culminating in a re-imagining of America to rival that of Benedict Anderson's! Well, not quite...but there is furniture porn.

Review: In this misery loves company tale, Gary is a living philosophical conundrum. Picture a mutant Dicken's orphan traveling with the strangest carnival on earth whom is just trying to make sense of the world and get lucky. Abandonment, work conditions, objectification and sexualization of just about anything with legs (tables, chairs, couches ect.) are all thematic endeavors worth exploring, or at least, thought-provoking concepts that appear in the text.  In traditional fashion, these arrive on the page through humor and absurdism, which makes them fantastically palatable, easy to chew and slippery to swallow.
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To read more about Kirk Jones visit his Twisted Tales feature.

Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill YouRico Slade Will Fucking Kill You
Pages 112
Author Bradley Sands
What the crap is Arnold Schwarzenegger doing on the cover of Rico Slade’s book? This is Rico Slade’s goddamn book. Rico Slade is not a body builder, an actor, or a governor. Rico Slade is an action hero. Rico Slade doesn’t care about the political climate. Rico Slade has an advanced degree in badassery. Rico Slade’s favorite food is the honey-roasted peanut. Rico Slade can rip out a throat with his bare hands. But Rico Slade has a problem. His arch-nemesis, Baron Mayhem, is threatening to drop a bomb on the Earth that will kill every human being except himself while leaving the world’s currency intact. To save the planet, Rico Slade must journey across Hollywood to find Baron Mayhem. Unfortunately, Rico Slade’s crime fighting style involves ripping out the throat of anyone who gets in his way, including grandmothers and Midwestern tourists. As Rico Slade leaves Hollywood in ruins, the only person who can stop him from destroying the city is his Jewish psychologist, Harold Schwartzman. Until he does, Rico Slade will kill as many people as it takes to thwart Baron Mayhem’s evil scheme. Rico Slade will fucking kill everyone.

Review: If strong language including the use of the taboo 'F-word' in print sends you screaming with horror to the bathroom where you'll frantically wash your eyes, ears and possibly the dirty taste in your mouth out, this dainty tale should be avoided. For those sickos who are still reading...slap on the rubber gloves and get messy with the mash-up action hero, Rico Slade. Let's see if you can name or rather, recognize all the American action icons that make a cameo appearances in this psychotic break from reality. What happens when therapy goes horribly wrong? Hollywood is in serious trouble! Fan fiction fun for the whole dysfunctional family!
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More Books and Stuff by Bradley Sands
Sorry I Ruined Your OrgyMy Heart Said No, But the Camera Crew Said Yes!Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens: Issue 5Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens: Issue 8Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens: Issue Y'aing'ngahBust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens: Issue 6Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens: Issue 9

Felix and the Sacred ThorFelix and The Sacred Thor
Pages 104
Author James Steele
Felix might not quite fit this description, but he's trying. After retrieving the most powerful weapon in the world from the Sacred Horse and proving himself a pervert of the purest heart, he sets upon an epic quest to destroy the kamikaze alien invaders poised to eliminate the entire human race.Invaders have implanted themselves in the college graduates standing in unemployment lines-the very backbone of the nation's economy. They've positioned themselves in the city's grease transmission system, without which America will starve to death in minutes. They threaten the digital children, who cannot survive without their Internet connections. They even threaten Bob.College taught Felix how to please a horse. It didn't prepare him for the challenge of using an upgradeable horse dildo as a weapon to free himself from his tyrannical bosses at work and become a warrior for humanity.

Review: If Salvador Dali were to comment on the meaningless of a college degree he might be inspired to paint a flying toaster getting whacked by a horse dildo. Steele makes excellent use of the literary device, non sequitur, in his comedic quest to save humanity in Felix and the Sacred Thor. This is not just a story about sex toys, but a commentary on modernism, social culture, education and the pursuit of greater things. And yes, the dirty underbelly of the retail world where receipts are optional and no customer should be allowed to borrow scissors. In between laughs, I was thinking about what humanity is really doing.  Are they going through the motions of the mundane, or is anyone really using their strengths for a greater good. Deep, I know. Another aspect that I enjoyed was the use of objects and twisting the meaning that has already been assigned to said object. A dildo is a sex toy until you make (use) it for something else.  In this case, a weapon to save the world.  It's amazing how quickly when new meaning is applied, the taboo of the object dissolves. In the end, words are just letters put together in a certain order. The power comes from what we impose on it, the meaning we give it, and realizing each person possesses the power to change it can be mind blowing.  
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James Steele is being feature this Thursday, June 30, at Twisted Tales.  Come back to learn more about the normal man behind Felix and the Sacred Thor.

Starfish GirlStarfish Girl
Pages 160
Athena Villaverde
In a post-apocalyptic underwater dome, there lives a girl with a starfish growing from her head. Her name is Ohime. She is the starfish girl. Alone in this world, Ohime must fight for her life against lecherous crabmen, piranha people, and a yellow algae that is causing humans to mutate into fish. Until she meets Timbre, a woman with deadly sea anemone hair. Ohime thinks she is safe with her new protector and friend, but Timbre is on the run from a violent past. Now they must escape Timbre's former master, the evil Dr. Ichii, who is determined to conquer the underwater dome . . . and destroy the starfish girl and her friend in the process.

Review: Starfish Girl is a sub-genre stew, a slathering of ingredients from urban fantasy, surrealism, sci-fi, steampunk, dystopia and bizarro.  Beneath the sea and under a dome a band of mutants set out on a journey to the surface.  Turning cogs, evil doctors, Victorian-like whore houses and a remote population of clowns are discovered along the way by a naive girl and her urban fantasy tough street-wise protector. This is the cast of the future and only 20 are allowed to make it out alive. The story is narrated in the present tense.  Usually this narrative decision is made to accelerate immediacy, emotion and action.  However, in this case observations take on a mechanical, detached tone, which creates distance, making the introduction of characters involved in the beginning scenes confusing (starfish girl, shark man, man with such and such ect). This may have been the aim of the author, but I was not a fan of the approach. The present tense shifts to the main characters, and when it does, I begin to get into the story. The perspective of Timbre (tough girl) and Ohime (starfish girl) provides a more intimate voice and to my relief, leans away from the 'reporting' of details that I felt in the beginning. However, when writing in the present tense a problem can arise, how to communicate past or provide background. Bits of this come into play mid-way through and although I wish it was given earlier (Timbre's), it was executed in a way that reminded me of comic book flashbacks. Some readers will dig this, while others may not. It will come down to personal taste. Lastly, I really wasn't sure what to think about Ohime. I had a hard time grasping if this girl was slow, mentally-challenged or what, but I think she was just supposed to be gullible. Given that Ohime was fifteen and menstruating, I had a tough time reconciling her childlike dialogue and behaviors as being merely a consequence of a sheltered life. Maybe I'm too jaded and narrowed by my own life experiences.
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+++BONUS+++ If you join the Bizarro Brigade over at Bizarro Central you'll get this sweet little ebook for free! It really is worth a read. I'd love to hear how others react to the story.  Feel free to tell me I'm full of crap! The concept is easy and cost nothing to join the Bizarro Brigade. For each bizarro book you read and review (at Amazon) you earn points which accumulate and can be redeemed for more free books. If you join up, please include that Charlie Courtland sent you. I get points for referrals and I'd greatly appreciate the love.
More Stuff Including Athena Villaverde
The Bizarro Starter Kit (purple)

Bucket of FaceBucket of Face
Pages 92
Author Eric Hendrixson
Thirteen years after a police officer searching a suspected child molester's home spilled a vial of silver pollen, America is still struggling with how to recognize its sentient fruit population. Charles is just a normal guy working at a doughnut shop until an apple and a banana shoot each other in a mafia dispute, leaving a briefcase full of foreign currency and a specimen bucket at the corner booth. When Charles turns the wiseguys into doughnuts and steals their luggage, hoping for a better life for himself and his kiwi fruit girlfriend, he finds himself in the middle of a mafia war. As his girlfriend travels the DC metro area, selling off the contents of the bucket, Charles finds he is the target of a seasoned hit-tomato, who happens to be the biggest Michael Jackson fan who ever lived.

Review: If you’ve just read the book synopsis you might've paused, shook your head, and decided to re-read it again because undoubtedly this is not a book about mafia fruit wars and a donut dealer killer who is dating a kiwi?  Since this is bizarro, it kind of is, but in the metaphorical sense, right? Charles is the reality that holds this surreal eco-fruitation together and he is accompanied by an entourage of characters that easily might be discovered in the lost and found bin of Quentin Tarantino’s mind. Possessing all the good qualities of pulp-fiction, this spoof on pop culture captures the best and worst of sensationalism, hero envy and the normalcy of the not so normal we’ve come to love and expect.  So much is going on in this petite package of chaos that it demands the expertise of a psychologist to figure it out, or at least a judge to determine if Hendrixson is insane.  Readers may question whether this ex-English teacher has gone completely postal and contemplate if it is wise to let the man roam around our country’s capital. Given the other influences in society, your children are probably safe, but you might want to censor their music selection because clearly Michael Jackson inspires unhealthy life choices.
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Eric Hendrixson is being feature Thursday, July 7, at Twisted Tales. Come back to learn more about the creative insanity behind Bucket of Face.


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