Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sex and Death/King Scratch

I've decided I'm not going to rant and rave in my book reviews as much as usual. These two books aren't at the top of my recommendation list. I've heard a number of times of people who are really into the bizarro genre that it can be a bit hit and miss. While I wouldn't go all out and say these are the worst books you can find in the genre, I guess I'll just go right ahead and say that I've read better. It's just a little unsatisfying that I read these two books one after another.

Sex and Death in Television Town:

A weird western. Hermaphrodite gunslingers. People with televisions for heads. A stegosauras woman assassin with fortune telling ejaculate. There are some parts of this story that I really like. The surreal scenery, the television people, the changing landscape, the colour mill. There are parts in this story that I would love to see extrapolated upon or described in more detail. Instead, I feel what could be a really interesting and entertaining story is brought about to senseless sex and violence (thus the title, admittedly well thought out, considering characterisations and plot), and so at times it feels like a casual romp of hedonistic extremities for the sake of extremities. It's graphic and violent and fast paced and fun, but I guess, hypothetically, I would have done quite a few things differently. Not a bad read, but I think Carlton Mellick has more to offer with titles such as Warrior Wolf Women or Punk Land.

King Scratch:

After reading Squid Pulp Blues, I thought, this author has a real knack for writing genre bizarro. Squidly crime noir that was fascinating and disturbing at the same time. King Scratch runs along the same vein, and the bare bones of the story are really good. A guy involved with running moonshine comes across a horrific secret that will tear him down in one short, brutal night. But (to me, at least) it lacked the style and pulp that made SPB so enjoyable. It's dark and disturbing and perverted, and I got to a point where it all seemed to skip like a broken record. It's overflowing with unnecessary body fluids that chunk up what could very well be a gripping story. It reads as though it's trying to pack as much sick shit into every page that it's leaving my desire for plot direction to go starving. It's disturbing and perverted for what feels like the sake of just being disturbing and perverted. I read it this afternoon, and upon finishing it, I felt that it would have been much more effective to strip back all the piss and shit and vomit and keep the weird squidly oddities specked about the place, but mostly keep the plot moving forward with a build up to a twist that is far more horrifying than body fluids streaming about the place at every opportunity. It felt like the plot twist (which was a genuinely shocking one) would have benefitted more if it hadn't been watered down by the previous stream of shocking events.

However,  I'd hate for anyone to write these two authors or these two books off purely because of my comments here. They are both talented writers that I regard highly, and rest assured, I'll be reading more of their stuff as they continue on their writing careers. And, if you'd like to check out King Scratch for yourself, Jordan Krall has been kind enough to hand it out as a free download, which you can find here (temporarily, and for how long, I don't know): King Scratch

So, there, you can make up your own opinion. And yes, I feel like a prick for criticising a book I read for free (don't hate me Mr. Krall!)

And over the next few weeks, I'll hopefully be brainstorming for my own bizarro novella as well as reading titles such as; My Fake War, Fishy Fleshed, Starfish Girl, Blankety Blank, Zombies and Shit and the Flappy Parts. I'm particularly looking forward to the Flappy Parts, Kevin L. Donihe's poetry collection, as I have a soft spot for poetry, and I'd love to get at some weird, surreal shit.

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