Monday, February 21, 2011

Night of the Assholes

Kevin L. Donihe's Night of the Assholes is classic bizarro fiction. Kevin L. Donihe's Night of the Assholes is clever and entertaining. Kevin L. Donihe's Night of the Assholes is quaint and charming.

Yeah, with a title like that, you may not conjure up those thoughts, and I think perhaps I am stretching things, but this is the third book of Donihe's I've read, and the second novel, and by now, I'm sure he knows what he's doing.

Donihe is one of those guys who (to me, at least) writes to tell a good story. Now, I must say, my favourite authors are usually the ones who try to do things a bit differently, to push some boundaries, to challenge the norm. And while bizarro certainly pushes boundaries in terms of content, I find it doesn't always push boundaries in terms of style. Guys like D. Harlan Wilson and Carlton Mellick III (flick back to my past couple of reviews), and even some of the up and coming bizarros in the New Bizarro Author Series had some literary style flying about the place. The danger of this is that it can be hit and miss, and while I'm yet to read Donihe's earliest books or weirdest books (I'm keen on getting a copy of House of Houses at some point in time...), I'm convinced that Donihe has found his little notch in the bizzaro genre and is quite happy there.

I guess I should probably talk a bit about the book. Now, after reading Mellick's Zombies and Shit, I had kind of worked myself into the zombie mindframe to read this book. I'll admit (as much as I've admitted various intertextual references in the past) that I'm quite unfamiliar with Night of the Living Dead. I don't watch many movies, let alone many horror movies, let alone many zombie cult horror movies. So, launching off a narrowed perspective here, I can say that for me, what makes this book work is not the references to zombie culture, it's not the Night of the Living Dead parody that seems to be at play here, or the mad-libbed assholes. In fact, this book could (in the wrong hands) have turned into a hideous pop culture spoof-fest that is essentially a hollowed out joke book pretentiously pretending to be a novel.

What makes this book work is the lead protagonist. Pure and simple. The support cast isn't too bad. It's refreshing to find yourself in a well-thought-out story, especially when people seem focussed on churning out mindless (hullooooo zombies....) parodies to suckle up to the cash cow. In this age of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Pirates and Ninjas and Super Fucking Mega Space Monsters, it's fantastic to see that Kevin L. Donihe knows how to tell a good story. Yes, it's a story as much as it's a parody.

Oh yeah, it's a book about an asshole epidemic, where everyone everywhere turns into assholes! It sounds pretty fucking cool, but if ever Donihe went through a phase of writing fanfiction, there is no trace of it at all here. Which is more than I can say for other parodies involving "what if we do x story, but instead of y we have z!" or "let's do x story, but add y to the story!!!!"

I think I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but really, I feel like the point needs hammering home. Donihe wrote a damn fine book about zombi- uhhh assholes, and while the title assumes the role of parody, the novel doesn't feel "gimmicky" or "tacked on", which I believe is no mean feat. Washer Mouth was a great book too.

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