Saturday, December 28, 2013

Book Review: DIE YOU DOUGHNUT BASTARDS by Cameron Pierce

In Die You Doughnut Bastards, amputees, lonely young people, and talking animals struggle for survival against the freakish whims of nature. A typewriter made of fetuses is the source of woe for an expecting couple. A girl with a glass jaw hides an otherworldly secret. A demonic loner goes to a birthday party in Hell. You'll encounter a killer in a marsupial mask, a prison for anorexics, haunted pancakes, and a songwriter with a cult following.


I love reading a book and deciding that I have found an author whose work I need more of RIGHT NOW, and I’m thankful they’ve written a lot more stuff. 

I think some of these stories are good enough to stand on their own, but the composition of the entire collection enhances the overall experience. There is a sense of poetic unity among the pieces, and the little illustrations between stories enhanced the sense of loneliness and longing that I felt pervaded throughout the book. There are unifying thoughts and concepts which indicate this is not a haphazard book full of an author’s stories, but rather a book that is supposed to represent a concept. I couldn’t help but keep thinking about Max Booth III’s They Might Be Demons; both authors use flash fiction in a methodical demonstration of theme and a strange progression of plot (I would argue that Pierce’s collection has something of a progressive plot); however, Pierce approaches his work with a schoolboy charm that accepts our perception of madness as nothing more than natural occurrences in thought and action. 

My biggest problem with bizarro is that a lot of stories seem to include a bunch of random things that just “happen”, and while that’s usually okay, it sometimes just feels, well, random and contrived. Pierce makes bizarro work as a contextual element; he has infused his stories with a sense of heart and humanity that reflect the poetic elements that seem to either answer questions or provide new ones, with a sense of finality. Pierce did not include random elements, nor did he just throw things into his stories to give readers “more weird” because the book is “bizarro.” I read the majority of this book in one sitting because I wanted to see how Pierce would continue to use his collection as a vehicle for discussing similar themes, but with different symbols and characters. By the time I finished the book, I felt deprived of an awesome discussion that compares Alien to The Metamorphosis. I hope Pierce wrote an essay on it somewhere. But this deprivation is similar to the deprivation the characters felt; I wanted Pierce to give me something his characters wanted, something absolute and definite that I can take with me forever, but Pierce didn’t surrender. He remained consistent. 

The opening story demonstrates everything you will discover in the book, which makes me think the design is intentional; or I’m just over-analyzing Pierce’s work. Food and animal references, in addition to that Zen-like observation on loneliness are threads that are woven throughout the entire book, which concludes with enough of a connection to the whole damn thing to make me believe Pierce really meant to design this collection as an isolationist wonderland. I will never forget “Lantern Jaws,” or “Mitchell Farnsworth.” “Disappear” also happened to be a favorite of mine, thought that’s because I dislike Stephen King so much. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Book Review: Gutmouth

He has a mouth in his gut. An obnoxious, toothy, foul-mouthed, pig of a mouth. Luckily, his girlfriend doesn't seem to mind. Marie, the one-legged stripper and cyber-prostitute love of his life is very accepting of it. And then a little too accepting. What would you do if your girlfriend cheated on you with the voracious yapper under your belly button? If you live in Gutmouth's world-a bleak city where gruesome, spontaneous mutations are no big deal, klepto-roaches take anything not tied-down, drugs turn pain into pleasure, consumers are tortured for growing food, and your best friend is a misogynistic rat-man-you might do something crazy. And what if you got caught?


A body horror story asks readers to become hyper-aware of their flesh; we must become attuned to a variety of sensations that will make us feel uncomfortable and disgusting. Combine this philosophy with bizarro sensibilities and a Dystopian setting, and we have the ingredients of a book that languishes in the dismembered, reorganized, and reimagined structure of a human body. Iglesias gives us the consumer-Dystopian nightmare with a population that is obsessed with consuming itself; the body is nothing more than an object that can cause pleasure or pain, a means to an end.

The setting is hardly unreal to our characters, and the presence of a mouth inside the protagonist’s stomach is more inconvenient than horrifying. Here is where Iglesias manages to infuse an original idea into a variety of tropes; what is uncomfortable and appalling to us is nothing more than a way of life. 

Gutmouth’s greatest strength is its relevance. Advertisements for breast augmentation and other surgical enhancements have become acceptable properties of our culture. “Look what my husband bought us/me for Christmas!” a woman might say to her guests while showing them a new pair of boobs. These transformations offer us new opportunities to experience pleasure and pain; we can become young again, perhaps even immortal, if we can purchase new parts as easily as we can order fetishist pornography. 

Theme is irrelevant if the story itself is terrible, but I didn’t care about the characters, because they felt like helpless extensions of the world they lived in. Iglesias has a writing style that is very strong for a new writer; the synonym-adjective storms that made up entire paragraphs were both satirical and vicious. Individual paragraphs became heavy metal lyrics that describe an awful world that everyone has accepted with little complaint. 

The “lack of control” and fetishist tendencies displayed by our inseparable characters provides humor and revulsion; this book is not for the faint. Dismemberment and disfigurement are just as normal as a cement driveway. 

If body horror/bizarro/Dystopian/speculative fiction genres are remotely interesting to you, a combination of them are rolled into one beast that has four arms and six legs, until they’re removed and replaced with mouths or eyes. I’ve interpreted this as a bizarro satire, although this story may just be about a man who has a mouth inside of his gut. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Zombie Gore Manifesto

Zombies are not desperate actors with hours of makeup applied to their faces and bodies. Zombies are not the creatures who run at you from across the television screen while your XBOX internet connection suddenly shorts out during a thunderstorm and you abandon your fellow survivors to the mercy of those creatures that are not zombies. Zombies are not a composite of seven million animated creatures climbing over a wall to get at Brad Pitt’s abs. Zombies are not shouting “trick or treat” outside your door. Zombies do not organize parades and march down the streets of major metropolitan cities. The word “zombie” is not a metaphor or an adjective.

We are surrounded by brick and grafitti, the tombstones
epitaphs of prophets, red and yellow cursive
shapes the cool air, autumnal, worthy of killing trees
freezing earth, fingers
can soften the ground from which nothing will grow
for months. Feet drag shapes across 
sodden hills, the sun is vain
vines vomited upon the brick
tree branches spilling from shattered windows

Zombies are not sleeping beneath the ground.

Hundreds of people want to gather for the convention,
but they don’t know what they want
they don’t know why they walk
they don’t know
cold brick from leaf piles
Latin from Martian
they want to gather for the convention
pushing into each other, oozing through the cracks 
that border rifts of space.

Zombies do not feel inclined to run. Zombies do not feel inclined to feel inclined. Zombies do not incline. Zombies are not hungry.

Their feet slap the pavement
boots scuff
cement has been ruined by this crowd
weeds growing through cracks are trampled
if only we could escape from the brick 
into the sky
glass has fallen like snow upon this plane

Zombies do not make a sound when they plunge their fingernails into your eye sockets and peel back the flesh to expose what lies beneath the skull. Zombies do not moan or dream. Zombies do not plan to attack someone, and they have no desire to run, for they do not desire. They do not want.

The smell of a thousand garbage dumps rotting
a legion of flies has perished
the worms have starved themselves
the smell of vomit and feces in the sun
the smell of a thousand things 

Zombies do not taste when their teeth scratch across your flesh like the needle on a record player, grazing the surface and making an impression upon the object. Zombies do not acknowledge the blood that fills their mouths, nor do they stop to wipe their hands on their pants. Zombies cannot remember the names of dead presidents.

Colorless renditions of Van Gogh discoloration
gray and black and green
black and black and rot
fingernails curling over shriveling fingertips
these are the knifes that won’t let go
toothless gums in askew jaws

Zombies do not suffer pain when their jaws break upon your skull. Zombies do not stop rending your flesh when their mouths fail to encapsulate enough flesh to stuff their cheeks. Zombies do not carry sticks or learn how to talk on the phone.

Spiders roam over their skulls
leathery ropes once intestines
horror tropes once invested
sound like a rake combing the beach
dead worms dangling from open stomachs
leaking the blood and chunks
undigested man
undigested child
this is the waste they have left

Zombies do not die for they are already dead. Zombies do not eat because they are hungry. Zombies do not hunger for they are no longer aware. Zombies do not exist because they cannot acknowledge themselves. Zombies do not exist because there is nobody to acknowledge them.

“I think therefore I am”
We are enclosed in red brick
They have brought us the truth
and it is violence
icy conception of flesh and bone
the concrete is the color of blood
the caves of the first man were the color of blood
they were always here
pulling faces backward, inside out
swollen tongues expunged
carrying feces in their back pockets
a thousand variations of blank
and blue

Zombies do not care about the blood on their fingers. Zombies do not notice the rain or the snow. Zombies do not step back from flame. Zombies do not have a purpose. Zombies do not exist because they cannot be seen. Zombies do not exist because they have already ripped our hearts from our chests and shoved them down their throats, beating against thorax and vein. Zombies do not vomit your eyes into the sewers. Zombies do not know you have a name. Zombies do not have names.

This is the sewer where the rats
give praise to plague
shadows fade to gray
there is nothing here to eat
a button with a smiling monkey face
floats down the turgid river
but this we cannot see
for we are not here. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013


After nearly one year of editing for Bizarro Pulp Press, our little project is gaining steam. 

Here's an interview over at Horror News in which I discuss what it's like to hang out with weird people, why I decided to dabble in the bizarro genre, and what the heck an apostrophe means to the English language. 


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Slipway Grey by Mark C. Scioneaux and Dane T. Hatchell

As blood stains the sugar white sands of Pensacola Beach, mysterious disappearances plague the area. But this doesn't stop a group of high school seniors from having one last blowout at an exclusive beach mansion before graduation. But Mandy, the party's host, has plans of her own. 

With a special friend, a massive bull shark she befriended as a child, Mandy plans to work through her teen angst the only way she knows how: with the help of massive jaws and an insatiable appetite for human flesh! 


I’m a sucker for “throwback” films that remind me of an entire decade. Since horror films are made quite differently now than the ones I used to watch while growing up, I am lucky to find books that can capture the essence of the type of horror fiction that helped define what I understand as horror. I’ve had the pleasure of reading several novels in this “throwback-horror” genre, and I have to say that Slipway Grey is one of my favorites.

The book involves a shark. Teenagers (and a bunch of other people) die gruesomely. Beer and breasts are all over the place. The plot is just as plausible as anything you’d find in a B-movie. How can this book be any good? I felt like I was watching a movie rather than reading a book. The characters’ sexuality seems to ooze from the pages, and I enjoyed the role the shark played in the novel; this is hardly “Jaws.” This is a horror story, and it can’t be transformed into a theme-park ride. Think about all the horror stories that include a bunch of kids going to a secluded vacation spot, and throw a shark into the mix WITH a cold-blooded killer with serious issues, and you’ve got the recipe for an original story. 

I fell in love with the story’s premise, because the murderer was well-characterized and interesting; the psychological element that plays an integral part of a good horror story is present, and it’s worth mentioning. There is character development, something that is typically missing from the horror-film style this book seems to have been inspired by. There were moments when I found myself sympathizing and pitying Mandy, the femme-fatale whom this story focuses on.

The authors kept the story fresh by skipping backward in time on a few occasions; I understand this might frustrate one or two readers, but I needed a break from the hormonal boys to get inside Mandy’s head and learn about her motives and methods. In many ways, she seemed to be a metaphor for the shark; a beautiful creature that can be amicable, but can easily switch into the mindset of a bloodthirsty hunter. 

I didn’t expect to get anything more from this book than blood and sex; I would have been happy just to read a story about a shark that kills a bunch of people who’re stuck in the middle of the ocean somewhere. Readers who habitually pick of Nora Roberts and James Patterson aren’t interested in anything different than what they’ve read before. I wanted to be entertained, and I was pleasantly surprised.  In throwback horror, you’re interested in the kill-count in the quality of the kills, and the authors satisfied my expectations; Hatchell and Scioneaux combined their talents to provide a story that doesn’t grow stale after the first three chapters. After all, haven’t we seen all these movies before? No… not this one… 

Friday, October 18, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Nightmares From a Lovecraftian Mind by Jordan Krall

From Jordan Krall, the author of TENTACLE DEATH TRIP and FISTFUL OF FEET comes this collection of Lovecraftian tales of horror both cosmic and personal. This is a collection of cryptic weird fiction... dreamlike and ominous in its style and subject matter. Krall goes beyond the tropes of Mythos literature and has presented the reader with an original approach to Lovecraftian fiction.


To suggest that literary horror has been severely lacking in new voices and talent is an understatement. With a flooded market of cheap Kindle porn and video-game zombies, underground literature is a growing genre meant for readers who enjoy art and the beauty of the imagination. This collection of nightmares is brought to you by a brain dipped in paint and smeared upon a canvas of nude Hemingway caricatures. When we think of body-painting, we should also think of brain-painting as a legitimate medium of expression that doesn't require or adhere to literary rules or conventions that serve as fodder for the social media, reality-TV junkie masses (me included).

Many of the stories in this collection have been published elsewhere; I mention this because when it comes to any type of collection or anthology, the book's composition is just as important, if not more so, than any individual story. Although many of these pieces would be interesting on their own and wouldn't suffer for it, I felt like the dynamic between the selections served as something of a psychic connection... a psychosis of artistry and spherical infinity.

Repetition is a hallmark of many a good poem or rendition of madness, and here we have images and ideas manifested through different mediums. Each piece is different than the other, yet there is a semblance of consciousness which indicates these are, indeed, nightmares from one imagination, the mental expulsion of lingering confessions or ruminations on literature that might be revealed on Freud's couch.

One has to wonder if sleep is an inspiring medium, a dream-state in which the mind can be tapped and explored, a vast ocean of stars as inescapable or oblivious to definition as outer space. There may or may not be a message or theme, a coherent plot or purpose, but rather there is the journey through breaking hallways or hallways that are seemingly repairing themselves. The prose seems an organic construction that lives and breathes, as if it were never typed but rather mentioned in a confessional in which nobody is there to hear the words.

Obviously, I feel like this work is beautiful and relevant. The afterword illustrates the progression of a Lovecraftian art-philosophy that doesn't follow the conventions of a monster mythos, but rather the idea of darkness and shadow joining forces to rape goodness and light to spawn a brain-shaped creature that is gray in color and composition. "Nightmares of a Lovecraftian Mind" is a collection that lives and breathes, an inspiration to writers everywhere who have no wish to join forces with the current ruination of vomit-lit that plagues our culture. Here is something both contemporary and ancient, something unearthed and worth burying again in a time capsule in a temple dedicated to the resurrection of the sun. Highly recommended.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


 deleted scene

“Special edition comics are a gimmick.”

Brian looked up at Mom, wondering if the conversation between the two men was going to influence her; she might keep him from buying the Superman comic that was behind the counter. She’d promised he could have it if he saved his money from doing chores around the house. For almost a year, he saved up, dreaming of the moment he would approach the counter, beaming with a smile on his face. He couldn’t wait to tell the man behind the counter he was finally going to buy it. Finally.

The Death of Superman with the limited edition holofoil cover.

Hopefully, nobody bought it. After a year of saving, he couldn't imagine how he would feel if somebody else bought it, first.

But two guys were talking loudly, their voices carrying over the boxes that were packed with comics tucked snugly in their plastic shields, the white backboards preventing them from being bent. 

"Yeah, I don't buy special editions. A ripoff. Defeats the purpose of reading comics. I buy them for the stories, you know?"

The other man nodded.

“I don’t think this is a good idea,” Mom said.

No. It was happening. Brian had to have the comic. 

Gravity Comics was the best comic store in the state, even if the man behind the counter was an asshole. Nobody else had the Superman comic Brian wanted. Buying the rare book was an adventure; scrubbing dishes, cleaning up dog shit, taking out the trash. All he had to do was keep Mom convinced it was a good idea. 

And the mean guy was behind the counter. Doodling on his sketchpad like he always did. The owner of Gravity Comics.

Mom hated him.

He had to be brave. The man was going to make fun of him, maybe try to convince him that Superman was a shitty character. For too long, he’d been dreaming about this moment. The man never thought he was going to buy the comic. Not in a million years.

Mr. Shears looked up at him, a smile touching the corners of his face. His eyebrows darted up to in pyramid configurations. Mom said he looked like a fat Jack Nicholson. 

“Look who it is,” Mr. Shears dropped his pen onto the sketchpad. 

“Hello,” Mom tried to be friendly.

“I’m glad you’re here today,” Mr. Shears licked his lips and mocked them with false courtesy. “You should know we’re going to stop selling Superman comics. No more Superman. I’ve also contacted DC and told them to stop making them. Or at least, they should do another fight with Batman, because Batman always wins. If they don’t make the comic…” he drew his thumb across his neck in a mock-slash.

“Did somebody already buy it?” Mom’s voice shook like a penny in a jar. 

“Nobody buys Superman. Superman sucks. Everyone knows that.”

Brian had argued with some of his classmates about the same topic over and over again, and he could always convince them that Batman was inferior. If only he was brave enough to stand up to Mr. Shears…

“I don’t know why we keep coming back here,” Mom said.

“To please your pussy of a son,” Mr. Shears said. “You think I need your business? I’ve got the biggest comic store in Arizona. Nobody sells more Batman or X-Men than I do.”

Now was the time to strike. One day, he could write and draw his own comic about this moment, the day he bought The Death of Superman from Mr. Shears. 

“I’ve got the money.”

Mr. Shears stared at him. He straightened to his full height, his broad shoulders blocking the display of expensive, rare comics behind him. 

Brian swallowed. Mom adjusted the glasses on the bridge of her nose; she wasn’t going to be any help. She didn’t like Mr. Shears, and wasn’t about to stand up to him. She knew how much Brian loved coming to this store. She would never spoil this moment.  

“I’m not selling it.”

The other customers in the store weren’t talking anymore, and Brian was afraid they could hear his heart beating. How many times had Mr. Shears been nasty to them, too? They should be on his side, standing up for him. 

“I’ve got the money,” Brian said.

“I heard you the first time, you little twit,” Mr. Shears stepped back from the display behind him.

There it was. The Death of Superman, limited edition holofoil cover.

But there was something different about it this time.

It was autographed.

“In your wildest dreams,” Mr. Shears said.


“Brian, will you allow me to comment on the content of this piece?”

“I don’t think you’re qualified to judge art, but go ahead.”

“Not qualified?”

“You wanted to know about my mother, so then I start talking about her and you interrupted me. That’s rude.”

“That has nothing to do with my qualifications.”

“I don’t want to talk about my mother anymore.”

“We were making progress…”

“Were we?”

“I just want to figure out how this scene fits into the story. I was under the impression that you’ve been to Gravity Comics before, but at the end of the story, you meet Damien Shears and you act like you’ve never seen him before. He acts like he has no idea who you are. So are you adding a scene to your story, and throwing your mother in just to appease me?”

“Do you think she’s pretty?”

“She looks like Miko. An older Miko.”

“What do you mean? Miko’s Asian. My mom wasn’t Asian.”

“The style. I’m talking about the style.”

“Now you’re a critic. Did we already talk about your qualifications?”

“Well. This is issue number zero, right? A special edition?”

“Zero issues aren’t special editions. You don’t know anything about comics.”


Brian withdrew the wad of cash from his pocket.

“Do you have any idea how many people I’ve killed here?” Mr. Shears asked.

The sketchpad was lying open on the counter, and Brian could see what Mr. Shears had been working on. He felt like a part of his head was opening up and an idea was being placed inside like a corner puzzle piece that had fallen onto the floor from the table, a piece that had been sought after for hours, the perpetrator of frustration and arguments about whether or not the entire puzzle should be disassembled and returned to the store, or, at the very least, the phone number on the box should be called and the piece should be sent to them for free (but, there wasn’t a number on the box to call). 

Brian wasn’t thinking about puzzles or puzzle pieces, because Mr. Shears was standing back from the counter as if inviting Brian to look upon the art. 

“I don’t kill people because I want to,” Mr. Shears said. “I kill them because I’m supposed to.”

For a moment, Brian forgot about the Superman comic, and he forgot anyone else was in the store. On the sketchpad was the rough draft of a comic that featured people browsing for comic books in a comic book store. There was enough detail for Brian to recognize the characters. In one of the panels were the two men who’d been talking about limited edition books. Another panel showed Brian standing alone with money at his feet. 

“You’re pretty good,” Brian said.

“I know I’m good. I’m the best, and that’s why I’ve been asked to kill people.”

“I draw too, but I like to do something more like Anime.”

“That shit’s too easy. You’re telling me you draw Superman comics with an Anime style?”

Mr. Shears chuckled. Both hands were on his shaking belly. Brian could see the sweat stains in the armpits of his shirt. 

The money wasn’t in Brian’s hand anymore. Did he put it back in his pocket? He tried to peer over Mr. Shears’ shoulders for another glimpse of the Superman book. The rare holofoil cover. He’d worked so hard to buy it. He wasn’t afraid of Mr. Shears; he was just another artist who couldn’t make it and treated people like dirt. He was just another dreamer.

“Why do you like Batman so much?” Brian asked. Maybe if he sucked up enough, Mr. Shears would stop acting like a jackass. Every artist had an ego.

Mr. Shears stopped laughing and his eyebrows scrunched together. “You have no idea what you’re asking, you little shit. LOOK AROUND YOU! THIS IS REAL ART!”

All the tables and their boxes full of comics were gone. Bare floorboards replaced carpet. The windows were covered in pale, leathery drapes that looked like snakeskin. 

Sunlight against the strange curtains shifted the spectrum of colors between gold and red, brown and white. The store smelled like wet cardboard. 

Brian’s worst fear was coming true. Too many times, he had nightmares about his mom pulling into a parking space in the street. They would be sitting in the car and looking at the CLOSED sign in the front window.

“No,” Brian said.

“What did you expect me to do? You would do the same thing if you were me. Listen, you little brat—I’m an artist. I decorate in my spare time. My mother usually expects me to bring my work home with me, but I’m FREE to to do the art I've always wanted to do! Mother wishes she was half the artist I am. So I had her locked up in the loony bin…”

There wasn’t a single comic in the store. Nothing behind the counter. 

“Not even the aliens can tell me what to do! And this is what happens to fools who don’t understand comics! These idiots didn’t understand ART!”

Mr. Shears pointed to his sketchpad at the two men who had been badmouthing special editions.

Brian’s hands searched his pockets for the money again. Maybe Mom had it in the car with her. 

“You wish you could draw like me,” Mr. Shears said. “This is natural talent, like I said. If mother were here, she would suggest I include you, BUT SHE’S A LUNATIC! If she had half a brain, she would have told the aliens to kill all the dumb brats who prefer to draw Anime garbage.”

Brian looked at the drapes and wondered if his mom worried about him. 

“Um, I want to buy The Death of Superman limited edition with the holofoil cover.”


“You were there when he killed those people? He let you live? That would explain why you wanted to go back with your friends.”

“You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Damien Shears was talking about his mother. You deflected my question, and you changed the story.”




Saturday, October 12, 2013


Experimental, Hardcore Horror... Enter the mind of the real Dracula... 

Lies about Vlad Dracul III have been spread throughout Europe by his enemies, but his love for Wallachia, his home and kingdom, remains strong. A monk has been sent by the Vatican to investigate these rumors in a Hungarian prison, where the man called Tepes, or Impaler, sleeps. Surrounded by the impaled corpses of insects and animals in his cell, the real Dracula is a devoted servant of God whose atrocities have been committed in the name of justice. In Wallachia, there shall be no poverty, no thievery, no lies… Only the blood of the guilty, and the rotting corpses of the Infidels. No depravity is unworthy of God when it comes to preserving the dream of a free Wallachia. 

The Impaler’s confessions. An exploration of a genocidal mind.


For mature readers only... ages 18+ please. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Anti-Zombie Halloween Poetry

Somebody ripped off my face
Gorgonzola fantasies, fried
Eyeballs sucked
aquarium, mercury teeth
sitting across from me
                (the chair, if you
                look, has a paisley pattern,
                red and brown semen things
                stitched with gold trim)

I think this man might be dead
but with all the jewelry captured

“every time I come around the city”
I nod my head because I’ve heard
music, beneath the skirted sofa

the tentacles inside my stomach
have arranged a slimy conference
by slapping together,

I can think of a million dead fish
but they don’t show up for the feast

eyes drift, down into the gravel
settle there
bubbling surface
if nitrite burn could resurrect this malaise

upon my knees the worms

fingernails crusted with dead flies
scorned, the color of melted butter
fills these voids

“someone has ripped off my face”
the figure might be nodding
tonight shall be delightful
                (when the moon falls asleep
                behind aquatic molars, lost
                the chattering
                of winding gears)

“I haven’t fallen down in years”
he’s the most interesting man
to think about death,
if only I could see him

I’m familiar with the taste
of Gorgonzola nitrates, ammonia
inspired decapitations
fish sleeping in a pile of leaves

like my dead neighbors. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Peckinpah: An Ultraviolent Romance by D. Harlan Wilson

Life in Dreamfield, Indiana, is a daily harangue of pigs, cornfields, pigs, fast food joints, pigs, Dollar Stores, motorcycles, pigs, and good old-fashioned Amerikan redneckery. The decidedly estranged yet complacent occupants of this proverbial smalltown go about their business like geriatrics in a casino ... until their business is interrupted by a sinister gang of outsiders. Angry, slick-talking, and ultraviolent to the core, Samson Thataway and the Fuming Garcias commit art-for-art's-sake in the form of hideous, unmotivated serial killings. When an unsuspecting everyman's girlfriend is murdered by the throng, it is up to Felix Soandso to avenge her death and return Dreamfield to its natural state of absurdity



Filmstrip inserted into the projector of the subconscious, the raw violence of a land where law has been murdered for the sake of art; “Peckinpah” is a beautiful Leone-Tarantino hybrid that might be a glimpse into the lingering fantasies—or nightmares—of artistic vision desensitized and transfigured by shades of blood in the glare of a rising sun. The “philosophy” of ultraviolence is more about the poetry of ultraviolence—the aesthetics of prose and chaos swirling through sentences that are chapters, or chapters that become sentences. D. Harlan Wilson has constructed a wonderfully designed piece of art—it almost doesn’t make sense to say that he’s “written” a great story.

There is indeed a story and a plot—it’s located in the synopsis on the back of the book, and in the description. To explain what Peckinpah is or means is to ruin the concept and scar its beauty. Wilson may have found a roll of film and described what he found on each frame. Our cultures is obsessed with violence and has been attempting to “remedy” the situation by blaming all the entertainment mediums rather than being held accountable for this question: Why do people want to buy it? In the wake of major video game releases that feature protagonists who can beat up police officers and soldiers who can kill random people with well-aimed headshots, I find it interesting that readers would find parts of this book funny. I perceived moments of ironic hilarity that might provoke laughter, but instead, I found myself wondering why I should think this is funny in the first place. 

Several sentences are woven into the narrative that seem to bind the piece in a theater of splatter rather than a medium that’s exposed and “open”; I mean to say that the structure underlines, defies, and defines the properties of violent art and our attraction to it. This book, in its own way, is anti-art and anti-violence. This is one of those few works for which I might be able to write an entire essay; I could dissect individual phrases and deconstruct the book to find more depth and meaning, a sign that Wilson’s intelligent work can withstand the test of time. 

Wilson may not have intended this to be anything more than an entertaining, wild ride through an ultraviolent-romance story. Part of the book’s package is the cover art—yeah, I’m analyzing the cover art, which seems to be “shot” from far away by the camera, rather than the extreme-close-ups Leone (and in homage, Tarantino) have used for dramatic purposes. This makes me think that Samson Thataway and the Fuming Garcias are the shark-toothed, metaphoric reflection of America’s chivalric knights (cowboys). Each chapter in this book is a poem, a swimming pool fool of blood that Plato and Aristotle would have jumped into without bathing suits. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The Steel Breakfast Era by Carlton Mellick III

It's Naked Lunch meets Dawn of the Dead in this postmodern post-apocalyptic zombie nightmare by cult bizarro author Carlton Mellick III. Hundreds of years have passed since the living dead conquered the Earth. Surviving humans have been reduced to vermin, breeding like cockroaches in ancient fortified high-rise apartment buildings. Those who are still lingering in the shadowy waste have either gone completely insane or become infested with parasites that mutate flesh into steel-string sculptures. There is nothing left to live for, no hope for any kind of future. Only the long wait for death remains. But one man refuses to die just yet. He must first find a wife, somebody who will love him, so that he doesn't have to die alone. And he won't give up until he finds this person, even if he has to build a woman himself using the scrap body parts that litter the hallways. Told in Mellick's early schizophrenic prose style, Steel Breakfast Era is perhaps the most surreal zombie apocalypse story ever told.



Mellick’s introductions always articulate the book’s intent; I mention this because after reading the intro to Steel Breakfast Era, I felt like the story was the perfect rendition of the influences and concepts the author cited. Mellick always provides plenty of vivid action in his work, but I felt like I was reading a graphic novel that didn’t need pictures, because the author explained what those pictures looked like in concise, fast-moving prose. 

I bought this book solely because it’s supposed to highlight a variation of the author’s writing style, and I was treated to some beautiful, horrific “pictures.” Each chapter was a portrait. Zombies, sex, violence; all of these concepts are bluntly stated with frantic sentences that portray a lucid, dream-like setting. This is David Lynch’s interpretation of Anime. Mellick bombards the reader with ideas and mysteries that seem to mirror something incomplete, like the seemingly unfinished people who are built or modified by the technology-infused survivors of a dying world. The characters in this book are not “human” in the way we might understand or identify, but their intentions and desires are all-too real, and desperate. It’s this desperation, and a feeling of desolation, that keeps this story from becoming as cold and lifeless as the zombie menace. 

Our protagonist wants what the majority of us want; love, or a sense of belonging. A sense of being complete. With masterfully fragmented sentences which describe a broken future, I felt like the entire composition fulfilled the promise in Mellick’s introduction. A cyberpunk splatterfest that fuses William Gibson with Shinya Tsukamoto, The Steel Breakfast Era is a feast for the eyes, at least until the tik-worms seize control… 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: House of Houses by Kevin L. Donihe

There once was an odd reclusive little man who was in love with his house. He loved this house not in the way that normal people love their homes. His was a more intimate love, like the love between two humans. He loved his house so much that he asked it to marry him, and he believed that his house happily replied with a yes. Unfortunately, their love was to be torn apart the day before their wedding, on the day of the great house holocaust. On this day, every house in the world collapsed for no explainable reason. It was as if they killed themselves, and took many of their occupants with them. Distraught and despairing over the death of his fiancée, this man must go on a quest to find out what happened to his beloved home. On his quest: He will meet Tony, a self-declared superhero, who looks kind of like a black Man-At-Arms from the old He-Man cartoons and claims to protect the world from quasi-dimensional psychopomps with his powerful sexpounding abilities. He will meet Manhaus, who seems to be part man and part house. And, finally, he will venture to House Heaven, a world where houses live inside of bigger houses made of people.



With something new and interesting appearing on every page, Donihe’s House of Houses reads like an assault of concepts, each idea seemingly fitting into a puzzle. Maybe that comparison isn’t correct; perhaps the ideas are bricks which build a house, although the book itself is the house and there isn’t a blueprint that clearly defines what the book should look like. Each page constructs a world upon a world, or a house upon a house. 

The book is something of an odyssey; though the story’s length is relatively short, the first chapter seems distant by the time you’re finished reading. Somehow, Donihe manages to bend time; one man’s journey to House Heaven to find his beloved—a house named Helen—is unique in its presentation and scope. Each page seemed to present another question, and I kept turning the pages to find answers I didn’t necessarily need. I felt as if I were discovering a world Donihe didn’t design; there’s a sense of place that collides with the surreal as if the book is a collage of dreams stolen by Sigmund Freud from a dozen of his most demented patients. By sharing some of the images in this book, I would ruin part of its charm and mystery. 

The beating heart of this story involves subtle commentary on relationships, government, reality, and sexuality, to name a few of the ideas that are challenged. Dark humor quirky enough to provoke smirks and laughter from the audience didn’t provoke a “that’s funny” reaction for me, but rather, I felt these moments or images in House of Houses provided the mortar between the story’s layered bricks. I felt as if I were witnessing the Dystopian nightmare of a post-industrial society. Based on my calculations, the book is scored at 4.86 stars, rounded up for review purposes. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Moosejaw Frontier by Chris Kelso

Juan wakes up in the racist town of Moosejaw after suffering a near fatal snake bite. As he battles for the right to live he begins experiencing vivid nightmares of a symbiotic dream-twin who seems determined to take over complete control of Juan's existence. 'Moosejaw Frontier' is a terrifying journey through the various plateaus of reality, fiction, and one man's intrinsic desire to become more than just a minor character...



An experimental fantasy that is an exercise in metafiction and an entertaining examination of a writer’s psychosis, Kelso’s novella dares to challenge the boundaries of imagination. This book has something of a coherent “plot,” but this “story” isn’t going to give you cuddly characters or anything close to a conclusion. A writer’s conflict with reality is presented here; the characters are incarnations of ideas, rough-sketches of incomplete people and events that linger on the threshold of time and space. 

The book is rather short; I found myself turning pages quickly because I wanted to see what Kelso would do next, and I wanted to know where the fragmented narrative would lead. Just as in life, there is no true “ending” to a story that extends into forever. Different writing styles are also used in this piece; if writing and art are nothing more than self-indulgent habits and needs expressed by the artist, here is self-indulgence that is aware of itself.

This is bizarro fiction. Don’t read this book if you’re looking for the same, recycled stories that are published on a daily basis. Read this book for its ability to challenge what you believe about your own self-awareness. 

Monday, September 9, 2013



What inspires you? Possibly the worst question to ask an artist. The grass might have some logical explanation to describe why it grows. Maybe the hungry dog can diagram why it’s interested in eating horse feces. What inspires you. Yes. What. Not a question. Consider what as a noun.


Let’s take a step back from this venomous charade. I never claimed to be an artist, nor do I revel in the notion that I know what my words mean. What. What it is. What is it? Is it what? It is what.


Flesh and emotion are the composite of nightmares and the imprint of causation; a glimpse into the mirror reveals sentences that exist only in your eyes, or memory. Each of us, behind a veil of self, is a martyr and a hero. How does art compose itself from hands or mouths, from hearts and blood? Letting words appear from fingers, a symbiosis of computer and palm, the mind bleed appearing as a metaphorical middle-finger for Descartes and all his resolutions, because he thought, therefore he was. What was he?


The motivation for causation, inspired by the ultimate what. “I’m a failure… Nobody is buying me books… I’m not making money… The reviewer doesn’t get ME!” Extend the martyr complex to Mount Olympus, where we wish to find ourselves, perched. Validation appears in the form of numbers, and those numbers validate an existence predicated on worship. “LOVE MY WORDS!” How grateful thou art.


Is it art if nobody sees it, or reads it? Is it art if nobody buys it? Are you defined by the words of others? What comes with money and fame? “The SUNSET inspires me…”

But does the sunset know it fulfills a purpose, that it’s a function of cognition?


Of what use is art when the martyr becomes a god? There may be nothing more to say, but there will be plenty to do and plenty to protect. Forgive those who want to change the world, for they are rebels; not revolutionaries, for we must look upon them with derision. Why do anything when everyone has already done it all? Why try anything new when there is no material benefit, no consequence or reward that can be presented like a triumphal arch over the city streets that long to be purged of your essence?


Once we have answers, we must find another question. Once we’ve colonized a continent, we must colonize the stars. Immortality is just a few million dollars out of our reach.


A beautiful woman inspires me, a beautiful man inspires me. A half moon, an empty moon, a desert on fire, a cave filled with the bones of dead explorers (liars, all). What is there to inspire. Not a question. Elm trees trapped in ice and shipped to Pluto; a football in the hands of a warrior who wasn’t supposed to walk; a woman who kneels for a cause that no longer exists, only to be branded a heretic in the name of that cause.


What inspires. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Beyond the Valley of the Apocalypse Donkeys by Jordan Krall



A nudist colony. A rare film. A donkey-headed woman. A murder. The hummingbird. Explore identity, marriage, madness, and obsession in a phantasmagoric orgy of violence and voyeurism.


a novella by Jordan Krall

Read the book that the Austin Post called "an unbounded work of literature that strongly defies what words can do while simultaneously celebrating what they can accomplish when carefully put together in a maddening dance of symbolism, connotations, denotations and sublime erotic detonations."

Jordan Krall has been praised by such authors as Tom Piccirilli, Edward Lee, and Carlton Mellick III. This work is a new direction in his weird fiction, like a paranoid nightmare from David Lynch and Russ Meyer.


A vivid dream or nightmare that seems to flicker like a light bulb in a room filled with flies. There is something to see and there is something to not see. Words craft illusion and images that may or may not have been taped by David Croenenberg under an alias. If Croenenberg and David Lynch were asked to write a book together that must be their definition of a "Grindhouse-style" story while watching Stanley Kurbick movies, they might have written something like Beyond the Valley of the Apocalypse Donkeys.

The plot is executed as casually as the prose; the book unfolds like a rare VHS tape with bad tracking, something that is part guilty-pleasure and part novelty. It's the one video in a the adult film store that has a plot, the one video that gets rented and never returned. You could read this book in the same amount of time it takes for a pretentious Quentin Tarrantino dialogue sequence to finish, and you'd get more out of it. Even though I compared this book to a porn film that has a plot, it might be more accurate to suggest that most people underestimate the power of a good breakfast.

A nudist colony. A woman wearing a donkey mask. The search for a cult film that would put Salo to shame, or would at least make cable executives think about putting it on Fox to ensure the Donkey film doesn't get aired. Maybe this book has disturbing imagery, and maybe there's a motorcycle thrown in somewhere.  I can't remember. I had more fun "watching" this book than trying to figure it out.

"Figure it out?" I suppose this book should be sitting between Patricia Cornwell and James Patterson on Wal-Mart shelves, but I think this book would be better suited for airport bookstores alongside the likes of Jeffrey Deaver and Nora Roberts. Mystery and romance abound, and maybe there's social commentary on the ramifications of a society that loves casual sex, or maybe there isn't. A nude woman wore a donkey mask in this book, and a bunch of people were killed, or maybe they weren't.

If my review doesn't make sense, that's because you can't look for meaning in a dream or a nightmare that never leaves you. Images and sensations that pop into your brain when you're eating pancakes or watching a movie--this is the subconscious reminding you that you're alive, and that you exist, somewhere. In a couple years, I'll forget I read this book and think that I dreamt it, instead. Such is the power of a good read. I don't recommend this book, because I don't want you to read it. You'll ruin it. This is an all-time personal favorite. Go ahead and try to dissect this book. The donkey apocalypse is coming.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Book Review: A Parliament of Crows

A Parliament of Crows is the story of three women in black.  Always in mourning clothes, creepy and secretive, devious and deadly, they might at first blush appear to be long lost members of the Addams Family or characters drawn by Edward Gorey.  But the women in this novel are inspired by three sisters from history who were anything but humorous.  I found the story of their lives and their crimes to be the very definition of Southern Gothic, and the perfect fodder for a historical fiction.

In A Parliament of Crows, the three Mortlow sisters are prominent American educators of the nineteenth century, considered authorities in teaching social graces to young women.  They also pursue a career of fraud and murder.  Their loyalty to one another and their need to keep their secrets is a bond that tightens with each crime, forcing them closer together and isolating them from the outside world.  Their ever tightening triangle suffers from madness, religious zealotry and a sense of duty warped by trauma they experienced as teenagers in Georgia during Sherman's March to the Sea.  As their crimes come back to haunt them and a long history of resentments toward each other boils to the surface, their bond of loyalty begins to fray.  Will duty to family hold or will they turn on each other like ravening crows?



The psychosis of history, women left to the ravages of war; survivors from The War Between the States suffering forever from the terror of an upbringing that forever shattered their souls. Alan M. Clark’s A Parliament of Crows is a page-turner that delves into the personal horror of infamous women who endured the torments of time and may have been… unlucky enough to survive. 

While reading this book, I couldn’t help but turn the pages because I wanted to know WHY and HOW these women became who they are. I wanted to know the truth, but more importantly, and I wanted to feel it and witness it. As someone who has read a lot of books in the literary realm, I believed Clark’s book was a discussion on the metamorphosis from humanity to inhumanity and the loss of innocence in the wake of a struggle that would forever change the world. I kept reading because I felt like Clark wasn’t doing enough to make me realize or understand the unraveling of the Mortlow sisters, but Clark’s understanding of storytelling structure delivered a powerful conclusion. Without spoiling the plot, I will say only that the reader is rewarded after becoming a participant in the sequence of events; there isn’t a twist ending, but the emotion you think lies behind the madness of this terrifying history is delivered with a masterstroke that must be admired.

I feel this book almost needs two reviews. From the perspective of a Civil War researcher, I will say this book incorporates and honors the sentiments that have been ingrained in the consciousness that would have suffered the souls of the Morlow sisters. Indeed; it’s not called the Civil War in this book, a simple fact which displays Clark’s commitment to the story. I trusted his knowledge as the story progressed, and I didn’t feel inclined to challenge him. As a self-professed history nerd, I allowed the story to exist in both time and Clark’s imagination, because he sold me on his talents and knowledge.

This is not “historical fiction”. Such a classification demeans the narrative, as a good many readers feel intimidated by history and refused to open their minds to the possibilities of a different cultural mindset. The Mortlow sisters are hardly sympathetic women; there’s not much to like about them or celebrate, but Clark manages to build just enough empathy into one of the sisters for the reader to become invested. Again, no spoilers in this review. You don’t have to know anything about history to join the world Clark reveals to his readers. 

The book seems to read like a summary at times, as Clark gambles with a reader’s patience and tests their willingness to invest in these characters and the mystery that surrounds them. Again, you don’t have to know anything about the Civil War other than the fact that it occurred; the book proves itself to be a quick read because you’re looking for the very reward that Clark gives, at last, in a moment of triumphant storytelling which reveals craftsmanship and character-investment. 

The Mortlow sisters will be off-putting to some readers who aren’t interested in damnation, victimization, or character development. By analyzing the histories of infamous people who’ve passed into the realm of myth, the writer acknowledges that any reader can simply GOOGLE the characters and find out how the book ends. The strength of the writer lies in the ability to provide a rationale while exploring the inner workings of a generational and personal psychosis. 

A pleasant surprise. Highly recommend. 4.5 stars… rounding up. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Favorite Books...

In no order, my favorite novels, with a note at the bottom after you get pissed. Also, I didn't feel like italicizing the titles.  

This in response to a fun challenge orchestrated by William Cook. You can check out his list here:

1. 2666 by Roberto Bolano
2. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
3. Light in August by William Faulkner
4. Books of Blood Volumes 1-3 by Clive Barker
5. American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis
6. Dune by Frank Herbert
7. The Gunslinger (original version) by Stephen King
8. 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
9. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
10. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Doestoevsky
11. Sunglasses After Dark by Nancy A. Collins
12. 1984 by George Orwell
13. The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy
14. Underworld by Don Dellilo
15. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty 
16. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
17. Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman
18. The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
19. Neuromancer by William Gibson
20. The Elric Saga by Michael Moorcock 

Favorite Shakespearean play: Macbeth

Favorite Poets: T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Charles Baudelaire, Charles Bukowski 

Honorable mentions:
Sex in the Time of Zombies by William Todd Rose
Beyond the Valley of the Donkey Apocalypse by Jordan Krall
Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy
Nazis Literature in the Americas by Robert Bolano
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano
The Watchmen by Alan Moore
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Any Hellblazer graphic novel by Garth Ennis

Okay, so… I cheated.
First of all, only one fantasy series. Elric could kick the shit out of Gandalf and totally wreck anyone in George Martin’s series. Besides, Elric is just... The Heavy Metal of fantasy lit.The Elric Saga also has the greatest conclusion in all of fantasy lit (before the final battle, when he’s climbing the tower and sees the ghosts of his ancestors). 

So why did I pick the Elric Saga and only one Gaiman book from The Sandman? I only did this because there is so much confusion regarding which books belong in Moorcock’s intended continuum for Elric, and there are so many damn collections of his books. I have one particular sequence that I enjoy. As far Gaiman is concerned.... Brief Lives just stands out. Anyone can read that book without reading the other Sandman stories. 

Yup, there’s a vampire story up there. Ahead of all the classics in the honorable mentions. Dracula’s great and all, but Sunglasses After Dark has stuck with me as the only vampire book I’ll read more than once. 

Jordan Krall’s book is just funky. I love it that much. 

Lots of love for Bolano and McCarthy. In my opinion, very few authors have written so many awesome books. 

Not mentioned at all: Hemingway, and Twain. Screw them both. Overrated jerks. 

Sure, I also cheated with the Hellblazer honorable mention, because I can’t pick one right now. As much as I love The Watchmen, I think I’ve grown sick of it. Maybe in a year or two, I’d put it back in the top twenty. 

One zombie book. So far. 

Keep in mind that I’m still reading books. I haven’t read every damn thing out there. I’m still waiting for that zombie book that blows me out of the water and makes me want to stop writing. Scathe meic Beorh has a poetry collection coming, and as soon as it drops, I’m adding him to my list of poets. Yes. He’s that good. 

So these are my personal favorites. That doesn’t mean they’re going to be yours. In fact, you probably hate most of these.