Sleep Has No Master by Jon Konrath (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, short stories, humor, even weirder than his last collection (which is saying something)
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars
Summary: 27 more short stories and flash-fiction pieces from bizarro fiction writer/gonzo author Jon Konrath, laden with popular culture references and satire galore! In a world where the narrator lives inside a waking dream, grew up in a religious community called Bighikistan and can never tell a story in a linear or fully coherent fashion, it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s fantasy. Especially when time travel is readily available, breaking the fourth wall is commonplace, Pixar is creating snuff films and The Hunger Games is the product of a rambling mental patient. Yup, just business as usual for a Jon Konrath collection.
I’ve already reviewed another short story anthology from Jon Konrath on another Bizarro Blursday many moons ago (specifically: The Earworm Inception) which was so weird yet so spectacularly written that I couldn’t toss up the chance to review another set of short stories and flash fiction from Mr. Konrath. I was not disappointed. And fans of hyper aware satirical short stories won’t be either. That is a genre now because I said so.
This is one of those books you need to read all the way through, starting with the hilarious multi-page disclaimer full of every warning already known to mankind. Konrath apologizes for “Resemblances to actual persons living, dead, or undead…” makes note to readers that, “This book should not be considered a legitimate historical document,” and that it “Mentions chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer.” Also it may cause “nausea” or “vomiting”, is not a toy and should not be used as fuel and most importantly it, “Does not protect against HIV … Or other sexual transmitted diseases.” Just in case you thought it did.
A Town Called Suckhole by David W. Barbee (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, satire, the South, post-apocalyptic, alternative history, this is why I won’t live in a red state
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Summary: The town of Suckhole arose out of a war between the northern and southern parts of the United States, created by radiation and the mutual destruction of both warring factions. Now, men in the town are being murdered and it’s the job of a human-animal hybrid named Dexter Spikes to save the citizens from further harm. In time for the “Hell-Yeah Heritage Jamboree” of course.
Ah, post-apocalyptic radioactive wastelands created in an alternative history America. You gotta love them. This novella is all about the end times in Suckhole, which occurred “eleventy thousand years” ago when dinosaurs and cars lived side by side and the North declared war on the “harmless” South. The war, which destroyed the population, revolved around the North turning the slaves against their masters with evil science, global warming and abortions! It’s easy to figure out who’s telling this story.
Unfortunately for the nation, the North, led by Abraham Hussein Lincoln (their words, not mine) escalated to nuclear war and Suckhole was created from the ashes of the devastation as a land of freedom for Southerners. Due to radiation, crazy mutated animals formed and took over the world. Like they do. One would hope that it would be sterility considering what was left behind of the population to breed, but that was sadly not the case. Instead lizardhounds, jackalopes, bear-sized mosquitoes and werepossums took over the landscape. Hopefully they at least help with population control.
King of the Perverts by Steve Lowe (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, satire, humor perverse, it’s porn- it’s porn
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Summary: Dennis is your typical nobody. Stuck in a bad marriage and several dead end jobs, he isn’t someone you would look twice at. Until he lands a starring role in the online gameshow/porno “King of the Perverts” and proves to be a particularly adroit swordsman. Pun intended. But when his Russian cameraman holds him hostage for the prize money things get difficult, in this hilarious satire on the porn industry. And if that doesn’t sell you : BOOOOOBS! Did I mention boobs?
King of the Perverts isn’t a shy novel, bringing things right out of the gate by opening with a golden shower and some light vomiting. That being said, this novella is not for readers with weak stomachs or the unperverse. Definitely making that a word now. The finale in particular is disturbingly nauseating and I had to take a break from my reading to make it past some of the more raunchy sex acts. But if that’s your sort of thing, this is the book for you! Perverts.
Strange sexual proclivities aside, underneath the donkey punches is a smart, witty satire. On porn. A pornographic satire if you will about the industry, the way woman are treated in that sphere and a whole lot of questions about consent. And yes, all those themes will be addressed in the text in one way or another. Even if it’s ultimately about women debasing themselves for notoriety and profit. As a woman I don’t necessarily agree with the decisions of my fictional female counterparts, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen or that it’s not just a commentary on the inner-workings of the porn industry. It’s an unfortunate part of the American way. Or the porny way.
Mad Mannequins from Hell: The Uncanny Valley Trilogy Book 1 by August V. Fahren (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, horror, nuns having fun
Rating: 2.78 out of 5 stars
Summary: Burton is a special effects makeup artist who strikes it big on a viral video “murdering” puppies. He parlays this into a career and proceeds to make cash by “killing” fans for fun and profit. When a short film goes awry and Burton uses a grimoire as a prop, mannequins all over Portland spring to life and start murdering the population. Now, it’s up to Burton and a team of ninja nuns to stop the demonic doppelgangers for good.
First and foremost, I have to point out the gorgeously boobtastic cover from artist Gianluca Mattia. Mattia recently re-designed Fahren’s prior novel which I also reviewed on this site titled Thursday Thistle. If you have time, head over to Amazon and check out the fun new cover, complete with purple haired heroine and her adorable alligator friend. You know how I know life isn’t fair? We all don’t have friendly pet alligators.
But I digress. Onto the literary side of things! The cover touts the novella as “Killer Clowns from Outer Space meets Evil Dead II,” which had me immediately excited. It definitely lives up to its promises in terms of camp level and the premise, both of which I’ll touch upon later. The narrative occasionally follows our sometimes protagonist Burton Vilmos, a special effects movie make up artist. Inspired by his famous father, dubbed Billy Blood by fans, and named after Tim Burton, his upbringing gave him a love for all things bloody and gory, spending most of his childhood creating fake murder scenes. If that doesn’t scream burgeoning serial killer nothing does.
Alice’s Adventures in Steamland: The Clockwork Goddess by Wol-vriey (Submission)
Release Date: June 27, 2012
Genre: Bizarro fiction, steampunk, fantasy, wonderland, soft core porn
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Summary: Alice Sin is your typical prostitute turned hired assassin, living in a steampunk version of America divided between the queendoms of New York and Texas. Hired by Lady Busybody to kill her husband Lord Busybody (AKA the Mad Hatter), Alice must use her feminine wiles to kill the mad scientist, keep her true purposes a secret, deal with a cake making arsonist Caterpillar and befriend a wind-up robot.
As prior instances have shown, I can’t say no- insert song and dance number here- to Alice in Wonderland themed anything, much less literature (see HERE and HERE). Throw in some steampunk and I’m all in, which is why when Bizarro Press offered us a Kindle version of this book I knew I had to review it. I first encountered Wol-vriey in the anthology Tall Tales With Short Cocks, where he wrote a fantastical tale set in a kooky world that was almost a little too strange. Thankfully for Wonderland, there is no such thing as too strange, but there might be such a thing as too much semen. You have been pre-warned.
The novella is set in Victorian America, AKA a steampunk version of America ultimately divided into two territories. Half of America is run by Queen Victoria Busybody, dubbed the Queen of Hearts because of her choice of heart embroidered wardrobe. She runs the queendom of New York, while her sister Queen Anna runs the queendom of Texas- where everything is bigger. Anna goes by the moniker Mech-Anna or “the Clockwork Goddess”. Both sisters have torn the country apart, all over the state of Kansas, which is a hotbed of coalfields. Enjoy it Kansas, this will be the only instance where people actually fight over control of you, fictional or otherwise.
More Stories about Spaceships and Cancer by Casper Kelly (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, short stories, social commentary in a fun, absurd way
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Summary: “More Stories about Spaceships and Cancer” is a collection of absurd short stories. Using several “hosts” including a skeleton, a super hot dead chick, and a werewolf who works in a fast food place, “you” the reader are guided through a bizarre world of stories that are anything but ordinary. There is no pretending to be something they’re not – these stories are 100% smart with intelligent things to say – the cave-like vaginas, large breasted ninjas, and universe-ending ejaculations are unapologetically awesome and necessary. This book will make you think about your place in the world and contemplate what’s really important in life. But mostly you’ll just laugh a lot.
Casper Kelly has written for Harvey Birdman, Squidbillies, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and more. He’s won an award for his work on “Scooby Doo.” He also asked us if we would review his book – I AM SO GLAD HE DID. More Stories about Spaceships and Cancer was absolutely awesome. It reminded me of buying a book or a DVD of Stephen Colbert’s – it’s immediately funny before you even get to the actual content. I was dying laughing at the Table of Contents which featured things like “These are not Short Story Titles” and “Go Ahead. Tap it. The Links Don’t Even Correspond to Anything.” Turns out it’s a story of its own, but I won’t spoil the ending. The dedication then reads, “For You.” For me? I’m so stoked before I even start reading!
Moving on to the Introduction, the book is in second person and a skeleton bursts out of my e-reader and introduces himself as host, Professor Badbones who along with assistant Snervley try to convince me that I do in fact want to read this book. Badbones compares a collection of short stories to “a hodgepodge of one night stands.” They’re not really long enough to want to develop a real relationship and usually they don’t really go together or connect. He continues with a bunch of commentary about the standard story and what we’ve come to expect from it and how even if it isn’t good, we still appreciate the symbolism or whatever. After that, we dive into the first story – where a duck is sad about his divorce and just when you think things are too normal, a guy gets sucked into a giant TARDIS vagina. (It’s so much bigger on the inside.)
The Earworm Inception by Jon Konrath (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, short stories, humor, would much rather this world existed- minus the cannibalism
Rating: 4.66 out of 5 stars
Summary: Author Jon Konrath enjoys straddling the line between fact and fiction in this twenty short story collection laden with popular culture references. In this alternative history, cannibalism is all the craze, R Kelly made history by leading police on a high speed chase, kids are getting high on Metamucil, Crispin Glover is the president, everything is Julia Roberts fault, and zombies are just an everyday occurrence. It’s all normal in Konrath’s world.
The majority of the stories in this collection, which are written in super short flash fiction, feature strange characters in an even stranger universe intriguingly similar to our own. They also seem to revolve around author Jon Konrath, called Kon by his close-friend (in the novel) Rick Perry and the strange circumstances that revolved around his semi-fictional life. Everyone in these tales are marked with unique character traits, hilarity, and popular culture references galore. In a word: bizarro. (NOTE: The Earworm Inception is currently available for free on the Kindle!)
Half the stories are titled like “Big Bang Theory” episodes, from “The Chainsaw Baron Prophecy”, to “The Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test Manifesto”, “The Chapman Protocol Conundrum”, “The MovieFone Snuff Film Agenda”, and the titular “The Earworm Inception”. Still others read like newspaper headlines, such as: “Nancy Grace Shit-fits and why you should start learning how to make soap and ammunition” and “40% of all UFO sightings that lead to anal coring of cattle take place on a Monday or Friday”. The titles will have you laughing, and the stories will keep you reading.
Tall Tales with Short Cocks: A Bizarro Press Anthology [edited] by Etienne DeForest (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, short stories, anthology, zombies, satire, so that’s how FOX works
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Summary: A collection of nine bizarro short stories with genres ranging from satire to noir and written by a varied group of authors. Each story has its own theme, but don’t worry, as required by all anthologies there is a tale about zombies. Not to mention steampunk robots, diseased monkeys, dystopic world views, talking whales, angry squirrels and everything in between.
We’re very happy that in addition to reviewing Bizarro Blursday books for Eraserhead Press, we now get submissions from Bizarro Press. Long live the bizarro revolution! This anthology, whose title seems to hint that it will be the first of many sets, is a nice introduction for the new bizarro reader. While a bizarro novella can be quite daunting to the average reader, a collection of short stories is a lot easier to digest if you’re just entering the genre.
The anthology opens in a big way with the wonderful, “In the Flesh” by John McNee. It’s set in a dystopic, post-apocalyptic world that’s populated with robots. The story itself is narrated by a private eye hired by the infamous Clockwork Joe to find his lost love. Ultimately, it’s a cautionary tale about the reliance on machinery and our treatment of the earth. We learn about Grungehaven, a city with metal and wooden women and a part of town that’s called “damed” because a rush of water is being held back by an enormous dam. It’s also a story of love and redemption, but you’ll have to read it for yourself to see how.
Editorial by Arthur Graham (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, apocalypse, satire, experimental, David Lynch in prose
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Summary: A cyclical tale about nature, life, and the world, told in constantly flowing narrative shifts. Set throughout time, from the beginning of humanity to a world ravaged by global cooling and into the distant future where the human race has evolved into something wholly different. Editorial is nothing and everything, told from every perspective in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person with every conceivable narrator. It is the only book like it you will ever read.
This is the first time I have ever read a book that I considered to be a complete mind fuck. David Lynch in prose. No clear genre. I finished not exactly sure what I had read or what I was meant to learn when I reached the last page. Like the ouroboros on its cover, the narrative was cyclical with a similar story being written and retold in a constantly shifting narrative. When I finished I felt like I had read a book within a book within a book. Is it the Inception of books? Almost.
The initial story opens with our nameless narrator, recently having become an orphan and forced to live with his horrid aunt and uncle after his parents died in a horrific car accident that he inexplicably survived. He spends his days eating, reading, and masturbating until one day he is ejected from their home and wanders through the desert. At which point he sheds his skin and turns into a snake. What what what?
Jimmy Plush, Teddy Bear Detective by Garrett Cook (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, short stories, mystery, crime, noir, you couldn’t pay me to live here
Rating: 2.6 out of 5 stars
Summary: After collecting a crippling amount of gambling debt, Charles Hatbox is payed to swap his body for cash with Jimmy Plush, a three foot tall teddy bear detective. Charles now Jimmy inherits a driver named Chang, a sea of enemies, and a girlfriend who dresses in a fox suit. This collection of short stories riffs on hard boiled detective novels with a bizarro twist. Fans of Raymond Chandler, take notice. Anyone frightened by furries, beware.
While writing up that summary I felt like I was transcribing the plot of a Rob Schneider movie. “Rob Schneider is, Jimmy Plush, Teddy Bear Detective, and he’s about to find out just how hard being a teddy bear is! Rob Schneider is a carrot! Rob Schneider is a stapler! Der derp dee derpy derp derp derp.”
Anyway, welcome to another Bizarro Blursday where we (generally me) review bizarro novels that get submitted to us by a variety of bizarro authors. This week we have an entirely different level of bizarro, which author Garrett Cook has dubbed Neopulp Expressionism and Chainsaw Noir. For anyone who likes detective novels from the 20′s and 30′s, this is the bizarro for you. If you’re not a fan of mysteries, crime, or anything resembling Dick Tracy, this is not your short story collection.