What, now?

I’ve been slacking off over here lately but this time I have a good excuse!  I swear!

I got sucked into a Munchausen by Internet/malingering/faker scandal and decided to launch a website looking into the situation because it is just that interesting. Since the early 2000s, a woman called Christina Iver-B* has been using various online ruses to prey on people for both attention and money.  I encountered her in an online watchdog group that kept an eye on misogynist, fundamentalist, evangelical religious movements, some of which I can comfortably call cults.  A plucky young woman called Ruth started discussing her flight from her ATI/Gothardite family and the many problems she faced as she tried to work her way back into conventional society, while begging for money because her life just never got on track.

Except she wasn’t a refugee from a violent, cruel, repressive religious family.  She’s a mother of four in her late 30s who has so many online identities that I have been researching for three weeks now and am certain there are many I don’t know yet.

This was completely up my alley and while it sucked up a lot of my time, it’s also invigorated my desire to write so now that I’ve got my crap together I hope to have more content up here.  Check back tomorrow for a discussion of a Bradley Sands book, as well as several other bizarro before I start transitioning into less genre-oriented odd books.

If you are interested in online scams, here’s my site looking into the mess Chris Izer-B* has caused.   If you are unfamiliar with this situation, you will need to read from the beginning.  Otherwise, see you tomorrow!

 

Published in: Uncategorized | on July 22nd, 2013 | No Comments »

A Town Called Suckhole by David Barbee

Book:  A Town Called Suckhole

Author:  David Barbee

Type of Book:  Fiction, bizarro

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Dude…

Availability:  Published by Eraserhead Press in 2011, you can get a copy here:

Comments: Poor David Barbee. He has the decidedly bad luck to have his book come up for review when I am bizarro-ed out. I don’t think I can be as enthusiastic about this book as I would have had I not been reading so much bizarro that not even the strangest bizarro trope seems the least odd or outre anymore. But even as I am thisclose to eliminating bizarro from my reading diet until I can enjoy it again, I can say that I found Barbee’s novel amusing. I have a fondness for southern-culture-on-the-skids and this book totally delivers on that front.

Excuse me as I try to summarize this book, because it’s pretty heavy, plot-wise: Suckhole is a degenerate Southern town. It’s pretty much The Hills Have Eyes, Two Thousand Maniacs! and The Dukes of Hazzard with a dash of Matlock if Matlock was a genetically mutated abomination. It’s white trash, Mad Max and the Land the Civil War Forgot. So it’s going to be nasty and offensive. Sheriff Jesco Ray Bledskoe becomes the law in Suckhole upon his father’s death/murder. Suckhole’s denizens have been falling victim to a killer and what with the Hell-Yeah Heritage Jamboree coming up, he has to find the killer and quickly. Because he is an inbred simpleton, Bledskoe knows he must get help to solve these murders so he finds a horrifying mutation named Dexter Spikes ,who is the only creature smart enough to be of any use to him. Together, these two characters explore a really foul, post-apocalyptic landscape to find a killer. There are subplots with feral children that seem to hark back to Children of the Corn and there are succubi that are out to thwart Bledskoe and Spikes, but mostly you want to focus on the sheriff and his strange buddy-cop configuration.

Despite not being wholly “into” extra bizarre bizarro at the moment, I was still very pleasantly surprised to see how Barbee’s writing has progressed. His NBAS book, Carnageland, was a good first attempt, but it had its problems. A Town Called Suckhole has its problems too, but far fewer, and the narrative in the book is far cleverer and absorbing. It’s nice to be able to see a writer’s style and skill improve from book to book. Barbee has definitely shown himself interested in the craft of creating a good book, as well as creating a good bizarro book. Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: Bizarro Fiction, fiction | on June 30th, 2013 | 8 Comments »

Godspeed, Iain

Iain Banks lost his battle with gall bladder cancer today.  The Wasp Factory is one of the books most frequently mentioned to me as a book I should discuss on this site and it is an odd/sick book classic, a piece of dark genius.   Banks was an author who was truly sui generis and I hope when my time comes, I am able to go with the same black humor Banks showed at the end.

I felt a strange kinship with Banks because I know so few people in real life who never feel lonely.  He was raised an only child in a bookish home and as a result, he grew into an adult who never needed company because he was never at loose ends with himself and he didn’t feel the aching loneliness that seems so much a part of the lives of many people.  It’s a gift from the Universe to be given the sort of personality wherein one seldom if ever feels boredom or isolation from others.

Banks’ writing as Iain M. Banks informed a lot of how it is that I look at odd books.  It’s deeply saddening that he is gone.

Published in: Uncategorized, Writers Should Not Be Mortal | on June 9th, 2013 | 8 Comments »

Regular posting resumes next week

I had planned to have another “Bizarro Week” but the tepid turn out for the last one has convinced me to wait a bit before engaging in such an endeavor.  However, I still plan to discuss some bizarro in a lump, more or less.  Then we’ll leave basic bizarro and branch out into other books, and hopefully some non-fiction.  I miss discussing non-fiction over here.  But in the upcoming weeks, look for discussions of Bradley Sands, David Barbee, G. Arthur Brown, David David Katz, Kevin Astkin, and hopefully in July I can get back to discussing odd non-fiction as well.

I’ve been busy at work over on Houdini’s Revenge.  A mention on MetaFilter and an indignant conspiracy theorist resulted in an onslaught of new readers and all sorts of comment situations.  I thought running IROB for five years had prepared me for the worst that “creative” thinkers bring to the comment section.  I was wrong.  Oh, was I wrong.  Mr Oddbooks wants me to close comments,  but I am leaving comments open over there and just keeping my ban hand strong.  In five years of IROB I’ve had to ban two people, and one of them was unbanned later.  Not the case over on HRev.  In another two weeks, I think I will be in possession of a data set that will show a definitive link between Tor accounts and anti-semitism.  Maybe I’ll apply for a grant to complete a study, or maybe I’ll just smack myself in the head repeatedly with a copy of Modern Trolling.

On another note, I noticed some incoming links from a site called HTML Giant and found I had been referenced in a very interesting analysis of Tao Lin’s Shoplifting from American Apparel I am unsure if being “compellingly tedious” is a good thing yet the description delighted me.  It’s possibly the best description of what I do, now that I think of it.  But back to Lin.  Increasingly I feel less… offended by Tao Lin and warming toward his style or his schtick, or whatever it is he has going on.  And the article over on HTML Giant is very much worth a read so have a look if you have an opinion on Lin.

Thanks to all who offered support during my resent “unpleasantness.”  The situation is largely resolving itself and while one can never say never, I don’t see a similar problem cropping up any time soon.  I am working very hard to catch back up and an heartened that I have such great readers here.  Lurkers are awesome too because you raise your heads at just the right moment.   IROB’s readers rock!

See you next week!

 

Published in: Uncategorized | on May 31st, 2013 | 2 Comments »

What I Did This Weekend: or, Fuck My Life

So, for the four of you left who read here regularly, you may have noticed that the site was offline this weekend.   I had some… issues.

I am conflicted because I would like to tell you all what is happening but if I do, it may just get worse.  But before long, someone is going to have to go jail.  I’m not kidding.

Multiple DMCA notices were filed against this site and Houdini’s Revenge, all of them bogus.  Complaints were also made about the content I produce on IROB.   It was alleged that I have reproduced child pornography and wrote entries to incite people to commit acts of pedophilia and rape.  None of these complaints had any basis in reality (no shit).  My hosting company had limited choices because I was less than cooperative but they were on my side and all of this has been resolved in my favor.   Seriously, they were very professional and very sympathetic.

Because I am very tired I have cancelled ANSWER Me! week because I can only imagine the complaints that will get lodged if I discuss all four issues in the depth I prefer.

If you are a writer who suspects your work may have been twisted up in this mess, please know this nonsense was wholly directed at me.  There was no vendetta against any writer involved, and especially no vendetta against Jim Goad, whose work I planned to tackle this week.

I genuinely don’t know how I am going to get this weirdness to stop.  Mr Oddbooks and I have explored legal options but then we decided we couldn’t justify the hassle or the expense so we’re gonna lie low and hope it doesn’t happen again.  I plan to write here, probably next week, but I have a limited capacity to deal with much in the way of bullshit, which is why I collect books and write online rather than have a real job.  So we’ll see how this goes.

Also, while I’m feeling a bit testy, I need to let everyone who has sent me books to read know that I have made a decision about how I plan to handle the books that remain to be read.  If I count more than ten grammar, spelling and/or punctuation issues in your book, I won’t be discussing it.   It’s harsh but really, it’s not.  Lately a lot of the literature I have read has been difficult to appreciate because of all the errors, which makes me tired as I try to find ways to praise good ideas with crappy editing, and I need to recharge my mojo, which will be hard in a world without Ray Manzarek, but I’m going to give it a try (note: avoid using sentences like this one when you write books).  I’ll handle rejected novels quietly.  Thanks for your understanding. (Edited because I found a nicer way to say what I needed to say.)

Published in: Uncategorized | on May 20th, 2013 | 23 Comments »

ANSWER Me! Week Starts Monday

Hey everyone, sorry to have been so quiet since the end of the NBAS week but I’ve been busy over on Houdini’s Revenge. In fact, I knocked out an attempt to debunk of one of the more involved “it was staged” theories regarding the Boston Marathon Bombings, as well as writing about some of the backpack theories. I hope eventually to amass a clearinghouse of all the theories, debunked (or confirmed – it could happen) and in some sort of order. For those who enjoy conspiracy theory, have a look.

I made an interesting decision about discussing ANSWER Me!, issues 1-4. I have been working on these discussions for months, almost a year. And when I say I “these discussions,” I really mean Issue 4, the infamous Rape Issue. I have never hit the backspace key more in my life. I have read almost all of Andrea Dworkin’s body of work to make sure that I have my ducks in a row if the Andrea Dworkin Lie Detector types show up. I have agonized over word choice, trying to make sure I conveyed the point I wanted to make without offending the usual suspects, even as I sort of want to call out the usual suspects (:cough:melissamcewan:cough:) for trivializing rape to the point even ardent liberals are sickened by their penny ante and Penny Arcade antics, making rape seem trivial as they wage war against fictional creatures committing impossible acts against cartoon characters that in no way represent any living person, past or present. And I will have to mention Peter Sotos. Sotos is a polarizing dude, and by polarizing, I mean I get rape and death threats when I talk about him. I can cope with that sort of shit – welcome to the Internet, Baby Girl! – but it can get a wee bit demoralizing.

All that agonizing has let me to this interesting decision: I am trashing everything I have written and will begin again on Saturday morning, cranking out text quickly and from a place of reaction rather than contemplation. When I am forced to write quickly, I have to stop dithering. When I stop dithering, I can say what I want to say and not worry about who may be offended or that people I want to offend may find my POV to their liking, which is almost as bad.

I may be cranking out Friday’s entry Thursday night but, even if it is rushed, it will be better than the tentative semi-turd I have right now. Hopefully raw writing will encourage raw and interesting discussions.

I had planned to host a giveaway for this themed week but I am 86ing it for two reasons. One, all of the ANSWER Me! books are out-of-print and the last I looked on Amazon, the affordable copies were in crappy condition (acceptable on Amazon means someone’s cat shat on it), all the reputable dealers want way too much, and easily half the listings were from dropshippers, the scourge of the online book purchasing experience. I could give away Goad’s other books but that seems weird since I’m not discussing them. Two, the last two giveaways I hosted had really lukewarm reactions. I’ve seen hundreds of people freak out at the chance to win a $10 card at a coffee shop and I had 26 entries for a $50 Amazon card, and those entries represented nine people. Maybe 10. I’m too tired to go back and look. At any rate, though I really like sharing the book love, there is a fine line between Sharing the Love and becoming That Girl Who Looks Like She Is Begging For Readers. I love you guys but I feel like I’m forcing my love down your throats. Which seems an appropriate way as any to end this entry that basically bemoaned my neurotic inability to write from the hip about rape.

Funny how that works.

Tune in Monday for ANSWER Me! week. It should be interesting.

Published in: Uncategorized | on May 17th, 2013 | 4 Comments »

Another Bizarro Week is Over!

Thanks to everyone who supported me this week! I really appreciate the comments and hope the few new names I saw stick around.

I assigned all the first comments from each entry a number and used the random number generator at random.org to determine the winner. Donald Armfield won the giveaway! Donald, check your e-mail. I sent you a message about the giveaway and what form you want your gift.

All hail Donald, the King of Bizarro Week.

I’ll be back next week with something, though I don’t know what exactly. I will also be writing some over on Houdini’s Revenge so if you are conspiratorial in nature, check me out over there.

Thanks again, and have a good weekend!

Published in: Bizarro Week! | on May 10th, 2013 | 4 Comments »

House Hunter by S.T. Cartledge

Book: House Hunter

Author: S.T. Cartledge

Type of Book:  Fiction, bizarro, action, novella

Why Do I Consider The Book Odd:  Because it appeals to my animist tendencies to see inanimate objects as living creatures.

Availability:  Published by Eraserhead Press in 2013, you can get a copy here:

Comments: We end NBAS week with S.T. Cartledge’s House Hunter.  I am torn about this book because it has so much going for it yet pings a lot of problems I have with female characters in fringe literature.  It’s almost become a cliche to me that when a badass female character is introduced and she has an unnatural hair color, I’m gonna hate her because her hair serves as her personality.  Imogen, the heroine of this book, has blue hair and is not my cup of tea, so my dayglo-hair theory is still intact.  The characterization in this book, as a whole, isn’t great but it’s also a plot-driven book.  In fact, it’s a pretty decent plot, but like so many NBAS books, it suffers from being novella-length.  This is another one that really needed space to expand and develop its plot.

The gist of House Hunter is this: Imogen is a House Hunter.  Houses, in this novel, are living creatures, some domesticated for human use, some still running wild.  Imogen is a very good house tamer and is pulled into a plot wherein a cabal of architects are trying to use a legendary house called the Jabberhouse that can destroy homes and create new ones, entire communities, that will permit the architects to take control of the houses and control all the communities and the people who live within them.  The wild houses will be stamped out and liberty will be lost.  Imogen is drawn in by a man named Clint and they engage on a quest to stop this from happening.  Clint is not who he says he is, and that plot twist really doesn’t change things as much as you might think.   There are interesting details, like cockroach people and pygmy houses and overall, this is a pretty good first effort.

This is a very action-oriented book, and when Cartledge gets into a tight action scene, you can see his strengths.  However, action-oriented books are hard for me to discuss because one has to be an excellent storyteller to pull off an action book.  Storytelling is not necessarily the same as wordsmithing and as a result storytellers tell amazing and interesting stories without engaging in the sort of writing a reader wants to quote.  Rather, the reader who loves the book is more likely to recount the plot than the beautiful writing.  Think of most Stephen King books – though King is, in my opinion, a very good writer and one of the best horror writers ever, one generally does not find oneself quoting him at length, outside of trenchant one-liners that often come up.  I explain all of this because I want it to be clear that my failure to quote much is due to this being a plot-driven novel.

This is also a book that is an homage to others authors, yet draws on influences without becoming a pastiche.  There is some clear Mark Danielewski-love in this book, with sentient houses and a character with the last name of Davinson (House of Leaves hinges on the Navidson record, this book involves the Davinson Initiative).  There are shades of Palahniuk in here, too, with a character identity revelation at the end that makes sense and is interesting but doesn’t really change much (think Invisible Monsters). There is also a video-game feel to this at times, especially during the scene wherein Imogen uses a controller of sorts to have a house duel with another house hunter.  I am not well-versed enough in video games to be able to assign scenes like this to a specific game but gaming is undeniably there.

While I don’t really like Imogen that much – blue-haired heroin who complains more than the average action heroine and isn’t particularly interesting –  I can admit that my distaste for her at times is strictly personal.  However, there are some concrete problems.  This book achieved a new editorial issue for me.  While it was peppered with editorial problems here and there, most notably with word repetition (“and and”), it had a glaring continuity error.  A character loses an arm and then throws her hands up in the air in a moment of anger.  Now she’s not throwing her severed arm up in the air – this sentence is written as though all limbs are still connected.  Very shortly after she tosses her arms into the air, another character notices her missing arm.  Sigh…  Another problem is that the novella length forced Cartledge into the dreaded “telling” rather than “showing.”  There was a lot of plot handled via conversations between characters.  I generally think telling and not showing is a garbage complaint – all science fiction requires this, especially books with this much world building, which Cartledge handles admirably.  But toward the end, it happened enough for me to notice and it became a bit tiring.

But even as I found Imogen lacking and despaired at some of the editing problems, there is a real kernel of fun in this book. The concept is unique and can easily be seen as an allegory to modern farming wherein corporations are using patents to destroy independent farmers and eliminate crops that are not genetically modified, but this connection is made without any preaching. As I mention above, the world building in this book is quite something and Cartledge creates a world the reader can immediately focus in on without feeling forced into the sort of heavy-duty otherworldliness that I find so wearying about a lot of fantasy and science fiction.  He really does give us details about the world almost effortlessly:

Imogen followed Mary around the side of the house and across a paddock of funnel web ponies.  They stopped at the gate to a paddock with a big acorn tree and at a two-story farm house behind it, standing about a foot off the ground on hundreds of matchstick legs.

Funnel web ponies may not make sense now but in the context of the story they will not trip up the reader.  It is in his worldbuilding wherein Cartledge really does show and not tell, and he’s able to create an at times sweet other world full of rich details that never verges into the outlandish.

Because this is an action bizarro novel, here’s a passage of some excellent action writing:

The old farm leapt and quivered.  Imogen’s head slammed into the porch. Sparks flew from the lightning cannon and danced across the timber deck.  She banged her fist hard on the steps.  A hoof flicked up on to the porch, brushing over her shoulder.  Imogen squeezed the trigger on the cannon and punched it into the steps.  The front legs buckled then flew up, throwing Imogen into a puddle of pigs’ blood on the sloppy ground.

The house came at her with frantic, toothy legs scraping and ripping apart the soil.  Imogen switched the cannon to scorch and fired at the front of the house.  She held her arm up in the general direction of the centipede legs and held her fire until she could no longer feel the feet clawing at the blood-soaked ground.

This is some pretty decent action writing, I think.  Action writing does best when it is simple, without a lot of flourishes.  When a character is wrestling with a house with centipede legs and brings a cannon into play, we don’t need a whole lot of extraneous details.  And to be perfectly frank, I was never one for overly descriptive novels.  I love the mystery novelist Ruth Rendell but tune out whenever she goes into great detail with plants and architecture and the arrangements of high streets.  I am partial to writing that is less baroque and Cartledge appeals to me on that level.

But that is not to say that this book is wholly without some pretty writing.  This scene comes from when Clint and Imogen are in a labyrinth and realize it is alive and is moving.

They came out of one passage into a wide room filled with plants and trees that flickered with light instead of fruit and flowers and leaves, and filled the room with the scent of peaches and roses and eucalyptus.  The plants grew from little islands of red soil that were surrounded by a black liquid sea. Along the walls, eyes watched them.  Imogen went out into the sea, knee deep.  Ellis followed.  In the centre of the room, a tree spiraled like a staircase, disappearing into a hole in the roof.

Overall, there was enough good in this book to distract me from what I didn’t like.  There was little in the way of character development, Imogen’s got the dreaded blue hair that often serves as a place marker for personality, and there were editing issues that were really distracting.  But the world-building, the action sequences and the plot were spot-on.  I recommend this book and hope that if you read it you come back and tell me what you think of it.  But as I have mentioned before, the New Bizarro Author Series writers have a limited window in which to sell enough books to be offered a writing contract.  If this book sounds interesting to you, then get a copy sooner rather than later.

Having reached the end of my NBAS week,  you guys have until 6:00 P.M. PST to leave comments in order to enter my giveaway.  I am giving away a copy of each book I discuss this week OR I am giving away an Amazon gift card in the amount that the paper versions of these books would cost.  All you have to do to enter the drawing is to leave me a comment in each of this week’s entries.  One comment on each discussion is an entry into the drawing.  Leave a comment all five days and you will have five entries into the drawing.  Only one comment per day counts as an entry but don’t let that prevent you from engaging in conversation about the books.  For all the details of this contest, visit this entry.

I will announce the winner of the contest in a separate entry and will contact the winner via e-mail.    Thanks for all the support for this endeavor and happy reading to you all.

Published in: Bizarro Fiction, Bizarro Week!, fiction, Novella | on May 10th, 2013 | 13 Comments »

Avoiding Mortimer by J. W. Wargo

Book: Avoiding Mortimer

Author: J.W. Wargo

Type of Book: Fiction, bizarro, novella

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Just take my word for it, it’s odd.

Availability: Published in 2013 by Eraserhead Press, you can get a copy here:

Comments: This subtly weird little book is perhaps my emotional favorite of the bizarros I’ve read for this themed-week. It’s got its gross moments – vomit, biting into insects and earlobes – but even the grossness was sweetly restrained given what I have come to expect from the Bizarros. But it must be said that sweetly restrained bizarro is not going to be awesome in and of itself. No, I’m far too sophisticated to be taken in by sweetness. But I do have to say that it is nice to be able to read a bizarro book that I can describe to my mother without making her cry. (And Mama Oddbooks is no lightweight. She was the chief text editor for Deutschland Erwacht when it was published in the USA in the 70s. She knows some stuff. She’s seen some shit. And I still hesitate to share most bizarro plots with her. In short, most of you are monsters.)

The main reason I like this book so much is because I get Mortimer. I’m an Avoider, though I don’t experience anything close to Mortimer’s level of neurotic and thanatotic depression. I love avoiding people. Not because I’m mean or cruel but because I am introverted on a genetic level. It’s actually considered a psychological disorder on my part but I sort of don’t care, even though I enter therapy for it every few years. I prefer not to leave my house and, interestingly, “I prefer not to” is a perfect way to sort of ground yourself when reading this book. There is something very Bartleby about this novella. Though Mortimer ultimately finds a way to stop preferring not to, at least when it matters, folk who just feel tired and itchy around other folk have a hero in Mortimer, whose essential nature is eventually how he manages to become a hero.

I kind of lost the thread in the plot near the end where the exact mechanics of Wargo’s world were concerned, because there were sort of Kafka-esque layers of bureaucracy that I sort of refused to absorb (and I really hate to use the word Kafka-esque because it’s so woefully misused, but there were definitely elements of Kafka in this book, and now that I think of it, I don’t really like Melville or Kafka so it’s surprising I like this book as much as I do). But the gist of the book is this: Mortimer is born to schizoid parents. His sister is avoidant, and as the most socially normal member of a really abnormal family, Mortimer resists when his family undergoes a process that is sort of a living suicide that puts them in a realm between life and death. He eventually gets a factory job that is sort of gross, he has an ant-farm as a pet, and before long he sees no reason to live on. After he cracks in a magnificent manner, he commits suicide and ends up in a bureaucratic hell-hole of an afterlife. Mortimer finds himself with a job in a factory exactly like the one he had in the living world, down to the same boss. He recognizes a woman in the hereafter whom he saw die in the living world and with her he discovers that all is not right in the hereafter. Ultimately Mortimer stages a confrontation with God himself and helps the woman solve some very troubling problems and he ends up in a sort of heaven of his own, a place wherein his essential nature is loved and embraced.

There were some scratchy places in the plot, as I mentioned. But there was enough silliness, even in this novel of a depressed avoidant who loathes being around others, that I didn’t feel too pressed or upset that at times I had no idea what was going on. For example, before he dies, Mortimer eats his ant farm and then barfs it up. The ant farm puke forms a mutant ant-blob that becomes integral to the plot. Ant farm puke saves the day! When there were not enough strange details to absorb me, I just sort of grooved on Mortimer’s avoidance.

In my honest assessment, I fear I may be turning you bizarro extremists off with my wallow in the mild, so let me share some of the more awesome prose in this book. This is from the first page:

To understand Mortimer’s death, we must first focus on his life.

Simply put, Mortimer’s life was shit. It was pure unadulterated liquid feces in which he swam daily -rarely, if ever, coming up for air.

Whether or not this ocean of excrement came from outside forces or was created by Mortimer himself is a moot point. Rather, it is important to ask why Mortimer so insisted upon drowning in a world of filth when he could have just as easily swam to shore, toweled off, and worked toward removing even the very smell of shit from his life.

Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: Bizarro Fiction, Bizarro Week!, fiction, Novella | on May 9th, 2013 | 12 Comments »

Janitor of Planet Anilingus by Andrew Wayne Adams

Book:  Janitor of Planet Anilingus

Author:  Andrew Wayne Adams

Type of Book:  Fiction, novella, bizarro

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd:  With a title like that, how can it not be?

Availability:  Published by Eraserhead in 2013, you can get a copy here:

Comments: We begin day three of my New Bizarro Authors Week with Andrew Wayne Adam’s Janitor of Planet Anilingus and, in all honesty, I started this book with no small amount of trepidation.  As it is, about 35% of the search strings that bring people to my site involve necrophilia and horse dildos.  I wondered what legacy this book would leave behind in the searches I view daily in my site statistics.  Moreover, the title itself is enough to give one a bit of pause, I think.  Planet Anilingus was likely to be a place wherein a tired woman would find little solace as she read late into the night, her husband snoring lightly, the suburban street silent as the normal people slept on, unaware that there was a place in the literary landscape dedicated to anus-licking.

Luckily for me, Janitor of Planet Anilingus is not the utterly ass-centric debauch I thought it would be.  It has its moments of sexual lunacy but this is mostly a quest novel wherein a man loses everything as he tries to save the woman he thinks he loves.  It has some atrociously gross moments, don’t get me wrong, but one of bizarro’s secrets is that the stories are the same as those you will find on the best-seller list.  The stories differ only because they are peppered with unusual sex, weird species, grotesque details and strange and over-the-top humor.

The hero of this novella, Jack, as the title implies, is the janitor of Planet Anilingus.  Planet Anilingus is a sort of destination spot, a DisneyWorld of sorts, for people deeply involved in butt-licking.  Jack is completing a 40-day period, a time of Lent, wherein the planet is closed to visitors, spending his time tidying up and doing a deep clean before the revelers return.  He is the only person on the planet, until a hairless, humanoid woman with helicopter blades that shoot up from her back lands on the planet.  Someone is trying to kill this hairless woman, Nimue, and Jack does his best to protect her.  In the course of his interactions with Nimue, he stops going to work and his boss, Bishop Eichmann, replaces him with his nephew Tommy.  Tommy and Jack enter into a rivalry for Nimue’s attention and both end up, god help me, pregnant after her sexual ministrations.  What the pregnancy does to the men is easily the grossest part of the book but I enjoyed it because poopy stuff makes me laugh.  Nimue ultimately is not what she seems and even knowing of her sexual perfidy with Tommy, Jack still wants to save her from the rocket launching lunatic chasing her.  Jack is not a man given to much in the way of emotion, probably because all the ass licking he witnesses has numbed him, and it’s an interesting choice on Adams’ part to insist that Jack be so removed emotionally because in the midst of all the chaos, any one else would have freaked out.

Before I begin telling you why this is a very good, funny, gross quest novella, I need to say that hallelujah, kiss the ground, this book is cleanly edited.  I mean, there are a few errors, but this is the cleanest Eraserhead Press book I’ve read in at least two years.  I swear on all that is worth discussing, half the battle with me is editing.  I hate to seem like my standards have been lowered so much by the small presses that just reading clean copy makes me want to give a rave review but it’s getting to that point.  However, I am going to show why this book is a good read on top of being edited well enough that nothing distracts the reader from the text.  (Well, the content can distract a certain kind of reader, but it won’t be because the comma usage is maddeningly bad.)

Jack enjoys his time alone on the planet, except that being the only person around makes him the sole target of the cupids, a mutant insect.

One more week and Lent was over, and then the cupids would not bother him.  His only trouble then would be the hundreds of thousands of people licking each other’s assholes day and night.  They blanketed the planet, an orgy visible from space.  Nonstop until next Lent.

At first there is nothing exceptional about this passage until one finishes the book.  Jack is not a man who exaggerates and the third-person narration in this story follows suit with flat and earnest descriptions.  After finishing this book, I realized the orgy likely was visible from space, and as a result, I felt extreme despair alongside Jack.  A week of that sort of thing?  Might wear thin after a few days.  Months and months of so much butt-licking it is likely affecting the cosmos?  Poor Jack.

And it just gets worse.  Poor Jack, indeed.

His normal uniform consisted of nothing but a pair of lace underwear and a bow tie.  It was crucial that no irregularity should sully the planet’s atmosphere of total debauchery and a stinky janitor intruding upon the middle of an orgy would certainly do so.  The job even required him to practice erotic body language as he went about his work, movements choreographed to make dusting and mopping look sexy.  And if some random reveler stole a lick of his ass, he had to pretend to like it, then extricate himself as expediently as possible.

What would OSHA make of that? I can’t help but think that a lot of the bizarros held very difficult menial jobs, or perhaps still do.  If the above description involved dealing with feet and far less sex, the mental impact would not be too different from selling shoes.  Kissing asses, handling feet – it’s all so demoralizing.

In addition to being inappropriately groped at work while mopping in a sexy manner, the rest of Jack’s job sucks as well.

“These men and women haven’t licked an asshole in six weeks,” the Bishop continued.  ”All they are dreaming of now is a return to Anilingus.  They’re drooling for paradise, and we must deliver.  I’m talking true Eden, Jack – as in, not one goddamn dust bunny on the planet, and every cobblestone, every leaf, shined to look like a scale from the reptilian skin of God.  Can you handle that?”

Jack said, “I’m on top of things.”

“If you fuck up, I’ll have you peeling potatoes on Vore.”

A demotion to peeling potatoes on Vore.  Jesus, the implications… This passage made me laugh so hard that Mr. Oddbooks wanted to know what I was laughing about.  I was shocked when he knew what “vore” meant.  I don’t really know him at all, do I?   Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: Bizarro Fiction, Bizarro Week!, fiction, non-fiction | on May 8th, 2013 | 16 Comments »