Book review: Thunderpussy by David W. Barbee

ThunderpussyThunderpussy by David W. Barbee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

David Barbee showed us what he’s got with A TOWN CALLED SUCKHOLE, but his next book, THUNDERPUSSY, confirms it – Barbee is one of the best authors of weird fiction out there right now.

THUNDERPUSSY is a consistently funny, perfectly over-the-top Bizarro update of the super spy adventure. Declan Magpie Bruce, Agent 00X, is everything you’d want in a spy. He’s hypersexual, majestically mustachioed, and armed to the teeth with fun spy gear like a suitbot that transforms his clothing to whatever environment or situation he’s in. Ever wonder how James Bond always shows up in nice new threads all the time, despite never carting luggage around with him? Had to be a suitbot.

That’s one example of dozens of great, weird ideas that pepper the pages of THUNDERPUSSY. While James Bond continues to be re-imagined as Jason Bourne, Barbee goes the other direction and puts a shitload of fun back into the spy genre.

Get it on Amazon: click here

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‘Cage Your Sloth!’

I issued a challenge on Facebook yesterday. I wanted to give away a copy of my first book, Muscle Memory, so I proposed this:

“A signed & personalized paperback copy of my first book will go to the first person who writes a NEW Amazon review of one of my other books. The review must be at least 243 words long, be partially written in a foreign language (different from your own normal language, that is), contain the chorus from your current favorite song, and it MUST utilize the following words in any sequence: CONSTABULARY, SLOTH, PORTICO, TOOLBELT, JEFF, PACZKI.”

I figured no one would take the time and the post would quickly be forgotten. Sometimes, I throw little giveaways out like this without much fanfare or buildup, mostly because I’m bored at work and need to do something to keep my brain from slowly oozing out my ear. But I figured wrong. Within an hour, Scott Pratt responded with this masterpiece, which I would like to reproduce here, with a couple added images.

I present to you, an amazing impromptu review of my book, Samurai vs. ROBO-DICK:

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read! Cage your sloth!, April 24, 2013

By
Scott L. Pratt

This review is from: Samurai Vs. Robo-Dick (Paperback)

sloth and copAs I was reading “samurai Vs. Robo-Dick I looked over to my friend, Jeff the Sloth and smiled gently. He was eating a pazki and jelly had dropped from his mouth onto his toolbelt. I was sitting on the Portico, as the Constabulary walked by. Jeff seemed upset at their presence, and yelled out to them, “Carry on my wayward son There’ll be peace when you are done Lay your weary head to rest Don’t you cry no more”. The constabulary lead halted and stared for a brief second before saying, “Sobald ich stieg über den Lärm und Verwirrung Nur um einen Einblick jenseits dieser Illusion Ich wurde immer höher steigenden Aber ich flog zu hoch Obwohl meine Augen sehen konnte, war ich noch ein Blinder Obwohl mein Verstand denken konnte ich noch ein wütender Mann Ich höre die Stimmen, wenn ich trauma Ich kann hören, wie sie sagen”

I was upset that Jeff confronted the non-military police officers, and told him to tighten his toolbelt and go inside. He obliged, and I continued to read. I was upset that he was being such a robo-dick and distracted me from reading. As I read, I realized that I was wearing a brown shirt and had a stack of junk food at my side. Was the author writing about me? I was more intrigued. Did I mention that my wife is a redhead? Anyway. All was silent after Jeff disappeared into the house. I was able to finish the magnificent book. I highly recommend it to anyone that loves the bizarre. The book is really well thought out, and amazing. Just make sure your talking pet sloth is locked in his cage when the constabulary walks by.

sloth cage

* * * * * * *

I loved this so much, I decided to offer up two more copies of Muscle Memory to anyone willing take on this challenge. If you can match what Scott did, I’ll send out a personalized copy of Muscle Memory to YOU. Tag me on Facebook, or email (lowe435@gmail.com) me the link to the review when it’s posted on Amazon.

And as luck would have it, to aid you in this task, my collection Mio Padre, il Tumore is free for the Kindle until Friday, April 26th.

Book review: The Last Kind Words, by Tom Piccirilli

The Last Kind WordsThe Last Kind Words by Tom Piccirilli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You there, with that book in your hand. Put that down. Now, pick up this one and resume. No, seriously. You don’t want to be reading that, you need to be reading this.

Sometimes you read a book and can just tell the author is trying too hard to make it something more than it is. That is not this kind of book. The Last Kind Words is literary crime fiction that doesn’t feel like it’s trying to be anything but a great fucking story. There is no frill or filler here, no need to seem smarter than your average hard-boiled thriller. It just is. It’s quiet when it needs to be, bloody as hell when the time is right, with enough surprises to keep things skipping along, but not so hung up on the whodunit that the story or the characters get pushed aside.

That’s what I love about Piccirilli. He doesn’t overplay his hand, he just writes. He doesn’t tell you stories, his characters do. This was my fourth or fifth Tom Piccirilli book in the past year or so, and I’m clamoring for more. I look forward to catching up on his entire backlist, even if it doesn’t compare to TLKW. Pic currently resides atop my list of favorite authors, cemented there by this book. Start reading this guy, right now. Start with this one, absorb it, revel in it, then go get more.

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Buy The Last Kind Words on Amazon.com

Book review: Infinity House, by Shane McKenzie

Infinity HouseInfinity House by Shane McKenzie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liken the experience of reading Shane McKenzie’s debut novella INFINITY HOUSE to what I suppose Lassie’s little buddy, Timmy, experienced falling down that well. You think you know what you’re doing going in, not worried about the consequences of fooling around near an old, abandoned well. I’m fucking Timmy, after all, I’m a blond-haired, blue-eyed little prick with an awesome dog, what the fuck could happen to me? You think I’m going to let some shitty, forgotten well scare me? Fuck that and fuck you.

And then you’re falling, tumbling, down into the dark, faster than you even realize, all manner of horrific ideas running through your mind, including such thoughts as, oh fuck, I’m falling down this well, which is likely filled with monsters and evil and snakes and bones and spiders and raccoon urine and clowns. And then you hit the bottom.

That’s this book. It’s got the monsters and the evil, but instead of spiders, you have flies, and instead snakes, it’s maggots. A sea of maggots up to your chest, and rotting meat, disgusting stench, liquefied nastiness. INFINITY HOUSE is the story of Mike and his little brother James. They live in The Oak, a ghetto where Mike sells weed out the front door to pay the bills. His grandmamma is infirm and his mother is dead and only Mike is left to care for James.

Mike is ripped off by a customer toting a shotgun and loses his stash and his cash, but little brother James comes home with money in hand. He found it over at the creepy haunted house that everyone in The Oak knows to steer clear of, but with no money and no more weed to sell to make some money, Mike and James head to the house to see what more they can find. OH SHIT MIKE DON’T GO IN THAT HAUNTED HOUSE YOU DUMBASS IT’S HAUNTED BY A CHILD-KILLING FREAK! STOP SMOKING THE MARIJUANA IT’S DESTROYING YOUR SENSES!

That’s about all the setup you need, and all the setup you’re going to get because by the time Mike and his little bro step inside the house, you’re headed straight down that well. The story takes off like a roman candle at that point, piling on one slippery, slimy, disgusting, horrific scene after the next until you finally splash down at the bottom and try to catch your breath, or at least keep from ralphing in your lap. I won’t lie, there are a few passages in here that got my stomach turning. I expected this book to be nasty, but it still managed to get to me.

But that what’s it’s supposed to do. INFINITY HOUSE is straight up gross-out horror, and it doesn’t even attempt to be anything more than that, which is cool. McKenzie, in an interview included in the back of the book, says as much. He’s out to shock you, stun you, make you feel queasy, uncomfortable, lightheaded, sick, whatever he can get. If the idea of millions of squirming maggots and rotting, mushy meat squishing under your feet is too much for you, then you’ll probably want to take a pass on this one. But if you dig that sort of thing, McKenzie is a name to watch out for.

Personally, I don’t go out of my way to seek out the extreme horror, but I don’t reject it out of hand, either. I think it takes skill to write a story that’s both compelling and also over-the-top nasty at the same time. That type of book can get tedious and just flat gross real fast. To his credit, McKenzie doesn’t let it get to that point. He doesn’t give us a lot of characterization when it comes to Mike or James, but he trades that in for a short little rocket ride of gore that will be over before you know it, if you can just hold out to the end. I’m intrigued and looking forward to what he comes up with next.

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Book review: DIE, You Bastard! DIE! by Jan Kozlowski

Die, You Bastard! Die!Die, You Bastard! Die! by Jan Kozlowski

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I highly recommend Jan Kozlowski’s brutal revenge story DIE, YOU BASTARD! DIE! I read this sucker in a day because I physically could not stop reading it. You really will want that bastard dead and enjoy what he has coming to him. One of the more inventive torture scenes I can recall. Excellent rape revenge exploitation and a great start for the new Ravenous Shadows line of genre books. It’s short, but not detrimentally so because the story is tight, taut, and well told at a near-breathless, hardboiled, brutal pace. READ, you bastard! READ!

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Book Review: A Town Called Suckhole, by David W. Barbee

A Town Called SuckholeA Town Called Suckhole by David W. Barbee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love is a strong word. I’ve met David W. Barbee in real, non-Internet life. I’ve quaffed beers shoulder to shoulder with the man and his wonderful wife. I’ve marveled at the awesome vision of David reading from his masterpiece, A TOWN CALLED SUCKHOLE, and how people lined up afterwards to get their hands on this book.

I mention all this for transparency’s sake, but I also want you to know that I love David W. Barbee. I love him in the bromantic way that two men can love each other without the risk or promise of orificial penetration. And I love this book he has written.

Love it.

You’ve read a million times in reviews where an author has “rendered a rich world filled with depth and layers” and all that sort of jazz, right? Well, David Barbee’s world of SUCKHOLE is deep-fried in a batter of bizarro ingenuity and served up on a stick of post-apocalyptic Southern gothic weirdness that you won’t be able to resist sucking down. (I swear, I’m not gay for David Barbee.)

Barbee fully imagines SUCKHOLE, which makes it so easy to get lost in that world of nuclear fallout mutated rednecks and swamp monsters. But then he does what so many authors of the fantastic struggle to do, and he peoples SUCKHOLE with actual characters who have depth, emotion, dimension, and story arcs that we want to follow through to the end and screech out a rebel yee-haw for.

Did I mention I loved this book? Because I do. And I love David Barbee’s sweet, Southern, robot-bizarro-writin’ ass. Still no homo here, just some good ol fashion man love.

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Holy Fuck, Another Damn List?

‘Tis the season for creating lists and such, and yes, I’m here to add another one, but I thought I would simply list the books of 2011 that I suspect I’ll still be talking about after this year is over. (How’s that for a lazy snappy lead-in?) I settled on four of them, with a few more honorable mentions. The first book listed here is technically from 2010, but I don’t care because it was published in December of ’10 and I say it’s close enough for rock and roll. And I didn’t read it until this year. So there.

1. By the Time We Leave Here, We’ll Be Friends, by J. David Osborne

This is the book voted mostly likely to send you swirling down the toilet bowl of depression. Yes, it’s that dark and that bleak. And it’s fucking cold, too. Set in a Communist Siberian gulag, you should consider throwing on a hoodie-footie before reading this, lest you catch your death of cold. But goddamn, is it beautifully written. Osborne’s style is as clipped, considered and no-nonsense hardass as the world he creates, and that’s why this works so damn well. If you want something original, compelling, smart, violent, and yet beautiful at the same time, I implore you to grab a copy of this one.

2. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

And now for something completely different, Cline’s first-person love letter to all things 1980s. I was never the biggest gamer back in the day, and even less so now for that matter, but I was very familiar with the Atari and video arcade staples of my youth – Qbert, Pac-Man, Missle Defense, Galaga, etc., so there was enough here I could recognize. There are also several old school game references in this one that didn’t resonate with me, but enough ’80s movie minutiae to make me do a little pee-pee in my pants. I really dug the nostalgia and consider this to be a perfect read for an ’80s child like myself. Good times.

3. Nightjack, by Tom Piccirilli

Back to the darkness, this is a story of a guy with dissociative identity disorder who tries to solve his wife’s murder while juggling his multiple identities in his head, each of which is written as a separate character. In lesser hands, this would be a mess, but Piccirilli does a marvelous job of making each identity their own person, with an arc that fits into the puzzle of a plot. Great writing, great characters, and a tense, violent crime story that has me wondering why it took me this long to read something from ‘Pic’.

4. Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, by Bradley Sands

Another personality disorder type story wherein a popular action movie star can’t suppress his ultra-macho, throat-ripping asshole of a character, the eponymous Rico Slade. Funny, but with some surprising heart for what initially appears to be a simple Bizarro weirdfest. (Read my original review here)

Those are the four books from 2011 that I dug the most. Other releases from this year that I enjoyed, are worth mentioning, and definitely worth your time are: Flashback, by Dan Simmons; Hooray For Death, by Mykle Hansen;  Already Gone, by John Rector; Crab Town, by Carlton Mellick III; Embedded, by Dan Abnett

Book review: By the Time We Leave Here, We’ll Be Friends, by J. David Osborne

By The Time We Leave Here, We'll Be FriendsBy The Time We Leave Here, We’ll Be Friends by J. David Osborne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fanfuckingtastic.

Of everything that I’ve read and reviewed over the past 2 or 3 years, this is the one book that deserves to be read by a larger audience. It won the Wonderland Award for best novel of the year, and there’s no doubt it was an honor well-earned.

Dense, dark, parasitic, drug-infused nightmare set in a Stalin-era Siberian prison camp. Cormac McCarthy fans take special note of this one – it’s bleak both in its subject matter and its stingy use of language. Nothing extraneous in here, and each word feels as though it was carefully chosen after an intense interviewing process that left those unworthy eviscerated and discarded along the side of the road. J. David Osborne kills this shit.

And it’s the fucker’s first novel. Amazing.

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Book Review: “Damned” by Chuck Palahniuk

DamnedDamned by Chuck Palahniuk

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It was… you know… eh. Don’t get me wrong, well written, with some solid Palahniukian things to say about… things and stuff. But overall? Shit, I don’t know.

I didn’t really go into this book with any kind of expectation. It seems two camps have emerged in the Chuck Palahniuk fandom world – the group that’s tired of that “Chuck” voice that every main character seems to have and wishes he’d branch out, and the group that’s tired of Chuck trying to branch out and do something that doesn’t read like a Chuck book. I fall in between I suppose. I liked PYGMY until the end, but my problem with that book didn’t have to do with the voice or the “Chuckitutde” of it, more with the copout of an ending.

I guess this is Chuck’s curse, to have all of his work forever compared to his first, great breakthrough. Either it’s not enough like it, or it’s too much like it. I think my problem with DAMNED is, Chuck’s heart just doesn’t seem to be into it. To put it another way, this felt like book writing instead of story telling. Felt like fiction manufacturing instead of yarn spinning. By the time I got to the TO BE CONTINUED… at the end, I really didn’t even have the energy to be annoyed. I laughed a few times, kind of got to like the Madison character, wondered why all the candy in Hell didn’t melt, but mostly just felt really noncommittal by the end.

All I really want is to read a good, entertaining story. That’s all I’m looking for at this point. If I get something more out of it, then that’s just the unexpected gravy atop the mashed potato. (The yellow kind they served with school lunch, that seems so delicious and magical now that I haven’t had it for 20 years.) It’s not you, Chuck, it’s me. Will I read the sequel(s)? Yeah, most likely. But, again, I won’t go into it with any kind of expectations. I grew up rooting for the Chicago Cubs. I’ve learned not to have expectations. I am broken.

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Book review: Black Hole Blues by Patrick Wensink

Black Hole BluesBlack Hole Blues by Patrick Wensink

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If I ever get narcissistic enough to create my own awards (and that may not be far off because I like myself a hell of a lot), I would have to give one to Patrick Wensink for Black Hole Blues. I could call them the “Steve Awards for Achievement in Bizarre Literature”. Who wouldn’t want to receive a SAABL? Nobody, that’s who. The award Wensink would win is for ‘Doing Something I’ve Not Seen Before’. Or maybe a shorter name than that, I don’t know yet, but he would win it because Wensink does it.

He wrote a novel with very novel Points of View. A sandwich. A guitar. A stolen automobile. A barbeque grill. A rather vulgar and pissed off atomic particle. We experience Black Hole Blues through the “eyes” of each of these things, and a few others. While that might seem at first like a stunt, and I suppose it mostly is, it still works. Wensink manages to give these things, these rather benign inanimate objects, their own perspective but also a dash of humanity that helps the reader relate to them. (And please note that this may have been done before, but as I mentioned previously, I hadn’t seen it before, and if I haven’t seen it, then it might as well not exist.)

Yes, the idea of a sad, forgetten and rotting club sandwich telling us a story is absurd, but that’s also what makes this book fun. The human characters are, without a doubt, the core of this story, but the real pleasure comes in reading what is already a goofy tale through completely different and inventive perspectives, and that’s why it stands out. You see the characters in different ways and learn more about them than perhaps we otherwise would have. These varying POVs are punctuated throughout and interspersed between the POVs of the human characters, but to be honest, I think the whole thing could have been written from the perspective of different inanimate objects because Wensink does it so well.

The other thing you need to pay attention to is the blog that goes with this book. If you haven’t visited Death to Kenny Rogers yet, you’re not only missing out, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Don’t disservice yourself. You really need to get weekly doses of Kenny Rogers’s evil. It’s a public service that will earn Patrick Wensink the SAABL for Humanitarian Service. Congrats, Pat! Two-time winner!

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