Book review: Fistful of Feet by Jordan Krall

Jordan Krall’s `Fistful of Feet’ is a bizarro tribute to Spaghetti Westerns and claims to be the “weirdest western ever written”. It does not disappoint. As this story unfolds, you can easily imagine the characters speaking poorly dubbed English as the onscreen actors mouth their dialogue in Italian. This book reads how TV re-runs of the film `The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’ used to look before digital retouching came into vogue: gritty, dirty, violent, occasionally out of focus, regularly unsettling, but never, ever boring.

Click pic, buy book.

The triumph of Fistful of Feet, like Krall’s first book `Piecemeal June’, is the palpable mood that it creates in the mind. You smell and taste (and regurgitate?) FOF as much as read it. This story is a visceral, dripping romp through Screwhorse, Nevada, a town with hardly a redeeming inhabitant. Even the main character, the drifter Calamaro, has his issues and fetishes, though compared to the rest of the sorted cast, they’re minimal and downright normal.

The final 50 pages of FOF are like running a gauntlet of bizarre, outlandish, disgusting, and even hilarious imagery. An exploding wooden donkey flinging women’s shoes like flaming daggers, a horde of syphilitic men, split-open heads that spew two-tailed scorpions, and much more. Krall runs the reader through the ringer with his special, nearly breathless brand of weird, violent, sexual mayhem.

FOF, which recently made the short list for the Wonderland Award for novel of the year, is so full of wild bits and squishy pieces that the language is kept to a stark minimum, which suits the story well. There is no time or need for poetic description when recounting slopping sex scenes involving squid or tattoos that spread like a virus. Krall is at his best when the tentacles begin to fly, which is early and often in this one. Let the reader be forewarned.

Book review: Piecemeal June by Jordan Krall

OK, first thing’s first, I mostly enjoyed this book. It is atmospheric and the writing clear and crisp, and chock full of enough weird to make fans of the weird stand up and cheer. But I’m giving it 3.5 out of 5 stars, because…

I don’t get the fascination with shit. That is, stories with graphic scenes or themes revolving around feces. Like snakes to Indiana Jones, when I read about defecation, I think to myself, “Why’d it have to be… shit?” This story has a lot of good, weird, whacked out, and interesting images and ideas, it’s got depth of character, originality, a grimy, sleazy mood, and some grimy, sleazy sex and fetishes to match… but then there’s the shit. A character with an opening in her back, like a portal to another reality, but it’s a swirling whirlpool of shit. There’s expolding toilets that release torrents of fecal water, a scene seemingly interrupted by two characters’ bouts with diarrhea, flying turds explained in graphic, splattering detail. Mind you, this is a relatively small part of Jordan Krall’s first book, but still, it’s a bit much for me. Call me a wuss, or prudish, or whatever the hell fits, but there it is.

A quick plot summation – Kevin’s cat Mithra brings home sweaty pieces of what turns out to be a sex doll, which comes to life when finally assembled. Kevin and June fall for each other, but there are some bad dudes out there who have lost her and want her back. There’s a subplot about Simon, God of Whores who lives in an alternate reality world that drips with pus and sex organs and such, a very intriguing world that I found mysterious and palpable, though by the end, Simon turns out to be a bit if a softy, which you wouldn’t have guessed from the prologue.

Since Piecemeal June, Krall has published two other books, Squid Pulp Blues and Fistful of Feet, the latter of which I have on my to-read pile and looks really good. As long as the turds are kept to a minimum, I can stomach just about anything.

2-Minute Drill: Jordan Krall

What do “Encino Man”, the Georgia Satellites and Dollywood have in common? Absolutely nothing, unless you’re having a conversation with a bizarro author. Especially one who writes westerns about feet and has a fixation on squids. This is what happens when the Drill wanders into bizarro land and can’t find the exit.

The 2-Minute Drill is 5 quick questions and 5 quick answers from someone you probably haven’t heard of, but should hear from. This isn’t some rambling, long-winded author interview here. We dispense with the pleasantries and get down to brass tacks. We ask the tough questions and get the tough answers that you need to know. And if not, we’ll just make them up.

Smallest Headshot Ever

Ladies and freaking gentlemen, we give you Jordan Krall. A bizarro author with a worrisome fetish for feet and squid, Jordan’s titles include Squid Pulp Blues, the weirdo western Fistful of Feet, and more like oddities. We also learn that Pauly Shore makes him combative and that he refuses to celebrate our birthday. Despite these things, we very much like Jordan, and we predict you will too…

2-MD: As an author with several books out now, will you know you have “made it” when some anonymous reviewer/wannabe critic/15-year old toolbox named ‘OG-BizarroGuy89’ claims your recent work sucks and that he prefers your early stuff better?

Jordan Krall's Talking Toolbox! (only available in pink)

JK: I’m totally waiting for the day someone talks about my “early work”… even if it’s some 15-year old toolbox. I’d also quickly befriend the toolbox because toolboxes generally don’t talk and I can probably make millions off him.

2-MD: The Drill is celebrating a birthday soon, and though you’ve never met us, would you take us here to celebrate? – “The Holy Land” 

JK: Sorry but celebrating birthdays is like being nice to goth kids. It’s pointless so I just never do it.

2-MD: Every time we read your last name (KRALL) we can’t help but think of one of the great films of the 1990s – Son In Law.  Did your parents surname you after Pauly Shore’s career-defining role?

JK: First, his career defining moment was Encino Man. Second, “Crawl” and “Krall” are two different things, you squid-sucking son of a bitch. (2-MD: Ooo, testy… must have touched a nerve there. Note to selves: NEVER bring up JURY DUTY in Jordan’s presence.)

2-MD: Hypothetical question for you: If we have a little change in our pocket goin’ janga-langa-lang, what should we do with it? And as a follow up, give us your thought on free milk and the cow.

JK: That’s two questions disguised as one. First: if you have spare change, save up and buy one or more of my books. Help me pay my bills. And concerning free milk and the cow…. where I come from, cows don’t have udders, they have tentacles. So the milk isn’t free. At all. (2-MD: This is a great answer, and ‘Piecemeal June’ is on it’s way to us as we speak… but technically, you’re wrong. We were shooting for this:

2-MD: Seriously dude, what’s the deal with all the feet? And the squids? You’re freakin’ us out a little here. We can actually just ignore the squid for now (we do love us some calamari), but the feet thing’s giving us the willies.

JK: People always ask about the feet thing but I have no idea what they’re talking about. As a sidenote, I must add that there have been studies that have shown that people who have an aversion to feet are more prone to illness, more likely to hurt small animals, and less likely to get their pilot’s license. You don’t have a pilot’s license, do you? And you should reaally see a doctor about that itch. And Steve, please…let go of that racoon.  (2-MD: … No … he’s my… my friend…)

Jordan Crawl, you have endured our sophomoric nonsense long enough and we now release back to the wild. We will, however, require you to wear this GPS locater tag on your ear like the rest of the bizarros we’ve captured. It’s an important study we’re conducting for “da gubbmint”, very hush-hush, though, so keep it on the down low. (Or is it low down? We think one of those terms stands for gay sex, but we were going for the other meaning… seriously.)