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The Monster Librarian Presents:

Reviews of Bizarro Fiction


    Combining elements from (nearly) every genre, Bizarro Fiction is generally centered on very weird situations and characters. Bizarro Fiction, while strange, is a serious literary form that often combines elements of surrealism and the absurd. Bizarro Fiction is highly imaginative, going beyond the realms of most popular fantasy and science fiction, is often hilarious, is sometimes more violent than the most graphic horror story, and can even be quite thought-provoking.

    Bizarro Fiction has dealt with a woman who falls in love with a wall in her apartment, a Santa Claus who is made out of sausage links, a cowboy who drags a wooden donkey through a desert to battle Cthulhu-worshipping Indians, and a soap opera satire featuring a washing machine Messiah. Bizarro Fiction is basically the literary equivalent of a midnight cult film. - Nick Cato, Horror Fiction review


Rhonda Wilson interviews Bizarro fiction author Jordan Krall.



Matador of Mirrors by Alex S. Johnson*New Review

LucidPlay Publishing, 2013

Available: New paperback


Note: Matador of Mirrors must be direct ordered from LucidPlay at


        Alex S. Johnson’s chapbook has a nice sampling of the author’s bizarro short fiction and poetry.  My favorite piece is “Today She is French”, about Liza, a fifteen year old girl who is so unhappy with her life that she would change it, if given the chance.  It is probably the most straightforward story and one that perfectly captures female teen angst. 


        Other great pieces include the poem “Solid”, that evoked a sense of someone having to deal with other people’s crap, but doing so gracefully; “Imaginary Criminals” about how ideas can make their way through society and culture; “Death by Metafiction” about an artist’s character who knows she is a character; and “Last Orgy of the Gingerbread Men” which is a very dark story about how power corrupts.


        All of the pieces in Matador of Mirrors are creative and intelligent.  The imagery is colorful and distinct, though cryptic and at times sinister. I thoroughly enjoyed Johnson’s book and recommend it to long-time and new Bizarro fans alike. Recommended.

Contains: violence

Reviewed by Colleen Wanglund



GrudgePunk by John McNee

Bizarro Press, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0615752587

Available: Paperback, Kindle edition


Welcome to Grudgehaven, or “The Grudge”, a festering sore of a city where the streets are named for diseases and giant slugs ooze up the brick walls of the slums. That is, until the acid rain falls and melts them into the cobblestone streets.


          GrudgePunk is an anthology of nine addictive, interconnected stories detailing the lives and crimes of The Grudge’s most notorious citizens; humanoid creatures of metal, flesh, plastic, rock and refuse.  Written in noir style, McNee combines the classic elements of feuding gangsters, femme fatales, corrupt politicians, and innocents caught in the crossfire with the bizarre and unpredictable world of The Grudge.


Despite the dismal-sounding setting, the tone is light and humorous. McNee’s writing is fast-paced, with plenty of action and just enough description to paint rust on the faces of the poor and veins on the walls of the “Casa de Carne” flesh motel. The setting is one of the true joys of this collection, a character unto itself; each story adds another dimension to Grudgehaven.


While it is difficult to pigeonhole this collection into a particular genre, fans of science fiction and horror will appreciate the monstrous characters and sinister plot twists. Some of the tales could even be interpreted as social commentary on our society today, as there are many parallels, but all stories are enjoyable at face value.  GrudgePunk is recommended as a worthwhile addition to young adult and adult collections.


Contains:  Almost no profanity, mild sexual situations, extreme violence


Reviewed by:  Sara Sabol



The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone by MP Johnson*New Review
Bizarro Pulp Press, 2013

Available: Paperback and Kindle.

        This is the story of a pig, an evil pig. Pork Knuckles is the pet of young Daryl Malone, who spoils the pig. His father, Albert, doesn't approve, and kills P.K. for food. Daryl gets really angry, and leaves home with his pal, as a ham, in his backpack. And that's when the story gets weird.

        Daryl runs to his aunt and uncle in Green Bay, but having P.K. in his backpack is a bad plan, since P.K. can influence thoughts. P.K. didn't want to die and being killed made him so angry, he wants to destroy everything that Daryl loves. Pretty soon, everyone Daryl comes into contact with starts to obsess over ham and P.K. can control people that way. Daryl eventually comes to realize what's going on and tries to stop P.K.

        This is really my first experience with bizarro splatterpunk, and it's quite a wild ride. As a pet owner myself, I really felt for Daryl when his pet was killed. Daryl is really the only likeable character in the book. His father doesn't really come off as sympathetic, although he seems to be looking out for Daryl toward the end of the story. The other characters are only in the book for short periods, and then only to be victims of P.K.

Contains: extreme violence and gore, sex, drag queens, a battle royal in a club basement

Recommended for adult readers.

Reviewed by: Diana Lord



By The Time We Leave Here We'll be Friends by J. David Osborne

Swallowdown Press, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1933929057

Available: New and Kindle



J.David Osbourne’s debut novel is an amazingly good, taut, mind bender of Dark Bizarro that is so well crafted you won’t believe it's his first book. By The Time We Leave Here We’ll be Friends won the 2010 Wonderland Award for Bizarro Novel of the Year. It is the story of a Russian gulag in 1950's Siberia. The story follows a couple of different characters, but focuses much of its attention on a former thief and prisoner, Alek Karriker. Things change for Alek when he is promoted from prisoner to being a guard.


This gulag setting is perhaps one of the most bleak locations for a novel you could possibly pick. This is a miserable place and opium is one of the few things that helps to take Alek's mind off the conditions that he and prisoners alike deal with. One problem he has is that a hole in his neck is talking to him. At the same time, the prisoners are losing their minds to drugs and depression. So why not try to escape? It's insane, right? There is no vegetation or food in sight for hundreds of miles. That sets of the kick in the pants that Karriker has in mind for making it to freedom. The first time I heard about this novel I wondered… are you really going to escape when hundreds of miles of tundra are on the other side of the fence?


This novel is total insanity. It's well researched and well-written. It's compelling and impressive in every way. Swallowdown publisher Jeremy Robert Johnson has an amazing eye for dark horror-themed bizarro and so far is batting five for five on masterpieces.


As often happens with masterpieces its only weakness is also a strength. I admit I have no idea what happened at the end. The fact of the matter is I will read this novel again someday, with a better understanding. Either way, J. David Osbourne has written an amazing first novel.


Review by David Agranoff




Jim and the Flims By Rudy Rucker

Nightshade Books, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1597802802

Available: New

Rudy Rucker is a well-known cyberpunk science fiction author and editor of the science fiction webzine Flurb, as well as a well-known mathematician and computer science professor. His best known fiction is a series of four cyberpunk novels that were kicked off by the classic novel Software. To say that Rucker is a genius is an understatement. He writes stunningly original, funny, and, above all, smart science fiction.

His observations on the craft of writing science fiction are well documented in interviews done over the years with the amazing Agony Column podcast. One of my favorite concepts Rucker introduced in one of those interviews was the sci-fi “power chord”. He talked about how certain tropes in speculative fiction such as androids, flying saucers, and alien invasions should not be looked upon negatively as clichés any more than the power chord in a AC/DC or Ramones song. Throughout his long career Rucker has explored these “power chords”, always putting a unique spin on familiar topic.

After recovering from a health scare, Rucker decided to write a book about traveling in the afterlife. In his own experience, Rucker didn't see a light at the end of the tunnel, but he was inspired to explore the idea. What we end up with is a novel that resembles what you’d get when Matheson's What Dreams May Come meets Slacker.

Jim and the Flims is the story of surfer slacker Jim Oster, a former biotech engineer turned mailman who accidentally cuts a hole in an electron that sets off a chain of events starting with the death of his beloved wife, Val. In this novel, the afterworld, known to its residents as Flimsy, is not above us in the heavens, but is all around us in each and every electron. This leads to my favorite dialogue from the novel, “Heaven is everywhere. It's a hall of mirrors, but over here only one electron has a nick, thanks to you, fuckhead.”

You see, Jim has created a tunnel. Not only have some of the various species of flims escaped to earth, but he is given the chance to leave his body and search for his wife in Flimsy. This is where things get weird, really bizarro. Rucker takes us on a wild adventure across Flimsy, a land made up of strange creatures and landscapes. I can hardly do them justice in this review. In Flimsy, water flows across the sky, there are flying intelligent beets and blue baboons, and they travel across the land on a cruiser couch that Jim makes with his mind out of a material called Kenessce which all Flimsy is made out of. Along the way, the book also has a bizarre sex scenes between Jim and a woman also discovering her astral body.

Jim has to navigate the strange community of Santa Cruz surfers and flims not only to find his wife, but of course, also to save the earth. Rucker's strength is an amazingly bizarro creative imagination that matches his obvious intellect. Unlike many bizarro books, Jim and the Flims finds humor with appealing to the gutter. The prose has a whimsy that a lot of science fiction lacks, and frankly, could use. It reads like a lucid dream, the kind where you wake up laughing and wondering how your brain came up with that. Rudy Rucker strummed this power cord with a lot of gusto, and I think if you have not read his stuff before it's a excellent place to start.

Contains: sex, violence, bizarre images.

Reviewed by: David Agranoff




Codename Prague by D. Harlan Wilson

Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2010

ISBN: 9781935738053

Available: New


Codename Prague is the second book in D. Harlan Wilson’s scikungfi trilogy (the first is Dr. Identity).  Things in Agent Vincent Prague’s world aren’t so simple.  In an over-technologized science fictionalized future world where reality is dead and the impossible is now possible,  Prague has killed the Nowhere Man and is now a major celebrity.  Prague doubts the integrity of his bosses after being sent on a mission to Prague with no information about whom he is to meet or what his target is.  .

Vincent Prague is jailed for years at a time, goes back to the past as if it never happened, meets a woman who uses him sexually at will, and meets the Frankenstein-esque monster of one Dr. Teufelsdrochk.  In Prague’s world, body parts are interchangeable, the dead can be brought back to life and a video phone can make a person sound and look like a cartoon character. 

If you are into bizarre fiction then Codename Prague is definitely the book for you.  Wilson creates a bizarre world where apathy reigns supreme, except in Teufelsdrochk’s Monster, the Sans Merci.  The writing is excellent, and while I initially was a bit confused, I quickly managed to find my groove.  Wilson loads Prague with a multitude of pop culture references (mostly movies) with some of my favorites being a weird reference to the movie Frankenstein Unbound (1990) and Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989).  Codename Prague is a smart, funny and enjoyable read. Recommended.


Contains violence, adult language and sexual situations


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



How To Eat Fried Furries: A Flying Circus by Nicole Cushing

Eraserhead Press, 2010

ISBN: 1-936383-00-4

Available: New

Normally,  I would give you a general idea of the plot of this book now, but, as the subtitle, A Flying Circus, implies, this book is more akin to a Monty Python show, than to a novel or short story collection. There are numerous, interconnected stories, as well as recipes and short vignettes. First, we have a "lost episode" of the "classic" tv show, Ferret Force Five, in which the anthropomorphic animals must battle an invasions of squirrels from space. This is followed, eventually, with a tale of The Ministry Of Flesh, as they take over a small town and turn it's inhabitants into livestock. And, in one of my favorites, we have The Godfather by way of the Easter Bunny. There are many more bits and pieces in this stew of furry fun; too many to mention, in fact. They have to be read to be believed.

Nicole Cushing is a fresh new voice in the bizarro genre, and How To Eat Fried Furries is certainly one of the most bizarre books that I have read. And I mean that in the best possible way. Imaginative and funny, this books almost defies categorization. Cushing comes out swinging, establishing a strong style. She manages to give depth to characters that grace very few pages, and sets scenes with precision. This is a strong start for a promising new author. I recommend this book for libraries and anyone looking for something VERY different and VERY funny.

Contains: Violence, strong language, and sexual situations.
Reviewed by: Erik Smith


Muscle Memory by Steven Lowe

Eraserhead Press, 2010

ISBN: 1936383012

Available: New

    Steven Lowe’s Muscle Memory is a funny little bizarro novel. Meet Billy, who woke up inside his wife Tina’s body. That’s just the first strange occurrence in Billy’s life that morning. His dog is meowing and his cat is barking. While breastfeeding the baby, Billy discovers his house is not the only one with these strange switches taking place. His neighbors and friends Tucker and Julia have also switched bodies and it isn’t long before they realize that Tina must be in Billy’s sleeping body. They are determined to find out what happened and as the “men” make their way into town they discover it’s happening all over.

    Muscle Memory is a fun read with a bit of tragedy that fits within the story perfectly. It’s also a quick read, as I made it through the book in just under two hours. Inevitably, government agents show up and seal off the town, but won’t tell anyone why they are in this particular predicament. I laughed while reading about how these people were dealing with being in someone else’s body, particularly the men. I also enjoyed the nod to all those dopey late 80s/early 90s movies about these kind of switches, like Freaky Friday, 18 Again, and Like Father Like Son. Without giving anything away, I will say I  would liked to have seen more about the cause of their predicament. Other than that, I liked Muscle Memory and recommend it to all bizarro fans.

Contains: adult language and sex

Review by Colleen Wanglund


You Morbid Westphal by Steven Rage

Evil Nerd Empire, 2009

ISBN:  978-1-4392-5973-3

Available:  New and Used


YOU.  Yes, “you”… are a poor soul in the hospital on your last legs.  And as it is, you’ve “given birth” to one of the most horrible “people” ever possible…

MORBID.  Born from “your” rectum, Morbid dispatches many other patients in the hospital in extremely horrendous and painful ways.  However, the main suspect of these murders isn’t Morbid, but instead…

WESTPHAL.  Living with his ghost step-dad, Sammy, and his pet aborted fetus, Chip, Westphal works as a night shift nurse, getting stuck with all of the worst patients.  All those that no one else wants to fool with.  Just to get through the day, Westphal has to dope himself up with the strongest narcotics possible and that doesn’t always help make things easier. 

These three characters, as well as a host of other interesting “people” make up Steven Rage’s You Morbid Westphal.  Both the characters and story format are unique- Rage has created a one-of-a-kind voice with this novella, which has enough story to fill a full-length book.  A large chunk of the story follows Westphal day-to-day as he suffers through many horrendous tasks at work, in his dreams, and even just trying to obtain more drugs along the way. 

As soon as I read the final chapters of this book I was ready to re-read it.  I ended up waiting a few months before doing just that, but after a second read, I would be more than happy to do so yet again… and again… and again…  You Morbid Westphal is one of those novellas that never get tiresome, as you pick up something different with each read through.   You Morbid Westphal is not for the faint of heart, as it is full of numerous crude scenes that Rage describes in graphic detail.  For many seasoned horror/bizarro readers, this will be a plus, but for those that can’t handle things over the top, beware!  Highly recommended!

Contains:  Adult language, Adult Situations, Sex, Rape, Violence, Gore, Heavy Drug Use

Review by Rhonda Wilson




King Scratch by Jordan Krall

Black Rainbows Press, 2010

ISBN: 9780955693861

Available: New

    Pancakes!  That is the one thought (and craving) that sticks after having read Jordan Krall’s latest release, King Scratch.  Difficult to describe, yet enjoyable to read, King Scratch is a mix of sex, car crashes, pancakes, moonshine, and of course… squids.  There are also several tripped out scenes throughout the novella involving Abraham Lincoln.  The novella has some of the nastiest and most memorable scenes ever from the bizarro genre, but it doesn’t stop there.  After the King Scratch story is over, there is an appendix section including four more shorts that tie in to the main story.  To top it off, there are a few illustrations sprinkled over the course of the book that help you visualize some of the characters Krall has created.  I know that I always enjoy envisioning them in my own head, but seeing how another depicts the characters to be and how it compares to my own thoughts intrigues me.  King Scratch is foul, fun, and fantastically freaky… everything I expect from a Krall story.  I would recommend this book to all fans of the bizarro genre as it is gross and extreme at times.  Highly recommended!
Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations, Sex, Violence
Review by Rhonda Wilson



Fistful of Feet by Jordan Krall

Eraserhead Press, 2009

ISBM: 9781933929897

Available: New

    Fistful of Feet is the first full-length novel published by bizarro author Jordan Krall.   It’s not your typical bizarro title… scratch that… NO bizarro is “typical”, actually.  However, Fistful of Feet is a mesh of genres, leaning heavily towards being a Spaghetti Western title.  The story takes place in the desert town of Screwhorse, which consists of many typical townsfolk for a western setting.  There’s the bartender that knows everyone, the major, the gals from the whorehouse, and many more to stumble upon as our main hero, Calamaro, passes through town.  I can’t say that I’ve read any other westerns in my time and about my only experience with western movies is the Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen movie, How the West Was Fun, which is so far from being like Fistful of Feet that I shouldn’t even mention it here, but… I think I can go out on a limb and say that Krall has created a novel unlike any other Spaghetti Western out there!  Sure, some characters are similar to your run-of-the-mill western, but they all have a bit of a twist, which is what makes this novel so interesting.      The gals of the whorehouse don’t just have sex with the men that come to them, but they allow them to live out their ultimate kinks.  Trust me when I say that some of them I can’t even believe Krall thought of and if they really do exist… well, EWWW!!!  The owner of the town store sells not only your every day groceries, drugs, basic necessities, but he specializes in a special “juice” that I’ll let you read about all on your own.  And our hero, well… let’s just say that he brings to town with him a gun that burps when you shoot it and also a wooden donkey that comes in surprisingly handy by the end of the book.  These are only a few of the strange characters you will meet as you make your way through Fistful of Feet, the fabulous bizarro/spaghetti western novel by Jordan Krall.  Whether a fan of the spaghetti western genre or not, all fans of the bizarro genre will love this book.  I’ve read all of Jordan Krall’s books to date, and I have to say, this is by far my favorite!  Highly recommended!
Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations, Graphic Sex
Review by Rhonda Wilson
We include a second look at Fistful of Feet by Colleen Wanglund


    Calamaro has come to Screwhorse, Nevada in search of gold to start a new life in California.  He’s not the only one looking for gold.  Sergio, Clayton and Leonard are also headed to Screwhorse for gold.  Rebecca is going there to work at Black Betty’s in the hopes of making enough money to also get to California, and Bluford is hoping to con a few people out of some of their money.  Mayor Douglas just wants to continue running the town and using women as he sees fit.  There are Cthulhu-worshipping Indians on the outskirts of town, a woman with four feet working in the brothel, another with some very strange tattoos, and a killer on the loose. 


Fistful of Feet is a wonderful ode to the Spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s and 70s.  Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood would be proud.  It’s also one of the strangest Westerns I’ve ever read, and I loved it.   With nods to Leone, Claudia Cardinale, and Charles Bronson it brought to mind such classic westerns as Once Upon A Time in the West, A fistful of Dollars, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  Like Clint Eastwood’s unnamed cowboy, Calamaro is a reluctant hero, fighting because he feels it’s the right thing to do.  Betty is the whore-with-a-heart-of-gold who takes care of her girls and Stacklee is her quiet and unassuming muscle in case the boys get out of hand.  The mayor is corrupt with William Lyons being the real power behind the office, and the sheriff who’s pretty inept at his job.  Jordan Krall has all of the pieces necessary for a great Western as well as for a great Bizarro tale.  With a large and strange cast of characters, action galore, and a fast pace FISTFUL OF FEET is a must-read for Western and Bizarro fans alike.


Contains adult language, sexual themes, and violence


Review by Colleen Wanglund




Squid Pulp Blues by Jordan Krall

Eraserhead Press, 2008

ISBN: 978-1933929682

Available: New and Used

         Following the success and acclaim of his first novella, Piecemeal June, Jordan has collected three novellas all set in the same seedy city.  Thompson, New Jersey is your typical blue-collar city on the surface, but when the sun sets, the creeps come out to play.  The hotels are filled with the worst of the worst, bizarro fetishists lurk in the shadows, and Jordan’s signature squid-related creepies are on hand. It’s an excellent merging of horror and noir.

        First up is The Haberdasher, in which parolee Henry Hooper meets up with his friends on the outside and is lured into the “lifestyle” once again.  Their boys' night out is ruined when one of his friends takes some bad drugs (that may or may not be squid) and sets the night on its ear.  While trying to defuse the situation in a hotel, they’re sucked into the mysterious case of a woman in the next room who’s had her feet removed.  In The Longheads, we’re introduced to Peachy, a diaper-wearing gangster with a penchant for death.  We also meet the “longheads”, a group of deformed war veterans who are buying all the guns in the town of Thompson and planning something decidedly big.  And finally, there’s The Apocalypse Donkey, a tale of mistaken identity gone horribly wrong, which features sleaze, carnivals, and squidy violence.

Squid Pulp Blues reads like three distinct episodes of a hybrid of Tales from the Crypt and Twin Peaks.  Each tale is paced rapidly and the stories stand alone, but also work well when read together.  Fans of bizarro will notice the signature touches of the weird. Squid Pulp Blues is a nice marriage of mystery and horror, and should appeal to fans of Quentin Tarantino and Elmore Leonard, as well as fans of Edward Lee and Brian Keene.

Contains: Strong and explicit language, adult content and situations, graphic violence.

Reviewed by Eric Mays


We have a second look review of Squid Pulp Blues by Rhonda Wilson.


Love crime?  Love noir?  Love bizarro?  Love comedy?  If you said yes to any of these questions, then Squid Pulp Blues is for you!  The book is made up of three novellas and has been described as squishy-noir, and contains all of the genres I just listed.
The first novella, The Haberdasher, is about bad drugs, missing feet, and other weird things that Red Henry Hooper is up against after obtaining parole.  The Longheads is the second novella and has probably one of the most interesting, yet disturbing characters I’ve come across in a bizarro title to date… Peachy, a diaper-wearing gangster.  I’ll leave it to your imagination about exactly WHY Peachy wears a diaper, as it’s best to find out for yourself.  Peachy is actually not the main focus of this story, however.  The story centers on a group of veterans called the Longheads who are tracking down other characters who end up having a run-in with Peachy.  The final novella in this collection is titled The Apocalypse Donkey.  This was my favorite of the three stories, though they are all extremely good.  The Apocalypse Donkey is about Simon, the artist of a popular comic book, who is on his way to an autograph session when someone hands him a package.  Unfortunately, it’s a case of mistaken identity and the package isn’t really for him.  Once this is discovered by the other party, the chase is on!
All three novellas in Squid Pulp Blues are loosely connected, making for an even more interesting read.  Characterization is one of the strongest points of Squid Pulp Blues, as is the case for all of Krall’s books.  Each story contains several characters and each and every one of them has special attributes/features that are unique to them.  I keep thinking that Krall will run out of ideas for new and interesting characters, but he hasn’t disappointed yet.    Randomly gross, most often hilarious, and almost always full of squid references, this is one of Jordan Krall’s finest works.  I would recommend this to anyone as there is something in it for everyone.  Highly recommended!
Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations
Review by Rhonda Wilson


Carnageland by David W. Barbee
Eraserhead Press, 2009
ISBN:  1-933929-95-2
Available:  Used and New

        David W. Barbee takes readers on a madcap adventure as the alien Invader 898 goes on his first mission.  Sent to a planet full of twisted characters of fairy tale and fable, Invader 898 and his trusty Doomshooter are ready to take over.  One thing that Invader 898 did not expect, however, is the reaction of the green flesh between his legs.  Upon viewing salacious sights of the inhabits of this new planet, he has a hard time controlling this green flesh that tends to form the shape of a trumpet and play music.  Will Invader 898 be able to conquer this planet before the urge to give in to temptation becomes too strong, or will he give in to the pornographic delights and fail?  Readers of the bizarro genre will not want to miss Invader 898's tale in Barbee's first release through Eraserhead Press, included in the New Bizarro Author Series.  Carnageland is chock full of familiar characters, looked at in a whole new light.  I found myself amused at every turn by Barbee's depictions of these characters and how Invader 898 reacts to each one, and the description of Invader 898's "trumpet" is a brilliant idea.  Sure brings a new meaning to one saying they are horny!  This novella kept me laughing non-stop and wanting more once the last page was read.  Barbee definitely has a promising future in the world of bizarro and I would recommend all libraries adding it to their collections for readers to enjoy.
Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations, Graphic Sex
Review by Rhonda Wilson



Perfect Union by Cody Goodfellow

Swallowdown Press, 2010

ISBN: 9781933929033

Available: New

    When I read Cody Goodfellow's first novel, Radiant Dawn, I believed I was looking at the future of horror fiction in the same way those early readers of Clive Barker's books of blood were. Goodfellow's first two novels were a single story, and as great as they were, Perfect Union was a real test for Goodfellow. His short stories have a modern weird tales kind of thing going on...  but could the ultimate bizarro off-the-hook Goodfellow short story go full length? The answer is yes!
    Perfect Union is a weird masterpiece. Cronenberg body horror, Evil Dead-style gore comedy, and a fascinating political dissection of Marx and Thoreau make this a genius horror novel destined to be misunderstood by the the masses but loved by the readers ready to get in the ring with the author. He can disturb, offend and amuse in a single sentence, and he has done all three to me in a speech tag before.

    Perfect Union is the story of Drew, who recently married Laura, and has agreed to go on a road trip with her hysterically funny twin brothers to help move their mother out of her rural Northern California home. Laura didn't talk about her family, for good reason. Her mom was a commune-hopping hippie and abusive enough give all three of her kids serious issues.

    Laura's mother lives near Utopia - a town founded by hippies which is home to a failed communist compound that was moved into a an old asylum. A new commune has grown out of the house, which uses radical biological experiments involving bees and mind control. It's the ultimate communist hive mentality.

    Goodfellow's characters slowly lose control and as the novel amps up and the hive mentality takes control of the narrative. Goodfellow spins a mind-bogglingly insane tale of body horror that manages to dip its fingers in uncomfortable gore while invoking laughter and deep thought about issues of personal freedom. Who knew a book where a woman bites the heads of fetuses and throws them at people could also explore the failings of communism. Perfect Union is an intelligent, socio-political, dark bizarro masterpiece and one of the most original horror novels in years. If you take horror or bizarro literature seriously in your collection, you must have this novel.

Contains: violence, drugs, sexuality and adult themes.

Review by David Agranoff



Swarm of Flying Eyeballs by Gina Ranalli

Squid Salad Press, 2009
Available:  New
    Squid Salad Press' second bizarro release, Swarm of Flying Eyeballs, comes from one of the top-selling authors in the genre, Gina Ranalli.  In Swarm, the summer school students of a local school are going on a local field trip to a blueberry field.  Ron, the poor guy that has to tend to the blueberry fields, watches as the bus pulls up and is a bit disgruntled, since back in the day when he was in school he never got to go on field trips during summer school.  Soon, the kids are all picking berries until all of a sudden one of them starts to scream! Ron goes to check on the girl who was screaming, and next thing, both Ron and the girl that was previously screaming are both running and yelling "EYEBALLS!"  But what are they talking about?  Only the mind of Ranalli and those that have read Swarm know for sure and honestly, I'm not even sure the readers know exactly what Ranalli has in mind once this book comes to such a twisted end.  Swarm has the feel of a fun B-horror movie and I could picture the film rolling in my head as I was reading it.  The characters that Ranalli has created are brilliant.  They vary in age from young kids, to teens, to adults.  The weird thing is... it seemed liked a lot of the time the young kids, such as Natalie, our heroine, had more smarts about her then those that should have had more maturity.  Of course,, I guess that is how things do seem to be in a lot of real life instances, so Ranalli probably hit that dead on!  It's the underlying things such as that, and Ranalli's quirky writing style, that make this such a powerful read. Highly recommended for all fans of the bizarro genre, or even those readers that are hesitant about the genre and just want to consider "dipping their feet in". 
Contains:  Mild Violence
Review by Rhonda Wilson

Rotten Little Animals by Kevin Shamel
Eraserhead Press, 2009
ISBN:  1-933929-91-X
Available:  New and Used

    Kevin Shamel's debut release from Eraserhead Press, Rotten Little Animals, is a bit like Animal Farm on crack.  The animals in Shamel's novel, however, are trying to keep their presence unknown to humans.  While filming their latest masterpiece, the animals are spotted by a young boy that lived across the street.  When the boy comes to investigate what he has seen (it's not every day you see a zombie cat fight!) the film crew of animals decides to kidnap him and re-write the movie that were working on to include the boy as their newest cast member.  They figure staging an abduction will be more realistic-looking than their previous project, and it might help their chances in the Animal Academy Awards.  What the crew doesn't count on is some of the animals turning against each other... and when that happens, you never know what Rotten Little Animals might do next!  These animals are crude, rude, and usually drunk and/or high.  They aren't your typical, cuddly pets that you'd want to take home, but this is definitely a novel that you want in your collection!  Shamel has created a tale that is disturbingly rude, laugh-out-loud funny, and at times, just so bizarre that you can't even wrap your head around the fact that these are animals doing these things.  Of course, some scenes I couldn't even fathom humans doing to other humans!  In particular, there is a scene in the book where the animals put the human boy, Cage, in a room that he had to share with Filthy Pig (obviously a pig) that is known as the "Toilet Room".  As you can guess, there is a grating above the room that all of the other animals stand above and let their urine and feces come down through... right onto poor Cage.  It's a powerful scene, but greatly disturbing at the same time.  It makes the reader feel for Cage though and want him to pull through somehow and escape.  That scene, as well as numerous others, kept me reading Rotten Little Animals, fast and furious, as I wanted to see what was going to happen at the end.  As this was part of Eraserhead Press' New Bizarro Author Series, I am hoping that Shamel will have more releases in the future because I am greatly anticipating reading more by this author.  Highly Recommended!
Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations
Review by Rhonda Wilson


Piecemeal June by Jordan Krall
Eraserhead Press, 2008
ISBN:  978-1-933929-63-7
Available:  New and Used

    Jordan Krall's first bizarro release through Eraserhead Press, Piecemeal June, is a strong first novel.  It is the story of a guy named Kevin who lives above the town's one and only porn shop with his cat, Mithra.  Said cat has a habit of bringing various things to Kevin, typically tarot cards, but one day he brings Kevin an ankle... and it's sweating!  In the following days Mithra brings Kevin more body parts, and eventually Kevin has the complete makings of a full female.  When he puts the female together, to his surprise, she comes to life and tells him her name is June.  However, little does Kevin know, but Max Alexander, evil pornographer, and his three crab-human assassins are looking for June and will stop at nothing to get her back. Based on the blurb of the back of this book, I went into Piecemeal June thinking it might be heavy in regards to sex, but after reading it realized there honestly wasn't much to do with sex in the book at all.  The book is actually more focused on a deeper love story between the characters in the book as you will see as you read it.  Despite this being a "love story", however, Piecemeal June also is quite grotesque in parts.  There is one character called Simon, the God of Whores, who is pretty darn foul!  The scenes describing him and the things he does may make some readers retch a bit.  For those accustomed to reading gross-out kinds of scenes, these parts shouldn't phase them one bit, but to others... I'm just giving fair warning that you might not want to eat right before reading this.  All in all, this is a great first novel and I'm looking forward to reading the other works by Krall.  Highly Recommended!
Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations
Review by Rhonda Wilson




The Cannibals of Candyland by Carlton Mellick III
Eraserhead Press, 2009
ISBN:  978-1-933-92985-9
Available:  New and Used
    Franklin Pierce witnessed something very traumatic as a child.  His brother and sisters were devoured by a candy woman with cotton candy hair, a belly like a giant circus lollipop, and marshmallow breasts.  Due to this, he has made it his mission in life to track down the candy people and to destroy them.  Franklin buys a gun so he can kill the candy people, then stumbles into a candy person on the street and shoots him.  The candy person doesn't die right away and Franklin follows him back to the secret "Candyland".  There he runs into Jujy, the candy woman who killed his siblings. Jujy takes Franklin into her home and eventually turns him into a candy person himself.  But can a human actually be turned into a candy person without repercussions?
    Candyland was one of my all-time favorite games as a kid, so when I saw this book was being released I was ecstatic!  Also, I thought the cover art for this book was absolutely gorgeous.  I finally received the book and read Mellick's note at the beginning of the book, I saw that the book actually had nothing to do with the board game, but that it was his inspiration for the book, and I was still ready to devour it.  From start to finish this book is a delicacy!  Mellick uses such vivid language to describe the candy people and the world they inhabit that I had a very clear image of what they all looked like.  There are also some humorous moments in the book that keep the story light and balance out the gore level of the book.  It was a well-rounded read and will be a great addition to the bizarro lover's collection.  Highly recommended!
Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations, Cannibalism, Gore, Violence
Review by Rhonda Wilson




Shatnerquake By Jeff Burk
Eraserhead Press, 2009

ISBN-13: 9781933929828

Available: New

    Jeff Burk is the editor of a new but excellent bizarro fiction magazine, which gives him an important role at center of a growing literary movement, so it should not be a surprise that he has also put out a unique novella of science fiction bizarro-ness. Shatnerquake is the story of rabid Bruce Campbell fans at a science fiction convention who accidentally bring all of William Shatner’s characters to life after he steals the spotlight from their hero. Kirk with a lightsaber, Priceline Shatner, TJ Hooker, cartoon Kirk: they are all there on a hilarious mission to hunt down and destroy the man who created them. This is a funny piece of fiction. William Shatner fans have been lighting up the internet with buzz about this slim but hilarious book that packs more inside geek jokes and humor into 83 pages than most episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Both Shatner fans and Star Trek fans who don’t like him can find a lot to love here.  Shatnerquake has already become the subject of Wil Wheeton's tweets, and fans have already generated fake sequel covers. 'Tsunimoy' anyone? Public libraries with a science fiction or bizarro fiction focus will not want to miss this one.
Contains: violence and all kinds of bizarro depravity.

Review by David Agranoff



The Good Humor Man by Andrew Fox

Tachyon Publications, 283 pages

ISBN: 9781892391858

Available: New

    Andrew Fox is a New Orleans based bizarro author who uses fantastic concepts in his books that promise an endless number of laugh out loud moments. His debut novel, Fat White Vampire Blues told the story of an overweight cab-driving vampire in New Orleans who angers a radical black power vampire. Based on the description, I was excited to read that book, but it just didn't live up to the potential of the concept.

    The Good Humor Man is Fox’s third novel, and again Fox has a book with a brilliant and funny plot. The Good Humor Man is set in a dystopia where junk food has been declared illegal and features ex-liposuctionist Dr. Louis Schmalzberg as its unlikely hero. Louis is beginning to question his role as a “Good Humor man” in a group of government sanctioned vigilantes who track down illegal use of junk food. This book is satire, and it’s not subtle. It’s clear that Fox’s biggest influence is Fahrenheit 451.

    I see a lot of improvement in Fox’s writing, although the narrative is a little uneven and not all the humor is effective. Fans of political satire could do far worse. Because of its potential for wide appeal, it is recommended for public library collections.

Contains: violence,sexuality and some potty humor.

Review by David Agranoff


Mother Puncher by Gina Ranalli

Afterbirth Books, 2008

ISBN: 1933929170

Available: New

     Ed has an odd job. In a country faced with overpopulation the government has instituted an odd punishment for those who choose to procreate. Seconds after their child is born the parents have to face the ‘Mother Puncher’. The name says it all. As a retired boxer Ed is perfect for the job, but he truly hates it. The only thing that keeps him coming back to work every day is a bizarre form of sympathy for the mothers. If he doesn’t punch them then some other Mother Puncher will and most lack the compassion to do it humanely. As expected, this law isn’t a popular one, and the population soon erupts into full-scale riots… and the rioters want the Mother Puncher’s head.

    Mother Puncher is a unique story with a wide variety of characters. Though it seems unlikely from the title, Ed is a character that the reader can sympathize with. He is really a compassionate fellow and this underlies his personality throughout the entire story. Recommended to anyone who is looking for a good story with a different twist.

Contains: mild violence

Review by Bret Jordan



Blankety Blank: A Memoir of Vulgaria by D.Harlan Wilson

Raw Dog Screaming Press,2008

ISBN: 9781933293509

Available: New

    The first book I read by D.Harlan Wilson was the science fiction title Dr. Identity, and it sold me on the man’s brilliance in the first few pages. I described the book as Monty Python meets Phillip K Dick I was unsure how his absurdist style would work outside of science fiction.

    While Blankety Blank is not exactly horror, it is a darker take on Wilson’s absurdist style and is every bit as zany as his other work. With more laugh-out-loud parts than Douglas Adams’ books it’s pretty hard not to enjoy Blankety Blank. While the complete absurd nature of the world created sometimes gets a bit old, the story’s lightning speed makes this book a fun and light read.

     The story is about Rutger Von Trout, who lives in a Wilsonish absurd vision of his home town, Grand Rapids. Characters throw sausages at each other and explode into bouts of hulkamania after a serial killer begins to stalk their “perfect neighborhood.” Wilson also detours into hilarious mini-chapters on subjects ranging from the film career of Patrick Swayze to the history of Ferris wheels.  Does this advance the plot? I’m not sure, but I enjoyed it just the same. Wilson is a master of absurdist humor and if that is your cup of tea, have a drink!

Review by David Agranoff



Super Cell Anemia by Duncan B. Barlow

Afterbirth Books,2008

ISBN: 978-1933929163

Available: New

   Super Cell Anemia is an unsettling debut in all the right ways. Effectively organized through journal entries and narratives from shifting perspectives, the story follows Giles, a germ-a-phobe who is so electrified that he relies on an experimental treatment (involving biting copper) to deal with his rare illness. Giles has moved to Cincinnati to continue this treatment and be close to his doctor. As the story moves along, Giles’ neighbors get stranger, and his doctor goes off on convincing pseudo-scientific monologues. Chapters focused on the various rooms and neighbors in Giles’ building are an inventive touch that relate to the character nicely. Most disturbing is the half-man calico cat Giles knows is stalking him. As you read the book you begin to wonder how much you can trust the journal entries that often compete with the present tense narrative.

    The subtle nature of Barlow’s take on the absurd is a strength of the book. While I enjoy the over the top whacky-ness of some Bizarro authors, like Bradley Sands (also an Afterbirth author) and D. Harlan Wilson, Barlow takes a different approach. Like a slow burn gothic horror novel the moments of the absurd are peppered brilliantly through the first hundred pages. From there the strangeness of the book expands like lungs sucking in a deep breath

    Super Cell Anemia is a doozy of a character-based Bizarro novel. It is excellently written and everything I hoped for when I started it. If you like a strange read this book needs to be on your TBR pile.

Review by David Agranoff


Die Earthman Die by MF Korn, DF Lewis, Mike Philbin and David Matthew

Cosmic Eyeball Press, 2005


Available: New

    I wanted to like this collection of short stories. Most are Bizarro style science fiction or horror, with several that are in both genres. Most of the stories are written for irony and humor and a few have an interesting old school feel. Those stories remind me of the thin science fiction paperbacks with orange paper. Strangely, there is no explanation of how the four authors worked together. No publication information is included in the book. This book is really only for libraries dedicated to building a wide collection of Bizarro books.

Review by David Agranoff.



Confessions of a Ghoul and other stories by M.F.  Korn

Silverlake Publishing, 2003


Available: New and Used 

    Confessions of a Ghoul starts out with fifty pages of short stories set in a college environment in the author’s home state of Louisiana. The stories are followed by an interesting novella that gives the book its title. When I first opened this book I thought it was off to a fantastic start. Korn horror tinged Bizarro, with very creative use of prose. However, his pop culture and prompted literary references distance readers from engaging in the story and making connections on their own, and many of his themes are well-worn or repetitive- for instance, his use of horror authors as characters, and multiple references to the same International House of Pancakes.  Those interested in including original voices in their collections should not overlook M.F. Korn.  I’m just not sure this is the best example of his work.

Contains: Violence, Cannibalism, Adult language and themes

Review by David Agranoff


It Came from Below the Belt by Bradley Sands

Afterbirth Books, 2005

ISBN: 0976631040
Available: New

    Brandley Sands is not for everyone, but if you are one of people who connect with his work, finding It Came from Below the Belt  would be like being struck by lightning. Perhaps the most absurd of absurdist novels I have ever read, this book has as many laughs as a Mel Brooks film from the seventies. On the surface, the novel seems to suffer from ADD, but it is actually deviously constructed to have a plot complete with a “choose your adventure” breakdown in which all the directions make sense in the whole.

    So the question is, are you ready to read a science fiction novel about a man swallowed by a giraffe and vomited into the far future that has to run his sentient penis for public office? If that sounds like the type of story you have always been missing, then get Afterbirth Press on the horn and get yourself a copy!

Contains: Adult content and language.

Review by David Agranoff



The Troublesome Amputee: Collected Poetry by John Edward Lawson

Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2006

ISBN: 1933293152

Available: New

    There are few books like this one. Even within the new and growing Bizarro movement Lawson has released a book full literary razorblades in the form of poetry. Lawson’s work shines through the whole spectrum, including funny, sad, morbid, disgusting and meaningful poems. Libraries looking offer a unique book of poetry that spits in the face of conventional, sugary sweet, or pretentious “literary” poetry,  that expresses a dissident voice of gloom should put this book in the shelf.  Recommended.

Review by David Agranoff


Chemical Gardens by Gina Ranalli
Afterbirth Books, 2006
ISBN: 0976631067

Availability: New

    Gina Ranalli has already established herself as the dark queen of the bizarro underground with the politically challenging experimental novella Suicide Girls in the Afterlife and a recent collaboration with outsider artist Gus Fink on a collection titled 13 Thorns. With amazing cover art also by Fink, Chemical Gardens, released in 2006, is a good place to start for readers looking to explore this growing literary movement. Laugh out loud funny, bizarre, and inventive, Chemical Gardens is Ranalli’s take on The Wizard of Oz. The members of a Seattle punk band, Green is the Enemy, are trapped in a buried city underneath Seattle called the Underground, where the punk heroes battle the villains with their guitars as sidekicks, and must fight their way out in time to make a gig in the Bay Area. It’s safe to say that with Ranalli leading the way, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Contains: violence, drug use, alcohol consumption, bizarre imagery.
Review by David Agranoff



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