Want to become a part of Eraserhead Press’s New Bizarro Author Series? We are actively seeking submissions and time is quickly running out for this year. The books will make their debut at BizarroCon in mid-November. You can read the detailed submission guidelines here.
We’ve asked our 3 series editors about the kinds of books that they are looking for. This is what they said:
I’m only interested in novellas, so no story collections please. Please keep the books under 30,000 words. Although it specifies that in the guidelines, most of the submissions that I receive are longer.
I like books that focus on language, meaning the author put a lot of effort into writing each sentence. But I don’t like style over substance. Form and content are of equal importance to me.
I have a weakness for books that are related to pop culture and are gimmicky. But a mediocre book with a good gimmick isn’t going to work for me. It needs to be a great book with a great gimmick.
I’m looking for books that use a central high-concept idea: books that can be summed up in a sentence or two. Also, the sentence (or two) should make a potential reader excited about your book and make them want to buy it.
I prefer pitches for unwritten books over full-manuscript submissions. Send me a whole bunch. If I end up liking one, I’ll ask you for a sample of your best writing. I know there isn’t much time left to write an entire book for this year’s series, so if that’s not possible, there’s always next year.
I’m looking for smart, entertaining, creative stories with strong plots and emotional cores. I want stories that are unique and personal to the author, stories that couldn’t have been written by anyone else. I’m open to looking at all types of bizarro, and am excited about expanding what fits under the bizarro umbrella. I’m especially interested in authors who represent diversity in their identity and within their stories.
I’m looking for character-driven work in which the oddity feels natural to the story, rather than forced and unnatural to the narrative.
In this workshop you will learn to write high-concept bizarro while concentrating on the absurd and the surreal. You will discover what “high concept” means and learn what appeals to bizarro readers. We will study the differences between bizarro and traditional fiction, as well as their similarities. We will discuss characters in bizarro (particularly protagonists), settings, and the relationships between characters and settings. You will be taught to use traditional plot structures in untraditional stories. We will speak about conflict and what protagonists do to solve the problems they face. Do they do this differently than protagonists in other genres? If so, how?
By the time you finish the workshop, you will be able to write a bizarro story that will delight and totally weird out your readers.
Bradley Sands is the author of Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy, TV Snorted My Brain, and others. He edits the New Bizarro Author Series for Eraserhead Press. He also works as a freelance editor. Bradley holds an MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University. In the past, he was the editor-in-chief of Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens (A Journal of Absurd and Surreal Fiction), an associate editor for Bombay Gin, and an assistant editor for Weird Tales.
“I would not be published today if it weren’t for Bradley. As a guest teacher in a bizarro workshop, he picked me out and asked for more, and asked for better. He was constantly challenging me to push further and in a short time helped me chisel my writing abilities to a finer point. Bradley was able to not only see gaps in my writings, but was able to push me toward interesting solutions to fill those gaps, not just create bridges. He doesn’t push his own style on you, but helps you realize your own. A fantastic teacher and editor all around.” – Andy de Fonseca, author of The Cheat Code for God Mode
I used to edit a bizarro lit journal called Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens. I’m difficult to impress, so it always took me a long time to find enough stories to fill an issue. Throughout the seven or so years I worked on the journal, I noticed I often rejected submissions over and over again for the same reasons.
6: Stories About a Guy Taking a Shit
I don’t know why this kept happening. Was it only me? Stop. Just stop. It isn’t interesting. It’s stupid. Taking a shit isn’t weird. We all do it. At least I think we all do it. If you don’t, I suggest you see a doctor.
5: Stories About a Guy Who Does a Bunch of Acid and Runs Around Doing Totally Crazy Shit
No one has the least bit of interest in reading this unless they’re already on the acid that you’ve hooked them up with.
4: Submitting Completely Random Shit Unless the Writing is Exquisite
Plot is important to me and the prose is important to me. Give me a story with an engaging plot and incredible writing and I will probably accept it. Give me a story with little to no plot and poor or mediocre writing and I will definitely reject it. Give me a story that’s totally random, freaking hilarious, and incredibly well written and I will definitely accept it. This is my personal taste, so others may not do the same.
3: Submitting a Story That is Too Long or Too Short (and Shit)
The guidelines are there for a reason. Do what they say. If the story is a little long or short, it will probably be fine, but mention it in the submissions email. Otherwise, I may end up assuming you haven’t read the guidelines. You don’t want to make a bad impression on me before I read your story.
2: Submitting Shit Without Reading the Guidelines
Yes, it’s obvious and it’s completely insane when this happens. It takes a minute to read guidelines. It’s there to increase your chances of acceptance and to avoid wasting my time. The problem is that many writers submit to tons of places and don’t care where they are accepted. The only thing that matters is acceptance. I don’t understand this behavior. It’s like flinging your shit against the walls to see where it sticks. Unless people like this change their ways, they’re doomed to either remain unpublished for the rest of their lives or to get published in shitty places where they will never be read.
Even better, read an issue of the journal to familiarize yourself with it before submitting. Editors are aware that you’re probably submitting to lots of places and you may not have the time or money to buy and read an issue from every place that you submit. And that’s okay. This is why there are guidelines for you to read. In the case of my own journal, people didn’t necessarily have to pay money to read an issue because a few of them were available as a free PDF.
1: Submitting a Shitty Story
If the first page or two are bad, I’m not going to give you the benefit of the doubt. I’ll just stop reading.
So I was talking to Andersen Prunty in 2008 at a party during the World Horror Convention. I was a little drunk, as people tend to be at conventions. Andersen may or not have been the same.
I looked around the room and said, “I’ve probably rejected stories from almost everyone in this room.” This was back when I was editing the literary journal, Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens.
Andersen said, “Bradley, you’re such a dick.”
Then somehow we decided to put together an online anthology called Bradley Sands is a Dick as a PDF. Every story was required to be titled “Bradley Sands is a Dick.” I would make it available on Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chicken’s website. And we would have an open submissions call so anyone could have their story considered for it. I assumed there would be very few submissions and the vast majority of the stories would be written by my friends. This was not the case. There were MANY submissions. Around the same amount that I usually received for my literary journal. This may have been because the journal was closed to submissions at the time, although I don’t recall entirely.
So all of a sudden my inbox was being filled up with stories about how I’m a terrible person that were written by complete strangers, none of whom were even close to describing the person who I really am. It made me wonder what their motivation for submitting was. I didn’t think Bradley Sands is a Dick was a publication that an author was likely to use as a credit in their biography. Unless an author had a story concerning a particularly loathsome character and were willing to change the character’s name to my own, they had to make an extra effort to write something that fit the anthology. If their story was rejected, it would have been rather strange to submit it anywhere else unless they changed my name. I found it rather peculiar when I discovered that an audio recording of a rejected story (with its original title still intact) was used for fiction podcast.
There was also no payment offered for the stories, except for a $100 prize for the readers’ favorite one. All of the stories were listed in a poll on some website and readers were supposed to vote for their favorite. Unfortunately, the poll wasn’t set up very well and the winner was able to vote for themselves thousands of times (at least I assumed they did). Since Andersen is a good sport, he still awarded the prize.
A number of bizarro authors submitted stories and had them accepted, including Jordan Krall, Mykle Hansen, Cameron Pierce, and D. Harlan Wilson. Carlton Mellick III performed a story at the first Bizarro Showdown competition during the first BizarroCon and I was the story’s protagonist. It seemed appropriate to ask him if we could use it for our anthology.
Before the anthology came out, Andersen asked me, “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yeah, why not?” I responded, not thinking about how each time a potential employer searched my name on Google, a link to the anthology would pop up on the first page.
When the anthology came out, I promoted it on my blog with an entry titled “proof the kids will submit stories to anything these days.”
So listen, writers. Writing is hard. You shouldn’t write a story for an anthology called Bradley Sands is a Dick unless you have a good reason. You shouldn’t submit one of your stories to just anywhere. It’s well and good if story acceptance makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside and motivates you to write more, but you should be trying to achieve more than this with publication. Too often I stumble across an online lit zine that is poorly designed and comes out with a new issue once a week. I wonder what kind of people are submitting to these places—probably the same people who submitted to my anthology.
I know that no one is reading the stories these zines publish besides the editors and a couple of the authors’ friends and families.
Submit to places you are proud to be a part of. Places people read. Places YOU read. Don’t submit to an online anthology with a title that denigrates its own editor, unless you know the person. Or if you think the concept is freaking hilarious.
Regardless, I’m happy with how our anthology turned out.
If you would like to read it, it is available for download here: http://rapidshare.com/files/965010522/bsands.pdf
What up? Rico Slade here with a review of last week’s episode of Survivor. I know last night was the season finale, but I don’t give a crap. You gotta earn a review of the season finale, and you didn’t earn that shit, so you’re gonna just have to read a review of the second to last episode and like it. Or else I’m gonna punch you in the face like I did with this giant Adolf Hitler baby.
I’ve never seen an episode of this show before. I’m a freaking survivor, why do I gotta watch this shit on TV? Like if I wanted to watch a survivor I’d turn on the news and see a hot chick doing a story about my survival tactics: stomping on the dicks of whatever dude gets in the way of me and my Bud Light. Cause humanity can’t last more than 3 hours without shotgunning a cold one.
So I’m watching the opening credits that show all the wimps of the show. And it shows this chick
And I’m all like, holy crap! I banged her in the eighties and she was tasty. But damn! She got old and ugly and shit. And then after the credits are over it shows her again.
What the crap? Don’t remember her being a black lady.
And there’s this chick Abi-Maria who has a really sweet pair of sweat pants cause it makes her ass look as freaking hot as a million dollars. And she’s all like “I didn’t come here to feel bad for people. I came here to win a million dollars.” Which is a pretty awesome strategy, you know? The people who came to the island place cause they want to feel bad for people are gonna lose. There’s no time for feeling bad for people when you’re busy drop-kicking bad dudes in the face.
So the contestants do this physical challenge where they gotta climb shit and . Winner gets a chopper ride to a secret location where they eat pizza. Pretty sweet deal. So this dude named Stupid wins and gets to invite two other people along for the ride. He doesn’t invite the sweat pants chick and she’s all heartbroken about it cause she really likes pizza, which I totally understand cause pizza is da bomb. I’ll admit it cause I’m comfortable with my masculinity: This shit is really sad.
Anyway, this show ain’t half bad cause everybody is shit talking each other when they’re not around, which is kinda cool, and it goes back and forth between shit talking and scenes with the shit talkers being nice to the people who are getting shit on. Which is totally thought provoking cause it provoked thoughts. In my head.
And the episode ends with the contestant people voting who gets kicked off the show. And everyone was scheming to vote some sex therapist off who sex addicts probably go to so her face can turn them off from sex forever. But then the chick with the sexy pants is like, “Stupid, you’re so stupid! A dumb stupid moron dumby head!” Which pisses everyone off and confuses the hell out of me since why is it such a big thing to tell that to a guy named Stupid? So they get pissed and vote her off, guaranteeing there’s no way in fuck I’m watching the finale.
For more TV reviews, go here.
by Bradley Sands
Here is a review of this week’s episode of Sons of Anarchy:
Sons of Anarchy is a television show that occurs in an alternate reality that closely resembles the present day where police lack the technology to catch any perpetrators of crimes.
All denizens of this world may travel on motorcycles, but the police do not have such things as fingerprint-nanite powder. Because of this, this episode suffered from a lack of suspense. Although the motorcycle gang, whose members serve as the show’s protagonists, murdered many people, the viewers never worried that they would be apprehended. And since the actors who portray the bikers got first billing during the opening credits, it was obvious they would survive instead of the characters who they shot in the face. Despite its weaknesses, Sons of Anarchy has 1.78 deaths per second, which is equivalent to the world’s current death rate.
I have a message for showrunner, Kurt Sutter, who is obviously reading this: No one is going to want to watch your show if you make your protagonists freaking invincible. Perhaps the viewers will return to the show during the final scene of the series finale to discover who will be set on fire, but this scenario is the best that you can hope for. Let me give you some advice: Oh man, it would be awesome if suddenly the entire show took place in space and the bikers rode space motorcycles and they shot aliens in the face.
Take this under serious consideration. It is the only way to avoid cancellation.
TV Snorted My Brain was just published by LegumeMan Books.
Artie Pendragon loves anarchy, pee wee soccer games, and midget wrestlers. He really hates high school, but his plan to blow up his school is interrupted when he is declared the king of TV Land. After taking the throne, Artie’s pro-wrestling, non-midget uncle steals it from him and enforces a strict policy of censorship throughout the land. To defend himself against his uncle’s piledrivers and take back what is rightfully his, Artie must go on a quest for the Holy Grail, which is the only thing that will make his Excalibur 3000 remote control work properly.
TV Snorted My Brain is a modern-day retelling of the King Arthur myth that happens inside your television set. Come along with Artie as he journeys through the various channels of TV Land and recruits knights along the way to help him overthrow his uncle and bring anarchy to the land.
“TV Snorted My Brain is (Sands’) best work to date. Call me crazy, but I think this generation has found its own Vonnegut.” – Verbicide
by Bradley Sands
Look at these old photos. Do you see anything interesting? Keep looking. There must be something worthwhile about them.
by Bradley Sands
Last year, action movie superstar, Rico Slade, stole my identity and promised the American Decency Association all the money that my novella, Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, made in July. I didn’t particularly want to give my book royalties to a bunch of douchebags, but Rico Slade threatened to punch me in the fucking face a bunch of fucking times if I didn’t. So today I was on the verge of writing out the check, and then something happened:
I just checked my account because I was about to make out a check to the American Decency Association for the 1.2 million dollars that Rico Slade Will Kill You made in July, but only thirty-six cents was left. Can you please do me a favor and track down whoever took the money and kill them?
What the crap is this Take Care crap? Some gay shit?
Anyways doofus, I’ll get right on that killing the dudes who stole your 1.2 mil thing. I’ll track them down with my new tank and blast a cap in their ass. You gotta check this bitch out. It’s worth every dollar I paid for it.
Umm…did the tank cost $199,999.64?
Holy crap! Are you a psychic or something?
You spent the book royalties on a tank, didn’t you?
Damn. That was your book royalties? Thought you were rich or some shit when I stole it out of your bank account. Damn.
What the fuck? What the fuck, you stupid donut head! You piece of piece of steroid trash!
Damn bro, that’s harsh.
Listen. You need to return the tank and get my money back. I didn’t want to give any money to the American Decency Association anyway, but I always keep my promises. Even if you stole my identity and made the promise yourself.
Sorry man, but the tank was on sale and they’re ain’t no refunds when you know how to rock. If you still want me to track down whoever stole your 1.2, I can punch myself in the fucking face a bunch of fucking times, but I ain’t laying down no death. True pimps never say die.
Ain’t no refunds when you know how to rock? I don’t even know what that means. And it’s okay. You don’t have to “punch yourself in the fucking face a bunch of fucking times.” I’ll just donate the thirty-six cents that’s left from the royalties to the Decency Association. I didn’t want to give my money to those ass clowns anyway.
Cool cool. Rico Slade out!
Did you really need to write me back to tell me that?
Your goddam right.
It is now safe to purchase Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You without contributing to Rico Slade’s tank fund or the American Decency Association’s malevolent quest to make America “decent.”
by Bradley Sands
Four decades have passed since the publication of Angeldust Apocalypse and the mystery of what Jeremy Robert Johnson did to occupy his time still remains. Perhaps, you may think, Jeremy spent his hours playing video games and hacking into people’s facebook accounts after they forgot to log out. But if you think that, you are sadly mistaken. Instead, Jeremy attained the title of the world’s most foremost crunkcore historian. Nary a crunkcore album is released without Jeremy contributing to its liner notes. When the tattooed crunkcore bands tired of including lyrics about getting crunk and penetrating unconscious teenage girls, they turned to Jeremy’s words for inspiration.
Disappointed by futile attempts at being funny, Jeremy fled to Greenwood, Indiana, where his reign as the world’s most crunkcore historian began. While there, he assisted the members of Dot Dot Curve with the help of a driver’s license that proved he was over the legal drinking age. He also invented an entire genre of music just by bending his knees.
Next, he saved Greenwood from dinosaurs.
Then he proclaimed Greenwood as the crunkcore capital of the world. After that, he rested.
Impressed by Jeremy’s innate douchiness, Brokencyde hired him to write the liner notes for their album, I’m Not a Fan But the Kids Like It! After many nights analyzing the lyrics to “Skeet Skeet” with lead screamer, Se7en, Jeremy bragged to everyone he ever met about his late night discussions with the screamer. Impressed with his name dropping, every crunkcore band in Indiana hired Jeremy to write their liner notes. Pleased with the bottles of King Cobra that the bands offered to pay for, Jeremy took the job. Later, he would expand his horizons by writing liner notes for Mexican trancecore bands.
Two decades later, he got really drunk on King Cobra and wrote We Live Inside You in two hours. We Live Inside You is now available for Kindle.
by Bradley Sands
(Rediscovered with the assistance of Mike Kleine)
Film is a visual medium. Action works great in movies with the exception of when they are poorly edited, such as in the finale in the first live action Transformers movie, which seemed to have gone on for about half an hour, was super fast, and did not give me the ability to distinguish one giant robot from another.
As far as prose fiction, it is a lot more difficult for authors to write effective action scenes because authors depend entirely on text rather than images. And the intention for this text is to conjure images into the reader’s mind. Many readers may have no trouble making this transition, but there are certain readers such as myself who think in words rather than pictures. It takes a lot more than a general description of the visuals for me to enjoy an action scene in a book. If I am not engaged, action does not excite me. And I should be excited. I should be worried about the protagonist’s well-being. But usually I just don’t care and assume they will end up being perfectly fine considering it is rare for a protagonist to not survive until the end of the book, particularly if they are the narrator.
When I watch action scenes in movies, I am usually excited. I worry about the protagonist’s welfare. Even if I know before the scene begins that they will probably be alright in the long run, good action scenes cause me to forget this when they are in progress. Authors of prose fiction have their work cut out for them if they want their action scenes to have the same effect on me.
So why am I writing this?
Because bizarro fiction novels frequently have action scenes. Sometimes they really work for me, but the majority of them don’t. And it’s not as if I can claim I don’t write action myself. Action scenes often appear in my writing.
I taught an online class for bizarro writers a couple of years ago. One of the assignments was to write a fight scene. The instructions for the assignment were something like, “Fight scenes bore me. I want you to write a fight scene that excites me rather than bores me.” And I used one of my own fight scenes as an example of a scene that I did not find boring (although perhaps I should have used someone else’s considering our own writing rarely bores us).
I thought that was a pretty unique assignment for a writing class. I couldn’t imagine a creative writing teacher asking their students to write a fight scene. But I found out I was wrong when I was talking to a friend who was in a few creative writing classes that Stephen Graham Jones taught and he told me they did the same thing in one of them. So I can’t exactly say my idea for the assignment was unique anymore considering I went to graduate school at a college that was right next to the college where Stephen teaches (plus he taught at MY college’s summer writing program for a week during the past two summers).
So I guess I just want to mention the elements of an action scene that cause me to like them. Perhaps it would be helpful for some writers:
Writing style: Focus more on your style when writing action scenes than other scenes (although ignore this advice if you always focus strongly on your prose style). If your writing is fantastic, then I will be extremely engaged, regardless of the content.
Uniqueness: I don’t really care about action scenes that are the type scene in conventional movies: fist fights, knife fights, shooting, chases on foot and in cars. If your writing is wonderfully stylistic, I’m fine with this. But writing must compensate for an action scene’s conventionality. And if you’re writing bizarro fiction, why are you even writing convention fight scenes? Perhaps write a scene where one fighter has god-like reality bending powers while his opponent is just a normal dude. But the god-like character is an emotional wreck and the normal dude is able to hold his own against him by saying really mean things. If a god-like character has the ability to do anything and there is no limitation to your imagination, his “attacks” could be extremely entertaining to the reader. But he needs to have a weakness because characters without weaknesses are just boring, particularly protagonists.
Terseness: If the writing in your action scene is not highly stylistic and its uniqueness doesn’t entertain me, I won’t be bored if it’s short. If it’s mundane and long and drawn out then I’m going to get really bored.
Anyway, I wanted to end this with a recommendation for a book that I love with tons of actions scenes. And it’s not the most stylistic or unique book either. Plus there’s this incredibly long fight scene at the end that’s straight out of a kung-fu movie. And despite this, I still loved the book. The incredibly long fight scene at the end made me feel excited. I don’t know how. It’s not as if I analyzed it. So this book is:
It is one of the most violent books that I have ever read. It’s considered a Young Adult book, but I’m not entirely sure why besides all the characters being high school students. It is really awesome. And I think this quotation from a review was on the back of the book.
“Once upon a time, Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho set the standard for insane violence, gruesome detail and plain upsetting excess. But Ellis is about to be eclipsed by another young American, Ryan Gattis. In Kung Fu High School the practise of total bodily destruction has never been more thorough, or more moving.” – Time Out
Check it out or wait for the movie (although you may be waiting quite a while).
Bradley Sands is the author of Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy, and My Heart Said No, But the Camera Crew Said Yes! He edits Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens.
Bradley Sands will be teaching two sessions of this class for The Public School NY. The school is located in Brooklyn.
DATES: Friday 26 August *and* Friday 2 September 2011
TIME: 8 p.m. (both evenings)
More information can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/notes/jill-sophia/introduction-to-bizarro-fiction-at-observatory-0826-and-09022011-8-pm/225983794079500
by Rico Slade
I don’t read too good, so I judged these books by their covers.
This book is about an invasion of aliens that tried to have butt sex with me back in 67. It was the lamest alien invasion that any species of aliens have ever tried. This book supposed to be 84 pages, but I beat all the aliens’ asses in like five minutes flat, so most of this book is probably a bunch of filler describing the technology in the alien’s spaceships in detail and that’s some boring shit. But I better not catch you using the information it contains to build your own alien spaceship or I’m gonna knock your teeth out. I wouldn’t read this book unless it were five pages long cause that’s how the shit went down. I would recommend this book with people who own a pair of scissors and are not afraid of cutting 79 pages describing alien technology out of a book. You will be doing a service to humanity.
Now here’s some sick shit. It’s about the romance between a girl in a fox suit and a teddy bear. How the crap can someone have a romance with a teddy bear? What the crap, dude who wrote this? Teddy bears are not alive. I don’t want to read 120 pages with some chick in a dumb costume humping an inanimate object. That might be pretty hot for like two pages but it would get boring real fast. Also, this book is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet except for none of the teddy bear’s relatives give a shit cause he ain’t got any relatives. While the fox chick’s parents are all like, “What the crap? Stop fucking a teddy bear. It’s mentally unclean. We’re gonna send you to an asylum if you don’t stop humping the bear this instant, young lady.” And the fox chick keeps humping. And her parents pry the teddy bear out of her vagina and get her committed. Then I’m pretty sure the teddy bear gets hit by a bolt of lightning during a freak lightning storm, comes alive, and breaks the fox chick out of the asylum. This is some exciting shit and much better than the long descriptions of human on stuffed animal sex that have come before it. But once the fox girl has escaped the asylum, they go back to humping, which is significantly more exciting than the earlier sex scenes considering it involves two consenting sentient beings. So it’s REALLY hot for a while, but then it gets pretty boring again, but at least it’s awesome for more than two pages.
The cover says “New Bizarro Author Series.” What the crap is that? I don’t trust anything that’s new. But still, this book has gotta be pretty awesome cause it’s about Michael Jackson and how he’s a total badass who likes cigarettes and coffee and donuts. Wait a sec…donuts? Is Michael Jackson a cop or something? Cops are as lame as shit. Nah, he’s a hired killer. A hired killer for the government who has a quirk about his enjoyment for donuts. But wait, dude—he hasn’t touched his donut. And he hasn’t drunk the coffee or smoked the cigarette. What the crap? I think this cover is some sort of mystery. Why hasn’t Michael Jackson done these things.
Hold on. I’m gonna to figure this shit out with the interweb.
What the crap? Michael Jackson is dead. I have never been so sad in my entire life. Get out of here! I’m not gonna cry. Rico Slade don’t cry! Get the crap out! I’ve gotta go save the world and shit. The president is about to send my his orders and they’re top secret. I can’t have you around or else you’ll be a danger to national security and I’ll be forced to totally annihilate you.
Alright, I’m back from saving the world. I kicked terrorist ass. It was sweet. This book is about a dude who eats a human eyeball without knowing it. Then he starts seeing the inside of his stomach. And he’s like, “What the crap is happening?” So he goes to the hospital for an x-ray and the doctor says, “I’m sorry that I have to tell you this and shit, but you have a human eyeball in your stomach.” Then I jump out of a closet and totally kick the dude’s ass cause cannibalism is downright indecent, even if you don’t know that you are a cannibal. After he recupatates from his injuries and the dude goes on to live a happy life as long as he makes sure he don’t eat no more human body parts cause he don’t want to get his ass kicked by me again.
This book is about how I had some awesomely hot sex with the woman whose butt is on the cover. It was after I saved the world for like the millionth time. Wait, is that butt a dude’s? Hell no. I didn’t have no sex with a dude after saving the world. Rico Slade don’t swing that way.
Rico Slade is half Asian and half Jean-Claude Van Damme. Rico Slade believes all terrorists must die. Rico Slade has an advanced degree in badassery. Rico Slade will tear out any throat that gets in his way. Rico Slade is the subject of Bradley Sands’s book, Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You.
So I wrote a children’s novel this year. It took maybe four months. During that four months and a whole bunch of months that preceded it, I vowed not to read any adult fiction. I did this so I could familiarize myself with the way children’s books are written considering I had never written one before and the only children’s books I had read since the end of my childhood were the Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events books. For the sake of my sanity, I also allowed myself to read Young Adult books, non-fiction, poetry, and comic books (for the sake of my grade point average—I recently graduated from grad school—I read a few adult fiction books because they were assigned by my professors).
I read a ton of stuff during this period and discovered a lot of great children’s and YA books that I had never heard of before. Maybe once or twice each year, I find an author who was previously unfamiliar to me, get really excited about their books, and devour everything they have written. There was one such author of children’s book author like this (although I stayed away from his picture books and only read his chapter books for older children and along with his young adult books). I dislike categorizing authors as bizarro if they are not involved in the bizarro community, but I have no qualms about categorizing this author as proto-bizarro. His name is Daniel Pinkwater and he is the author of the strangest children’s book that I have ever read: Lizard Music.
I remember the title of the book from when I was a child, but I don’t think I ever read it (although maybe I did but forgot about it). I read one of his books when I was young, but wish I had read many more. The book was called Fat Man from Space. It was about a boy who receives radio transmissions through a filling in his tooth and has experiences with an invasion of fat men who come to Earth to consume its supply of junk food. I have a horrible memory, but this has always been a book that I’ve remembered from my childhood, although I could not recall the book’s title for many years. So I was delighted when I rediscovered the author when I read Lizard Music a bunch of months back.
Lizard Music starts out as an offbeat book, but still fairly normal. As the book progresses, it becomes more and more bizarre. It concerns a boy whose parents have gone on vacation and left behind his teenage sister to look after him. Instead, she goes on a camping trip to and leaves him by himself. He spends the first few days staying up late to watch the news (he is completely obsessed with Walter Cronkite) and B movies that are shown after. In a nice reference to Fat Men from Space, Fat Men from Space is actually one of the movies that he watches (Pinkwater often makes references to his other books). While he watches TV, he sees a few seconds here and there of humanoid lizards playing music. Curious about them, he investigates and ends up meeting the Chicken Man, who goes around with an intelligent hen under his hat and serves as the boy’s guide to find the lizard’s invisible island, which is a fantastical land where the humanoid lizards live.
A boy and an adult or adults exploring a foreign land of oddities is the basic plot that Pinkwater most often uses in his books. Although occasionally the explorers are children or teenagers and there are no adults involved. I think that is more common in his young adult books than his children’s books considering adult supervisor is more important for children than it is for teens.
Anyway, I feel like my description of the book isn’t doing it justice, and I would recommend reading Paul Di Filippo’s great review of it here. It is probably the only review of a children’s book that references William Burroughs in existence.
Lizard Music is my favorite Pinkwater book, although that may have a lot to do with how it was my first introduction to his work as an adult (which may be the reason for many of my favorite books by particular authors). But overall, I think his best books are his young adult novels. They are like bizarro books without the sex and violence. They are absurd, humorous, and use elements of science fiction and fantasy that are imaginative rather than rehashing books that have come before them. While reading Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars, I was struck by the similarities between it and The Illuminatus! Trilogy, which was my favorite book during high school. In regards to violence, the one exception is Young Adult Novel, which begins with micro fiction stories about a character who dies over and over again in various gruesome ways as if he’s a precursor to Kenny on Southpark. After the microfiction ends, the reader is introduced to a group of high school friends who have been telling the stories about the character to each other. They consider themselves Dadaists although they know nothing about Dadaism, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to participate in the movement.
Besides Lizard Music, two books that I would over all the others are 5 Novels and 4: Fantastic Novels (the second book is out of print, but you can buy a second-hand copy cheaply enough). These two books consist of the majority of Pinkwater’s YA novels, although there are one or two children’s books that are included, such as Slaves of Spiegel, which is a great sequel to Fat Men from Outer Space. 5 Novels also includes The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, which is about three friends who frequently sneak out of their houses to go to an all-night movie theatre. They find out that the world’s greatest criminal genius has an evil scheme that he is perpetuating with a gang of trained orangutans. I forget what the scheme is actually about, but Wikipedia seems to think it concerns replacing all the world’s realtors with aliens. So the three friends to foil the criminal genius’s plans.
The book is allegedly a fan favorite but I didn’t care for so much and neither did many of the critics. I read a book of criticism of Pinkwater’s books that focused on his young adult novels. The author wrote about how the critics didn’t like it because they missed a major plot point: that the evil scheme is just a giant hoax that the friends’ families are playing on them for shits and giggles and that there are many clues throughout the book that back this up. I TOTALLY missed this, so I’m planning to read the book a second time.
In conclusion and in case I was unclear, the books of Daniel Pinkwater are incredibly awesome. I urge you to give one of the three books I mentioned a try.
Bradley Sands is the author of Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy, and My Heart Said No, But the Camera Crew Said Yes! He edits Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens.
What up, bro? This is Rico Slade. I’m making Bradley Sands donate all of July’s royalties from his book, Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, to the American Decency Association. Cause Rico Slade is all about decency and family values and shit. America is the greatest nation in the world! And decency fucking rules! Rico Slade and the American Decency Association are for the children. We’re gonna have a team up and beat the crap out of pornography and indecent media. And if Bradley Sands doesn’t like it, he can just suck it! His book is about me. He’s gotta do what I tell him. Or else he’ll get a flying elbow to his nutsack. Listen up, Sands. Try to mess with me and use the royalties to pay off your cell phone bill and your testicles are gonna be so big that if you ever have children, they’ll be giant monster babies with testicles bigger than Godzilla’s. I kicked that lizard’s ass and I can take down your babies too.
So listen up. Buy Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You and help support a very kick-ass cause.
Rico Slade out!
On the rare occasion when I have to leave my apartment for the task of getting toilet paper, I am often accosted by people on the street who ask my opinion in regard to the greatest movie sequel in the history of the world. After I fail to utter, “The Godfather Part 2, their heads boil like a tea kettle before exploding all over the sidewalk in gooey chunks and mucus-like strands.
I am here to tell you about the greatest sequel in the history of the world. If you fear the explosion of your head, I suggest you skip this entry and read something less hazardous to your cranium on HTML GIANT.
Two words…and a number: Cruel Intentions 2.
On Saturday, February 21, 2009, I had my first exposure to this cinematic masterpiece. Upon finishing its final magnificent scene, I rushed to my computer and composed a highly cerebral blog entry.
If you are too lackadaisical to click on my link, I will summarize it for you: The entry’s title is “Cruel Intentions 2.” Its content is “I just watched this movie and it may be the greatest bad movie that I have ever seen.”
Originally, I had planned to convince you that it is the greatest bad movie of this modern age—which such unwatchable detritus as The Room, Birdemic, and Tokyo Gore Police, the age of the movie that is so bad it’s good is long past although there are a few rare exceptions like Frank Miller’s The Spirit and Troll 2—yet upon rewatching Cruel Intentions 2 for this very review a few days ago, I realized it was NOT a bad movie. Instead, it was a VERY VERY good movie.
Featuring the Academy Award nominated (for Best Supporting Actress) talents of Amy Adams as the character who Sarah Michelle Gellar portrayed (and failed to soar nearly as high) in the first movie, Cruel Intentions 2 may be the most inconsistent movie in cinematic history, thereby rendering it a surrealist’s dream. The tone of the scenes change from slapstick to seriousness, the actors succeed at playing infinite different versions of their characters. Sometimes it resembles a television show that you can watch with the entire family while at other times it fades into a scene where some of its characters are naked in a gigantic shower and the protagonist ogles a pair of identical twins while the sisters stick their tongues down each other’s throats.
Another scene will remind you of Dawson’s Creek as non-diegetic Dawson’s Creek-like music is played in the background while the protagonist and his virginal love interest get to know each other by walking hand in hand down the street of a charming town. Suddenly, the protagonist will embrace his sweetheart’s breasts, causing her to question if they’re going a little too fast. Then she blurts out, “At this rate, your dick will be in my mouth by lunch.”
I once described this piece de resistance as a film of schizophrenia, but author Jeremy Robert Johnson—referring to himself as expert of psychology due to the PhD he purchased via the Internet through Zimbabwe’s prestige Ozford University for twenty dollars—corrected my misconception and proclaimed the film to be a treatise on dissociative identity disorder.
Like Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, Cruel Intentions 2 was originally intended to be a television show. And like Mulholland Drive, we can all count ourselves lucky that the network didn’t pick it up. If so, this treasure would have been lost to the world. The film is director Roger Kumble’s magnum opus. Perhaps you are familiar with his other work such as Furry Vengeance and Cruel Intentions 1, which greatly surpasses the film, Dangerous Liaisons—upon which it is based if you deny the existence of literature—if you are of fourteen years of age.
Do not deny yourself this glorious film. As a gift to yourself, revel in some illustrious quotations from it.
And never, ever watch Cruel Intentions 3. It is a showcase of mediocrity.
Bradley Sands is the author of Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy, and My Heart Said No, But the Camera Crew Said Yes! He edits Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens.
(This article ended up being extremely long. The unabridged version can be found here .)
Adventure games are interactive stories that are played on computers. The games make you confront problems and your job is to solve the problems. If you do not, you cannot proceed in the game and you will wander around aimlessly and get very bored. This is the primary reason why adventure games are not as popular as they used to be. The problems are akin to solving puzzles and are most often resolved by using items that you find while you play the game.
Early adventure games were text-based, but now they are ‘point and click’-based. You can choose certain options such as LOOK or TALK or PICK UP or USE and manipulate objects in your inventory to interact with objects and characters that are on the screen (or combine your inventory objects to create an object that is entirely new that can be used for a different purpose). The solutions to solving puzzles are often very difficult and not straight forward. For example, your character may be very thirsty and you cannot quench their thirst by obtaining water from a body of water or a sink. Instead, you have to participate in a long process of actions to solve the problem which were often incredibly absurd in nature. Because of this, I feel playing adventure games is an excellent way to train yourself to become a creative writer. They teach you to think laterally and are akin to the kinds of movies that wouldn’t have lasted beyond its first few scenes if the protagonist made a sensible decision rather than a wrong decision that caused their life to spiral out of control and created the setup for the rest of the movie. But unlike these kinds of movies, adventure games never give you the option to act sensibly and solve puzzles using the most sensible and effective means.
Let’s use a game as an example. Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned was the last adventure game produced by Sierra, who produced King’s Quest and was one of the top two companies in the adventure game industry. You play Gabriel Knight, an occult detective. The game occurs in Rennes-le-Chateau, France, and its plot is inspired by the same source material as The Da Vinci Code. Both the game and the novel took elements from the alleged non-fiction book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, which in turn was based on what may be the greatest hoax in the twentieth century.
So anyway, you are Gabriel Knight and your objective during one point in the game is to rent a motorcycle. For some reason that I cannot recall, you cannot simply rent a motorcycle. Instead, you must first disguise yourself as a police detective (whose voice is provided by Mark Hamill) who followed you from New Orleans for a reason that I cannot recall. Here is a condensed solution to the process of obtaining the disguise (Credit goes to this site: http://www.oldmanmurray.com/features/78.html)
First, you return to a museum and steal a red hat from the lost and found box (the game did not allow you to take the hat earlier, but it does now because your character somehow knows that the hat is essential to his disguise). Next, you go to a church and wait outside of it while its Abbe is spraying plants. Eventually, he will go indoors and leave the spray bottle outside. You snatch it. You turn the corner and walk down a street. You will see a black cat. You pet it. The cat runs away, into a small opening in a nearby shed. You take masking tape out of your inventory and attach it to the shed’s hole (if you do not have the tape, you must return to your hotel room and obtain it from inside your dresser). Walk away from the shed. The cat will now crawl on a ledge and is too high for you to pet or grab. Select the spray bottle from your inventory and use it on the cat. This will cause him to jump off the ledge and run back inside the shed through the hole, leaving a piece of its fur stuck to the masking tape. Grab the fur. Return to the hotel and collect the items that are needed for your disguise if you missed them the first time around (they include a black marker, a piece of candy, and a packet of syrup). Knock on the police detective’s door. He’ll let you in and you’ll have a conversation where he mentions his passport. Leave the room and put the piece of candy on a table in the hallway. Go downstairs to the lobby. Buzz detective’s room (I guess the concierge is not around to stop you) to get him to come down. Walk up the stairs to the hallway outside the detective’s room. Watch him leave the room and bend over to grab the candy on the table. While he is occupied, steal his passport. When he goes downstairs, enter his room and steal his coat. Open your inventory. Use the black marker on the photo in the passport to draw on a mustache. Then combine the cat’s fur and syrup to create a fake mustache. Then combine the red hat and the mustache and the detective’s coat to complete your disguise. Then go to the motorcycle rental shop.
So why the fuck do you need to be in disguise in order to rent the motorcycle? I do not remember.
Why the fuck do you have to concoct a fake mustache when the person who you are impersonating does not have a mustache? I have no idea.
Why the fuck did you have to make a fake mustache out of cat hair when head from your character’s head or body would have worked perfectly fine? This defies logic.
And then using maple syrup to attach the fake mustache to your upper lip is just the icing on the cake.
So this is an example of a solution to a problem in an adventure game that is carried out in an extremely indirect way. It is doubtful that anyone figured out how to solve it without looking up the solution on the internet. If they actually solved it without assistance, it obviously would have taken a lot of trial and error.
This solution to the problem is not good writing. Do not do this in your fiction. But nevertheless, it is a good example of a quirky way that your protagonists can overcome conflict.
Other adventure games are more humor-oriented and absurd. I would suggest you play them if you’re interested in writing that sort of thing. I would recommend the sexually perverse Leisure Suit Larry series, the Space Quest series, and my personal favorite, Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle (which is the sequel to another great adventure game, although it’s old and very primitive). Actually, the games that I just mentioned are all fairly old and you will probably have a lot of trouble getting them to work on a modern-day computer.
Oh, and I just want to mention that you play three different characters in Day of the Tentacle: one of them ends up stuck in the past, one in the future, and the last remains in the present. There is a toilet in the mansion where you can flush items that your characters obtain throughout the game through time so the other characters can receive them and use them in their own settings. Time machine toilets=awesome.
So it’s been like forever since adventure games were actually popular, although I hear they are still well-liked in Europe. But there is one particular company in the U.S. who produces really great adventure games: Telltale Games. Much of the staff who formerly worked for LucasArts (the creators of Day of the Tentacle) work for them. I would recommend their Sam and Max series of games. They are about a two “freelance” policeman: a bear in a suit and his partner, a psychotic rabbit-thing. They solve cases. The solutions for the game puzzles are completely absurd and require lateral thinking, but are not difficult to solve like that Gabriel Knight ridiculous. Each case plays out over a “season” and you buy an “episode” to play at a time. It is fairly cheap. You can try out demos to see if you enjoy the games before buying. Check them out. They are worth it. Your brainstorming skills will thank you.
Bradley Sands is the author of Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy, and My Heart Said No, But the Camera Crew Said Yes! He edits Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens
It would be sweet if you would introduce yourselves here in the comments and tell us a little about yourself. The problem with the old Bizarro Central forums is nearly everyone who posted on it was either an established author or a wannabe author (hopefully no one will be offended by my use of “wannabe”). So it would be really great to hear from people who are reading our books rather than writing bizarro.
I wrote a children’s fantasy novel for my graduate school thesis. I’m not sure if I would have attempted the endeavor if I wasn’t a student. I wanted to challenge myself rather than remain within my comfort zone. And writing the book was a lot more difficult than I had expected.
I see a lot of similarities between children’s fantasy novels and many bizarro novels. Take away the sex and violence, the black humor, the disturbing subject matter—and it will often result in a book that is appropriate for children. A book they will enjoy. But with their adult subject matter, most bizarro books read as if they’re books for teenagers whose mothers would flip out if they knew what their children were reading. It reminds me of horror movies before the PG-13 trend. Before that, filmmakers made R rated movies that were obviously for a teenage audience even though the ratings board felt the movies may have contained material that was inappropriate for anyone under 17. Bizarro is similar, but can be far more extreme.
Children are more open to the weird than adults. They like to use their imaginations and appreciate it when writers use their imaginations as much as they do. The definition of the word “fantasy” is “imagination, especially when extravagant and unrestrained.” The majority of the fantasy books written for adults do not meet this definition. They are restrained by ideas that earlier writers conceived of and inspired by such things as J.R.R. Tolkien and Dungeons and Dragons.
The subgenre known as The New Weird is a notable exception, but its prose shares similarities with literary (or “adult”) fiction. While bizarro resembles The New Weird, except for its profane content and prose styles that usually have more in common with literature for children and young adults than literary fiction.
While the majority of adult fantasy may involve elves and dragons and magicians, most children’s fantasy concern protagonists having experiences that are strange and entirely new to them (and the reader). Sometimes this involves a journey through a fantastical land of the author’s unrestrained imagination and sometimes it involves the impossible interacting with protagonist’s own world and life. Although there isn’t a lack of children’s fantasy novels that resemble their adult counterparts, but the prose style is less challenging. Perhaps the typical adult fantasy book exists for the sake of nostalgia and a desire for the readers to remain in familiar territory rather than surround themselves with an extravagant imagination. While readers and writers of bizarro allow themselves to embrace their imaginations. At times, bizarro can be a difficult genre to explain. The books can be extremely diverse. There is a bizarro book that can be categorized under almost every fiction genre in existence. But the simplest way to explain bizarro is to just say, “Bizarro books are weird. This is what makes them bizarro. This is what they have in common.” They may have other similarities such as black humor and unreal situations, but weirdness is their unifying factor.
Overall, bizarro books are just a lot of fun to read. Children’s fantasy also have this quality. It’s as if bizarro and children’s fantasy belong to the same family. The fantasy is like a ten-year-old boy who can turn a trip to the park with his friends into a wonderful adventure that he mostly has inside his head, while bizarro is the boy’s fun-loving crazy uncle that the boy’s parents try not to speak about in their son’s presence.
Bradley Sands is the author of Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy, and My Heart Said No, But the Camera Crew Said Yes! He edits Bust Down the Door and Eat all the Chickens.