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Flash Fiction Friday: Rattled by the Rush (Excerpt)

by Chris Kelso

233,

I take time over the stress of every word. Do you like to write? You like to read though…right?

To be an artist is to suffer.

The deliria can be rather disorientating, so I decide to connect the rooms in my house with lines of taut thread and then I’m is able to feel my way along each strand to the desired part of the house. I believe the reward of suffering is experience and that pain is the great teacher of mankind.

I pass through the door that connects the hallway to the kitchen and immediately hallucinate. A tessellation of colours set in viridian zig-zag towards me like lightening through fog. I forget why I went into the room in the first place. My mind is now brimming with brilliant ideas that I hope can be retained until I gets back to his study, but first I have to eat.

I go to the white rectangle that freezes my food and bring out a red, raw, rounded object, perhaps an onion or an apple. I laugh so hard at the pulsing fruit/veg heartbeat in the palm of my hand that I have to stop myself, as if suddenly surprised by, and aware of, my own mirth. I eat the fruit/veg.

I exit the blue lightening kitchen and re-enter the hallway that connects each room. I go back into the study fast as degenerate matter, full of renewed fervour and manage to type up some of my backlogged ideas. I believe there is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.

If you walk in on this stooped and mealy coloured man writing at his desk, you’ll notice a few things – firstly, when I masturbate I moves my penis in circular gyrations between the tight O of my thumb and index finger in a way that would suggest I have my technique down to a very fine art – hallucinations are at their most vivid when I’m at a climax, or so I would claim. I enter the vortex of my own hand and am frequently mesmerised by the subsequent pearlescent geyser. Masturbation is the only respite from my perpetual creativity which has devoured me like syphilis, and I masturbate a lot.

Secondly, I am a man who, unlike the rest of the Slave State émigré, am in possession of more than a little street-cool. My fix-up bildungsroman novels have gained a cult following amongst underground literary enthusiasts. A man of the picaresque, of the nouveau roman…One suspects that no one realises I am imprisoned in my own mind, in my own home, in fact! Where behind each door is a new ugly and visceral delusion waiting to set upon me…

I enter the hallway again and continue along to the door leading to the bathroom. A hallucination hits me the moment I drops his trousers. Although I feel intact and present, I am certain that the cortical stimulation I’m experiencing since eating the circular fruit/veg has left me foaming in the heart of an epileptic seizure. I remember that I believes we cannot learn without pain and that Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.

I drop to my knees, void my bowels and feel the rest of my brilliant ideas leave my body in a jet of multi-coloured excrement. On my knees, I nurse my empty head and my empty stomach. I pull myself to my feet and feel around for the rope that leads to the sanctuary of my study, but my wriggling fingers investigation only fresh air…

‘Affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it.’ I mumble to myself and the redundancy of it all sears through me like a thimbleful of neutron star.

Henry Malkmus pops into my head. He has a concentration camp tattoo on his arm.
– Why did you make me the way I am? – He asks.
– Who would you rather have been? Ignius Ellis? Larry? Dan Smear? Denny Carr maybe? How about Kip Novikov or Big Sur? Isabella? The Black Dog virus perhaps? You already are all those people. My characters are so poorly fleshed out. You idiot, don’t you realise it doesn’t matter?
– It does to me. Why did I have to get stuck behind a drywall and get raped by shadow demons?
– The bisexual incubus thingy?
– Yes.
– I was actually running low on ideas…
– Well ain’t that just fuggin great?!?
– Listen, Henry…can I call you Henry? I’m not a bad guy, just a bad writer.
– I keep seeing silverfish…
– That’s my fault I suppose.
– No fuggin shit?
– I had a character in a book called ‘Transmatic’ called Ignius Ellis who discovered that the Slave State was run by extra-terrestrials who were closely sprung from Silverfish. Quite funny really…
– So I’m not even really….me?
– Fraid not, you’re kind of a cross between Ignius Ellis and a bunch of other McGuffins :)
– You can write in emoticon?
– So can you, look…
– I don’t know if I can…
_ :) :) :)
– :(
– Hey, I’m sorry…Henry was it?
– What am I supposed to do with myself now?
– What’s cliché for you won’t go by you. It’s better to have clichéd and lost than never to have clichéd at all, right? Am I right? Plenty more cliché in the sea!
– God dammit! How does it end? Just tell me that much? Come on! Come on tell me! TELL ME! HOW DOES IT END? HOW DOES THIS FUCKING END YOU CUNT, YOU UTTER CUNT????

Malkmus starts to fade out as easily as he had appeared before me.

There is the sound of a younger man inside the hollowed concave of my skull – weeping. I am almost fresh out of ideas, almost free from the slavery of imagination. I cannot wait to be free.
I feel the loose, exposed circuitry as the brain tries it’s best to self-apply electrical tape, to twist naked connectors and achieve new voltages with frayed wiring. I know I will be fine eventually – until I walk into a different room of the house that is…
Poser

****

Malkmus stared at the concentric crater, observed its bowl shaped, low-rimmed hollows then stood aside so the nosegay of plant-alien scientist could get a better look. They had Slave State badges on their lab coats and t-shirts underneath that read YOYODYNE COMPANY

——

Chris Kelso is a writer, illustrator and editor. His books include – The Dissolving Zinc Theatre (Vilipede Publications), The Black Dog Eats the City (Omnium Gatherum), Schadenfreude (Dog Horn Publishing), Last Exit to Interzone (Black Dharma Press), A Message from the Slave State (Western Legends Books), Terence, Mephisto & Viscera Eyes (Bizarro Pulp Press), Moosejaw Frontier (Bizarro Pulp Press), Transmatic (MorbidbookS) . He recently edited Caledonia Dreamin’ – Strange Fiction of Scottish Descent with Hal Duncan and is the co-creator of the anti-New Yorker, Imperial Youth Review.


BIZARRO ACROSS AMERICA – EAST COAST TOUR

“BIZARRO ACROSS AMERICA” PROGRESSIVE BOOK TOUR BRINGS STRANGE NEW VOICES TO THE EAST COAST!

In September 2014, the writers, artists and co-conspirators of the Bizarro genre are coming to Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York, to spread the gospel of Bizarro Fiction to new audiences and die-hard fans.

WHEN:
September 1, 3pm: Bizarro Writer’s Workshop @ CHOP SUEY BOOKS — 2913 W Cary St, Richmond, VA ‎
September 1, 8pm: THE WINGNUT — 2005 Barton Avenue, Richmond, VA
September 3, 7pm: THE COPYCAT — 1501 Guilford Ave, Baltimore, MD
September 4, 3pm: Bizarro Writer’s Workshop @ A-SPACE, 4722 Baltimore Ave, Philadelphia, PA
September 4, 7pm: THE FARM — 4833 Walton St, Philadelphia, PA
September 5, 6pm: YORK EMPORIUM — 343 W Market St, York, PA
September 6, 7pm: MELLOW PAGES LIBRARY — Studio 1Q, 56 Bogart Street (@ Harrison, across from the L Line Morgan Ave station), Brooklyn, NY

ALL EVENTS ARE FREE TO ATTEND!

BIZARRO FICTION is a fast-growing underground genre of high weirdness, with over 100 titles in print from ERASERHEAD PRESS, RAW DOG SCREAMING, BIZARRO PULP PRESS and others.  It’s been described as “the genre of Anything Goes” and “the literary equivalent of the Cult section of your video store, back when there were video stores.”

The BIZARRO ACROSS AMERICA TOUR will feature readings, performance and odd behavior from some combination of:

MYKLE HANSEN — Wonderland Award-winning author of “I, SLUTBOT” and “HELP! A BEAR IS EATING ME!”
“Mykle Hansen has already proven himself to be one of the great new humorists of our time, in league with Christopher Moore, Terry Prachett, Robert Rankin, and Tom Robbins, only a hell of a lot weirder.” – Carlton Mellick III

VIOLET LEVOIT — Baltimore-based author of “I AM GENGHIS CUM”
“An amazing performer … also stunning on the page. The prose is fast and cruel, beating down all taboos. Go read. Don’t eat anything while you do so.” – Daniel Wallace

BRADLEY SANDS — author of “RICO SLADE WILL FUCKING KILL YOU” and “TV SNORTED MY BRAIN”
“There is no simple way to describe Bradley Sands’ fiction, but ‘superretardo anarchy awesomeness’ is a good start … one of the funniest authors you will ever read.” — VERBICIDE

WILLIAM PAULEY III — author of “THE BROTHERS CRUNK” and “DOOM MAGNETIC”
“THE BROTHERS CRUNK is a bizarrely imaginative blend of sci-fi, horror and fantasy adventure… creativity has never flowed so freely… a perfect example of bizarro fiction… every single line is littered with wild and imaginative ideas.” – FANGORIA

CHRISTOPH PAUL — author of “PSYCHOANALYTIC CELEBRITY POEMS” and “THE PASSION OF THE CHRISTOPH”
“Everything you were afraid to ask (or find out) about men and sex, toilet paper rolls, porn stores, teenage rehab, post-sex etiquette, being single, military school, and karma. Paul is now one of my favorite humor essayists; David Sedaris eat your heart out.”  — INDIEREADER

G. ARTHUR BROWN — author of “KITTEN”
“KITTEN is bizarro written with sincerity… I’d call it slow-burning bizarro.” — S.T. Cartledge, House Hunter

CHRIS GENUA — author of “FOOP!” and “LICK YOUR NEIGHBOR”
“Chris Genua is one of our authentic literary lunatics…” – James Marrow
“..a new, innovative, clever author with a thrilling amount of potential: when he’s good, he’s so good that no one can touch him.” – REFLECTION’S EDGE

ERIC MAYS — author of “NAKED METMORPHOSIS” and “KARAOKE DEATH SQUAD”
“KARAOKE DEATH SQUAD is the book that secured Eric Mays’ place in my mind as one of the funniest guys in print.” — Joshua Myers

SCOTT COLE — author of VIOLINS FOR SALE and a top secret, forthcoming novella
“VIOLINS FOR SALE is weird, a little dark, a little violent, but more than anything, it’s fun, which is what bizarro fiction is all about.” — Cameron Pierce

PLUS: Brian Keene, John Lawson, Adam Cesare and more still confirming!

ABOUT BIZARRO:

Bizarro is the genre of the strange.  The stories and poetry of Bizarro are often provocative, usually funny, always outrageous.  Even though the Bizarros are underground cult outsiders they still have gained great respect in the publishing industry, having been praised by the likes of Chuck Palahniuk, Christopher Moore, William Gibson, Jonathan Lethem, Piers Anthony, Cory Doctorow, Poppy Z. Brite, Michael Moorcock, and Charles de Lint, to name a few, as well as the publications Asimov’s Science-fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science-fiction, Fangoria, Cemetery Dance, Publishers Weekly, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Details Magazine, Gothic Magazine, and The Face, among many others. Bizarro books have also been finalists for the Philip K Dick Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Rhysling Award, the Wonderland Book Award, and the Pushcart Prize.

Follow all things Bizarro here: http://bizarrocentral.com

For press queries and other information, contact Mykle Hansen at mykle@mykle.com


Seeking Submissions for How to Win at Ultravision: A Strategy Guide for Video Games That Don’t Exist

Bradley Sands will be editing a multi-author anthology called How to Win at Ultravision: A Strategy Guide for Video Games That Don’t Exist. Eraserhead Press will be publishing it. The book is inspired by Jeff Rovin’s How to Win at Nintendo Games and Jorge Luis Borges’ reviews of books that don’t exist.

Submissions are now open. He is looking for mini-strategy guides for games of your own invention. They must be in the range of 1000 words to 5000 words long. Text only. Payment is $10 and a contributor’s copy.

Email submissions to bradleysands@gmail.com.

Here are some links to examples:

A page from How to Win at Nintendo Games

From The Ultimate Game Guide to Life

A piece written by Albie about a game that doesn’t exist (I recommend cutting and pasting it into a MS Word document because it’s otherwise a bit difficult to read)

 

Here is part of Bradley’s pitch for the book. Perhaps it will inspire some of you:

I’m extremely fond of fiction when they’re told in different forms. The earliest example that I can think of is Jorge Luis Borges reviewing books that didn’t exist. This gave him the opportunity to write about a book that he was passionate about without having to devote months or perhaps years to writing them. He was also a prankster, so he would publish the reviews and pretend that the books existed.

A more recent example of telling a story in a different form is in Stephen Graham Jones’ Demon Theory and The Last Final Girl, where Stephen tells stories in the form of screenplays even though they’re intended to be read as novels.

I’ve also done this sort of thing myself. I wrote a story that’s a screenplay for a Rico Slade movie (inspired by my novella) and a story told in the format of a comic script about two giant monsters who are having a tiff about their relationship (while they are destroying the city). In each case, the script’s fictional author is the main character rather than any of the characters that they are “writing” about.

If someone were to actually make a movie using my Rico Slade screenplay, it would be awful. I feel as if telling stories in different forms like this works best when the “fictional” intended product would be a complete failure if it were actually made according to the script without any alterations.

The thing that excites me the most about stories told in different forms is reading a story that has never been told this way before. It’s new and unique even when it’s based on a preexisting form. I see it as continuing the legacy of Borges in the modern era.


Show Me Your Shelves: Kirk Jones

I interviewed Kirk Jones when he was part of the NBAS (seventeen years ago according to my math). He was a cool guy and we quickly became friends. Since then, we’ve talked books on more than one occasion and I’ve bothered him about his next book from time to time. Now we have two reasons to celebrate: Kirk is showing us his stuff and he has a new book out. Also, you’ll get to read some cool words from a cool guy. Dig.

Who are you and what role do books play in your life?

I’m Kirk Joooooones! Books are an integral part of my life. I’m not very good at social interaction, so reading the books of fellow authors and complimenting their endeavors is one of the only ways I know how to interact with others. Sometimes I get free books out of the deal, so this is a win/win situation.

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One would be lazy of you, so tell me the ten last books that impressed you and why.

Holy shit. Let me try not to be generic here. I will probably fail.

Venus in Furs – I have an un-struck reviewer’s copy of Venus in Furs from the 40s that I’m absolutely in love with. It isn’t just the book itself. It is the collectability factor. Venus in Furs is a bit pretentious and overblown in terms of style, but it contains a lot of insights.

Tertium Organum: A Key to the Enigmas of the World – there is a certain appeal when it comes to knowledge that can’t be fully comprehended, like the Voynich manuscript. Tertium Organum was my Voynich manuscript when I was a young teenager. It is a book I have yet to explore in depth since I was young. It is a tomb of mystery that I’m afraid to decode, because I believe we need some element of mystery in our lives. I’m afraid to find that, upon my next reading, it isn’t as mysterious as I originally thought.

Principia Discordia: one of the books from Loompanics that I bought when I was young. It is a book that reaffirms the fact that mystery is sometimes built upon non-sequitur and ultimately lacks substance. It doesn’t impress me anymore, but it used to. The idea of this book was more important than the content. What it represents is impressive, however.

Edgar Allan Poe: Miscellany – This book has a chapter on autography, and a chapter on spirituality (an essay called Eureka). Before the internet, this book was a huge deal to me. Folks could chat all day about detective fiction or Poe’s popular horror work, but this book was obscure in the print age, at least in my neck of the woods.

M Butterfly – I love this play. It deals with gender identity, conquest, imperialism, love & sexuality, and everything that was important to me as a young adult. Now if someone would write a play about kids driving you nuts and ear and back hair, I’d have something to relate to in my 30s.

Psychological Operations FM 33-1 – when I was in high school, my mother would buy me military manuals. One of the only ones I have left is “psychological operations,” which is essentially a manual on propaganda. It deals with broadcast and media operations. You know FOX News has a copy of this shit laying around. Actually, they probably don’t. They don’t seem to have to put much thought into brainwashing. Folks pretty much do it to themselves these days.

From Hell – a few years ago, my wife found a feral cat and essentially replaced me with this fucking demon spawn. It pissed all over my comic books and chewed many of my DVD’s apart. From Hell is one of the only comics that survived. (It still has a bit of piss in one of the corners). I wrote a paper on it, one of the only graduate papers I am still proud of. I love this graphic novel.

A Song of Ice and Fire – yeah, I know it is “mainstream” and all that, but I really have fallen in love with this series. I’m on book four right now, and I love it. Jaime Lannister is currently my favorite character . . . because of his actions in the book, not the television series. Plus he’s a stud.

Fill the Grand Canyon and Live Forever – This was the second Prunty book I read, but I loved this one the most. The main character had this basic sense of purpose that took him to so many strange places. It was surreal, yet not too far removed from reality. It is so hard to categorize the book in terms of genre. I wouldn’t say it is bizarro. It was just one of those books that clicked for me and made me think, “Down the road I’d like to do something like this.”

The Greatest Fucking Moment in Sports – still THE BEST bizarro book I have ever read. The humor is top notch. The experiences are thought provoking. The characters are charismatic. I love this book. When I was first invited to submit to EP, I submitted to Rose mistakenly. She sent me to Kevin, which was the greatest honor in the world. Initially I had hoped to write something in the vein of this book, and while I’ve peppered my work with humor, I realize I’m not going to top this one and it is time to move in a different direction. Still, EVERYONE trying to get a gig in bizarro should read this. Hell, everyone should read this regardless of whether they’re into bizarro or not.

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Not everyone knows you have a wonderful family and an academic career, so maybe they’re wondering something along the lines of “Why the hell did it take so long to get more Kirk Jones books?!” Could you explain?

Kevin Donihe accepted a pitch for Journey to Abortosphere back in 2011. I procrastinated on the book until pitch-a-palooza came around. As a result, I lost my spot for potential publication. During that time the whole Spectacular Productions mess occurred. I was really banking on one of those two books making the cut in 2013 at the latest. It simply didn’t pan out. Rooster Republic picked up Journey to Abortosphere in 2013 (for publication in 2014) and Masturbatory Entropy has yet to find a home. Frankly, at this point I’m trying to find a home for my next novella, which I discussed on Surreal Grotesque with Jeremy Maddux. William Pauly III is checking it out currently. I plan on sending it to a few others in the near future for review.

You were in the first NBAS group that had an impact on me. What does that experience look like to you now? What did you learn?

Being a part of the NBAS 2010 crew was completely wild. I remember getting off the plane and taking a cab to Edgefield. I met Steve Lowe first, and Caris second. I remember my mother bought copies of my book, but I was directed by EP not to look at the book until getting to Edgefield. That was incredibly hard, but I waited. We got in there and found out that Caris had already sold a shit load of books before we even got there.

I hit up a lot of high school friends and family members to pick up my book. Caris and Steve Lowe helped me market my book to a larger audience through Goodreads. It worked out quite well. It helped me grow as an author as well. My first book was a great start, but it was by no means great. Folks pointed out what they didn’t like. I was receptive to the criticism. You really don’t have a choice. If people don’t like your work, you have to take their viewpoints into consideration if you want to improve sales.

There were times where being published was kind of anti climatic as well. Once the rush wears off, you start to realize that we’re all just human beings doing our thing. Then you notice the typos you missed in the book, and things that could have been better. It really undercuts that fantasy of being a published author that inspires many people to write. If you can make it past that and you still want to write, I think that’s a milestone. That’s one of the big things I learned by being a part of NBAS.

You’re a really mellow/nice/cool guy who doesn’t like drama. What the fuck is WRONG WITH YOU?

A little drama is fine, necessary even, as long as it is under the table. When it goes public, it becomes problematic. I think we all get a bit paranoid as authors. We all deflect blame to a small degree if our material isn’t accepted. We all have the potential to take vague gestures personally. I know I’ve gotten unreasonably upset about small things in the past, but I also know it is irrational and that there are certain people I can vent to, and certain people who don’t want to hear it. What is strange is the dual standard when it comes to drama. Not just in small press writing, but everywhere. Folks seem to get uptight when things are said in public venues, then get equally pissed if they hear something through the grapevine and throw the whole “say it to my face” bit around. I think as a movement we have a responsibility to keep things behind the scenes. Confrontational situations aren’t going to help anyone.

It takes a while to grow thick skin. It’d be nice if folks could learn to keep their mouths closed while they grow that thick skin instead of lashing out at others. We all have the impulses the worst of us exhibit in the community, at least to a very small degree. A bunch of writers in a circle, all trying to get published by the same group of publishers . . . it is a volatile dynamic.

What’s your latest book about and why should we all buy it right this second?

The sci-fi elements tend to get highlighted in this work, but there’s so much more to Journey to Abortosphere than that. When it comes down to it the conspiracy elements are minimal, as are the science fiction elements. The book is just as much about the absurdity of small-town living, social norms, and the fact that we persist no matter how bleak and mundane our lives become.

Also there’s sex with shoe horns, gluteomancy.

Finally, it is not Frozen.

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Wonderland Book Award – Final Ballot 2014

Preliminary voting has ended and the final ballot has been determined. Here are the nominations for this year’s Wonderland Book Awards:

BEST NOVEL
Motherfucking Sharks by Brian Allen Carr
Basal Ganglia by Matthew Revert
Quicksand House by Carlton Mellick III
You Are Sloth! by Steve Lowe
The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone by M.P. Johnson

BEST COLLECTION
Zombie Sharks with Metal Teeth
by Stephen Graham Jones
Clown Tear Junkies by Douglas Hackle
Time Pimp by Garrett Cook
DangerRAMA by Danger Slater
Hammer Wives by Carlton Mellick III

We’d like to give honorable mentions to the titles that came close to placing on the final ballot. These titles are: There’s No Happy Ending by Tiffany Scandal, Moosejaw Frontier by Chris Kelso, The Party Lords by Justin Grimbol, Death Machines of Death by Vince Kramer, Shatnerquest by Jeff Burk and The Last Gig on Planet Earth and Other Strange Stories by Kevin Strange.

Voting ends October 31st. Only BizarroCon attendees are eligible to vote. Send your votes (one per category) to bizarrocon@yahoo.com.

To register for BizarroCon 2014 please visit http://bizarrocon.com/registration/


The New Bizarro Author Series Seeks Book Submissions

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:

Bradley Sands:

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.

Spike Marlowe:

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.

Kevin Donihe:

I’m looking for character-driven work in which the oddity feels natural to the story, rather than forced and unnatural to the narrative.


A Talking Eyeball Walks into a Bar: An Introduction to Bizarro Fiction

Bradley Sands is teaching an online class on writing bizarro fiction. It’s for a new lit site called Lit Demon.

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


Wonderland Book Award Preliminary Voting Begins Now!

Voting for the Wonderland Book Award preliminary ballot begins now for the Best Bizarro Novel and Best Bizarro Collection of 2013. Please send your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place votes in the Novel and Collection categories to bizarrocon@yahoo.com with the subject line “Wonderland Book Award Preliminary Ballot.” Preliminary voting ends July 31st.

NOTE TO AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS: Please do not solicit or campaign for votes.

NOVELS

Japan Conquers the Galaxy by Kirsten Alene

Thunderpussy by David W. Barbee

8-Bit Apocalypse by Amanda Billings

Shatnerquest by Jeff Burk

Motherfucking Sharks by Brian Allen Carr

The Cheat Code for God Mode by Andy De Fonseca

Santa Claus Saves the World by Robert Devereaux

Cucumber Punk by P.A. Douglas

Killer Koalas from Another Dimension by P.A. Douglas

Son of a Bitch by Andre Duza and Wrath James White

The Mondo Vixen Massacre by Jamie Grefe

The Party Lords by Justin Grimbol

All Art is Junk by R.A. Harris

Alien Smut Peddlers from the Future by Kent Hill

The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone by MP Johnson

Moosejaw Frontier by Chris Kelso

Death Machines of Death by Vince Kramer

You Are Sloth! by Steve Lowe

Fat Off Sex and Violence by Shane McKenzie

Clusterfuck by Carlton Mellick III

Cuddly Holocaust by Carlton Mellick III

Quicksand House by Carlton Mellick III

Village of the Mermaids by Carlton Mellick III

Fantastic Earth Destroyer Ultra Plus by Cameron Pierce and Jim Agpalza

Grambo by Dustin Reade

Basal Ganglia by Matthew Revert

There’s No Happy Ending by Tiffany Scandal

Dreams of Amputation by Gary J. Shipley

Babes in Gangland by Bix Skahill

Damnation 101 by Kevin Sweeney

Vampire Guts in Nuke Town by Kevin Strange

The Church of TV as God by Daniel Vlasaty

Notes from the Guts of a Hippo by Grant Wamack

Dinner at the Vomitroplis by Jesse Wheeler

Bigfoot Crank Stomp by Erik Williams

 

COLLECTIONS

Tales of Questionable Taste by John Bruni

Time Pimp by Garrett Cook

Paper Mache Jesus by Kevin L. Donihe

Clown Tear Junkies by Douglas Hackle

Zombie Sharks with Metal Teeth by Stephen Graham Jones

Hammer Wives by Carlton Mellick III

The Last Gig on Planet Earth and Other Strange Stories by Kevin Strange

DangerRAMA by Danger Slater

 


New Kindle eBook from Jeff Burk

From the same author that brought you SHATNERQUAKE, SUPER GIANT MONSTER TIME, CRIPPLE WOLF, and SHATNERQUEST comes…

promo chapbook coverJeff Burk is the cult favorite author of several books including SHATNERQUAKE and CRIPPLE WOLF. He is also one of the most original, ridiculous, and nerdy voices in the bizarro genre. B-MOVIES AND BEER RUINED MY LIFE! contains six short stories and two non-fiction pieces by Jeff Burk. From the filming of a hentai where a monster can’t get it’s tentacles up to a house made literally of cats, this collection shows why Wil Wheaton described his writing as “Lloyd Kaufman and Sam Raimi’s mutant offspring,”

This ebook also contains two non-fiction essays. One about his worst reading ever where someone called the cops and an essay on loving extreme horror.

This collection contains:
I’VE SEEN ENOUGH HENTAI TO KNOW WHERE THIS IS GOING…
THE DOG WHO STARED
HOUSE OF CATS
FROSTY AND THE FULL MONTY
THE MOST ACCOMPLISHED CRACK HEAD IN THE WORLD
PUNK ROCK NURSING HOME
WHEN THE COPS CAME FOR SHATNER OR MY WORST READING EVER
YOU SICK FUCK OR WHY I LOVE EXTREME HORROR

Available only on Kindle


The Tea House: Making Art in the Social Media Age

by Spike Marlowe

photo (3)Today is brought to you by a hot toddy.

Over at the delightful Myth and Moor blog, amazing writer, editor and artist Terri Windling recently discussed the issues surrounding using the Internet as a break while working.

Go on, go take a look. I’ll wait.

I definitely struggle with my Internet usage. It’s not that the Internet beckons and distracts me from my work, but that because I am a professional editor and writer, the online promotions are an essential part of my work. And yeah, I enjoy the Internet, too. It’s not been uncommon for me to get online when it’s time to take a break and see what’s up on Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr or Bizarro Central or my favorite news outlet. The thing is, when I’m done, I feel super-unsatisfied and definitely further away from the work at hand. I’ve also noticed that when I spend a lot of time online, especially on Facebook and Twitter, my attention span shortens. This is bad for someone who professionally finds having a long attention span useful.

So I decided to significantly reduce my time online. I have a few short scheduled periods of time during my days where I poke my nose in and check out what’s up on the Internet. But these times don’t happen during my writing or editing times–mixing the Internet with my creative activities just doesn’t work for me.

But I recognize that while I function like a lot of other artists do who struggle with the Internet, there might be artists out there who don’t have an issue with the Internet.

So, artists: How does the Internet impact your creative life? How do you balance the two? Or does it not impact you at all? And what do you think about Terri Windling’s blog post?
________________
Spike Marlowe has held a number of odd jobs, including working in a wild west show, as a detective, as a Bigfoot researcher, as a writer for an Internet content farm and as a busker. These days she’s a writer, blogger and bizarro editor for Eraserhead Press, with a focus on the New Bizarro Author Series. Her first book, Placenta of Love, is now available at all the usual locations. You can stalk her online at her website, Facebook or on Twitter at @spikemarlowe.


Fear and Loathing in Portland: An Unexpurgated Interview with Lucius Shepard

Lucius Shepard died on March 18th. With deep respect and gratitude, we are reprinting this recent interview with him conducted by friend and mentee, Edward Morris that appeared in Issue #11 of The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction published last December.

We asked Morris for a few words by way of introduction and he had this to say:

“Last night, a swath of irrecoverable jungle burned forever, and a Species Of One disappeared for all time. Last night, every light in the city of Vermillion went out at once, and a human door across Time and Space slammed shut.

But the footprints of the jaguar paint the Hokusai rooftops of Montavilla, and the honey badgers come nosing down across Burnside to lie in my yard and moan like dogs who know someone has died.

This dragon, this centaur, this immortal Fabulist taught me to live in the jungle, to love the jungle, to sleep upside-down in trees and eat rats and paint my face with the blood like the VC. To hone our craft to a killing blade.I am amazed to report that we inspired each other, taught each other…and occasionally interviewed each other. Here is the last such drum duet on skulls:”

luc use this

Fear and Loathing in Portland:

An Unexpurgated Interview with Lucius Shepard

by Edward Morris

I stand in the dark light, on the dark street, and look up at the window of an OMNI stalwart whose work lit the sky for me like a million wishing-stars when I was a boy. I thought then: “This guy gets it. He has seen the landscape of my dreams.”

As I have seen his, too, and more. The inner and outer landscapes Lucius Shepard has traveled contain worlds within worlds within worlds of story, imparted through a certain half-smile that means I Shall Tell You All. Ray Bradbury’s Colonel Freeleigh in DANDELION WINE was described as a human time machine. Lucius Shepard is a human spaceship that can travel in five dimensions at the change of a subject.

I approach the doorstep of the fabulous old sandstone building and think about every building like this that I’ve vacuumed,the things I’ve seen in some basements, the miles of Shanghai tunnel that only slumlords now know…and their former henchmen.

The hidden city, the one called Rose’s City after its most legendary madam, the Portland of opium dens and hobo jungles and poets smoking hash in clean dark windows. The Portland I can see from the fire escape on Lucius’ floor….

Not the first time I have ventured into the strange sunsets of the Lovecraft Housing Blocks just past the Crystal Ballroom. All those mossy old Art-Deco masterpieces with names like the Sara Anne, for blocks and blocks of green-space streets so quiet you can hear the ones who were here before us creeping through their own Shanghai Tunnels, far below the parks in Hoyt Street, a whole civilization blooming from our scraps…

I get in this mood, when I go see Lucius. It’s been almost three years. For part of that, he was out of the country, for part of it he was ill, and for part of it I’m not even going to work my side of the street here.

Lucius’ Portland is a lot more fun. I hear his voice in every trainhopper ghost the Yards ever coughs up in the fog of strawberry spring. He is as Portland as webbed feet. And tonight, as always, the twenty-one-year old me working part-time at the comic book shop, sits up and whistles with a copy of the latest issue of VERMILLION open on the register desk. That kid doesn’t know why. I do.

Lucius buzzes me in, and I walk up three flights of stairs, listening to the song of the antique building in the night, like a ship settling. Outside, the stars turn black, but though his skin is pale and he looks peaked, his eyes are bright and the laugh in his voice bespeaks better health.When I see this, my own eyes grow brighter, and the pen comes out. I’ve been waiting three years for this. Lucius knows it, too.

ROLL SOUND: ROLLING SPEED IN 3,2,1…

INT: What’s the toughest thing you’ve ever written, and why?

LS: VIATOR. I had a complete breakdown. It was difficult to construct, with all those long sentences. The whole book had this sensitivity early on, and it was difficult to get the balance right, to have it anywhere near finished.

Well, eight or nine chapters in, I woke up one day with my serotonin level completely blown. I was this big, gray thing in the mirror. Eventually, I got back on track. But it was a nightmare, and I had to get it out.

INT: What are you working on now?

LS: Due to staggering medical bills I have to get caught up on, I am whoring in Hollywood again. The script I’m working on right now is sort of like ‘Die Hard On The Moon’, if you will. It’s tough. The family has about as much conflict as the family on ‘Lassie.’

I’d written very little before I got well. Writing for Hollywood is different. It suppresses your creativity. Like when they put Barton Fink on a wrestling picture in that movie and said ‘Do that Barton Fink thing…except when I do my Barton Fink thing, it’s always too much and I have to pull back, to make this or that family member less screwed-up, or whatever. It’s very difficult… but I don’t really consider Hollywood scripts “writing.”

 Lucius Shepard_1987_Life During Wartime

INT: I’ve asked similar questions of S.M. Stirling and several other authors placed in the unique position of having the present catch up to their postulated future while they are still alive. When it comes to your breakout 1987 novel LIFE DURING WARTIME, how does the present situation in that region (Mexico, Mesoamerica and South America) stack up against your vision of it?

LS: We got caught up in other wars: The Balkans, the Middle East, and all the rest, but we’re already heading for a war down there. It’s been in the cards for 25 years …Colombia, way back, and all the elements are still in place there, even if everyone’s holding hands and singing Kumbaya because the cocaine trade’s more circumspect than it was under Pablo Escobar. It’s still there. It feels like Detroit in the Sixties when they cleaned up downtown by flushing all the crime out to the suburbs.

The elements are there now in Venezuela, too, because of the oil…There are a lot of serious contributing factors.  Violence has escalated in that whole region because, in part, of the American deportation of the guys that became Mara 15. Honduras has one of the highest national homicide rates in the world, and Mexico is off the charts. The cartels…Mara-15 is fast becoming a contender, and the Zetas in rural Mexico as well.

Now, with the gangs, it’s a whole new deal. I started going to Honduras in 1976 but didn’t start seeing these kinds of changes until the late Nineties. George Bush was deporting people to Honduras and elsewhere There were these two brothers in Honduras, gang lords, whose MO was to kidnap an ordinary public bus full of workers and women and kids, have their group call the policia and tell them they did it.

Then they’d kill everyone on the bus. While the cops were thus occupied, more of the group would hijack a dump truck and use it to rob a bank. Thus, one crime with sixty casualties. They out-violenced us. That’s why no one’s really been in a hurry to go to war down there. Makes it less appealing (laughs).

They still hate Americans, and for good reason. You can’t really get a sense of that until you examine the last two centuries of their history. American corporate interests have violated the whole area and made it OUR Balkans. There’s not a lot of love lost.

The whole panoply of events hasn’t worked all the way out yet, but if we get a Republican president the next turn or two, we could get into a high-tech war in Venezuela that would, of necessity, have a lot of infantry /jungle/ war of attrition features like Vietnam. Drones are a little hard to pinpoint in jungle with any accuracy.

In short, the particulars may be different, but the elements are all still there. Waiting. LIFE DURING WARTIME could still happen.

INT: When it comes to graphic novels in general…We’ve discussed this at length before, but for the benefit of the folks just tuning in, did writing VERMILLION kill your taste for wanting to write a graphic novel again?

LS: (Laughs) Depends on how much money I need. That wasn’t a happy experience. The people running Vertigo had good instincts, but not when it came to the direction of the Helix imprint, and that series. For one thing, VERMILLION was *not supposed to be an all-ages comic. That was very stifling.

I was just finding my way. It would have been interesting to truly finish out the arc of that story, rather than write this quick ending because I had to. The experience didn’t kill my taste for that form, but there are only certain reasons why I’d seek it out now. Like getting the chance to adapt another writer’s work into graphic novel form, something like that. Make Me An Offer…

INT: I have a loaded question revolving around your DRAGON GRIAULE cycle. What do you think of the viability of ‘Science Fantasy’ as a sub-genre in the canon, and would you say that any of the aforementioned cycle falls into that sub-genre?

LS: It’s a totally viable sub-genre. Among other Burroughs stories, the UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS cycle is completely Science Fantasy, beam-weapons and all.

Jack Vance was another writer who did Science Fantasy very well. He stands out for me in that genre more than anybody.

INT: Jack Vance is still alive, last I heard. (He died not long later. —ed.) He’s in his nineties. He, Robert Silverberg and William F. Nolan are the oldest living members of that crowd, if memory serves.

LS: Good. He was always one of my three or four favorite Science Fiction authors, and so very much of what he did was Science Fantasy in its purest and often most epic sense.

A lot of times, you could see him really step outside himself, and transcend his own usual forms. You have to remember he was writing on board ship, half the time, back and forth between various ports of call. Writing has always been an honorable profession for merchant seamen because there’s so much down-time. Vance was great Science Fantasy, Cordwainer Smith…

INT: What about Robert E. Howard. Some of what he did—?

LS: Not “Conan.” (chuckles) Never could get into Conan. I almost had a chance to write one of those. Jason Williams from Night Shade Books was putting together a kind of thinking-man’s Sword & Sorcery anthology, but I couldn’t make the stretch to that world. I said that mine would have been something like CONAN THE INTELLECTUAL…

INT: ‘Conan The Librarian.’ Couldn’t resist.

LS: Sure. I don’t know if the DRAGON GRIAULE cycle falls anywhere near there or not. To me, it was just a big, ambitious story, a metaverse. THE SKULL of course took it into the contemporary age, which was what I think you were asking, but even then… Once, I wrote a story in which only one thing was done differently. As though it were the real world, but with a great big dragon, or in another instance, some one thing amplified. I don’t know if that’s still traditional Fantasy, or Science Fantasy by default. It can be tough to call.

THE SKULL was fun. It was written in a lot of different styles. One section, for example, was written in one long sentence. Another section was laid out like a play. The newest  is straight-ahead and linear, as much so as I think any of my stuff ever gets, but everyone seems to think they’re all kind of odd. But they seem like normal shit to me. (shrugs) The next books are a collection called Five Autobiographies and a Fiction, and a novel called Beautiful Blood.

*Lucius and I talked a lot longer, of many things. Vast, sweeping, left-field wonderment things, French Metal and half a million recommended movies back and forth. The soul of the land seeping into his bones in Tibet, the Trans-Tibetan Railroad I once boarded in my dreams, and hearing the Dalai Lama exclaim over the airport gift of an Atlanta Braves baseball cap: “Oh, B for Buddha!” Things that light up the soul on the way home, especially when it’s cold and the neon is very far away.

Our conversations usually extend longer than an interview would support, off the page and up the peaks and down the valleys of mountain ranges that extend beyond Madness, into what Kit Marlowe called the literature of the age. That landscape can be found in quiet apartments on nights like this, with no entourage, no DJ, not even backing vocals. Merely the dance of laptop keys whose action gets worked so hard that they stutter out Morse Code to the world. Sometimes, that sound is the only tune we need to Rock and Roll.


Meanwhile in Japan…


Flash Fiction Friday: Shopping for Feelings

by Allen Taylor

I only wanted that sense of humanity that seemed intrinsic. I’ve wanted it since I crawled out from under the toadstool that served as my shelter those initial days of my life.

That’s why I roamed the aisles of the local supermarket looking for feelings.

“Excuse me, miss,” I stopped a lady with a store badge on her chest. She was an older lady, somewhat withered, bearing a nice smile for a woman with no teeth. “Can you point me to where you shelve your feelings?”

“Oh, why certainly young man.”

It’s always intrigued me that old ladies address young men as “young man” during normal conversation. But she proceeded to deliver on her promise.

“Two aisles over that way. Near the chili.”

“Thank you.”

I made haste to get to the chili aisle with my baby sister in tow. She’s not really a baby. At nineteen she is much more mature than I am. She, after all, has those feelings which I desire.

“I’d be surprised if they have them on that aisle,” Little Sis said. “I’ve never known a supermarket to carry feelings before.”

“We’ll see,” I said rounding the corner and looking for the chili. Sis found it first.

We looked and looked, but no sign of feelings. I finally reasoned that the old lady thought I’d said “beans” since there were about fifteen hundred varieties of beans on the shelf next to the chili and just as many brands. But no feelings.

“Pardon me,” I stopped a middle-aged man with a store badge on his chest. It was labeled “Manager” so I thought he must surely know if the store would have feelings. “I’d like to know if you stock feelings.”

“Sure do,” he smiled. “I stock them on my sleeve.” Then he jabbed Little Sis in the rib and cackled. She laughed. I must have not looked amused. The manager could tell. Of course, not having feelings, I was not unamused. Nor was I “not amused” in the way that one might be negatively amused if positive amusement were within the range of possibilities. And that fact of my reality must have shown on my deadpan face.

“Sorry,” he said. “I thought you were joking.”

“He’s not,” Sis said. “He really feels left out.”

“Oh.” The store manager suddenly donned a look of puzzlement, then it appeared a light came on. “Oh … Ooooh. Yes, yes, of course.”

At that, he scratched his forehead, then snapped his fingers.

“I have an idea,” he said as he took off for the front of the store. Little Sis and I followed.

Once he reached the front office he unlocked a door with a set of keys and went in leaving me and Little Sis standing outside. Almost immediately we heard him say over the intercom, “Attention, store personnel. We have an urgent need for feelings at the front of the store. Any employees willing to donate to the cause, please come forward.”

I was amazed – or would have been had I been able to feel amazement – that a line of store employees started forming next to us. The store manager returned from his little office holding a plastic bag. I watched as employees began placing little trinkets in the bag.

“Thank you,” said the manager, nodding. “There’s a slight annoyance. A perturbance. Very good Miss Salamander. Oh, and lucky you,” he winked, “a joyful moment.”

This went on for about ten minutes, the manager calling out different feelings as employee after employee dropped them into the bag. When it was over he turned to me and handed me the bag.

“Will there be anything else, sir?”

I reached into the bag and pulled out what looked like an amazement. I wrapped it around my neck and my face contorted to take on a look of unexpected amazement.

“No, I guess that should be it.”

“Thank you for shopping at Carry Mart,” the manager smiled. Then he walked away with a whistle as store employees dispersed and shuffled back to work.

Little Sis and I exchanged looks of carefully chosen expressions – I actually found a bewilderment buried deep in the bag – and left the store. When we got to her car I smiled, pulled a pride out of the bag and wrapped it around my neck, then tapped Little Sis’s hood with the tip of my finger.

“See,” I beamed. “I told you so.”

—-

Allen Taylor is the publisher/owner of Garden Gnome Publications and editor of the Garden of Eden anthology, a digital-only anthology of speculative fiction set in the legendary garden. His fiction and poetry have appeared online and in print for more than 20 years.


Show Me Your Shelves: Tiffany Scandal and Michael Kazepis

Check it out, Show Me Your Shelves is featuring a couple for the first time! You know you like it. Tiffany Scandal is part of this year’s NBAS and Michael Kazepis’ debut novel is coming soon from Broken River Books. This is one talented couple. They also look cute together, just don’t let them know. Now dig the interview. It’s a good one.

Who are you two and what role do books play in your lives?

TS: I’m Tiffany Scandal. I’m a writer, Suicide Girl, and photographer. Books were my security blanket growing up. I was a weird kid with a lot of imagination and reading was my go-to for escaping reality. I remember going book shopping with my family, and getting into trouble because I would read the books they thought would last me a week on that same day. Teachers eventually started loaning me literature and by junior high, I was reading college-level material and was usually one of two kids constantly in the library.

While that’s cool to look back on, it was problematic at the time—in high school, I actually got kicked out of the honors program because my vocabulary was “too grandiose” and I was consistently given F-minuses (that shouldn’t be a real grade, right?), all because my teacher didn’t believe that a fifteen year old was capable of writing what I was turning in. No matter—books were there for me, and they didn’t care if I was a snobby little shit or not.

MK: My name is Michael Kazepis. Lately, I’ve been writing weird urban crime books. Being a military brat, fiction had always been this way to combat a loneliness that developed from moving back and forth between continents, never keeping the same people in my life. I started young with my brother’s comic books and Stars and Stripes newspapers, whatever was laying around, and it grew from there. As an adult, I’ve continued to change locations frequently, and whatever survival mechanism compelled me to escape into fiction seems like permanent function now.

What’s interesting (at least to me), considering how much I read, is that I’ve got crippling attention span issues and shouldn’t be able to. People often have to repeat things to me, even when I stare right at them, trying hard to concentrate. Most speech just drifts around me, dissipates. Notepads help a lot when I’m at work and I’ve developed an ace shorthand to keep me sharp. I’m lucky that reading has always been one constant I can lose myself in, narrow the focus a while. Never feels more centered than when I’m in the last stretches of a novel.

Did you guys put your books together when you moved into the same place? How does that work?

TS: Pretty much. Michael has severe OCD when it comes to bookshelf organization. When we recently rearranged furniture in the house, he sat on the floor for a few hours, organizing the books by genre and writer. Not all of his books are here, but if they were, I’m sure there would be lots of duplicates. Dude’s got good taste.

MK: I only brought a messenger bag full of books to Portland, but I’ve learned to prioritize between what I’m reading and what I can’t live without. Luckily for me, Tiffany came ready-made as a partner, so a fine collection was waiting when I moved in. The rest of my books are spread across three cities. It’s just easier to build anew than keep carrying it all around.

What are some of your favorites? Is there a book or books you guys disagree over? One you both really dig?

MK: No particular order—the first three Pynchon novels, HOPSCOTCH, BLOOD MERIDIAN, everything Sam Pink, AMERICAN TABLOID, THE DARK HALF, THE NIGHT GARDENER, WISE BLOOD, everything Cody Goodfellow, REVEREND AMERICA, the Gately stuff in INFINITE JEST. Cameron Pierce’s LOST IN CAT BRAIN LAND had some stories in it that made me feel. Daniel Woodrell’s BAYOU TRILOGY is meaty as fuck. I think my favorite has to be the ten or so loose pages left of my first copy of GRAVITY’S RAINBOW—I got so frustrated at that book the first time I read it that I tore it to pieces, distributing most of its pages across the Indianapolis loop. But for some reason I couldn’t shake that book out of my head, and over the years it’s become the one I revisit most.

Tiffany and I don’t disagree much on books. I suppose I don’t get Sylvia Plath, so maybe that counts. But we like Bolaño’s ANTWERP a lot. We pick books to read to each other. Recently it was ZEROVILLE by Steve Erickson. Now it’s I AM GENGHIS CUM by Violet LeVoit.

TS: My turn already? Jesus. Too many to even know where to start. Uh, EVERYTHING AND NOTHING by Borges is my absolute favorite collection of short stories.  OF LOVE AND OTHER DEMONS by Garcia-Marquez made me cry like a baby. HELL HOUSE, NEUROMANCER, THE SHINING, RAYUELA, THE BELL JAR, WRITTEN ON THE BODY, WISE BLOOD, the SHADOW OF THE WIND series. THE BABY JESUS BUTT PLUG was my gateway book into bizarro fiction. From there I fell in love with ROTTEN LITTLE ANIMALS, TRASHLAND A GO-GO, WE LIVE INSIDE YOU,  PLACENTA OF LOVE, OCEAN OF LARD, TUMOR FRUIT, HAUNT; shit by Cody Goodfellow, Brian Keene, Shane McKenzie, and J David Osborne. I’m sure I’m forgetting to mention a million more books.

Mike and I actually enjoy a lot of books together. Picking up books we’re both excited about and taking turns reading chapters/sections to each other—yeah, we’re gross. We haven’t really disagreed on books, but there have been excerpts I’ve read by Sylvia Plath and Jeanette Winterson that he didn’t seem overly impressed by. So my queer/feminist section may stay relatively untouched by him, which is funny because Michael loves hanging out with lesbians.

MK: That’s true. Lots of my friends happen to be lesbians.

Writers are divas. How do you guys deal with each other when the “writing blues” attack? How do you go about offering support?

MK: Writers are tough to be around. Most times we communicate it’s easy to just imagine actual vomit or shit seeping copiously from our mouths. I’d be afraid to hear my own conversations from a distance. Often with other writers on social media, both professional and not, I find myself wanting to type “shut the fuck up” into the comment sections. I always manage to stop myself, thankfully. But they’re also my people, so it’s love-hate. I’m sure someone feels like that about me.

One way that having a partner who’s also a writer has been beneficial is that over the past six months, she and I have supported each other when pressed with deadlines. You learn that there are some moments to provide someone with space and other moments for bridging that space. It’s also nice when we have time to proofread each other and can immediately point out oversights, shit that on its own takes days or weeks, maybe longer. There’s a scene in my upcoming book that Tiffany actually wrote for me, because I was clueless as to its execution—she was sketching out an example of what I could do with the idea and her version turned out better than what I had tried to do, so I pilfered it.

TS: Ha! Have fun trying to guess which scene that is, I guess. Michael and I are wondering which scene I might get incorrectly credited for. Now, going back to the question, writers are total divas. I was gonna write some witty banter about conversations with writers, but I like Michael’s answer better. So we’ll just go with what he says about puke and shit. As far as our relationship goes, I feel that it helps that we’re both writers. We understand each other pretty well and have been able to navigate proper support based on that. Space, pep talks, forced breaks, coffee refills, food. It’s kind of awesome. I also love that we can bounce ideas off of one another. And when we get stuck on scenes, we tackle them together. I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve both thrown our hands up in defeat over a scene, and the other comes in with a calm voice, asks about set up and goals, and offers a suggestion. We both love seeing the ideas we give each other click and hearing the rapid progression of keys being hammered at immediately afterward.

Okay, so you both have books out there. Tell us about them so we can go buy them.

MK: I get bummed by certain aspects of the writing industry, particularly salesmanship. I was explaining this to David Osborne, who’s publishing me, and he said “Well, tough shit. Go sell your book.” So in as few words as possible—LONG LOST DOG OF IT is Mediterranean neo-noir—an homeless detective in a strange city, a mob enforcer whose last job leaves a witness, an expatriate intent on murdering her unfaithful girlfriend, an assassin with a striking resemblance to the 35th President of the United States. Overlapping lives, etc. I like the logline for Lynch’s INLAND EMPIRE, “a woman in trouble”—this is like that: some people in trouble.

THERE’S NO HAPPY ENDING is bizarro horror. A love story at the end of the world. Everything falling apart in the literal way. Dresden and Isobel get separated right around the time things go to shit. Lots of memorable scenes: the ark, the aquarium, the infinite room, the ending. Real simple conflict: Will they find each other again? The situation says, Outlook Not Good. It’s part Y: THE LAST MAN, part ANGEL DUST APOCALYPSE. Deathly bleak at times too, but with a real sense of humor about it.

TS:Uh, they’re awesome! My book, THERE’S NO HAPPY ENDING, is an apocalyptic love story where two lovers are fighting impossible odds to find each other before the world physically disintegrates into nothing. It’s violent, gory, kind of funny, and heartfelt. People other than my own family seem to really like it. It’s available now through Eraserhead Press in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.

Michael wrote a punk-as-fuck crime noir book. LONG LOST DOG OF IT feels like what you’d get if maybe David Lynch directed a Bikini Kill video, but with badass action scenes. The imagery in this book is both haunting and boner-inducing. It’ll be out on both paperback and Kindle through Broken River Books on February 1.

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Gutmouth and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias


Flash Fiction Friday: The Soft Invasion

by Chris Swindell

The Thing in the bed rolls Its one great eye around to glare at me, bloodshot and green and yellow at the edges. A mouth smiles at me, ropey lips pulling back over teeth that look like half-chewed Chiclets. A voice like a leaking faucet asks me for some water.

I give it a glass of lukewarm tap water.

“Thank you,” It says in Its drippy voice.

The Thing in the bed rolls over. Its dinner plate-sized eye shuts with a squeak. It drifts off to sleep with a gurgling moan.

I have never, in all my life, been so in love.

The Thing in the bed first appeared two years ago. Or was it three? Maybe seven. Anyway, It appeared. I found It in my back yard slouching among the azaleas.

“Hello,” It said. It was so much smaller then.

“Hi,” I said. It looked into me with Its single eye and I knew in that instant that I’d found my purpose in life. I’d finally found my one true love.

I’d been in love before. Twice in high school, if you can call that love. Once in college. Once more since, and that one hurt the most.

But the love that I share with It is different. It’s pure. There’s no messy jealousy, because nearly everyone has his or her own Thing now. There are no complicated social or sexual concerns. No disappointments. Life is easy, simple. I sit by Its bed as it sleeps. I feed It and give It water when It is awake. Sometimes I go out to get more food. Sometimes I even feed myself.

Cassandra, my neighbor, found hers on her porch. She’d just had a baby and her fiancé had left her and she’d been pretty down. I see her every now and then when I’m out foraging for food. She has never looked happier.

I don’t ask about her baby. There isn’t any point.

The Thing in the bed – my Thing, my one and only Thing – stirs a bit, and makes a drip, drip, drip noise with Its wide, ropey mouth. But It doesn’t wake up, and I’m glad. It needs Its rest. It dreams Its strange dreams, and I watch It. I am so tired, but I cannot go to sleep. I cannot leave It alone. It needs me, my perfect, wonderful Thing.

Outside, Bill and June from across the street are foraging. I hear them kill a stray cat. All cats are stray these days. I feel sorry for Bill and June. They have to share their Thing. It must be awful, not having It all to yourself.

My Thing wakes up, rolls over. It scratches Its grey hide with a vein-covered, long-fingered hand.

“Please,” It gurgles in Its beautiful drain-voice, “I’m hungry.”

I smile and run a hand over Its cheek. The hide beneath my palm is like saddle leather. It burbles happily as I get up to go. I wonder if Bill and June will share the cat with me. They won’t, of course. Maybe I’ll be able to steal it. Maybe I’ll have to kill one or both of them. I hope it doesn’t come to that. I always liked Bill and June. But my Thing is hungry. And I am so in love.

________

Chris Swindell is a Cleveland-based writer of sci-fi and absurdist flash fiction. His work has appeared in The Harrow and Space Squid.


THE MAGAZINE OF BIZARRO FICTION #11 – Out Now!

Issue 11

Fiction
Ultra David Vs. Mecha-Goliath by Michael Allen Rose
Dieselpig by Garrett Cook
Violins for Sale by Scott Cole
The Slobbering Tongue That Ate The Frightfully Huge Woman by Robert Devereaux
The Corpsefucker Blues by Ryan Harding

Comics
Ogner Stump’s One Thousand Sorrows by Andrew Goldfarb
Wild Bushpig Grrrls by S.C.A.R.

Nonfiction
Head Humping and Tentacle Fucking:  Author Profile on Edward Lee  by Jeff Burk
BizarroCon 2013: The Scandalous Version by Tiffany Scandal
Alan M. Clark’s Advice for Aspiring Illustrators : Part One
Fear and Loathing in Portland: An Unexpurgated Interview with Lucius Shepard by Edward Morris
A Decade of Weird Fiction And Doing It Right: A Spotlight on Raw Dog Screaming Press by Gabino Iglesias
Conversations with the 2012 New Bizarro Authors by Spike Marlowe

Click here to buy!


TOP TEN MOVIES OF 2013

BY JEFF BURK

It’s that time again – time for my favorite movies of the year! Like always, if you want to catch up on my previous Top Ten lists, you can check them out here:

2000 to 2009
2010
2011
2012

I know this list is a little late but this time I waited until I saw every movie released in 2013 that I had an interest in seeing. I learned my lesson last list when I missed DJANGO UNCHAINED (which would have most likely placed at spot three). But I’m finally done with movies released in 2013 and saw a shit ton! Some of them were really good!

I’ve heard a lot of negatives about this year in movies and when I first started working on this list I was inclined to agree. Most of the offerings from major studios were pretty crappy (with two notable exceptions – we’ll get to them). But the realm of independent films was crazy awesome. If you knew where to look, you could find a treasure-trove of original and amazing films.

But it wasn’t all good. To get it out of the way, here are the two worst movies I saw in 2013:

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (Nicolas Winding Refn, Denmark/France) – If you want to watch ninety minutes of beautiful people staring blankly in well-shot scenes, this is the movie for you. If you care about pacing, plot, story, originality, or just aren’t a sucker for hipster wankfests, then stay far away.

LORDS OF SALEM (Rob Zombie, United States) – Holy shit, if there’s one person that should not make a tribute to Alejandro Jodorowsky – it’s Rob Zombie. Yet someone allowed him to. It was just a boring mess until the last twenty minutes when it plummeted into a laughably bad attempt at being “deep.” Also, how Zombie managed to get so many details of the music and radio business wrong is totally mind-blowing (and not in a good way).

Enough shit-talking, now let’s be positive!

TOP TEN MOVIES OF 2013

10: AFTERSHOCK (Nicolás López, United States/Chile)

aftershock-movie-poster-2013-eli-rothTaking place in Chile, this is the first torture porn natural-disaster movie (at least that I’ve seen). Considering it was produced, starring, and written by Eli Roth (HOSTEL and CABIN FEVER), that should give you an idea of what it’s like. After an earthquake devastates a major city, the survivors must battle each other and the many aftershocks to stay alive. Vicious, violent, and willing to kill any character at any time – AFTERSHOCK is a fun romp for the viewer with a sadistic-streak.

9: WRONG (Quentin Dupieux, United States/France)

wrongFrom the same twisted genius that gave the world a movie about a sentient car-tire that could make peoples’ heads explode (RUBBER), comes WRONG. This sophomore film is about a man whose dog is petnapped by a company that steals pets to teach the owners to love them more. But when the company loses his dog for real, the man begins a surreal and strange journey to track down his beloved pet. Nowhere near as meta as RUBBER but in many ways just as strange, WRONG is a bizarro film about how much of our heart our pets take with them when they leave.

8: V/H/S/2 (Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Timo Tjahjanto, Eduardo Sánchez, Gregg Hale, Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard, Indonesia/Canada/United States)

VHS-2-posterThe past few years have been great for horror anthology films. The sequel to 2012’s found footage horror fan-favorite V/H/S and this one example of the sequel blowing away the original . Almost all of the shorts surpass everything from the first entry in the series but special shout-outs need to go to Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Evans for the horrifying and intense Satanic-cult thriller “Safe Haven” and to Jason Eisener for the ridiculously original “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” – the only horror film I can name from the POV of a dog.

7: FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY (Richard Raaphorst, Netherlands)

Amaray Wrap.EPSDuring the end of WWII, a Russian special-forces team infiltrated a top-secret Nazi facility where they were attempting to make grotesque “super-soldiers.” Soon the Russian soldiers are caught in a fight-to-death battle with horrible monsters sprung from the mind of a fascist mad-scientist. The movie as a whole is fun and well-written but the special-effect designs are the true highlight. The creatures the soldiers must battle are surreal and grotesque and the most interesting monsters since HELLRAISER.

6: THE ABCS OF DEATH (Twenty-eight directors from fifteen countries)

the-abcs-of-death-posterThe premise of this movie is insane – twenty-six short horror films, each by a different director(s), and each themed around a letter of the alphabet. This could have been a disaster but the fact that the shorts are (mostly) really good makes this one of the most interesting genre experiments in recent memory. While some of the directors obviously didn’t give a shit (I’m looking at you Andrew Traucki and Ti West) most of the directors used the opportunity to try and make a serious impact on the audience. The very fact this movie features a robot biting the head off a baby guarantees it a spot on my list.

My favorites shorts – D, H, L, P, Q, R, T, V, W, and Z

Before anyone points it out, the movie is in fact directed by twenty-eight people – two of the shorts are co-directed. The movie poster is wrong.

5: RESOLUTION (Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead, United States)

resolution posterA man goes to the middle-of-nowhere to try and save his friend from meth addiction by Tasering him and handcuffing him to his shack’s wall to force on detox. But while staying in the drug-den, the man begins to get strange packages of film and photos detailing scenes of horror and pain. To say much more would spoil the movie’s many surprises – but what starts off as a dark drama later turns into cosmic horror that would delight any fan of Lovecraft.

4: GRAVITY (Alfonso Cuarón, United States)

gravityTwo astronauts are stranded during a space-walk after an accident destroys their shuttle. So begins a ninety-minute survival tale in the vacuum of space. Simple and to-the-point, GRAVITY was the most thrilling most experience I had all year. Plus I saw it in IMAX 3D and this movie was the best use of the technology to date.

3: THE WORLD’S END (Edgar Wright, United Kingdom)

The-Worlds-End-Teaser-PosterFinally, after too many years, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (the brilliant minds behind SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ) have been reunited! Their third film is another work of amazing genre inspired comedy. A man cons his five childhood best friends into joining him on a twelve-stop-pub-crawl in their mutual hometown that ends at a bar named “The World’s End.” But aliens and robots are going to get in the way of their attempt to reclaim lost youth. While a fun and drunken romp, at its core the movie is story about how you can never go home and why you’d never want to.

2: AMERICAN MARY (Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska, Canada)

americanA med-school student is raped by her professor which causes her to quit her program. To make money, she takes what she learned of medicine and surgery to the underground body modification scene. And after some time learning new skills there, she uses her knowledge of extreme body-modification on the man who harmed her. Visually striking and horrific, all the scenes of bloody and grotesque horror are done with in-camera practical effects or with real-life members of the extreme body-mod community. Equally influenced by David Cronenberg and Eli Roth, AMERICAN MARY is the best hardcore horror flick of the year!

1: PACIFIC RIM (Guillermo del Toro, United States)

pacific_rim_ver3Giant robots punching giant monsters for two hours!

This panders so much to my personal tastes that in the hands of almost any director it would still place in my top ten. But instead we got one of the best modern filmmakers giving us something that makes me wish I could have seen this when I was nine-years-old . Can you imagine how much fun this movie must be for kids?

The best summer blockbuster since JURASSIC PARK.

I saw so many awesome movies this year, that they couldn’t all make my top ten list. Here are a few that were also great and worth your time:

Honorable Mentions: House Hunting, Spring Breakers, Big Ass Spider, Jug Face

So those were the best movies I saw in 2013. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.

MOVIE COMING OUT IN 2014 THAT I’M MOST EXCITED FOR:

It’s a good time to love giant monsters.


season's greetings


Twisted Tuesdays: Fuck X-mas With a Chainsaw

double face drink more blood drippped man eat stringelectro-smile-japan evil doll eye face fox face girl plasticbunny cersei Christian Bale combustion countess crossbones cute demon dead on nun death doll death knight demon devil


A Letter from Saint Nick

My darling children, and the thoroughly compromised grown-ups you seem inevitably fated to become:

For close to twenty years, some joker named Robert Devereaux has been chronicling my life. There were things he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.

Lately, he’s gone into my attempt to fix the horrendously flawed human psyche. Did that attempt succeed? I won’t spoil your fun by telling you.

I asked Robert (I always think of the once adorable little tyke, one of the damnably nice boys, as Bobby) to say a few words about his most recent attempt. Here’s Bobby’s reply to his readers:

“Lately, I’ve been trying to save the world through my novels. So far I have failed. I expect to continue failing. On that score I harbor very few illusions. Still, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a world changer. Abraham Lincoln is reported to have greeted Harriet Beecher Stowe with: ‘So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.’ And Huckleberry Finn, in which Huck conceals runaway slave Jim while fully expecting to go to hell for it, remains an inspiration. Then there’s Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle , which brought reform to Chicago’s meat-packing industry.

“Fifteen months ago, my wife died of ovarian cancer at the age of sixty-one. In her two and a half year decline, I heard her say more than once that if cancer finally took her life, at least she wouldn’t have to live through the disasters the human race seems unable to prevent, such power have we given those who put boundless greed over our and the planet’s survival.

“Do I sound bitter? Bitter I be. And bitter shouldst thou be. So kindly shrug into your leaden cloak of bitterness, yoke it across your shoulders, and join the parade of the damned.

“Twain, quite the curmudgeon in later years, wrote this: ‘Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved.’

“And so, via Mark Twain’s bitterness and a world whose inertia is tending toward irreversible ruin, we arrive at Santa Claus Saves the World, part three of my Santa Claus Chronicles. Saint Nick is given the chance to reengineer the human psyche, to fix God’s botched job before it’s too late, hoping to outrace a critical tipping point.

“This being fiction, there are, of course, opposing forces, not the least of which is God Himself. Also active are the Tooth Fairy, her imps Quint and Gronk, the harrumphing elf Gregor, and Venga, a fallen golden robotic handmaiden of the Greek god Hephaestus.

“As I researched this book, I began making lists of human flaws. Let me tell you, those lists are unending. I have been kind to my readers. I have not tried to include every last flaw in my novel. We all know what they are. And it would have been so hard on the trees.

“No, let the token few I name suffice.

“On a happier note . . . hmmm, what could have I been thinking when I began this sentence? There is no happier note.”

Yes, sweet kiddies. I caught the author in a foul mood. But moods come and go, as you well know. He’s a jovial sort usually, and that joviality is as genuine as his despair.

That’s about it. Must get back to supervising our toy production and the planned delivery on Christmas Eve.

Don’t forget the milk and cookies, if you’re so moved. These days, I’m into almond milk and gluten-free cookies. But carrots are still fine for my reindeer. And any little note you care to leave. I love your notes—and you—to death!

The jolliest of ho-ho-ho’s to you and yours,

Santa Claus

———-

Santa Steps Out

Santa Conquers the Homophobes

Santa Claus Saves the World


Twisted Tuesday: Society (1989)

Society (1)

An 80’s dude with a mullet feels like there is something really off about his family…his sister and parents are acting strange and no matter what he does, even being the quarterback of the football team and winning a high school debate, doesn’t impress them. Then he realizes his feelings are validated when he hears a strange recording from a friend. That’s when the setup of the first half of the movie ends up getting truly bizarre and the finale…well you just have to see it for yourself if you haven’t already. There is truly no ending like it in the history of cinema.

society-1989-movie-5

A true classic that reflects how the rich feeds off the poor through ooze, sex, and tons of stretchy, flesh-colored latex, Society is a great film that belongs on your Bizarro movie shelf. You can watch it in its entirety here:


‘Fantastic Earth Destroyer Ultra Plus’ Now Available For Pre-Order!

 

frontcoverWritten by Cameron Pierce and illustrated by Jim Agpalza, this is the first book in Sinister Grin Press’s Lockjaw bizarro line and is limited to 100 hard cover copies.

 

An apocalyptic nightmare in the tradition of UzumakiThe Epic of Gilgamesh, and Tetsuo: The Iron Man.
In the mining town of Itchy Zoo lives a boy with pumpkin flesh. His name is Tetsuo, and he’d like to tell you about the terrible things that brought ruin to his town. How he shot his brother, how the people of Itchy Zoo became puppets, how he fell in love for the first and last time, and how Satan watched it all go down.

Written by Wonderland Book Award-winning author Cameron Piece and fully illustrated by Jim Agpalza, Fantastic Earth Destroyer Ultra Plus is a bizarro epic that’s as beautiful as it is bleak.

 
Click HERE to get yours! 

Zombies vs Black Friday Shoppers: a film compilation by Andrew Kasch


Coming Up: Weird Art Month

By Sam Reeve

It’s that time of year again, the one that I hate so dearly. December doesn’t bring snow in Vancouver, just rain and grey skies, and that foul holiday (Christmas) is celebrated as strongly here as any other. I decided two years ago to drown myself in weird art instead of turning into the Grinch, and it’s now a tradition.

Starting this Sunday on December 1st, I’ll be featuring a different artist each day. You’ll learn some things and see some pretty weird shit, and maybe, just maybe we’ll be able to block out the Christmas carols together. Below you’ll get a taste of what’s to come.

Missed the any of the previous Weird Art Months? Check out the artist roundups for WAM 2011 and WAM 2012.

Female Soul in HellJuan CabanaJustin Bartlett


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