Bizarre Book Club: Scary Grandpa, Surreal Stories, Puppet Overlords And Sci Fi

Hello my little sugar cubes dangled over a glass of absinthe. My friend Steve and I have once again created our own writer and artist’s retreat as we have strict deadlines to get things finished, but I have still managed to read some peculiar books.

Cartoons In The Suicide Forest by Leza Cantoral

This is a bizarre and beautifully poetic book about some dark things. Leza takes inspiration from same sex Russian marriage, Jean Cocteau’s beauty and the beast, Mexican folklore and underground sex slave cults among other things and gives them an erotically feminine fairy tale twist. I enjoyed the ‘real world’ stories as much as the surreal, a good example being a relationship failing amidst heroine dependence. Pretty!

Cartoons In The Suicide Forest book trailer

Puppet Skin by Danger Slater

This fun book is a kind of YA twist on the bizarro genre. When youngsters reach a certain age they are forcibly turned into marionette puppets with strings that reach far into the sky. No one knows what’s up there, or why they have to do it, but one young girl decides to rebel just as something strange starts happening to the puppets .

I liked the way the teens actually do things teens do like smoke and skip school. In fact this could be an allegory for ‘responsible’ rebellion and why it’s necessary to look beyond your situation and not always do as you’re told.

Puppet Skin book trailer

Like Jagged Teeth by Betty Rocksteady

The story starts with immediate tension and continues throughout. A girl is walking home from a night out followed by boys when, just in time, she’s picked up by her grandfather – who’s been dead for several years. When she arrives back at his place joy turns to fear as she realises something isn’t right.

As the character lurches from room to room the story becomes progressively darker and the effect is disorientating, but it deals with shame and guilt and love and is more than mere gross out stuff.

Betty on the This Is Horror podcast Original post

Cog by K. Ceres Wright

The head of a large corporation in a futuristic world is in hospital and his son is missing, along with millions of dollars. Add to that an estranged son with questionable motives and a daughter who has to go on the run and you’ve got an enjoyable read that reminded me of classic action science fiction films. The gadgets aren’t always immediately described which can seem confusing at first, but I’d much rather that than reams of explanation.

K. Ceres Wright reading a section (NSFW)

Good day, hope you enjoy these if you decide to purchase, toodle pip!

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Bizarre Book Club 16: Space Mermaids, Sitcoms, Naked Friends And 20s Paris

Well, hello, glad you could drop in! There’s salsa on the table. OK, no there isn’t, could you pop out and get me some salsa? I’ll…pay you later…

Let’s dive in and look at the weird words that have drifted past my eyeballs the last few weeks.

naked-friends-justin-grimbolNaked Friends by Justin Grimbol. Not only does his surname sound like a crotchety troll living under a fallen log, but his book made me laugh out loud, or ‘lol’ as the unselfconscious say. Sure, it’s sometimes gross, quite juvenile and gamers will be sad at their portrayal (I’m sorry), but it really did tickle my funny bone.

It’s kind of a cross between The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time and Bored To Death in that the main character is an inept wannabe detective who advertises on Craigslist, but it’s definitely got it’s own feel. A feel that includes a layabout rich boy with three half naked girlfriends and a man called Boner who lives in his van.

2. Planet Mermaid by Leza Cantoral. Leza tickles my eyes with poetry and planet-mermaid-leza-cantoralimagination. However don’t let that fool you, this novelette has some pretty shocking things in it and I don’t recommend it unless you’re fairly robust.

I enjoyed the fact that mermaid cliches were turned on their head – the water is icy so their skin and hair is dull, there’s no rainbow colours or tropical seas here. It’s darkly fantastical and very beautiful, and I’m really looking forward to more word magic from her.

3. The Last Girlfriend On Earth by Simon Rich. You might recognise a number of these short stories from a recent sitcom called Man Seeking Woman. Indeed the massively imaginative, humorous pieces on lost love, finding love, unreasonable men and women were strung together to form the story line of a man navigating surreal scenarios on his quest to meet a lady.

The original stories are perhaps even more enjoyable and I can’t believe he’s only 31 with so many credits to his name – several books, a sitcom, written for SNL and Pixar. I mean, does he sleep? Was he birthed pitching ideas to The New Yorker? Either way I really enjoyed his book and already have several others to get my peepers into.

Here’s one that made it into the sitcom, Cupid Intervention:

4. The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas by Gertrude Stein. That’s right, Alice’s autobiography-alice-b-toklas-gertrude-steinautobiography of bohemian Paris was written by her long term partner Gertrude Stein in 1933.

it’s not quite in the modernist, stream of consciousness style favoured by Virginia Woolf but the sentences gallop strangely creating a vivid, dreamlike feel, as if the reader is glancing about and taking note of all he or she sees. The people and events are vivid and mixed together in a memory soup.

An extra layer of oddity is added when Alice describes Gertrude as a genius, only of course it’s not Alice’s words, it’s Gertrude’s. Was it something Alice said to Gertrude or is she guessing, or having a joke?

If you love the art, literature and lifestyle of the bohemian 20s like I do you’ll love it, and you’ll want to go to Paris.

5. Cotton Candy by Kevin Strange. I thoroughly enjoyed this long short story of cotton-candy-kevin-strangeerotic oddity. It reads like a winding Victorian tale told through a letter, only with gang bangs and were-furries.

After his wife dies a professor fills his life with increasing decadence and daring sexual exploits, finding himself in a remote building filled with other men, one woman and large, plushy teddies… large plushy teddies that move when no-one’s looking.

Well, dear readers, there we are! Another bag of weird joy. May we meet again one darkened night, you’ll have to wait till I’ve got my slippers on though.