My Bizarro, Surreal Book Reading Events In 2017

Hello! I’ve got book writer author type events happening this year and, if possible, it would be wonderful to see you there. If you’re American I’ll be in Portland, Oregon, this November for an event that all weirdo writers should take part in. Have a look below at the fantastical things.

May 14th, Brighton, Made Cafe

As part of the Brighton Fringe I’ll be reading from my new novella (OUT NOW!) 4 Rooms In A Semi-Detached House (Strange House Books). Meet me downstairs in Made Cafe.

Readings And Revelry, July 4th, The Big Green Book Shop

American author Laura Lee Bahr is hosting an evening of interviews and readings at The Big Green Book Shop in London. It’s been on the BBC, don’t you know? We may be joined by writer Adam Lowe but, as yet, we’re not sure.

Bizarrocon, November 

And, finally, I shall be attending Bizarrocon mid November in Portland, Oregon, for a week of workshops and readings. If anyone is able to attend I shall see you there, but if not I’ll regale you with tales of the Lovecraft bar and other wondrous things. To find out more nearer the time follow blog bizarrocentral, or the specially dedicated site Bizarrocon.

Trash Cinema, Weird Travel And Freaky People: Bizarre Book Club Non-Fiction Special

Merry morning my little chimpanzees in the planning stages of taking over the world. I’ve been reading lots of weird things and here they are:

Death Confetti: Pickers, Punks and Transit Ghosts in Portland, Oregan, by Jennifer Robin death-confetti-510x801

This is, no exaggeration, one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. I follow the author on facebook as well and, seriously, her status updates are miniature masterpieces.

Jennifer charts her non-linear journey from reclusive childhood to Portland artist with description as biting as William Burroughs and prose as rich as Anais Nin, but also completely unique. Sometimes she just remembers a character from her past, sometimes a full anecdote, sometimes she’s just looking at people on the bus, but all are beautiful. How can you not be fascinated by an intro like this:

“My directives, as established at seventeen—to experience real emotion, real contact with other people, all of the things you only learn by sucking cock, smoking rock, climbing cliffs, sleeping in catacombs, getting pregnant, and making a lot of mistakes—were fully enforced at this time. Within a year of my arrival I was playing in an electronic noise band. On and off-stage, we made—or perhaps “were”—performance art.”

The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero ohm

I have genuinely never laughed so loudly and consistently at a book. If you’re unfamiliar with Tommy Wiseau’s complete mess of a film The Room, first of all where have you been, and second please watch it right now. Our fascination with it is hard to explain to people who don’t love terrible films. Example conversation with a friend:

Friend: Are you coming to Ian’s later?

Me: Yep. I’m bringing The Room

Friend: What? Not again. I’ve got Lolita at home, I’ll bring that

Me: Noooo, I can watch a good film anytime. YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND MEEE!!!

And so on. Greg is the guy who played Mark (Oh, hi Mark) and he recounts the complete debacle from beginning to end including the first time he met Tommy and the events that led to his making the film. What elevates this above merely poking fun at an eccentric is the genuine level of affection – though sometimes tested – and desire to understand Tommy. He’s not a monster, he has real feelings and a desperate need to be an actor, and perhaps another reason we enjoy The Room is his sheer determination to make that happen. As Greg says, “The Room is a drama that is also a comedy that is also an existential cry for help that is finally a testament to human endurance.”

There is a film coming out, called The Masterpiece, based on this book. I, for one, will be watching it.

Everything Wrong With The Room In 8 Minutes Or Less:

Dandy in the Underworld by Sebastian Horsley dandy

“Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a peacock without a cause, I am a piece of transcendent trash – a futile blast of colour in a futile colourless world.”

If Sebastian had been born in the 1800s he would be one of those sons paid by their wealthy family to stay away. He crashes through life like a mixture of Byron and Withnail, rarely likeable but always interesting, an artist who’s biggest art piece was himself.

On a whim he goes diving with sharks, has a fling with gangster Jimmy Boyle, bets on the stock exchange and becomes horribly addicted to heroin and crack. When he has money he doesn’t respect it, when he doesn’t he’s desperate. He makes no excuses for shoplifting and generally being a louche, entitled rich boy and if he did I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed reading him as much. He died aged 47 of a suspected overdose.

(Be warned, I suspect he says things because he likes to be ‘shocking’):

A Curious Guide To London by Simon Leyland curious

Yes, yes, there’s the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square blah blah. Where are the corpses? A common cry, and one this book would like to answer.

Beneath the respectable layer of London’s past is a hidden world of information, such as the peculiar shrub in Chelsea Physic Garden that gave John Wyndham the idea for Day of the Triffids, St. Sepulchre’s watch house in Holborn (built to keep an eye out for grave diggers), the Haymarket cat opera (exactly how it sounds) or the leftover ‘snob screens’ in The Lamb pub which protected delicate wealthy eyes from the sight of the common man.

It’s separated into districts so you can have a flick through next time you go to London and see what’s about. If you’d like to see a bit more of weird London via a guide have a look at this spooky tour we embarked upon for Halloween.

Midnight Movie Madness by Ian Watson midnight-movie

A cavalcade of truly terrible films, this collection takes you from Maniac ‘director’ Dwain Esper‘s exploitation efforts, through fifties B movies to nonsensical modern day fare. Some of the descriptions made me chuckle out loud, particularly in the WTF section.

If monster movies are your thing, or perhaps overseas oddities, each film has been separated into categories ( I like categories, don’t I? I never realised that before), making it easier to dip in according to mood. Enjoy!

#Horror Flash Fiction Reading For #OctoberFrights – #HalloweenCountdown

Merry October and a happy birthday to me! That’s right, my birthday is during the best month of the year. I’m…21 today (shhh).

For The October Frights Halloween Blog Hop I’m going to share some free fiction with you, thoughtfully using tea party props. Oh, how I suffered eating all that cake and drinking all that tea, but I got through it.

Please check out what the other authors are doing by clicking the button at the bottom of the post, there’ll be more free fiction, giveaways, and plenty more.

The story is called How To Host A Dinner Party Without Awakening The Dark Ones.

Visit here for more horror/weird short stories

If paranormal/horror/gothic erotica is your thing visit here

And there’s my youtube channel for more free story videos

Visit other Blog Hop authors

Cannibalism, Starvation And OJ Simpson – Bizarre Book Club True Crime Special

Hello my little packets of single use HP Sauce! Welcome to another round of stuff I’ve read.

I love true crime books, the weirder the better. An honorary mention goes to Amelia Dyer and the Baby Farm Murders by Angela Buckley. Although the murder of infants is abhorrent it’s not quite odd enough to make the list. Fascinating book though and meticulously researched. starvation-heights

Starvation Heights by Gregg Olsen. The Victorian era was obsessed with fad diets and peculiar cures, and none were odder or more sinister than Starvation Heights.

Claire and Dora Williamson were two misguided upper class sisters, believing a trip to Linda Burfield Hazzard’s isolated ‘health farm’ in the Pacific Northwest will do them the world of good. It didn’t and that’s an understatement. We follow them from hopeful, rather naive beginnings to madness, starvation and desperation, as they blindly follow Linda’s prescribed diet of a few peas and sips of broth while signing away all their worldly goods.

Written in a novelesque manner (is that a word? It is now), I occasionally wished Gregg would hold back his tendency for poetry and just state the facts. However it’s absorbing, bizarre and deeply sinister, and you can’t help being fearful for the two women.

The Law’s Strangest Cases by Peter Seddon. I love this book so much. OK, the laws-strangest-casesauthor’s sense of humour is occasionally annoying, but only very occasionally – most of the time it works or he keeps it to himself.

The cases are mind boggling (I never thought I’d use that term, yet here we are) stretching from the beginning of law to the late nineties, including the shipmates of cabin boy Richard Parker who was feasted on while adrift at sea. Bizarrely it doesn’t mention the novel of Edgar Allen Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket: a cabin boy named Richard Parker was eaten by his shipmates while adrift at sea – and it was written forty-five years previously. Life of Pi author Yann Martel was no doubt aware of this fact when he named his Bengal tiger Richard Parker.

Other fascinating moments include the gruesome origin of the phrase ‘Sweet Fanny Adams,’ a parrot whose screeches proved a mitigating factor and a man whose solution to annoying visiting relatives was to SET THE HOUSE ON FIRE.

If I Did It by OJ Simpson. OK, I want to make a couple of things clear: I didn’t pay for this book, I downloaded it. I’m sure that will infuriate some people but I didn’t want to give out any money for it, I would have felt dirty. I also couldn’t finish it – if you could throw a kindle book across the room I would have done.

He’s really not a very nice man. The entire thing is a litany of excuses and misdirection – I’m a great guy, I was married to a crazy person, I never called her fat when she had a baby she was the one making my life hell about it, I was understandably angry when she made friends I didn’t approve of and she was embarrassed after calling the cops on me because she realised it was over nothing, on and on and on.

Part of the reason I wanted to read it was morbid curiosity – I was in an abusive relationship for a few months and in order to stop me pressing charges he turned the whole thing on me, something OJ seems very adept at. In fact, even writing about this makes me feel a bit sick, so I think we should stop it there. Don’t buy this book.

The Girl In Alfred Hitchcock’s Shower by Robert Graysmith. Who was the girl wegirl-in-alfred-hitchcocks-shower saw nude in the shower scene? It wasn’t Janet Leigh. What happened to her afterwards? It turns out she was murdered by a man in 1988 bearing an uncanny resemblance to Norman Bates…or was she?

You’d be right to be confused. The answers lie in this book which I mostly found fascinating, and yet I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I skipped sections. Most people’s complaints with this book, by the author of Zodiac, was that it took so long to get to the actual murder. However I love films and read it more as a biography of a fascinating lady who not only secretly starred in Hitchcock’s movie but posed for art, became a playboy bunny and danced as a showgirl. Despite this there are still moments when it takes too long to get to a point, maybe lingers on a particular scene too long. I did like it though and I do recommend it.

The Burglar Caught by a Skeleton and Other Singular Tales From the Victorian Press by Jeremy Clay. This is a fun read. The stories are short and odd, a bit like me. Admittedly not all are crime, but as they’re all from the papers a large amount are.

Example headlines: Wife Driven Mad by Husband Tickling Feet, Liberals Eat Dog, Killed by a Drunken Bear and Bound In His Own Skin.

Come on now, you know you want to read that.

Farewell my little houseplants of an unidentified variety, see you next week!

 

Modern Gothic, Extreme Horror And Haunted Vaginas: Bizarre Book Club

Today’s pretentious book picture is brought to you by Utopia coffee shop in Southend, Essex. Books, hipster decorations and brilliant drinks oh my!  img_20160806_145807

Good day my lovely packets of weird flavour crisps that you’re not sure if you’ll like at first but turn out to be really good. I’ve read a bunch more weird books so join me on my wild ride. P.S. I’m on rather a lot of painkillers so forgive me if I gibber nonsensically like a drunk aunt on Valium.

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle. ballad-of-black-tomThe thing I enjoyed most about this modern weird fiction tale was the characterization. Black Tom, a man from 1920s Harlem, is completely believable and draws you into his story of finding a strange book for an even stranger old white man.

Set in the Lovecraft universe, it offers a unique perspective in that the author is an African American man. The dedication is to Lovecraft himself and ‘all (the author’s) complicated feelings towards him.’

Sunruined by Anderson Prunty. sunruined This collection of short stories has a gothic Halloween flavour to it, I could almost smell the Autumn leaves. Or perhaps I was just desperate for Autumn to begin.

They may not always be outright horror, in fact some are probably dark fantasy or whatever the kids are reading these days, but they’re always beautiful and very imaginative. Don’t worry, there’s no vampires, but there are screaming trees and predatory women.

While The Black Stars Burn by Lucy Snyder. whiletheblackstarsburnIt’s very shallow but the main reason I bought this book was because of it’s beautiful cover. LOOK AT IT! Then I was pleasantly surprised by the stories.

There are a number of genres here but mainly science fiction and weird, two of my favourite things. The author uses these strange set ups as a backdrop for everyday feelings, such as the woman in mourning who goes on a space voyage. The ending of this one is wonderfully dark, by the way, as are many of them. Read it!

The Teratologist by Edward Lee and Wrath James White. What a pair of sick puppies. I took a picture of my face whilst reading the second page. THE SECOND PAGE!img-20160823-wa0000

Generally I would say this kind of thing isn’t my cup of tea as the grossness is kind of an endurance test, while the aberrant sex gets a little tiresome. However something about it kept me reading. It sounds like I hated it but I really didn’t, I found the story quite fascinating. Two men, a journalist and photographer, are invited to the house of a wealthy man who secretly collects deformed people and religious leaders and feeds them lust enhancing drugs in order to offend God and bring him to Earth.

I think I enjoyed it, but seriously, only read if you have a strong stomach.

The Haunted Vagina by Carlton Mellick III. thehauntedvaginaI expected a very different book to the one I got. I thought I’d be reading a gross, immature comedy with not too much depth, but entertaining. It was entertaining, but it was also a very sweet and heartfelt look at relationships and the odd little things that make us love a person and, often, why relationships don’t last.

It is occasionally a bit gross, such as when the main character oils up to dive inside his girlfriend’s nether regions to explore the strange world within, but sex and love is sometimes gross and messy and we can’t explore these topics without getting a bit dirty.

There we have it! I won’t be posting next week as I’m having a holiday in my house, but you have plenty to be getting on with. Adieu!

Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories Anthology – Bizarre Book Club

Bonjour mon petite panier de fleurs! Ca Va? Bien!

Just a quick pop in to say I just finished this book and loved it, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories from Crystal Lake Publishing. Gutted-final-cover-smaller-1000x500The title is certainly right, the stories are beautiful, though some may not be strictly considered horror. However there’s a horror edge to them whether they’re fantastical or realistic, and who cares about genre with writers like Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Maria Alexander, Stephanie M Wytovich and lots more?

Some were darkly sad, some gothically beautiful and one or two gave me the genuine shivers, particularly Clive Barker’s Coming To Grief. Another very different favourite of mine was the tragically realistic Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Sets You Free) by Lisa Mannetti. Try it, you might like it, as the teenagers in Public Information Films used to say. However this book will probably not lead to hard drug consumption. Or will it? (No).

Horror Stories For The Daft: Rob Dyke Reads Crappypasta

I’m sure we all know of the ancient, time-honoured tradition of creepypasta, scary internet stories passed from post to post and now youtube channel to youtube channel. Some of them are downright horrifying, tapping into a dark part of the imagination perhaps more sophisticated stories no longer reach. Some are getting pretty darn sophisticated themselves, with the website Creepypasta now looking more like a horror story site with author’s names attached. Some, however, aren’t, and youtuber Rob Dyke has a new channel reading the worst. By the way check out his other channel, Seriously Strange, it’s very good.

When you send a story into creepypasta.com you can tick a box which sends your story to crappypasta.com if it falls short in some way. Some just need polishing, some need major overhauls and some are just…well, you’ll see.

Disclaimer: I’m sure more than a few of these are written by kids. However, it’s still funny because God knows I’ve written some stinkers in my time and that’s just as a grown up. The tick was checked by the writer to send it to crappypasta so that’s where they went, and we all learn from our mistakes. May they continue writing and improving and, who knows, one of them might become a famous author.

Evil Come (no, not that kind)

Glass Eyed Monster

The Unknown Hunter

Doll To Hell… (his cat features heavily in this one, which makes it worthwhile)

You Will Not Escape

The Real Origin of Jeff the Killer

The True Origin of Eyeless Jack

Jeff the Killer Has A Wife?! (This one reeks of hormones bless her cottons)