Zombie Lovers, Light Bulb Heads And Social Disease: Bizarre Book Club 17

Today’s pretentious book picture is brought to you by Leigh-On-Sea’s The Book Inn. Words galore!madeleine-swann-bizarroGood day weary travelers! Come inside my humble abode and rest your tired bones. have some soup. No, I wasn’t going to rob you, merely draw an amusingly upturned moustache upon your lip.

Let’s get on with the latest recommendations, shall we? There are a couple of books I’vezombie lovers anonymous madeleine swann berti walker promised to read but, never fear, I just haven’t done it yet – their turn will come.

1 The Pulse Between Dimensions and the Desert by Rios De La Luz. This book of short stories contains fiery Spanish poetry mixed with mostly English words (the author is Mexican American) and strong elements of magic realism, from stress related time travel to fruit containing photographs.

I did Spanish at college and was pleasantly surprised by how much I remembered, but even if you don’t know a single word I imagine it’ll be easy to understand in context. Each word is sprinkled in magic and El Paso dust, reminding us of the proud heritage of the cleaning women characters.

2. Zombie Lovers Anonymous by Berti Walker. Don lived through the zombie apocalypse. There aren’t many people left, but neither are there many zombies anymore. Those left fill their days with going to the bar and hanging around. One day Don decides to visit his ex girlfriend, who has unfortunately (or fortunately) become the undead, and Don just can’t help himself.

Joyously perverse and very entertaining, it made me laugh in several places. It’s erotica with a sense of humour and horror sensibilities. Sometimes it teetered on the edge of revolting but never went too far. However, this is me we’re talking about, I could be very different to you.

madeleine-swann-social-disease-anderson-prunty3. A Light Bulb’s Lament by Grant Wamack. Grant Wamack’s twitter proclaims him to be “A mind-bending entity who happens to be a novelist, rapper, urban mystic and book slinger.” Well, I don’t know about you, but that sounds exhausting!

The person waking with no memory is a common theme, but this time it’s a dandy with a light bulb for a head. The world is dark and snow bound and he, along with a pretty girl with a good singing voice and an amoral professor, have to figure out how to escape the evil Telemarketer.

I enjoyed this a lot, it appeals to my silly sense of bureaucratic humour, and I grew quite close to the characters. It was good fun.

4. Hi, I’m A Social Disease by Anderson Prunty.  As expected from the title, it shows the ugly side of humanity in a variety of ways, from surviving the apocalypse to sideshow revenge. It’s brutal, the characters are lonely and tortured, but it’s well written with enough strangeness and imagination to keep it interesting for me.

Just when I’d wonder if I was reading pure violence and unpleasantness, which isn’t my cup of tea, something very odd or beautifully described would happen. There’s intrigue in this mire.

Well, there we have it, I’m off to skip with rainbow unicorns with massive…ears. Until next time!

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Bizarre Book Club 15: Kirk Cameron and Crockoduck Erotica, Transcendent Weirdness and Jigsaw Youth

Good morrow! Today’s book pictures are brought to you by Talliston House and Gardens. We went last weekend to a murder mystery at this amazing 25 year project and had jolly times and lots of food.Talliston-madeleine-swann

Without further ado, let’s have a look at the word bags that have unzipped my brain these last few weeks…

1. The Four Gentlemen of the Apocalypse by Various. There’s no apocalypse here, but there are four wonderfully different gentlemen. Each has written a novelette (about ten thousand words) of accessible absurdist, bizarro fiction. It may be mind-meltingly weird but the stories are easy to follow and entertaining, so if you’re normally put off by intense oddity the chances are you’ll enjoy at least one of these.

The 1929 Occult Study at Talliston
The 1929 Occult Study Room at Talliston

They’re very different in tone so if you’re not keen on extreme comedic violence you might prefer poetic beauty, or a surreal fairy tale, or a man turning into a cat. It’s fun, you should give it a whirl. And if you don’t like it, well, we can all move on with our lives and avoid eye contact from here on.

2. Jigsaw Youth by Tiffany Scandal. This book is pretty exciting, and I don’t just mean because the author is also a Suicide Girl and a photographer. It manages to transcend the angry alternative person cliches by packing in enough strangeness and raw emotion to make the reader’s eyes fizz like sour sweets.

Essentially it’s the main character’s story of navigating her way through life as an impossibly cool girl, falling in love with the wrong women and playing in a band, but it’s a lot more than that. I love her descriptions, her turns of phrase and the way it really seems to come from the heart. Everybody’s been through heartbreak at some point but here it feels fresh and somehow beautiful.

3. Gutmouth by Gabino IglesiasI started this book on a journey and had to put it down until I got home because I felt carsick. That doesn’t sound like a compliment but it is. One of my favourite genres is noir and the other is weird (is that a genre? It should be) and this is essentially a mix of the two. gutmouth

After the world faces apocalyptic mutations one man has a mouth in his gut, a mouth with a British accent and unpleasant attitude. He is friends with a rat-man who tortures people for their pleasure. His girlfriend was a one-legged cyber prostitute whom he now wants dead and everyone is watched over by giant eyes. It’s grim and fun, all rolled into one. Just don’t read it in the car.

4. Cirque Du Mort Volume 1 by Anastasia Catris. A circus of the damned is certainly not a new idea, any self-respecting oddball is drawn to dark circuses, and that’s because they’re brilliant. I read this in the early hours after taking painkillers and it tapped right into the place that drew me to weirdness as a young ‘un.

This comic is a collection of short stories, beginning with a character picture, of how each Circus of the Dead performer met their sticky end. The pictures and words are very pretty and I’m looking forward to getting the next one. cirque du mort

5. Nothing Is Strange by Mike Russell. This is some high minded weirdness. Each story made me go ‘ooh’ and ponder the nature of the universe. I liked it a lot and found the concepts thought provoking. Don’t believe me? Have a peek at one of them for yourself, Dunce, that’s probably the best way of deciding if you’d like to read more.

6. Kirk Cameron and the Crockoduck of Chaos Magick by Mandy de Sandra. This is the kind of short story you read to say ‘what the hell’ and show to other people. Once you recover from the fact that it’s not well-written in the traditional sense, you can appreciate it for the sheer…experience.

I didn’t know who Kirk Cameron was before I started, perhaps because I’m British and he’s not so famous over here, but I got the gist. The more I read the more I was reminded of Georgian satire against royalty and political figures, which may not have been poetic but they succeeded in making the chosen figure look very silly. Plus there’s a Jesus made out of cheese! In fact, there’s several. It’s just a bit of fun and if you feel like a chuckle I suggest you have a look.

Well, that’s it! I put all these words into my face and they emerged from the back of my head as information. Yummy. See you next time!

Bizarre Book Club 14: Time Travelling Pimps, Not Kittens and Clockwork Girls

Welcome to a fresh batch of not-reviews (the word review is a bit scary, isn’t it? I prefer ‘Telling People About Stuff I’ve Read.’ Not quite as catchy though). Today’s pretentious book club picture (minus book, whoops!) is brought to you from A Canteen, Chelmsford’s groovy hipster cafe. If stone baked pizza, artsy bread or smoothies are your cup of tea then come on down (Disclaimer – they also have cups of tea).

Pentax Digital Camera

1. Time Pimp by Garrett Cook. This winner of the Wonderland Awards made me feel as though I was sitting on a tea cup ride at the local fair. That’s not a bad thing – sometimes on the same page I chuckled (the pimp’s assurances that he neither knows nor cares how time travel works is a recurring joke), felt disorientated and then disturbed.

Much like Dr Who coming from a race of Time Lords, apparently Time Pimps are born on a specific planet into the profession. The Pimp’s various adventures through time with his stable of surreal hoes – which includes a world after pandas have revealed an evil plan to destroy mankind – was a bit of an action packed bombardment for my tiny mind at times. I liked it though, it’s entertaining madness and if you can allow yourself to dribble down the sink with the brain melting words you’ll be just fine.

2. Kitten by G Arthur Brown. In the real world (or is it?) the kitten is not really a time-pimp-garrettkitten, it’s a deformed squirrel thing that coughs up stamps and belongs to a small boy. The not-kitten is killed by the boy’s mother (well, kind of. Just read it) and appears in an alternate reality on a Steel Planet as a real kitten. Aided by a fishy handed man, he goes on a quest for revenge.

This is a very silly book and one of my favourites. Every page was a joy and contained something I wish I’d written, from hitching a ride on a panda by pretending to be a fancy hat to the abrupt dismissal of anyone’s sad story with “we don’t have time for your crap.” I found it to be an easy, brain tickling read and I think you might too.

3. Clockwork Girl by Athena Villaverde. You get three for the price of one with this book as it contains three novellas. The first one, Caterpillar Girl, was way too goth kid for me, although if that’s your cup of tea then I recommend it. I liked the next two much more.

Clockwork Girl reminded me of a sweeter, sadder and less angry Metamorphosis (one of clockworkgirlthe characters is even called Gregor). A girl finds herself transformed into a clockwork toy and suffers at the hands of those she lives with, including her owner, a girl who tires of her when she grows up. Much like the Velveteen Rabbit she is thrown away, but always hopes to be reunited with her owner.

Beehive Girl is a sensuous tale of salsa dancing and honey, with the ultimate accolade being chosen to dance with the titular honey-combed character. However the bees inside her don’t like bad dancers and sting anyone who puts a foot wrong.

I’m not sure how Athena managed to write an entire novella about waiting to dance with somebody, but she did and it’s very pretty indeed. In fact all of the stories are simple but very sweet and pretty, and if you don’t mind the odd happy ending I definitely recommend it.

Board Games For Creative Types

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Look at us, aren’t we cool?

Hello everyone! The other day I toddled off to a board game playing cafe thing – there were people, and games, I was outside my house, it was exciting. I know that games such as Dungeons and Dragons are good for creative types, but these are games I’ve played with my own little hands.

1. Gloom. Gothic families suffer tragedies and misfortunes! The aim is to make your family as miserable as possible before killing them off while making other player’s characters happier. Plus you get to tell a story with each move you make.gloom

The best part for me was hearing our tentative attempts at fiction whilst simultaneously worrying about making an incorrect move, resulting in: “Darren Dark tripped over something…and it really hurt…and stuff.” Full marks goes to my friend Nathan for coming out with this: “So embarrassed was she by her fashion faux pas that she refused to be seen in public again.”

Here’s a video clip as an example of people who know what they’re doing:

2. Dixit. If I tried to explain this game, which won the 2010 Spiel des Jahres, it wouldn’t make sense. All I can say is that it’s very French and very wonderful, and the pictures give me lots of ideas. It’s a favourite of mine and my boyfriend and we force it on weeping people every Christmas. Here’s another video:

3. Slash: Romance Without Boundaries. I must make a confession here; I haven’t had a chance to play this yet. However it’s not my fault as they’ve run out of copies and are currently making more. Hooray! I’m sure we all know what slash fiction is. For those uninitiated it involves ‘romance’ between two fictional characters who aren’t known for being a couple, eg: Sherlock Holmes and Watson. What? We all knew what was going on. slash romance without boundaries madeleine swann

Anyway I’m sure this will be very entertaining, here’s a video of people who work for the Cards Against Humanity Game reviewing and playing Slash:

4. Cards Against Humanity. Self described as “the party game for horrible people,” it’s probably stretching it a bit to say this is creative. however you do have to construct sentences and ensure they’re as grotesque or weird as possible, which definitely counts. Fun!

You can play for hours or for a few minutes. One person reads out a black card and the others choose from their deck of white cards to finish the sentence. It’s up to you how terrible you want to be. Below are a couple of my very own choices, plucked from the depths of my mind. Enjoy!

cards.against.humanity.madeleine.swanncards.against.humanity.2.madeleine.swann

The Chelmsford Fling festival

Where can you make things out of clay, or sew your own toy, watch a two person short play and a monologue about the Marquis De Sade before toddling off to the Cabaret tent to watch burlesque? The Chelmsford Fling in Essex, that’s where! Have a look online here. And the best part? No children!

In the cabaret tent Desmond O Connor (who’s popped up as MC for Bizarre Magazine’s Ball more than once) serenaded us with increasingly rude songs on the ukelele and Ginger Blush engaged the crowds in burlesque bingo (like normal bingo but with corsets), all punctuated with lovely ladies dancing about and removing items of clothing. Oh, and one man, he was quite nice too.

Elsewhere in the Make Do And Mend tent you could create your own toy, or watch two professional actors in a short play in the Storytime tent. If that’s not enough you can make things out of clay or your own hat if you don’t mind looking really stupid, or watch experimental films whilst drinking refreshing smoothies in the Psychedelic Film tent. Oh yeah, and somewhere there was some live music playing.

Obviously it’s already happened this year, but make sure you get to the next if you can and buy advance tickets as the price goes up considerably on the door. Now here are some pictures to highlight the experience:

It's me on a bench!
It’s me on a bench!

A play in a tent
A play in a tent
Make Do And Mend!
Make Do And Mend!
The view from the screen in the Psychedelic Movie tent
The view from the screen in the Psychedelic Movie tent
The tent in action
The tent in action
Member of local burlesque troupe Hell's Belles
Member of local burlesque troupe Hell’s Belles

A lovely lady who had apparently been on Britain's Got Talent
A lovely lady who had apparently been on Britain’s Got Talent
A man on stilts - I liked him, he reminded me of a Neverwhere character
A man on stilts – I liked him, he reminded me of a Neverwhere character