Wherein Bizarro Central takes a wide-ranging look at all the weird books coming out this summer…
On a lawless frontier of fiber optic plains, Jeph longs only for a simple life with his husband in their house that floats on a laser beam. Then comes a posse of his old war buddies—the coolest, baddest, razor-sharpest gunslingers on the prairie. They’re on a quest to steal the Red Orb, the world’s most addictive laser weapon, and they want Jeph’s tireless skills with a gun. All that stands in their way are a bunch of NERDS. Obsessive, entitled, consumerist, know-it-all nerds, squirreled away in a decadent secret city where even an ancient doomsday device can be lost to the detritus of pop culture. Nerds are the opposite of cool—speaking in references and catchphrases—mindlessly worshiping the convoluted mythologies of their favorite STUFF. They’ve no idea that the smoothest criminals in the land are coming to rob them blind.It should be an easy score, but nerds ruin everything. Old Jeph will have to fight for his life if he wants to escape this quagmire of toxic fandom and return to his LASER HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE.
From the author of Bacon Fried Bastard and A Town Called Suckhole, comes a countrified samurai epic in the vein of Squidbillies if directed by Akira Kurosawa.
A flood of frogs drowned the cities and gunked up all the guns. Now an evil restaurant chain called the Buddha Gump Shrimp Company rules a finger-licking shogunate of seafood mutants and murderous redneck swordsmen like Jimbo Yojimbo. Jimbo wants revenge on the Company for killing his family and stitching a cuttlefish to his face. After a daring escape, he will hack his way through hordes of crawdad soldiers, a church of quacking gun nuts on a jihad, and Bushido Budnick, the master chef who rules them all. But with every step he takes, Jimbo Yojimbo’s sweet revenge will surely begin to taste like shit gumbo.
JIMBO YOJIMBO is fast-paced post-apocalyptic redneck samurai tale of love, revenge, and a whole lotta mutant sumbitches
Get it here
Eraserhead Press’ publishing schedule will see a new bizarro book available at the start of every month. But right now, a few of them are available for preorder! Any of these books would be a wise use of your Christmas money.
The first is Jimbo Yojimbo, a redneck samurai epic available at the start of the new year. Preorder it!
Later that month comes Larissa Glasser’s F4, available January 15th. Preorder it!
Then in February comes I Have No Idea What I’m Doing by Andrew Wayne Adams. Preorder it!
And then all the way in July comes another Carlton Mellick III book, Neverday. Preorder it!
Hi, kids. Do you like the seedy underground world of international treachery? Do you wish your shoes were phones and your inkpen shot lasers? Are you dangling from a ceiling somewhere trying to steal famous jewels? Well even this doesn’t apply to you, you’ll still be happy to know that my new book THUNDERPUSSY is now available from Eraserhead Press.
So before a squad of sexy ninjas burst into your room to thwart you, head to Amazon and show Agent 00X some love. This blog post will self-destruct in five seconds (so hurry!).
Issue seven features the novella “Noah’s Arkopolis” by David W Barbee short fiction by David Agranoff, Molly Tanzer, Andrew Wayne Adams, Shane McKenzie and Dustin Reade, comics by Andrew Goldfarb and SCAR, articles by Constance Ann Fitzgerald, Carlton Mellick III, Kirsten Alene Pierce, Garrett Cook and Bradley Sands, a spotlight on author Jordan Krall, reviews, and more!
Click HERE to order The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction (Issue Seven)!
A feeling has been tearing up the underground of the fiction world. It’s a nightmare reflection of the society you inhabit, a surreal explosion of pop, punk, and the post-apocalypse. Over the last decade, Bizarro Fiction has changed the definition of avant garde, it’s abolished the traditional prose of yesterday and established a new precedent for awesome. Collected in this anthology is some of the best weird fiction from the past decade. Award-winning writers, cult prodigies and burgeoning talents all collected together in one place. This is what you’ve done with the last ten years of your life.
With stories by:
D. Harlan Wilson, Alissa Nutting, Joe R. Lansdale, Carlton Mellick III, Kevin L. Donihe, Blake Butler, Ryan Boudinot, Vincent Sakowski, Cody Goodfellow, Amelia Gray, Robert Devereaux, Mykle Hansen, Athena Villaverde, Matthew Revert, Garrett Cook, Roy Kesey, Jeremy Robert Johnson, Aimee Bender, Ian Watson & Roberto Quaglia, Jeremy C. Shipp, Andersen Prunty, Jedediah Berry, Andrea Kneeland, Kurt Dinan, David Agranoff, Ben Loory, Kris Saknussemm, Stephen Graham Jones, Bentley Little, David W. Barbee, and Tom Piccirilli.
Published by Eraserhead Press. Edited by Cameron Pierce.
Order The Best Bizarro Fiction of the Decade today.
by David W. Barbee
My latest book, A Town Called Suckhole, was released almost a year ago. I was so proud of this book that I wanted to do something special. Special enough to involve a whole lot of extra work. So I made a whole line of action figures to coincide with BizarroCon.
A quick bit of history: I had a lot of toys as a kid. But the toys as they were just weren’t enough. I wanted toys based on my own characters, and the only way for those to exist was for me to make them myself. So I did. I set up a whole factory line in my bedroom, taking my toys apart, cataloguing the pieces, and then reassembling them to my own designs. My parents thought it was weird as hell, and soon they stopped buying me toys. I bought my own toys until, eventually, I put away childish things.
I started digging back into my toy parts when I came out with my first book. I made a few dozen toy aliens and people seemed to like them. I enjoyed making them, which led me to making the Suckhole action figures. This time they’d be bigger, and based on the actual characters in my book, and I’d give them away at BizarroCon so people would think my book was super cool. It would be a bubbling mushroom cloud of kickass, boiling my own personal aesthetic down into three-dimensional tokens of post-adolescent joy, lovingly clutched in the fingers of my fellow weirdos.
But there were a few hiccups. My master plan was to perform a reading from my book while my lovely assistant tossed out toys to members of the audience. The main problem was that some of the action figures came apart. The people still enjoyed it, though. Later on Cody Goodfellow and I laughed about how Jesco pretty much disintegrated in his hands. Still, as a creator, it was tough. My babies, strewn about in colorful pieces at an adult party. Dexter Spikes made it out alive, though. He lives with my publisher now, protecting her house from the underwear elves, vicious little creatures that come out of your drainpipes at night to steal (you guessed it) your underwear. Thank you for giving him a good home, Rose.
So I’m done making my own action figures. It was fun as a kid, and it’s helped me sell a few books here and there, but I’m running out of parts, and can’t keep up with the master craftsmen in today’s game. Like the guy who’s making characters from Carlton Mellick’s books like it’s not even hard. Like this totally poseable and morbidly obese ninja…
Stunning! I think I’ll stick to writing and leave the toymaking to weirdos whose hands aren’t made of hotdogs. Did you know my fingers are all hotdogs? Sure you did.
by Gabino Iglesias
I love Bizarro. There, I said it. Any excuse is a good one to read it, praise it, share it. However, an awful disease constantly forces me to go beyond the reading and enjoying: I’m an academic. This means that cultural products have to be deconstructed, analyzed, studied. The desire to perform a vivisection on Bizarro had been there for a while, but this semester a professor said I could try to explain how the genre creates third space. I went home and tossed a few manic-depressive dwarfs against a giant stack of purple potato pancakes to celebrate (for such is the Bizarro way). Two weeks later it was done.
The paper actually made sense. I argue that Bizarro is uncategorizable, that it blasts its way out of known genre constraints with a baby-head gun and laser eyes. Okay, here’s the deal: Homi Bhabha defines third space as “a present time and a specific space (…) which constitutes the discursive conditions of enunciation that ensure that the meaning and symbols of culture have no primordial unity or fixity; that even the same signs can be appropriated, translated, rehistoricized and read anew.” Third space has also been explained as something that “sees beyond the grid,” something that “‘burrows’ below its dominant patterns of control and regulation, and confronts us with alternative, contradictory, and challenging perspectives that…navigate a kind of ‘stranger’s path’ into unexpected, unrecorded spaces beneath the surface,” thus bringing in “new life” through being in “touch with the outside world.”
Those definitions force the very academic question: What could be more unfixed, strange and outside the grid that fucking Bizarro? Bizarro is third space. I even knew that Kevin Donihe was aware of it when he said that Bizarro “embraces the elbow room won by post-modernism while tending to be entirely unacademic.” What Donihe hinted at but didn’t say was that Bizarro keeps pushing, squeezing, blasting, fisting, vomiting, flying, microwaving, clawing, smurfing and screaming its way into new territories, into the unknown, into alternate universes, into Pickled Planet, Crab Town, Suckhole, Cat Brain Land, Oz, Candyland, the cake city inside the gut of a giant mobster, the time of dinosaurs, oceans of lard and many other places.
All of this I presented. I deconstructed Jordan Krall’s “Beyond the Valley of the Apocalypse Donkeys” and “Fistful of Feet,” Kevin Shamel’s “Island of the Super People,” David W. Barbee’s “A Town called Suckhole,” Carlton Mellick’s “The Haunted Vagina” and “Apeshit” and Garrett Cook’s “Jimmy Plush, Teddy Bear Detective.” I showed how these books share elements with the action/adventure, crime/detective, romance, horror, mystery and science fiction genres while simultaneously blurring those lines, shattering known literary practices, playing with language and, well, creating the damn unstableness needed for the conception of a third space. I quoted Rose O’Keefe’s words about Bizarro not being “horror, science-fiction, fantasy, or even experimental fiction. The only real way to describe it would be: weird.”
When I started the presentation and the cover art started to flow, a few laughs erupted. Those soon wilted away like flowers in an oven and were quickly replaced by an orgy of frowns unlike anything Mellick has ever seen at his eyebrow farm. I turned to make sure my presentation hadn’t somehow turned into a grainy home video of a fang-toothed demon practicing some abhorrent carnal activity with a fetus. It had not. The only thing up there were the marvelous covers of some of my favorite books. The proverbial pin dropped in Austin and Rose O’Keefe heard it in Portland.
After the presentation, words like “pornographic” and “offensive” were uttered. I was attacked because they felt uncomfortable. I felt exactly how my favorite authors must feel when they have to face the regular, get-my-books-at-the-pharmacy crowd. It sucked. Hard. It also made me love Bizarro even more.
Like it or not, by stepping outside the grid, Bizarro has redefined objective reality as something that can be ignored or fought against. Signifiers are being invited to float around without words attached to them (pun intended), race has been shattered by a multiplicity of colors and a plethora of invented nationalities. Sexuality has been cracked open and celebrated in all it’s (im)possible manifestations. Space and time are ignored and, in order to make sense, to have meaning, the genre requires the be looked at on its own terms. The elbow room that postmodernism created has been filled and now the pushing is being done from within a literary genre that refuses to fall under a single category, that has deconstruction and (re)building at its core and that has comfortably taken third space out of film studies and placed it in literature while simultaneously taking it a few steps further.
Academia can frown, but Bizarro is what I choose to read, review, share, write and study. Bizarro is not a genre, it’s a family. After a near-lynch experience, those words became more real than ever. Long live Bizarro!
Gabino Iglesias writes for the Austin Post where he often reviews Bizarro Fiction
by David W. Barbee
The door slams shut and everything goes dark.
He’d only been alive a few minutes. Maybe some sort of religious perspective would cause him to count his time in the womb as living. But he would say—if he could talk—that there was no religion there, and certainly no god. If living in the womb was living at all, he would gladly go back to it. He would crawl—hell, learn to crawl—through vomit and broken glass to get back to that womb.
For the dumpster was proving worse than any prison of lady parts.
Down he went, sucked into a damp plastic pulp full of rotten food, soggy cardboard, and wriggling bugs. There were worms. Mosquitoes. Buzzing flies laid eggs that would hatch more fat maggots to crawl through the filth.
The air went away. He cried out, for the first time in his life, only for mushy garbage to pour into his mouth. He knew the sour toxins would soon creep into his tiny bloodstream and that would be that.
Only that wasn’t that.
That wasn’t that at all.
He screamed. Flailed. Tore against waves of garbage. But resisting only dug him deeper, and soon he emerged on the underside of a great cloud of debris. He fell from the cloud and dropped through a noxious sky, finally splashing into an ocean of foul dumpster juice.
Down into the depths he flapped and thrashed, going around in circles until he figured out how to swim straight. He sliced through the water until he came upon a reef of trash and followed it up onto a beach of rusted metal.
The rats met him. “Speak, strange creature!” said their leader. “Why have you come to our dumpster world?”
He wobbled up to his feet, a hulk amongst the rodents. They gazed up at him as he got the hang of standing. Finally he raised a plump fist into the air and belted out an angry speech in babytalk. He took his long umbilical cord in his other fist and shook it at the rat people so they could see his shame. It was the mark of his injustice. His mother, the only god his newborn mind was capable of recognizing, had forsaken him.
The rats screeched at him with approval. They had taken him to be a whale, and were prepared to eat him in a grand feast. But he seemed to share their hatred of the surface walkers, despite being one of them. Whoever had dumped him into their world had inadvertently given them a powerful gift.
And so the rats raised him as one of their own. They named him Trash Eater, and he became their own personal titan, a giant war-mongering savage stomping across the metal planes in the name of the rat tribe. His skin grew thick and his muscles strong. He carried a club of twisted metal. He lassoed enemies with his umbilical cord so that he could bash them to death.
When he was ready, the rats led him on an excursion into the surface world. It was their gift to him, something few creatures got to enjoy.
They found the woman who had put him in the dumpster. The woman was a monster and Trash-Eater was not the first of her victims. She’d left babies in dumpsters, trashcans, landfills, reservoirs, and sewer grates all across the city. There had been hundreds of dead babies, but in her carelessness one had survived. And it would only take one to make the evil sow pay.
Trash Eater went to face his mother alone. He climbed up the wall of a dingy building on the poor side of the humans’ city. He smashed through her window to see the old harpy molesting a twelve-year-old boy, trying to get pregnant again.
The boy screamed as he saw the dirty baby fall from the window sill onto the floor. He scurried out from under her and fled the apartment.
Trash Eater wobbled up to his feet and looked across the room at his dirty hag of a mother. He roared angry babyspeak at her, and she reared up on her ratty couch and sneered at him.
“Baby!” she cried. “Get thee hence!”
Trash Eater charged forward. His mother leapt into the air, spreading dragon wings and flying across the room to land on an entertainment center of sagging pressboard. She breathed fire at the baby, but Trash Eater lassoed the apartment’s chandelier and swung himself up away from the flames, which caught on a mold-encrusted recliner.
His mother squawked and lunged at him, hungry for baby meat. Trash Eater ducked under her bony body as she flew at him. He gripped one of her sagging teats with a dumpster-hardened hand and swung up onto her back. Unlike a rat he had no claws or teeth, so Trash Eater looped his umbilical around the bitch’s neck and pulled the cord tight.
She dropped and crashed through a table littered with overdue bills, scattering papers and gossip rags everywhere. Trash Eater tightened the cord around his mother’s neck and held firm until she ceased her flapping and flailing. He climbed off the body, grabbed a broken toaster from the kitchen floor, and bashed in her skull.
Free of the vile mother, he scampered away into the darkness of the humans’ city. And with his clan of rat brothers, Trash Eater would go on to become the greatest dumpster baby that ever lived.
David W. Barbee is the author of Carnageland. He reviews books and catalogues his various acts of indecency here.