Short Fiction Spotlight: “The Lothario from an Unknown Zone” by Bob McNeil

A man-sized mosquito descended on 43rd Street and 7th Avenue amid a warm afternoon. The horrific creature’s presence made me scream. However, my legs, quite inexplicably, could not flee the fearsome scene. Amazing still, I was the only person who noticed the otherworldly invader. So, as a result, I concluded the scenario was a hallucination. My confused brain felt like a strange terrain. I did not enjoy dwelling in it without the weapon of reason.

The being that defied a logical category stopped and stared at the metropolitan masses. Fascinated by the pedestrians, cars, and buildings, the creature used one of its legs and reached under its left translucent wing. Right from beneath that aeronautical appendage, the thing pulled out a camera. Fearful of its appearance and amused by its actions, I unexpectedly laughed. Taken aback, I concluded the weird winged entity was a tourist, if you will, a shutterbug.

Any notion that my day could not get more unearthly flew away when a naked woman approached the inexplicable vermin. This lady on the street was Aphrodite of Knidos incarnate. Mystifying yet true, she hugged the insect. The being, thereafter, fondled her with desire.

Unconcerned with the masses around them, they walked hand in hand towards the Hotel Retcher. Silent as a leopard, I followed them. Unfortunately, at a distance of around ten feet, I could not hear their conversation. An orchestra of car noises and crowds obscured any chance of hearing the discussion.

The bizarre pair entered an ill-famed tan-colored hotel. Known for its cheap fee, murders, suicides, bed bugs, and filth, the 24-story establishment was appropriate for them. Already registered there, neither the insect nor his mate went by the greenish-white front desk with numerous clocks above it. I, overcome with curiosity, looked at the clean pate of a pale clerk who was gazing in a westerly direction.

East of understanding what was going on, I followed the couple into a lobby that looked like the 1970s threw up all of its cheesiness on the place. The vomit was composed of a mirrored ceiling, pleather-adorned lavender couches, machine-made marble columns, and Polywood tables.

Fear prevented me from entering the same elevator with the two beings. Unconcerned with me standing outside of the closing doors, they hugged and kissed. Obsessiveness made me look at the display of ascending numbers on the wall. Staring upwards, I saw that they got off on the thirteenth floor.

Either perversion or concern, term it what you want, motivated the following action. I got on the next elevator after them, and it was surprisingly quick. It was fast enough for me to observe the couple enter room 237. Aware of my presence, they both turned around, stared at me, and slammed the door. Accepting my stalker status, I was impervious to disgrace. Undeterred, I resumed my investigation.

Hesitantly, I walked out of the elevator. A crud-and-bubblegum-dappled reddish carpet met my well-worn teal sneakers, and sneak I did. My oracular sense was Orwellian when I went to the room and got a keyhole view of their activities. No amount of bizarre internet searches or horror movies could have acclimated my mind to what I saw next.

Standing upright, the humanoid pest presented its long and erect member. Irrefutable exultation was tattooed on the female’s face while her legs bestraddled two wings. Either because of the stinger it stuck into her foot, or the phallus stuck in her orifice, she screamed in a way that reminded me of mating cats. From then on, the couple utilized just about every known position in the Kama Sutra for about an hour.

Sated with their mating, it appeared the two were ready to rest. Moments from falling into fatigue, the female turned towards her male counterpart and said in a blissful whisper, “Promise me that you will not get this buzzed for some huzzy.”

Pausing for a moment, her surreal inamorato responded in a tone that sounded similar to an electric saw. He said, “Only a bugged-out being would forsake you.”

At peace with the answer, the female cooed then fell asleep.

Amid her snores, the male got up and crept towards the door. Afraid of being discovered, I inferno-footed down the hallway by the time the thing opened its means of departure. Somewhere safely away, I saw the mosquito come out of the room.

Cupped in the odd anthropoid’s limb, something on the order of an iPod sat. He whispered, “I’m waiting for you, lovable owner of my libido, on the thirteenth floor.”

More or less, the distance between us was equivalent to 100 feet. Furthermore, I hid behind the corner of a wall that led to another section of the floor. Unluckily, my shadow revealed where I was.

Each of my eyes has hundreds of lenses, and they all see you, annoying voyeur. You want to know who I am, don’t you?” the creature said after spinning its head in my direction.

Sheepishly, I peered around to view the freakish speaker.

Let me reveal the guy behind the disguise,” the surreal spieler said as it stood up and turned into a tall nude man. That was not what amazed me. What summoned enough awe to make my heart quake in my chest was the newly made human form changed its colors over and over again. No joke, for quite a few minutes, it donned every shade known to humanity. I mean, it was black, then white and every hue in between. Obstructed by the distance, I could not make out miscreation’s facial changes.

I am as humdrum as a housefly. 20% of the male population that cheats in relationships is no different than what I am. Based on your expression, the General Social Survey (GSS) stat does not make you adore my existence. Nevertheless, you have known and will know more men of my kind.”

Pleased with his last declaration, he laughed, pitched the phone aside, and transformed into what I assumed was an English mastiff. Not being an expert, I think its skin had a brindle look to it.

No sooner had it transformed, another female trod out the elevator. This other lady reminded me of a fertility goddess I saw in a book. Aside from being nude as well as zaftig, her pallor and hair were stone-grey. Her voice, contrary to her size, was small and tinny.

My dog, are you still sugary and servile? Am I still your only mistress?”

Of course, I’m a loyal whelp,” the canine replied in a low growl.

That ended their exchange as the two took the elevator.

Fixated on information, I bolted over to the lift. Numbers above the machine indicated they went all the way down.

By way of the stairs, I ran to the ground floor and out onto the street. For my effort, all I got was sweat. The duo went somewhere beyond my two viewfinders.

The clerk peered out the entrance and asked, “Sir, is something wrong?”

I replied, “It bugs my brain the way some men are more promiscuous than dogs.”

Confused, he tilted his head leftward while I rightly questioned the saneness of mine.

The End

© Bob McNeil 2020 All Rights Reserved.

Chad Ferrin, Genre Auteur Goes Deep in New Cult Horror Film

Chad Ferrin has made seven feature films over the last two decades, each of them a celebration of the Grotesque. All of these movies shared a certain DIY ingenuity along with an obvious obsession with the limits of sanity.

Despite their collective preoccupations, no two of Ferrin’s flicks were alike. The director brazenly leaped from the no-budget social satire of The Ghouls (2003) to the festive revenge film Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2007)

It was there, in a seemingly threadbare narrative with one primary location, Ferrin found his footing as a filmmaker. The tale of a disabled kid and his doting single mom provided the director the opportunity to explore difficult subject matter such as child abuse, Munchausen by proxy and more, all within the snug confines of the exploitation genre.

Not two years later, the promise on display in the bloody bunny pic would reach a new apex with Someone’s Knocking at the Door (2009). Produced, in part, by actor/star Noah Segan (Knives Out, Deadgirl), ‘Someone’s Knocking’ is a positively bugfuck psychological horror film about a group of med students who stumble upon a drug that resurrects two sexually voracious thrill-killers.

In the years since ‘Someone’s Knocking,’ Ferrin has seen several of his projects fall apart in various stages of pre-production. First there was the widely announced Dances with Werewolves which made it into the pages of Fangoria before financing fell apart.

The oddball horror western hybrid was ultimately retooled by other filmmakers and released to zero fan fare in 2017, by which time Ferrin had seen a number of other concepts collapse in his wake. After dealing with years of frustration and false deals from bogus money men, Ferrin decided to return to his roots.

In 2016, he took to the fetid streets of downtown Los Angeles to make what should have been the guerilla filmmaking triumph of the decade. Parasites was to be a gritty modernization of Colter’s Run with the action transplanted to the culverts, underpasses, back alleys and reservoirs of LA’s homeless population.

After facing down violent protest from real life street addicts and a flurry of problems typical of shoestring productions, Ferrin managed to successfully execute the film he set out to make. The result is a mean little picture with balls as big as the bone it’s got to pick with society.

Boasting a ferocious performance by chameleonic character actor Robert Miano (Donnie Brasco, The Funeral) as the central heavy, Parasites exemplified Ferrin’s talent for taking a familiar trope (the middle class take a detour and end up in a place they don’t belong) and amplifying it to 11.

What should have been a breakout hit for the genre auteur ended up going the way of countless other direct-to-DVD flicks when Ferrin discovered that his domestic production partners had gone behind his back, secretly releasing the pic on streaming platforms in the United States and quietly selling off International territories.

After he managed to wrest his film from the greasy hands of his rapacious partners, Ferrin found another distributor who had some ideas of their own. A full two years after principal photography was complete, Parasites bowed out on Amazon Prime under the uninspired title Attack in LA.

Situations like this one are hardly remarkable in the film industry where handshake deals are regularly reneged upon and distributors frequently betray a director’s vision by re-cutting a movie. What is remarkable is Ferrin’s perseverance. Lesser artists would have thrown in the towel, but Chad understood something that’s lost on others—keep yourself busy and, sooner or later, someone’s gonna be knocking on your door.

As a gun for hire, the man has been presented with many an opportunity to work from other people’s source material. In some cases, such as the Mexican investor who tapped him to shoot a B-movie south of the border before slashing his director’s fee in half without warning, things don’t pan out, for good or ill. In others, such as 2019’s Girls & Corpses-produced horror-comedy Exorcism at 60,000 Feet, things end up going another way.

Working from a script by Robert Rhine (son of famed All in the Family scribe Larry Rhine) and Daniel Benton, Ferrin used ‘Exorcism‘ as yet another golden opportunity to flex his stylistic muscles. As with Someone’s Knocking at the Door and Parasites before it, ‘Exorcism‘ illustrated the director’s knack for utilizing woefully underutilized actors and subverting genre expectations.

In 2020, he is poised to take this subversion one step further with The Deep Ones, the first of his films to be inspired by an existing intellectual property. The Deep Ones takes the tired framework of a couple on vacation among strangers with dark motives, and thrusts it into territory that has yet to be explored in cinema.

Fans of H.P. Lovecraft will be thrilled to learn that Ferrin has grafted the insidious influence of Rosemary’s Baby onto a plot revolving around the summoning of Cthulhu by a cult undergoing the Innsmouth transformation.

Many in the horror community have professed love for Lovecraft’s work and some, like Jordan Peele, have produced work that pays homage to said influence. What nobody has done is unleash the Cthulhu mythos on characters of their own creation.

Few would have the guts, but it would seem that Ferrin has intestines for days. Something smells fishy at the Solar Beach Colony when Petri and Alex arrive at the Air BnB of Russell Marsh, a charismatic naturopath with a powerful hunger for clams.

What follows is a terrifying 24 hours beside the dark depths of Cthulhu’s oceanic abyss. Filming for The Deep Ones begins this month in several seaside locations with Robert Miano returning to play the picture’s villain and Deadgirl‘s Jim Ojala on board as makeup effects coordinator.


Robert Rhine, Johann Urb and Kelly Maroney (Night of the Comet) will also star with Underworld‘s Kurt Carley appearing as none other than Dagon.

After a sneak peek at the shooting script, I can definitely tell that this will be Ferrin’s most ambitious project to date. As with everything else he’s directed, I have no doubt that he’ll knock it out of the park.

And I’m not the only one, actor Johann Urb (Resident Evil: Retribution) is also confident. “Super excited to be working with this team of talented people and to explore the depths of darkness,” he says.

The cast’s enthusiasm is understandable given the meatiness of each role. It’s one salty or sinister character cropping up after the other, many of them receiving the rare chance to deliver their lines in a particularly obscure tongue.

The plot itself and the turns it takes may seem hackneyed to those who grew up on Polanski and Larry Cohen flicks, but suffice it to say that this one is going to take some gnarly turns. The fundamental theme is freaky enough in and of itself.

As cast member Silvia Spross (Someone’s Knocking at the Door, Mysteria) says, “The horror of brainwash is that good people do horrible things, thinking they are doing something great!”

The Deep Ones was developed from an original screenplay by Ferrin himself. What this tells us is that Ferrin is back where he belongs, behind the keys and at the helm. Veteran actor and frequent Ferrin collaborator Robert Miano is inclined to agree. As he puts it, “Nothing can stop an idea that’s found its time.”

Keep your bloodshot eyes peeled for more on The Deep Ones as news oozes in.

Bob Freville

Kindle Crack: Thomas Bernhard, László Krasznahorkai, Richard Brautigan, and More!

Thomas Bernhard is easily one of my top twenty favorite novelists. The Loser was magnificent, and I’m quick to snatch up anything else by him as soon as it goes on sale (yes, I’m forever the penny-pincher, even when it comes to my favorite authors). I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed with Bernhard’s darkly introspective narrative.

Richard Brautigan is one of those highly individual yet sadly overlooked voices in American fiction. He was once considered the literary voice of the sixties; now, you’ll hardly ever hear him mentioned. Trout Fishing in America is an electrifyingly weird romp that absolutely deserves a read. Get this sharp, unsettling, and goddamned hilarious book while it’s going for practically nothing!

László Krasznahorkai is a god. Seriously. I haven’t read anything by him that isn’t absolutely stunning. This twisted and suffocating tale of strange happenings in a small town is certainly worth your time, as long as you want to spend it on an insidiously frightening and wildly imaginative read. For the price, you simply can’t afford to pass this up.

I haven’t read this, but it sounds fantastic. Here’s a description on Amazon: “Set during the advent of perestroika, a surreal, satirical novella by a critically acclaimed young Russian writer traces the fate of the passengers on The Yellow Arrow, a long-distance Russian train headed for a ruined bridge, a train without an end or a beginning–and it makes no stops. Andrei, the mystic passenger, less and less lulled by the never-ending sound of the wheels, has begun to look for a way to get off.” Interesting, huh? This book simply promises to be amazing.

Yes, I realize that Courses in English Literature doesn’t count as “weird fiction,” but a little variety in your Kindle library certainly won’t hurt. Besides, this isn’t just a book about literature; it’s a book on literature by George Luis Borges, one of the greatest and weirdest writers of all time. Even better, it costs almost nothing right now. There’s really no excuse to pass this up.

Speaking of “not being weird fiction,” this one isn’t either. But Kindle Crack will remain steadfastly dedicated to promoting the work of Clarice Lispector, so just deal with it. Lispector didn’t only write fiction, as you may know. Selected Cronicas is a collection of her journalistic work, and it’s every bit as delightful as her fiction. This is definitely a must-have for fans of Lispector’s work.

And lastly, we return to one of our usual suspects. If you keep up with Kindle Crack at all, I’m pretty sure you already have this. If you don’t own this book and call yourself a weird fiction lover, here’s a perfect chance to quietly sneak in and add it to your library before anyone notices it’s missing. It’ll hardly even put a dent in your bank statement. Seriously. You should own this already.

Justin A. Burnett


You Dirty Rat! An Interview with Editor, Author, Musician, and Artist Ira Rat

by Ben Arzate

Ira Rat is a fellow Iowan and a jack-of-all-trades in the arts. Here, I pick his brain to see what he’s all about. A quick disclaimer: I had a story published in his zine Fucked Up Stories to Tell in the Daytime and I’m very grateful he featured it.

Ben Arzate: Let’s just jump right into it. Can you give us a brief introduction? Who is Ira Rat?

Ira Rat: That’s the question I ask myself everyday. Without getting too existential or pretentious about it, I’m just a person who makes things. I get ideas and then I have to figure out what the best way of getting it out is. Over the course of all that, I make music, design, and write. I also like getting things out there for other people so I’ve run the record label Drug Arts and just started the press Filthy Loot.

Ben: Filthy Loot just put out its first zine, Fucked Up Stories to Tell in the Daytime. Obviously a riff on Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. What was your inspiration to create it? Is this the first zine you’ve created or curated?

Ira: Making little publications is something I’ve done going all the way back to high school. I was making chapbooks and zines for the poetry and music writing that my friends and myself were constantly churning out. Really the three things that got me thinking I should make this was sitting at work binge listening to Bizzong, then appearing in Ben Fitt’s The Rock n’ Roll Horror Zine with one of my stories, and finally finding a few copies of Freak Tension that I bought from Emma Johnson years ago in the bottom of a box of books. There is no real eureka about the idea, basically the name popped into my head and it was a “duh, of course I’m going to do this” moment.


Ben: You also just put out a limited edition chapbook called Learned Animals. Can you tell us a little about that?

Ira: That’s a chapbook of one of my stories, it’s kind of a stand alone idea that was a tribute an odd fever-dream tribute to Shirley Jackson. After working with a few people editing it, I just didn’t feel like submitting it anywhere — so I just made a cover and printed up some copies.

Ben: You’re also currently taking submissions for another zine called No. What is the concept behind that one?

Ira: No. is pretty nebulous, the original idea was for it to be something that Lazy Fascist would have put out, because I don’t really see many presses covering that literary bizarro area. Though, I’ve learned from years of trying to force expectations that nothing is set in stone until it’s done, so it’s still open to interpretation from the people who submit. Fucked Up Stories… definitely was one of those projects that the submissions ended up defining what it ended up being. So I’m trying to learn not to push my own agenda on these zines and just let them be what gels together.

Ben: You also do music. What kind of music do you make? How long have you been doing that?

Ira: I’ve been making music since about 2000. Though much of the early stuff is mercifully lost. The music that I’ve made for the past few years is mostly focused on experimental, inspired by musicians like Brian Eno and Throbbing Gristle who really push the idea of actually learning your instrument can be detrimental to creativity. Everything that I make other than design has an element of purposeful naivete, because when I start taking things too seriously it gets boring. Though with my writing, I hire editors to make it sound like I know the proper way to use a semicolon.

Ben: Ha! I know how that feels. You design as well. Do you do all your own art? What do you enjoy most, writing, making music, or making visual art?

Ira: What I do is closer to collage than to illustration, but I do illustration here and there as well. Like the cover to Fucked Up Stories… is based off of a stock image I bought from a website years ago that I always liked. I then illustrated it to look like something that would have been on the cover of a Scary Stories book. I went to art school, so I come from the idea that everything is appropriation, but the idea is to pull enough randomness in there that it’s not just regurgitating the same things over and over. Or you know, blatantly stealing something and claiming it as your own — though some artists have done that and done really well. I weirdly compartmentalize and so I don’t have a preference what medium I’m doing. Like my short stories come from a place of my interest in odd conspiracy theories and other things that if I were to explore in other formats it might be considered taboo for someone like me to be exploring.

Ben: What are some your biggest inspirations in the different fields of art that you’re involved with?

Ira: Oh god. Francis Bacon, Kurt Vonnegut, Throbbing Gristle, Stephen King, Daniel Clowes, William Burroughs, Tomato Design, DEVO, Harmony Korine, Charles Bukowski, Jay Reatard, Angus Oblong, David Lynch, Marcel Duchamp, Neil Gaiman, Chip Kidd, Clive Barker, Sam Pink, Andy Warhol, Crispin Glover, Cindy Sherman, Aaron Draplin, Hannah Höch… I’m sure I’m missing some big ones in there. The first album I ever owned was a dubbed copy of The White Album when I was 6, so I’m sure that’s where my eclecticism comes from. I spent days in a creative process class just making lists of things that interest me and people who influence me so that’s far from comprehensive.

Ben: Besides the No zine, what are some other projects that you’re currently working on?

Ira: I’m also working on a zine called Drag Drugs Death that will be a weird fiction tribute to Warhol and The Factory, Fucked Up Stories #2, and I’m at the early stages of trying to figure out a good name for a splatterpunk zine. I’m always working on other stuff, like “Spektorvisions” by my band Neon Lushell is turning into our version of Guns N’ Roses’s Chinese Democracy. I’ve been telling people it’s going to come out “any time now” for 5 years.

Ben: What are your goals with Filthy Loot? Do you want to keep it a zine and chapbook press, or are you interested in putting out full length books at some point?

Ira: I’m seeing where things take me. Right now I’m doing zines and chapbooks because I can do them myself and not have to tie up a lot of money in one project. Though I’m not against anything.

Ben: Zines seem to be making a bit of a comeback recently. What do you think is the appeal of zines over, say, publishing online or with an ebook?

Ira: Zines have always been bubbling under the surface. One of the things I guess would be an appeal is that you can sit there at a copy shop and make a few copies and not have to get too invested in making 1k perfect bound books. Personally I’ve always just like cool little objects that even if they sit on a shelf or in a box that you can take it out later and appreciate. That’s one of the reasons why I put a few different bobbles in with the zine to just put cool things out into the world. The problem with digital publishing is that I literally have 100 books in my Kindle that I got for free or next to nothing, but I’m going to grab a book because there’s a physical presence there to remind you to read it. I know the argument that you’re killing trees, etc. but the world as it is we need less screen time. Or at least I do.

Ben: Last question, why did you choose Ira Rat as your pen name? Or is that your real name and I’m a fucking idiot?

Ira: To confirm the person who harassed me online a couple weeks ago. It’s because I used to snitch on the Irish Republican Army. There was thought behind the name, but more interesting than that is that I recently discovered that “irarat” in Latin is a congregation of “I become angry, I fly off into a rage” which is a good enough reason as any to keep using it.

Ben: Where can our readers find your angry, snitching ass online?

Ira: and

Ben: Thanks so much for the interview!

Ira: No, thank you. And thanks for the support and being in the zine and what not.

5 Weird Books You’ve Gotta Read Before Your Brain Eats Itself

By Bob Freville

If you’re new to the Motorist then that title might well bug you the fuck out, but fear not! We can still save your brain before it melts into a gnarly flan and you begin speaking in tongues. That’s right, you don’t need to be some boring troglodyte with an empty head and hair on your palms anymore.

As I’ve said in the past, I am your minister, Reverend Bob, and I’ve got all the tools to open up your brain basket and air it out. So kneel before cod, open up those dick beaters of yours and prepare to receive the freakiest scriptures you’ve yet to discover.

Rampaging Fuckers of Everything on the Crazy Shitting Planet of the Vomit Atmosphere, Mykle Hansen (Eraserhead Press)

If I have one complaint about this marvelous tome it’s that the title could have been longer. But perhaps it is Hansen’s economy with words that makes this collection of novellas so rich and rewarding…or maybe it’s all the penis.

That’s right, ‘Rampaging Fuckers’ is filled to the brim with cock. And not just any cock but the “Monster Cocks” of its first novella, a story of penis enlargement gone awry that had me glued to the page like bukkake to a BBW’s eyelashes.

“Monster Cocks” is a stellar achievement in work place comedy that’s equal parts Cronenbergian body horror and Seth Rogen-style dick jokes. One could easily imagine this one being adapted for the screen by Brian Yuzna (Society) or Braindead-era Peter Jackson.

But before you write this one off as some sort of Sausage Party for sophomoric bibliophiles, beware that its denouement is anything but silly. In just 62 short pages, Hansen segues from phallic shenanigans into a dark realm of seminal transmogrification that you won’t be able to shake.

The Adventures of Phoebe Zeit-geist, Michael O’Donoghue (Grove Press)

Michael O’Donoghue is my dad. Technically, we are not biologically related, for I did not germinate from his sperm…but if there is one man whose sense of humor and style I feel especially connected to it is Saturday Night Live’s own Mr. Mike.

His Least-Loved Bedtime Stories, which boasted aphorisms like “Love is a death camp in a costume,” captured my imagination as a child and stifled my ability to become a well-adjusted member of society. For this, I cannot praise him enough.

Before O’Donoghue smashed open the doors of the humor magazine National Lampoon and forced it to mainline heroin in its eyeball, O’Donoghue was honing his skills at Nazi jokes and filthy poetry in the pages of the prestigious Evergreen Review.

It was from a brief series of comic strips commissioned by Evergreen that Phoebe Zeit-geist was born. The decidedly un-P.C. world of the book explores the terrible fate that befalls a perpetually nude woman named Phoebe.

In each panel, Phoebe is subject to the perverted whims and vicious agendas of a wide cross-section of sadistic ex-S.S. officers, sex-crazed bull-dykes and foreboding Gypsies, all of whom wish to degrade and destroy her.

The central joke of the book is that Phoebe is always left in mortal danger at the end of each strip, only to skirt disaster so that she can survive long enough to withstand yet another onslaught of torture and turmoil. I won’t give away the book’s cruelly funny climax, but suffice it to say that Phoebe isn’t even safe in the arms of death.

“The Adventures of Phoebe Zeit-Geist” has long been out of print with new and/or collectible copies selling for as much as $400 on Amazon. However, if you shop around you should be able to find a hardcover for around $45. Time to sell that kidney you haven’t been using.

Rat Catching, Crispin Glover (Volcanic Eruptions)

We all knew that McFly was a weird cat; anyone who has seen David Lynch’s Wild at Heart is unlikely to forget the sequence in which he shovels cockroaches into his underwear and scampers around making sandwiches all night. And that’s to say nothing of his iconic turn as Rubin, the platform boot-wearing, cat worshiping king of the Echo People in Trent Harris’s cult classic Rubin & Ed.

Well, one year after he tried to hurl a projectile boot at David Letterman’s grill, Glover showed no signs of mellowing. In fact, he doubled down on that manic energy and self-produced this magnificent literary collage, a surrealist masterpiece of objet d’art created from the re-purposed pages of an 1896 textbook entitled Studies in the Art of Rat Catching.

A perennial collector’s item from the first day it was released by Glover’s own Volcanic Eruptions studio, “Rat Catching” goes for approximately $100 in mint condition. Luckily this one is still available at a somewhat reasonable price, lest it end up in the mulch pile. As Glover warns in his book, “The worms will get in.”

The Drive-In, Joe R. Lansdale (Crossroad Press)

Lansdale occupies a very odd place in the annals of speculative fiction. Unlike the Stephen Kings of genre fiction, whose works are largely of a piece with one another, Lansdale’s tales run the gamut from horror, satire, cartoon and fantasy to splatterpunk, memoir, western and essay.

“The Drive-In” is no exception, it is a singular work that is only identifiable as one of Lansdale’s works because of his inimitable voice. Like “Bubba Ho-Tep” and “The Night They Missed the Horror Show,” this fantastic novel smacks of Lansdale’s trademark worldview and dark wit.

The story of a group of teenagers who attend a late-night screening of Night of the Living Dead at the landmark Orbit, “The Drive-In” revolves around what happens when the audience is immersed in a magical movie experience that no one would wish on their worst enemy.

As the blackness claims them and the dangers ramp up, the reader watches in abject horror and morbid curiosity as the occupants of the drive-in submit to their primal instincts. As time goes on and the world on the screen crosses over into our own, a bizarre and awe-inspiring fate befalls our young pals. Anarchy, blood lust and concession stand madness are but three things they will have to contend with.

The book’s depiction of popcorn as both a reward and a punishment is just one of “The Drive-In”’s many sublime allegories for the tenuous fabric of civilized society in a consumerist age. This alone isn’t particularly weird, but when Lansdale’s proclivity for social commentary morphs together with his penchant for the outright deranged, it’s safe to say that the barf bags are free to come out.

A chunk-blowing good time, “The Drive-In” will whet your appetite for the splatterific fun ahead in the rest of Lansdale’s Drive-In Trilogy. Buy it as a stand-alone paperback or snatch up a copy of The Complete Drive-In today.

Snuff, Chuck Palahniuk (Anchor)

I’ve seen a lot of my fellow writers take a steaming dump on Palahniuk of late, but I’ve gotta say that for my money there are few other contemporary authors I can think of who do such a fine job of marrying a journalistic eye with a conversational ear.

As anyone who has seen him in interview can agree, Palahniuk listens. Possibly his most refined tool as a novelist is that he pays attention to the stories people have to tell him and promptly cannibalizes those experiences for the sake of crafting entertaining reads.

His talent for collecting bizarre real-life stories is rivaled only by his keen ability to thoroughly research even the most obscure of subjects. This disciplined process pays off in “Snuff” in much the same way it paid off in Fight Club and Rant before it.

On the surface, Snuff would seem like an excuse for the author to indulge his own perverse curiosity about Gonzo porn. After all, the book kicks off with a tour of the waiting area where a motley crew of men off the street are standing in line for their turn in a gangbang video to end all gangbang videos. One could easily picture Palahniuk getting his jollies just by hanging out in such a place and relishing in the stomach-churning details.

To be sure, the first few chapters are the most cringe-worthy and, yet, also the most gut-bustingly funny (you’ll never look at barbecue-flavored potato chips the same after this one). But what sets “Snuff” apart from other books about the adult entertainment industry is the lack of cynicism.

Palahniuk is never judgmental of his many narrators, nor does he paint them as particularly amoral people. On the contrary, there is a warm heart beating beneath the surface of this otherwise ribald story of revenge and rebirth.

If you dug the endlessly quotable dialogue from Fight Club, you’re gonna treasure this one for sure. With lines like, “It can only take a moment to waste the rest of your life” and “What do you do when your entire identity is destroyed in an instant? How do you cope when your whole life story turns out to be wrong?” this one aches to be added to the pop culture lexicon.

For those who have stayed away from Palahniuk because they feel his voice overwhelms each of his narratives, give Snuff a try as it just might shock the butt plug outta you. The multiple perspectives presented in each section make for a dizzying read that builds to a crescendo of tension as we near its warped conclusion.

When I say “warped,” take my word for it, Ace. This one’s the stickiest, ickiest and most unforgettable ending anyone could expect of a mass market literary paperback. Palahniuk cranks the weird up to 11 and then shovels on the goo like a make-up artist in a K hole.

If you want more weird and atrocious wonders, check out Ben Arzate’s The Unreprinted where he explores out-of-print oddities that beg for a resurrection. And remember to always drink your Kool-Aid because in cod we trust. Peace be with you.

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