The Big Book of Little Deaths

2021’s been one hell of a year for us. We’re looking at the release of a limited hardback edition of Philip Fracassi’s Altar illustrated by François Vaillancourt in May; Hymns of Abomination: Secret Songs of Leeds, our tribute anthology to the work of Matthew M. Bartlett, is scheduled for publication in July, and debut collections by Rohit Sawant (The Endless Walk) and Scott J. Couturier (The Box) are set to follow closely behind (in August and September, respectively). In addition, our quarterly release of Mysterium Tremendum, a chapbook designed to explore the intersection of horror and the holy, is dropping on schedule (order issue 1 and 2 here). 

But this isn’t all. We’ve taken on another, very worthy project for this spring. We’re happy to announce that The Big Book of Little Deaths: An Erotic Horror Anthology Benifitting Sex Workers, edited by William Tea, will be added to the Silent Motorist Media catalogue. This enormous anthology of over 40 stories and poems is exactly what it sounds like: a charity anthology designed to support Sex Worker Giving Circle (which, by the way, is in no way affiliated with Silent Motorist Media or this anthology). None of the parties involved–the principal editor, Silent Motorist Media, the authors, nor the artist–are receiving a paycheck for this project. We’re dedicating all proceeds from The Big Book of Little Deaths to an industry increasingly maligned and oppressed under the current political climate. 

Look for an official TOC announcement soon! This anthology features a little bit of everything: cosmic horror, bizarro fiction, dark fantasy, weird fiction, you name it. We’ll keep you updated as the details unfold. Thanks to William Tea for allowing us to host this project, and the contributors who have graciously donated their work to support this worthy cause. We’re honored to be a part of this endeavor.  

-Justin A. Burnett 


Kindle Crack: Or Bookbub for Weirdos

I’m not overly familiar with Compass, although I own it. It’s supposedly a genius, eclectic work set to a dreamlike narrative; “dreamlike” + tons of accolades from almost everyone who’s read this thing = good enough for me. Besides, for two bucks? Why not?

Nightwood is a brilliant, underpraised weird classic lauded by none other than T. S. Eliot. I’ve sung the praises of this book many times before, and I can’t say it enough: read Nightwood, especially now that it’s $2.99!

By the way, if you get Nightwood (not like that, you sicko), and you want to read one of Barnes’ major influence, or if you just want to study the history of lesbian literature, grab The Well of Loneliness, also for sale.

“Charles Beaumont’s legendary collection of weird stories on sale now for the wonderfully merciful price of $4.99” you ask? Yes. The answer is yes. Good times.

I have to admit that I’m not very familiar with Oates, but a lot of people tend to like this collection. Why not give a spin at a discount?

Instead of making something up about a book I’m unfamiliar with, here’s an opinion of someone I blindly assume is an expert: “The stories in Johnson’s debut collection straddle the drama of transformation in both the uncanny and the everyday. . . . Imaginative. . . . Thrillingly direct.” ―Publishers Weekly

At $0.99, bizarro’s own Donald Armfield’s Frozen Display is the cheapest steal on this list! Grab it while it lasts, and stay tuned for more Kindle Crack.

-Justin A. Burnett

The Night Shift Writer: An Interview with Christine Morgan

It’s our pleasure to introduce Christine Morgan, author of Spermjackers from Hell and a well-known figure in the world of weird fiction, to our author interview series. She’s set to appear in Silent Motorist Media’s first anthology, Mannequin: Tales of Word Made Flesh, and we consider it an honor that she’s gracing our site with her presence again. Without further ado, here’s Austin James and Christine Morgan:

“Everyone, writer or reader or fan… read. Read a lot. Read a bunch of things…. Words are my toys. Language is like Play-Doh, a complete sensory experience, get into it, the colors, the textures, squish it, sniff it… make whatever you want out of it. Yes, know the rules, but don’t be afraid to bend them and stretch them and even break them when needed.” -Christine Morgan

Austin James: First question: Star Wars or Star Trek?

Christine Morgan: Star Trek.

Surely you kid, you jokester you…

Nope … though Next Gen rather than Original Series.

Wow. I really wasn’t expecting that. What makes it better than Star Wars?

I just like it better … more characters, more interaction, more story and worldbuilding overall.

But less lightsabers.

Well, yeah … but less midichlorians, too.

Ah, straight for the jugular I see. Is that what kind of interview this is gonna be?

Hey, you asked.

Haha fair enough. Switching gears into the writing world, I really love your prose. It’s enchanting. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been the storyteller type as long as I can remember; my toys led complex soap-opera and epic adventure lives even when I was little. In school, when we’d get writing assignments, I was always the one to go off on imaginative stuff, was far more fun to write about talking animals than what we actually did over vacation. So, it was never a specific moment or decision, it just happened organically.

Very cool. Did your schools offer any type of creative writing programs or anything?

Not really, not until Creative Writing as a high school elective (and by then I was the weirdo writing about vampires or troops of Girl Scouts killing people, go figure). I got placed in some of the accelerated programs in elementary school, where they challenged us with tougher reading material, and appreciated that.

So, you’ve always kind of been naturally attracted to creating dark, weird fiction?

Yeah, lifelong interest in mythology, fairy tales, and folklore … very dark and weird stuff there … and my reading tastes tended toward the macabre from an early age. My grandfather had a shelf of horror paperbacks he kept in the garage (I think Grandma didn’t want them in the house) and when we’d visit, I’d sneak out there and read. Lots of nature-run-amok stuff, animals eating people, things like that.

That’s kind of a fun story right there, taking unsanctioned peeks at outlawed literature…

When I was ten, I found this paperback with a shiny silver cover out there, my introduction to Stephen King (The Shining) … one of my aunts told my parents it’d warp me for life and she was right. 🙂 I still have it. Poor book is in bad shape, but I still have it! I also discovered Amityville out there, and The Rats by James Herbert … JAWS … Shaun Hutson’s Slugs … fun stuff!

And that’s the inciting incident, the moment you went dark!

Probably didn’t help that, when I was in junior high, our local library somehow thought Flowers in the Attic by VC Andrews was what passed for YA back then and shelved it with Anne of Green Gables … wow, did we pass THAT one around!

What was the first story you wrote that got published?

My first published piece was a gaming thing in Steve Jackson Games’ Pyramid magazine, about a wacky old alchemist and his shop, to use as a setting for fantasy games. I had a lot of stories online and in webzines back in the late 90’s, but was mostly doing fanfic then and puttering with fantasy novels. My first official pro sale was “Dawn of the Living-Impaired,” to the zombie anthology The Book of All Flesh.

Nice. Was that when you knew you wanted to take writing seriously?

Well, my initial career path life plan thing had been to do what they say you’re supposed to do … major in English, become a teacher, and write … changed my mind to major in Psychology instead, but the writing goal always remained. I’d been gaming since I was 14 and figured for some dumb reason that, although horror was what I liked to READ, fantasy was what I was supposed to WRITE. It took me a while to convince myself I was allowed to try writing horror too, and I’m glad I finally listened.

Do you consider yourself a horror writer, then?

Primarily, and happily; though I can and do write other stuff as well, even that has a tendency to go darker places. I think that’s why the Viking stuff clicked so hard for me … it’s the perfect storm, combining all those elements of fantasy, horror, mythology, etc.

Do you think studying psychology also helped with your writing?

Oh, studying psych definitely helped! I even suspect (though don’t tell the professors) it helped more than having an English major would have done. It’s all about personality and behavior, what makes people do what they do, how they think and react … great for developing characters. Plus, you get all the Jungian stuff about archetypes, which ties right in to myth and folklore.

Now, looping back to your first question, I realize that may seem kind of odd, my preference for Star Trek, since Star Wars was so loaded with Jungian aspects, the whole Joseph Campbell hero’s journey blah-de-blah, but … well, there it is. Minds are weird. 😊

Tell me about your books?

My books … my books … all of them? Well, the earliest are fantasy, traditional fantasy in the elves and dragons sense, drawn from gaming campaigns (I know, but it was fun). I have two trilogies of those, plus a six-book series for younger readers that I wrote when the whole Harry Potter craze was taking off. I’m fond of them, but ow, those early ones are about what you’d expect. 😊

Yeah? So, they found little success?

Little success would be one way to put it. The very first fantasy book, when I was young and new and stupid, I fell in with a scam agent/publisher, and it soured me so that I ended up self-pubbing the second and third.

Then what, after the fantasy fiction?

Then I decided to just go for it and try my hand at horror, starting with Black Roses. It’s an incubus story, and the first of what I think of as the Trinity Bay books, all set in the same fictional north-coast California town. Gifted Children, the second, is about creepy kids and science experiments and psychic powers. In the third, Changeling Moon, I bring a couple of rival factions of an ancient shapeshifting race to town (that one’s particularly based on some of my old fanfics, with the serial numbers filed off).

What are your thoughts on self-publishing versus housing a project?

I’ve been glad to see the stigma fall away these past years, though I do admit there sure is a lot of self-pubbed dreck out there, poorly edited and with crappy covers, etc. So, it’s easier than ever for good stuff to get lost in the crowd, but I believe it’s possible to succeed and have seen some savvy authors do pretty well.

So back to your books. At what point did you feel like you were making progress as far as writing quality books and getting them published with “satisfactory” results?

Well, for a while I just stuck with self-pub; my husband at the time was good at the layout and design end of things and enjoyed it, so we did my pirate-themed reality show Tell No Tales, and my purse-snatcher-vs.-assassin thriller called Scoot, and his whole game-world book (that was a biggie!). But I’d also decided to try some small presses again, and luck began turning with His Blood (non-sparkly vampires) and The Horned Ones (cave monsters). Not that I felt anything close to being successful or a “real” writer … hell, even now with some bucket list goals checked off, I still don’t, and probably never will … imposter syndrome is one sly bitch.

Haha true. Since you brought it up, what does your bucket list look like? What things have you already checked off?

Deadite Press was the biggie. I know some authors have the six-figure advance or movie deal or world book tour, but that’s way beyond me … I’ve been such a fan of Deadite, love the extreme horror … being able to join that crazy family is one of the best things that’s ever happened for me. I’ve also gotten to work with Edward Lee (EDWARD-FREAKIN’-LEE), as a proofreader and he lets me play with his toys … my next goal there is to sweet-talk him into an actual collaboration.

I mean, sure, I wouldn’t mind a castle in Scotland like JK Rowling, but who would?

I’m still just surprised whenever anybody who doesn’t HAVE to actually reads my stuff; I may never get over that.

Fair enough. And yeah, I’m a big fan of the stuff Deadite publishes as well. To be honest, I’d want a castle in Transylvania but that’s just me.

I’d be torn … Germany/Austria, or Norway … but Scottish accents …

Let’s be honest, we’d both take a castle in Nebraska at this point.

True enough.

So how many books have you written and published?

I think for books written, I’m up to about two dozen, some now out of print … that includes the gaming and fantasy stuff too … I’ve also edited and published the Fossil Lake anthology series, which is up to four books now (got put on hold during my latest health mess but I still hope to resume them again eventually).

Fossil Lake?

It’s kind of a long sordid story involving an infamous internet pest … I started off as a contributor, then agreed to help edit, then ended up inheriting / taking over the entire project after the original publisher passed away and her company was dissolved.

Oh wow. But there are four of them, so it sounds like you enjoy it?

The first two didn’t have particular themes, but then I got a little crazy so the third is Unicornado and the fourth is Sharkasaurus … when I do a fifth, I want to call it “Were-What?” and have it be tales of unlikely shapeshifting.

I love reading and editing and working with authors; where I fall down is with the layout, design, technical stuff, so it’s a mixed bag. I’ve edited a couple of other anthologies for small presses and enjoy it a lot, as long as someone else does the ‘hard’ part. 😊

Haha, makes sense. With all the books you’ve written and anthologies you’ve edited, what has been your favorite project?

Oh, I hate those kinds of questions … it’s like being asked which is your favorite kid (though, only having one kid, I can dodge that one … except for when we used to tease her about her “attic sister” … anyway!).

I’m so very proud of The Raven’s Table, my Viking collection … that I managed enough Viking stories to put it together, that I was able to get a blurb from an expert I admire, that the book turned out just so damn gorgeous. I’m delighted with Spermjackers From Hell, my Deadite debut, so trashy and tacky. White Death, my pioneer blizzard book inspired by an actual historical event, came out on audio from just the most amazing reader. But right now, the biggie has got to be the upcoming Lakehouse Infernal (also from Deadite), because Edward-freakin’-LEE granted me permission to do a sequel to his Lucifer’s Lottery and writing it was the most fun I’ve ever had.

Wow, that’s really cool!

His only request was that he got to have a cameo in it, though I may have gone a bit further than just cameo; he turned out to be a fun character, and Lee himself really got a kick out of it.

Nice, looking forward to it! When does it release?

Not gotten the official release date yet, but 2019, possibly around Spring Break because that’s when the story’s set.

While we’re on the topic, what else can we look forward to seeing from you in the near future? I already know about a couple anthologies (including a dragon-themed anthology discussed in a previous SMM interview that I’m shamelessly plugging here), but what else?

Yes, I’ve got stories in several upcoming anthologies (Lovecraftian and such) … I’ve recently found homes for a zombie collection and a steampunkish collection … I’m currently working on a deep-sea chompy-chomp extreme horror to submit to Deadite, and my sister will strangle me if I don’t mention plans for a Murder Girls sequel.

Sounds like you’ve been busy. Do you have a routine or anything that you follow to stay both creative and productive?

I work overnights at a residential psych facility, so I do most of my writing there when things are quiet … the unpredictability of the job does make keeping a strict routine difficult, so I’m not one of those who can do X words a day or X hours a day diligently. I take what I can get when I can get it in terms of productivity. For the creative side of things, I’ve always got several ideas brewing at various stages, and even when I’m not writing, I’m reading and reviewing and doing edits and stuff like that. So, one way or another, it’s all words all the time. Health permitting. The past couple years have made things a little rough in that regard. But I keep pushing through!

Great way to make life work for you! Does your boss know that you do this, or are you also juggling a sense of secrecy with all this?

Nah, they know … that’s why I stay on the night shift … they’ve tried now and then to get me to do other shifts or advance in the agency to something other than residential, but I’m open about it … I want my night shifts and quiet down time so I can write. And, given it’s hard to cover that shift anyway, they don’t really complain. As long as I get my regular duties done and am there as needed for the residents.

Makes sense. Win/win.

I do, though, downplay a bit about WHAT I write … don’t mention certain titles, etc.

Hah, yeah that’s probably wise. So earlier you mentioned that White Death is out in audiobook. What’s your experience with that been like?

My only previous experience with audiobooks (besides listening to them on long drives, of which I am a big fan) was recording Black Roses myself with an indie audiobook producer way back years ago … fun experience, a little weird, taught me the hard way how sometimes we use words we’ve only seen in print and never heard aloud … to this day, I don’t know for sure how “cupola” is pronounced.


With White Death, the reader — Matt Godfrey, and he is excellent! — approached me, and I was just blown away by his work. There are a lot of characters in that book, a lot of accents and voices, and he nailed ’em all beautifully. He also tackled the most traumatic scene I’ve ever written, brief and sparse though it was, just tore my guts out to write and to read, and … yeah … he nailed it.

So what else? Anything in particular you want to talk about? Shameless plugs? Spoilers? Words of general wisdom?

Oh, just to urge people to read. Everyone, writer or reader or fan … read. Read a lot. Read a bunch of things. I see too many authors mention not reading within their genre for fear of being derivative or polluting their own work … or not reading outside their genre because of some snobbery or another … that seems so strange to me. Words are my toys. Language is like Play-Doh, a complete sensory experience, get into it, the colors, the textures, squish it, sniff it (okay maybe don’t taste it, yick, that was a cruel life-lesson to learn), make whatever you want out of it. Yes, know the rules, but don’t be afraid to bend them and stretch them and even break them when needed. Most of all, have fun!

Austin James writes obscure and uncomfortable fiction.


5 Weird Books You’ve Probably Never Read

The title of this post may seem like clickbait when you see the legendary authors that landed on this list, but despite their reputations as literary behemoths, the books in question are far weirder and way more obscure than almost anything else in their respective canons. You won’t find  seminal characters like Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas’s Raoul Duke or Hellraiser’s Pinhead/Priest anywhere in sight.

What you will find are some of the strangest and most unsung literary works to ever be pounded into parchment. From salacious specters and violent dwarves to dangerous cheerleaders and questionable reincarnations, the following represent the very best in these writers’ forgotten works.

The Curse of Lono, Hunter S. Thompson (Bantam Books)

Emerging from what could seem like kismet or cruel fate, depending on who you ask, The Curse of Lono chronicles what happened after Running magazine approached Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson about covering the 1980 Honolulu Marathon.

In a fit of pique, Thompson wrote his longtime illustrator Ralph Steadman about joining him on this journey which he clearly saw as an opportunity to create a spiritual follow-up to their landmark Fear & Loathing collaborations.

‘Lono’ doesn’t disappoint, delivering plenty of madcap satire and hallucinatory imagery, but the Gonzo humorist is scattered and unmoored in a way that he definitely was not when he penned his masterpiece. In fact, it is the uneven narrative and repeated historical digressions that give this novella its weirdest quality, that sense as a reader that everything is slightly askew.

First published in 1983, ‘Lono’ eventually went out of print and by the early-Aughts, it was nigh impossible to snag yourself a copy of the limited edition reprint for less than 120 bucks. No doubt Thompson, notorious for demanding money at every opportunity, would have relished in this fact.

Today, a copy of this massive oversize coffee table book generally goes for around $35 on sites like AbeBooks, and it’s well worth the price of admission. From the opening scenes in which Thompson’s arm turns blue from fist to elbow after getting it trapped in the airplane toilet to his fateful meeting with the enigmatic Ackerman, whose connections to the Hawaiian drug trade make for a subtle mystery sub-plot, ‘Lono’ crackles with Thompson’s bizarre wit.

The weirdness is amped up when they arrive at their destination and Thompson sees talking penguins over cocktails. It only gets more odd after the gimcrack-loving Gonzo godfather gets his hands on a Samoan war club and uses it to beat a trophy Marlin to death.

While it lacks the raw brilliance and generation-defining components that make the “Vegas book” such an important literary achievement, Thompson’s beautifully indelible language and yen for Fun are still intact…along with his penchant for grandstanding. The main thrust of ‘Lono’ is Thompson’s proclamation “I am Lono!” This is the engine that the second half of the plot runs on and it seems beyond absurd. But at the end of the day, who are we to say that Hunter S. Thompson wasn’t, indeed, the freak reincarnation of the doomed god Lono?

A Feast of Snakes, Harry Crews (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)

Harry Crews is one of the finest authors of Southern grit lit, but many of his titles have fallen out of print. Fortunately, A Feast of Snakes is still readily available in paperback. While this one may not be his most esoteric novel, it is definitely one of his weirdest. And that’s saying a lot when one considers the imaginatively grotesque underworld he created in his cult classic Naked in Garden Hills.

This one doesn’t waste any time in ramping up the weirdness; we’re off to the ribald races in the very first paragraph: “She felt the snake between her breasts, felt him there, and loved him there, coiled, the deep tumescent S held rigid, ready to strike.”

Snakes’ revolves around Mystic, Georgia’s annual Rattlesnake Roundup and the hysteria that attends this local tradition. More specifically, it revolves around Joe Lon Mackey, a withering former football star and trailer park drunk whose family breed fight dogs and sell moonshine.

The book is full to the brim with violent and repulsive imagery, from genital mutilation to cretinish backwoods behavior, but there are other sights to be seen here, including one of the most out-of-left-field shit gags that you are likely to ever read.

Mackey makes a foreboding declaration early on, one that cannot prepare you for the chaotic conclusion of this curiously funny eldritch tale. Reflecting on the hordes of primitive hilljacks that turn out in droves for the Miss Mystic Rattle beauty contest, he observes, “Just a bunch of crazy people cranking up to git crazier. But that’s all right. Feel on the edge of doing something outstanding myself.”

And that Joe Lon Mackey does.

If you’re in for more inexplicable strangeness from the late, great Crews seek out a copy of the out-of-print This Thing Don’t Lead to Heaven. It may cost you a hundy, but as Hunter Thompson would say, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

Coldheart Canyon, Clive Barker (HarperTorch/HarperCollins)

The name Clive Barker is synonymous with strange and unspeakable images, having produced countless creatures in a slew of novels, novellas, short stories, comic books and motion pictures. However, Coldheart Canyon stands out among his more famous offerings (The Hellbound Heart, Imajica, Cabal, The Great & Secret Show) in that it features flawed flesh and bone human beings in central roles. Billed as a Hollywood Ghost Story, Coldheart Canyon focuses on Todd Pickett, a washed-up movie star who is hideously deformed during plastic surgery.

In the wake of the botched surgery, Pickett must go into hiding lest the paparazzi get a glimpse of his deformity. Pickett’s agent selects the abandoned former home of a once-beautiful 1920s movie actress.

What makes ‘Canyon’ weird is the twist that Barker puts on the classic ghost story. These ghosts are Bacchanalian swingers who fuck in the courtyard. When they’re not getting off, they’re rather vengeful as Pickett soon learns.

What’s weirder is the relationship that develops between Pickett and the obese woman who runs his unofficial fan club. As this robust volume unfolds, it is she who emerges as the smartest and most heroic character. Without a doubt, this is the sharpest and most subversive Barker has been in years, and it’s delightful to witness what old Hollywood personalities become in his callused hands.

Grape City, Kevin L. Donihe (Eraserhead Press)

For those familiar with author Kevin L. Donihe’s work, Grape City is an especially interesting read. It shows Donihe’s extraordinary talent for making the uncommon seem commonplace and the commonplace seem absolutely deranged.

Grape City was my introduction to the world of Bizarro fiction and I’m glad I read it when I did since all subsequent entries into the genre should have to be measured against the clarity of its prose and the sharpness of its satire.

Donihe himself has said that it isn’t a book that he counts among his favorites, but I don’t care. If anything this reminds me of filmmaker John Waters saying that Desperate Living is the film he likes the least of all his titles. It is worth noting that this very same John Waters movie is an enduring fan favorite. Marilyn Manson can be counted among those fans, having sampled its dialogue on his debut LP Portrait of an American Family. One could easily see the same happening with the demented words of Donihe’s debut novella.

Grape City’s protagonist is a world-weary demon named Charles who is forced to be berated by his pipsqueak boss at a fast food restaurant. He whiles away his time on our crumbling clusterfuck of a planet by writing desperate emails to a Satan who won’t return his calls.

There is little that one could say isn’t weird about Grape City…were it not for the simple fact that the foul earth Donihe conjures in its pages is most certainly an outsized version of the one we now inhabit. The culturally-accepted past-times of hack-raping and bang-murdering referenced in the book aren’t a far cry from the insanity we see in our everyday news cycle.

It is the precision with which Donihe lampoons these abominable acts that makes this Bizarro novella such a bladder-shatteringly fun read. I dare you to read it at work without drawing looks of pity and concern from co-workers.

Although this book has gone largely unrecognized by even the indie press, it is available in paperback on Amazon.

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Kurt Vonnegut (Holt, Rinehart & Winston)

Kurt Vonnegut is well-known and, indeed, well-regarded for his proclivities towards the weird and wacky. Despite being held in high esteem by the literati, he has always featured bizarre imagery and strange sub-plots in his canon, from the constant peripheral presence of fictional sci-fi novelist Kilgore Trout to the funky little drawings in Breakfast of Champions, Vonnegut never disappoints the discerning reader who is keen on camp and chaos.

What some may forget is how serious a writer he is and, most importantly, what a humanitarian he considered himself. What makes God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater particularly weird isn’t any gross detail or gory sequence; it’s simply how beautifully earnest its words are.

Far and away Vonnegut’s least talked about novel, ‘Mr. Rosewater’ sings from page one, a hushed lullaby that can only be heard by the downtrodden and tethered to earth. Like Cervantes’ classic about fighting windmills, Vonnegut’s novel presents a plot that would, at first blush, appear to be just absurd and pathetic…but along the way its bloated and seemingly simple philanthropist becomes what all men should aspire to—a renaissance man and a real martyr, bearing witness to the undoing of man by money.

In a world driven by commerce and financial status symbols, really, what could be weirder than a book about the root of all evil?

Honorable Mentions:





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—Bob Freville

A Short Book Review of a Short Book: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Saying Goodbye

Review by Zakary McGaha

3.5/5 stars.

This is a stellar collection of short stories and flash from one of indie lit’s most enthusiastic readers/reviewers. Every story has something to like about it, but some definitely stick out more than others.

The style of prose is on the minimalistic side of things, which I uniformly loathe, but this was one of the rare examples where it worked for me. The compactness made each story have a constant jabbing effect.

“The Country Musician” stood out as one that led to multiple things you could read into it. It’s also probably my favorite. It captured perfectly that feeling you get as an artist when you realize there’s an art industry out there, but to get into it, and get that sweet dough, you’ve got to give up a lot of dignity.

“The Soda” stood out as my favorite among the short, jokey stories. Something about this one was wildly entertaining and had me laughing. It also taught me a great lesson: never underestimate the multitude of ways soda-pop can fuck you up.

“Violent Bitch Hitomi” also stood out, as it could have been an awesome novella. It was very action-driven, so I couldn’t help imagine it as a bloody comic-book.

Some of the stories didn’t stick out as well, though, but that’s common with every collection. When  picking up this collection, readers should expect to get some jabs of strangeness and humor, added in with some insight and meaning here and there. Refreshingly, none of the stories are shoving themes down your throat, and the ones that do have some things to say do so in a way that’s organic and fitting with the story, showing skill on Arzate’s part.

Even the stories that didn’t leave any impression on me had good things about them: they’re all delightfully weird and idiosyncratic in their own way. I would say that the best way to read this collection is one story at a time: perhaps one a day. It’s meant to inject weirdness into your day, but in short doses.

In other words, don’t overdose: come to this book a little at a time, and sometimes you’ll find yourself amused, other times you’ll find yourself more engrossed (such as with stories like “The Country Musician”).

On a side note, the cover is badass, so buy this as a paperback.