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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