Thursday, April 8, 2010
Wait, wait, wait. Let me get this straight: The book starts with a Realtor trying to sell a house with one fucked up basement, then it introduces a guy whose son is acting French. Okay following you so far.
Now it's killer dishwashers and positive reassurances for kidnappers, weird sperm donor children and American terrorists. What happened to the French kid?
Halfway through the book I'm thinking, "This is Bizarro, the author's going to tie this all together somehow. It's been a wild ride and now it's going to get wilder."
It gets wilder alright, but no less confusing. Next thing you know, people are seeing famous historical leaders and celebrities in burnt toast and coffee stains and a couple of pharmaceutical marketers are learning how the game is really played. Music executive mishaps, the auctioning off of James Brown's capes and their subsequent adventures and it all ends in a store at the mall selling the ultimate stress reliever...
WHAT THE FUCK??? I don't understand. I thought I got Bizarro but I just don't understand. On top of all this, you never find out if that sex dungeon actually sells!
It's a book of short stories. Okay, I get it now. Haha! Lovely.
I am truly amazed at how much depth and emotional punch has been packed into these characters. I only spent an average of 5 pages with each of them and still felt I got to know them on several levels.
Throughout the pages I found many different types I could connect with. The workaholic father too ingrained in his own world and neglecting his family until his son takes a sudden European turn. The always turning a negative into a positive army commander who holds on to Broadway song and dance ambitions. The play it safe type who lets loose to the extreme when he finds out he's dying. These people are me, I am them, and no matter how weird it gets, they are always attempting to adapt to their surrounding situations.
If I could see any one common denominator in all of these characters, it's that they are all romantics. Whether it be physical, mental,or spiritual, they all dream of more. More than what they have and more than what they can see around them.
I don't mean to be biased, but this is my favorite of the four NBAS books. I call it so for one and one simple reason alone: Satire. This is a book that satirizes modern day society and culture the likes of which I haven't seen since D. Harlan Wilson's Psuedo-City. While his stories never get irreal like Wilson, Patrick Wensink certainly has no reservations about choking the neck of society until he sees it shit some real truths.
I have to reiterate something already said by Ego, "turning a negative into a positive". This is the underlying theme to much of this book, and especially the stories that begin and end it. They are written in a sort of second person narration, with the entire text reading as dialogue being spoken to characters like they are you the reader. This creates a wholly separate kind of feeling that almost forces you to care more about what's going in the story. They both deal with hard sells, and the people doing the selling are trying exactly the same thing: to turn a negative into a positive.
Mr. Wensick does this with a very likable audaciousness. He sees the hypocrisies, exaggerations and extravagances of our lives and reveals the hidden desires in us all. No one is left untouched, himself included as he even throws in a bit of self-deprecation seen in the Forward and in his own author blurb for himself on the back of the book.
This is Bizarro done short, svelte and supremely sassy.
Like my review? Buy the book!
Sex Dungeon For Sale! at Amazon.com
For more info on Bizarro Fiction, look no further.
3, 2, 1... BLAST OFF!!! Oh shit me straight to hell, the Invaders are coming! Look out, fairy tale creatures, 898 has left his Inpire Inc. piggy bank homeworld and has one and only one thing on his bulbous mind: Conquest.
No amount of cold hard cash growing on your crystalline trees is going to stop this fucker and his Doomshooter as it melts faces off fauns and shoots grenades into mountainous, orgy piles of people.
Who's gonna stop him? Maybe the Se7en Dwarves armed to the teeth with jewel encrusted weapons? Or perhaps the mysterious Wizches who rule over this planet will have something to say when they see the havoc 898 creates as he enacts his genocide over this soon-to-be new acquisition for the Inpire.
Of course, this all depends on if our little invading friend can keep that singing trumpet tucked in his pants and stay true to his mission...
Little Green Man, why does your determination turn me on so?
Upon completing the first few chapters of Carnageland, I quickly discerned most of the characters save for the protagonist, Invader 898, were not going to be too greatly developed and I was delighted by this realization. This is, after all, a book about carnage and I wouldn't be able to enjoy my carnage without widespread death and dismemberment.
The characters of this world I recognized as Bizarro versions of their fairy tale counterparts. From fauns and gremlins to the Three Bears and soldier playing cards, the whole gamut of fantasyland people are covered.
Of note to me was the Captain, sailing on a ship of gold and scouring the seas for mermaids to sell into slavery. While he shared only two chapters with this reader, his role was vitally important to understanding the way this particular world spins.
One of my favorite ideas contained in this book are the hermaphroditic magicians aptly known as Wizches. Self proclaimed rulers of the planet, they have even gone so far as to maintain a special school used to train young Wizches into future leaders. They serve as the chief antagonists standing in the way of Invader 898.
Which brings me to the protagonist of Carnageland, a character with a clearly defined goals who literally stops for nothing to achieve them. If I could give out a New Bizarro Author Series award for Most Well Developed Character of 2009, it would go to Invader 898. This walking apocalypse is a Zim on acid. His entire being was molded and conditioned from birth to invade, invade, invade. 898's faith in invasion is stronger than any Zionist, jihadist and Fred Phelp's respective faiths combined, and he uses this vigor to push himself forward in his quest to conquer alien worlds.
At sixty-seven pages long, this is the shortest of the four NBAS books, but it packs a lot of story into those pages. The length is perfect, this is a lean point A to point B to point C...etc. read that never lets up from page one.
The story, although in third-person narrative, doesn't stray from Invader 898's point of view. We experience the action and events as he sees them. This does not, however, prevent the author from describing the world that 898 is experiencing and it stands as one of the more enjoyable aspects of the story. The landscapes, the buildings, the creatures, all described beautifully and in as few words as necessary, keeping up with the pace of the action while dazzling the reader with thoughts of a truly fantastic setting.
There exists an extreme juxtaposition between Invader 898 and the alien world he invades. This creates the main conflict in the story for the protagonist. Like any good priest or politician, 898 has vowed all his life to suppress his sexual tendencies. And like priests and politicians, he is constantly tempted by little altar boys and hookers in the form of fairy tale creatures who have turned sex into the greatest resource on their planet. Ironically, the planet they inhabit is made up entirely of what most other beings would consider to be of much greater value. They have crystal for ground, cash for leaves, and oil for water.
The book alludes to several fairy tale creatures along with several fairy tales themselves. From Grimm's Fairy Tales and Hans Christian Andersen to modern fantasies such as The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter, David W. Barbee skews and sexualizes everybody's favorite children stories into Bizarro madness.
This is a modern fairy tale, complete with a moral to be found hidden under the layers of carnage. If Invader 898 is to completely conquer this world he must, above all else, conquer the last thing he ever thought he'd have to: himself.
Like my review? Buy the book!
Carnageland at Amazon.com
For more info on Bizarro Fiction, look no further.