It’s been a long time since I’ve written a review. Now that I’m on break from my studies I’m going to make a push to do more of this sort of stuff. I want to read more, watch more movies, write more flash fiction, submit more stories to publications, write a bit of non-fiction, and catch up on the books I’ve read this year that I want to review.
I figured I’d go right back to when I first started reading bizarro fiction. The book that started it all for me was Cameron Pierce’s “Lost in Cat Brain Land.”
It turns out that I actually wrote a review for this book way back then, and posted it to the book depository. So, to save me some time, I’ll copy and paste the review and then add my thoughts on the book now.
“This book is a quick read. At a glance it’s just a cluster of quirky short stories. The blurb on its own is just plain bizarre, however, what got me with this book, what really makes me adore it so, is how it works in its subtleties. Yes, it’s weird, but it takes a certain skill to build a connection between characters and reader, and I found numerous times that I actually cared about the little blue tea-thieving creature, or the thing that crawled up from the shower drain. It’s not weird for the sake of being weird. It’s weird pretending that everything is perfectly normal. And I guess that’s a strong metaphor in itself. Some of the short stories are better than others, but the overall quality is brilliant. As a first impression to Pierce’s work, and as a first impression to the bizarro genre, I’m thoroughly pleased with the book. If you like weird and if you like going somewhere entirely unexpected from one page to the next, and you don’t mind being disturbed (or in fact thrive on the awkward pleasure it brings) then I strongly recommend this book. I’ll probably order Pierce’s novel “Shark Hunting in Paradise Garden” very soon, as, quite simply, Lost in Cat Brain Land just wasn’t enough. I finished it and felt the need to read more of this guy.”
Now that I’ve read “Shark Hunting“, as well as a couple of his other books, “Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island“, and “Abortion Arcade“, I can quite safely say that my confidences in Cameron Pierce were well placed. I’ve even grown to respect him as an editor, putting out some fantastic books under the Eraserhead Press imprint, Lazy Fascist. Since writing that review, I’ve read a lot of bizarro in general, and I’ve come to the conclusion that my summary of the book is probably oversimplifying things a bit much. It’s not just weird pretending to be normal, it’s often of a different world altogether. No pretending. It has its own warped logic to live by. I still believe that the strength of this book, and some of Pierce’s other books, comes from his ability to make his strange foreign worlds feel close to home. We become attached to the characters. I would say his best work that I’ve read has been either “Pickled Apocalypse” or “Abortion Arcade” (and in particular from Arcade, the novella “No Children”). I have his latest book “Cthulhu Comes to the Vampire Kingdom” on order and I can’t wait. It seems he gets better with each book. Ever since I read this book, the one that introduced me to the bizarro genre, I haven’t looked back.