Instead of two separate posts, since I read these two books one after the other, I thought it would make more sense to combine their review into one post.
Breathe is a collection of short stories from Layden Robinson that are very difficult to pin down. Surreal horror with a perhaps bizarre slant might describe some of this work, though even that perhaps doesn’t quite encapsulate what these twelve shorts are all about. Free form poetry? Perhaps. The utterings of a madman? Quite possibly.
There is a preponderance of adjectives and adverbs slathered freely throughout these tales of nightmare and perhaps waking dreams. Perhaps there are too many-some jarring and disruptive, as is the flow and pacing in much of these tales. These are not stories for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Vampires, assassins, mannequins, giant tarantulas, and serial killers abound in stories of failure and perhaps redemption, though there are as many uncontrolled laughs bursting forth as there are profound meanings, or so it seemed to me.
It’s fair to say that this probably isn’t a book that will be everyone’s cup of tea. It is something you have focus on, glean and decipher as you can, and determine what meaning there is for you. I won’t lie and say I was satisfied with every story-on the contrary, some left me frustrated and exasperated. Perhaps that is the point. I wasn’t quite sure where to go with some of these tales. Certainly, there is meaning to be found, but whether it will resonate for you will be determined if you are receptive to letting your mind get bent a little, then a little more, with each written word.
Check it out for yourself here: https://www.amazon.com/Breathe-Layden-Robinson-ebook/dp/B00LD8JYLE?ie=UTF8&ref_=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top
Chameleon is a standalone short by Layden Robinson that is as surreal and trippy as his short story collection, Breathe, though it is more cohesive and compelling from my perspective. It is a magical journey of discovery-a quest, if you will, that is perhaps partly dream and partly reality, or maybe entirely acid trip. Regardless, it is an adventure that challenged the main character at every turn and did the same with me the reader. Demons, the devil, loss, tragedy, hope, peace, and redemption are things that come to mind here, though interpretations will vary. This isn’t an easy story to review or even describe, except perhaps as an enchanting fever dream that pokes and prods at you because as soon as you think you have a fix on where it is going, it jars you and changes course. The pace is brisk but the taste of each section, or compartment of this short story, leaves a flavor on your mouth, whether it be bitter or a vague hint of sweetness. And then the taste changes when you turn the page once more.
Chameleon can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Chameleon-Layden-Robinson-ebook/dp/B00KHB71QI?ie=UTF8&ref_=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top
Tales of the Undead-Hell Whore is the first in a series of anthologies, with this one specifically having as its theme devilish women. The overall title “Tales of the Undead” is perhaps a bit inaccurate, since many of these stories have nothing to do with the undead, but the subtitle is certainly more of a description of what is included within its pages. In some stories, this association is obvious, while in others that association to evil women is a lot more subtle.
It is often difficult to provide a review of an anthology because almost without fail, they are a mixed bag. A consistent theme often allows for a more comprehensive overview-each author provides a story to the mix that sticks to a sometimes loose, but understood guideline. TotU-HW does have a theme, but it runs the gambit with stories of vampires, ghosts, demons, witches, Satan, human-animal hybrids, werewolves, ancient gods, sexually voracious women, and even more of a mix of swirling horrors. And that isn’t even mentioning the poems, which are as diverse a lot as the short stories.
There were some gems in this book from my perspective, including “Entre of the Damned” and “Girls are Icky”, both appreciated for entirely different reasons, and of course some stories that did not click, which I will admit is more due to personal preference rather than the quality of the work, at least in most cases. The writing styles here are quite diverse, with everything from the delicately subtle to in your face. I enjoyed “Who F&*ked Up Kelly Yesterday?” because I have a taste for bizarro horror, while I know that there will be plenty of folks who would be repulsed by this story’s audacity. There were a few stories that I felt that the writing was a bit rough, with both the story itself and the way the author telling it making it feel forced and hard to get through, but there those were only a select few out of this bunch. There were some sagas that felt incomplete to me-either telling instead of showing and letting the tale reveal itself, or in one case where the writing style seemed a bit forced and awkward- like the author was providing a summary rather than providing the reader with the story itself.
Anthologies are journeys where the road is both smooth and bumpy at different times. Rarely do you find a short story compendium where every story hits the mark. But finding a short story or poem you really enjoy and that will stick with you makes the journey through the good, the great, and the bad worthwhile. Tales of the Undead-Hell Whore is such an anthology.
Tales of the Undead: Hello Whore can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BLR40A2/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Killer Koala Bears From Another Dimension is a throwback to the days of classic monster movies. When teenagers Tim and Joana do a little experimenting with a few strange rocks in a farmer’s field, the results are far from what they expected.
Tim just wants to escape his small, backwoods town and go someplace, anyplace, else. Joana, along for the ride but not very thrilled with her goth boyfriend and his timewasting experiment, is just as surprised as he is when dimensional rifts start showing up around town and strange humanoid shapes step out, loaded for bear (pardon the pun) and armed to the teeth with spears and knives. But whatever illusions they have that this is all just some bad dream changes when everyone around them ends up getting gutted and dined upon by the fury interlopers from another dimension.
Yep, the author went there. I have to believe he sat down one night and thought about what creature on earth is probably the most cuddly, cute, and adorable and dared himself to turned them into human flesh craving lunatics. Next thing you know, he’ll be writing about zombie-Teletubbies or vampire puppies.
Don’t get me wrong. As outrageous the idea that the nemesis of the Tim, Joana, and Frank (another desperate survivor) being humanoid shaped, spear-wielding koala bears, the author does a good job of filling these ravenous creatures with plenty of menace. These bears have teeth. Sure, the whole concept seems a bit silly, and most of the characters in the book are a bit taken aback by the idea of giant fuzzy bears coming through dimensional rifts ready to maim everything in sight, but the story is a fun, interesting race against time for the survivors. All they can do is to try and figure out a way out of this hell scape filled with deadly ursine enemies before the whole town is massacred.
Overall the story goes down pretty smooth. I perhaps grew a little weary of Joana’s repeated interludes of idle lines of thought that seemed to distract from the story a bit, and the ending seemed to shift gears a little bit surprisingly with the final reveal, but nothing was too out of phase with the rest of this blood-saturated adventure into teddy bear nightmares.
This is a fun one. Goofy and gruesome at the same time…I doubt I’ll ever look at a koala bears the same again.
Killer Koala Bears From Another Dimension can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0987476556/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Yep, I did it again. I’ve returned to the bizarro world with my offering to the folks over at Rooster Republic Press…which is their new name. It’s their new name, because they had a different name when I was in Tall Tales with Short Cocks Volume 2, not so very long ago. But I’m happy they accepted my humble little tale about family dysfunction “Hell in the Family” that appears in Tall Tales with Short Cocks Volume 3, regardless of their name. It should be available for mass consumption on February 26th, right around the time Comes The Dark reveals itself in paperback and in audio book format. So it is a great double whammy for me.
I’m looking forward to being apart of another wild and raunchy compendium of screwed up stories about screwed up things. While I can’t speak to what the other authors have contributed and what strange topics they have dived into, my story is my own take on the ever popular nerdy vampire sub genre. Well, just because you haven’t heard of this sub genre doesn’t mean it isn’t popular. Well, it might still be a bit of an underground revolution in the making, but I swear it’s gonna be huge someday!
So I’ll be sure to add links once the book is available for purchase, but for now, feast your eyes on the very shiny, purty cover of this latest edition of Tall Tales with Short Cocks.
Arthur Graham, fellow author and editor for Tall Tales with Short Cocks Volume 2, for which I wrote a science fiction comedy story called “The Interstellar Quest for Snack Cakes”, took the time out to interview me about my story, about zombies, and about all sorts of strange things. Okay, I admit it-his questions weren’t all that strange, just my answers. But please check it out at: http://bizarropress.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/patrick-dorazio/
Okay, so I wrote this science fiction comedy story quite some time back for an anthology that never came out. It was, without a doubt, a strange piece of fiction. Perhaps not as strange as the piece I wrote for Houdini Gut Punch, a bizarro anthology, which is called “Consumer’s Paradise”, but then again, I wasn’t writing this piece in an attempt at something bizarro, just something wild, fun, and perhaps a bit…off. Which is what I came up with. And now it will be available via a new bizarro anthology that has been released entitled Tall Tales with Short Cocks, Volume 2 from Bizarro Press.
Okay, I get it. I read the first volume of this anthology series and the comments in many of the reviews said that there were very few…um, er, well, you know…naughty male bits…in any of the stories. And I was thinking that my particular story, which is entitled “The Interstellar Quest for Snack Cakes” has none of them in it either. But perhaps I shouldn’t speak so fast. There is a bit of untamed lasciviousness in my tale, primarily with a wide assortment of alien creatures. Nothing described in too much graphic detail, mind you, but it is there. Of course, if I thought I could sell a few more books by making it a bit more racy, I might have considered doing so. But hey, mixing comedy, science fiction, and erotica might just make a few folks heads explode, so I’ll keep things just where they are, with just the comedy and science fiction. Otherwise I might have been forced to call my story Barbarella.
Suffice it to say, this anthology will have some pretty weird tales in it. I read the first volume and there was plenty of horror, comedy, and some stuff that was just plane surreal, so my guess is that if you check this one out, you’ll get a nice assortment of whacked out crazy stuff mixed with some chills, thrills, and head scratches. And including in this bevy of the odd is my story, which the editor said was ‘not strictly not bizarro, but pretty f$%king bizarre’ which I take as a tremendous compliment and makes for a great tag line.
Click on the cover below to head to Amazon to purchase the kindle version of this book. Stay tuned for updates on the paperback version, coming soon!
Mad Mannequins From Hell tells the story of Burton Vilmos, an former movie special effects makeup artist who makes his living these day murdering people for his website. They pay him to do it, and of course, it isn’t them actually getting killed, it is all just gory fun. But when he runs through one of the scripts he came up with for his son, and takes a book his close friend got from a mysterious shop owner to do a séance-like ritual for the scene, all hell breaks loose. In particular, Beelzebub rises up along with a slew of mannequin-possessing demons that terrorize Portland at Christmas time. Max, Burton’s son, disappears and Burton makes it his mission to find him and put a stop to the mess he’s created. Along the way he finds three unlikely allies in a trio of battle nuns, has to avoid a couple of odd-ball cops (one of which is a midget in a Mexican wrestling mask), and of course, a ton of mad mannequins, who are skewering and draining the essence of everyone they come into contact with.
This is a bizarro tale, with plenty of wild, otherworldly elements and it works quite well as a snarky, humorous horror story with some unlikely heroes and villains instead of the more traditional stereotypical character types. The pace is brisk and it was a breeze to get through, with a lot of twisted and devious forms of mayhem being perpetrated by the demon-possessed mannequins, which had me smiling. A great deal of the story reads like a laundry-list of scenes of mayhem not directly attached to the main character. For a time, after the mannequins rise, we get scene after scene of destruction. Some of them work, some don’t, but my real complaint is that it leaves less room for the battle nuns in the book, who were by far my favorite characters. Perhaps that comes from my Catholic upbringing and schooling. I knew plenty of nuns in my youth and while most of them scared me (and intrigued me), very few had the allure of these three demon-slayers. Their weapons and … assets were quite impressive. I would have liked to see more of them in action, and perhaps there is another story the author might share that reveals their saga in greater detail.
Despite these minor grumps, this was a fun, entertaining read. It brought both smiles and grimaces to my face in equal measure, which is always a good thing.
Mad Mannequins From Hell can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Mannequins-Uncanny-Valley-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B0089RDMY2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1342363717&sr=1-1&keywords=mad+mannequins+from+hell