Saturday, April 14, 2012

Seven Seagulls for a Single Nipple by Troy Chambers - Party Wolves Book Club

(The following is a transcript from the seventh Party Wolf Book Club meetup at the home of Michael Allen Rose in Chicago, IL - Saturday April 14th.)

Michael: Well gang,our final discussion book in the New Bizarro Author Series 2011 is Seven Seagulls for a Single Nipple by Troy Chambers. This one was delightfully blasphemous, extremely violent and indescribably kinky. So I'm guessing it was right up the alley of certain party wolves I won't mention by name.

Smitty: Holy. Friggin. Crap.

Cooter: Wild stuff, man.

Smitty: I want a nun with big titties.

Michael: She was a lesbian. She wouldn't be interested.

Smitty: She found a giant walking nipple charming.

Michael: Fair enough.

Sophie: He was a very charming nipple. Wilmorn is polite, sweet and tries to do the right thing. He's the kind of giant nipple you'd want to take home to mom.

Rex: Pfft. Take home to mom? Whatever. You know you like bad boys, baby. Lobster Baby Stalin comes straight out of the death factory, man. He doesn't take shit from anyone. Chaos. Murder. Violence. Although his tendency to rape was a little scary. But Troy somehow gets away with playing a rapist for laughs.

Sophie: As far as Stalin is concerned, the reason it works is that it reads like a mash-up of Alien and South Park. First of all, the rape itself is insane and otherworldly, being driven mostly by the insane flailing of a demonic lobster. But more importantly, it's so over the top that it's funny. The reaction shots of the little girl, waiting patiently for her parents to be done with their violation, are great. She doesn't show fear, horror, anger... she just hangs out with Wilmorn and they wait while she enjoys her tasty churro.

Herb "The Herb": The way Chambers cuts back and forth between the fantastical horror and the mundane creates a trans-mundane juxtaposition. Comedy springs from incongruity. There is a large enough gap between our expectations and the reality of the situation that there is little choice but to laugh.

Michael: Okay, seriously, Herb, what's the deal? Have you studied comedy theory or something? This is getting creepy, the way you can just... jump into... well? What's... Herb?

(Herb is extremely focused on his bong. He takes an extremely large hit and blows a smoke ring that is shaped like a lobster.)

Herb "The Herb": Lobster baby. Party.

Cooter: Can we talk about the plot? I liked how the arc was really solid, man. Like, crazy shit happens all the time around them, but the focus is always Wilmorn trying to woo Patina Beaver. It reads super fast, not only because it's short but also because it's like, all about that one major plot point.

Smitty: He goes to great lengths to try and get laid. I can appreciate that. You feel for the guy. He searches for her through the streets of New York, totally out of his element, has that experience in the park where he sees Stalin go apeshit...

Rex: Then he runs into the crazy nipple cult. Those guys are nuts. The violence in that scene was kind of awesome. And hilarious.

Smitty: That's because it was sexy violence.

Michael: There's a blurb for you. Read Troy Chambers Seven Seagulls for a Single Nipple. It's full of sexy violence. What about the ending?

Sophie: Oh wow. Not what I was expecting.

Cooter: Most literature nowadays, especially when there's a quest involved, you kind of expect your main characters to like, reach the end of that particular hero's journey.

Rex: Twisted, man. I dig it. Troy Chambers enacts some crazy lobo violence on the psyche of his readers.

Herb "The Herb": Bad trip, man. Bad trip.

Sophie: But ballsy. Without ruining the surprise ending for anyone, let's just say it's got all the hallmarks of a quest ending. Personal sacrifice, an epic showdown, true love found... but all of it gets twisted and mutilated under Troy's pen. It's interesting that he chose to work in such a non-traditional ending, and it really leaves the reader reeling, which is a pretty interesting quality in an author.

Michael: What are your takeaways from the book? Favorite things?

Cooter: Wilmorn, all the way, man. He tries so hard, and he's so likable. You really want him to win.

Smitty: The kink! Clothespins on nipples! Tail rape! Inflation fantasies! Orgasmic death!

Herb "The Herb": (snickering) Comedy. Hee.

Sophie: It was fun to read something that was so unconcerned with politeness, sensitivity or good taste. Troy hits the ball out of the park and steps on a few babies while he does it. You have to admire that!

Rex: The epilogue is going to stick with me for a long time. It's so outside of what you'd expect from a story like this... it's awesome.

Michael: Wow, Rex, I'm impressed.

Rex: I even read this one all by myself.

Smitty: You did not. Sophie helped you sound out any words with more than two syllables.

Rex: Shut up, meat!

Smitty: Can you even spell "meat?"

(Rex, growling, leaps on Smitty and starts to pummel him. Smitty scrambles away, and runs laughing through the apartment.)

Michael: Oh God, not again.

Sophie: Guys? Calm down! We can't afford to buy Michael any more furniture.

Rex: (From somewhere in the kitchen) I'm going to slit your throat and pull your scrotum up through the hole in your neck so you look like a retarded turkey!

Michael: Okay, well, there you have it. Troy Chambers is a sick, twisted puppy. And I mean that in the best possible way! Check his book out today! This is our last New Bizarro Author Series book until the next batch, but we'll keep discussing new bizarro books from time to time, so stay tuned, and until next time, keep reading, and keep supporting the New Bizarro Author Series!

(The Party Wolves Book Club meets once a week or so to discuss books in Eraserhead Press New Bizarro Author Series. The Party Wolves are featured in the book Party Wolves in My Skull by Michael Allen Rose)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lepers and Mannequins by Eric Beeny - Party Wolves Book Club

(The following is a transcript from the sixth Party Wolf Book Club meetup at the home of Michael Allen Rose in Chicago, IL - Saturday April 7th.)

Michael: Welcome back, everyone! This week, we're discussing Lepers and Mannequins by Eric Beeny.

Cooter: This reminded me of West Side Story or Romeo and Juliet, man. The whole star-crossed lover thing that Eric plays with was definitely front and center.

Rex: But unlike those old ass stories, this one has grenades, and flying body parts!

Michael: That's a pretty fair assessment, I think. How did you guys feel about Beeny's use of that classic structure?

Sophie: I liked the way he twisted it, using characters like lepers and mannequins. We have this world full of characters with disposable parts warring over the ability to be whole. The fact that the main characters, Jaundice and Quall, are obviously in love makes for a nice surface layer, but Lepers and Mannequins goes so much deeper than that.

Smitty: I dig that Jaundice girl. I can totally understand why she's obsessed with her tits. I'm obsessed with her tits, and I don't even know her!

Sophie: There's definitely a lot of relatable character depth here. Body image, the nature of love and obsession, and the idea of "otherness" causing war and tension are all central themes and they're used well.

Cooter: Yeah, it's not heavy handed, dude. But it still has a ton of meaning in the subtext. It's metaphorical, right? The twist when he gets into the real nature of the harvesting and the relationship between the lepers and mannequins? Powerful stuff, man.

Michael: It's tough to discuss this book without giving anything away. Part of that is because Beeny is a really economical writer. This book is a great example of how to take one central plot, focus in, and deal with only things that spring from it directly.

Sophie: I agree. There's very little wandering, and practically no side-stories or meandering prose. It's tight.

Herb "The Herb": Tight. (Takes a huge hit from his bong)

Michael: Herb, I almost didn't see you over there, what with the cloud of smoke.

Sophie: Herb liked this one. He's very philosophical, you know, and I think that this novel centers more on theme than plot to drive it. It really resonated with him.

Herb "The Herb": Party. Party. Hegelian synthesis or two opposing forces brought together to assume a new creation. Party. (Blows a smoke ring.)

Smitty: Okay, since nobody's talking about the most important thing in the book, I'll bring it up. What about the sex? The crazy leper and mannequin sex? The scene where they get it on is awesome!

Sophie: I'll admit I love the imagery of her pregnancy. I won't say any more about that, lest I ruin the surprise about the form that takes, but it's interesting that it's both grotesque and stunningly warm at the same time.

Smitty: Yeah, yeah... but he makes a pussy for her! So hot. And she says the word "nipples" a lot. That was cool too.

Rex: The harvest was very interesting. The fear that the hunters inject into their prey. The stalking. The hand grenades. Savage. Brutal.

Michael: Rex, did you feel like it was one-sided then?

Rex: Nope. The soldier mannequins held their own too. The burning scene is creepy and awesome. And I respected them. They're tortured souls, but they're also relentless killing machines.

Cooter: Dude, it was cool how both sides really had all the shades of violence represented, you know? Like, you had these lepers that were cruel and violent, and then you had Quall and his gentle soul, trying to do the right thing, keep his pack pride, right? Then like, the mannequins had their creepo soldier dudes, and some family mannequins, and some assholes, and Jaundice, who was just lovely. Beeny keeps things real, and shows some depth.

Sophie: It's true that often times war stories really show one side as the good guys and one side as the bad guys. This book skirts that nicely, by exploring the motivations behind both sides and what they do. Then when the discoveries start to happen about the real situation, it's that much stronger.

Michael: Final thoughts? What are you taking away from this read?

Rex: Always be prepared for war. You never know when the harvest is coming, and someone else might take your most precious things. That's why I'm always on guard. (Rex pops the collar of his leather jacket.)

Sophie: Aww, baby. We know you're here to protect us.

(Smitty makes gagging sounds. Rex stares daggers at him and growls softly.)

Smitty: If you don't have awesome titties, or a sweet pussy, you can make your own in a few easy steps! Hey guys, do we have a mannequin?

Herb "The Herb": In the garage.

(Smitty scrambles off. It's hard to keep from shuddering.)

Sophie: The true depth of need is often defined by circumstances, and we are often defined by our opposites. So understanding why our opponents do what they do often helps us reach a deeper level of being.

Herb "The Herb": What she said.

Cooter: I just thought it was a super fun take on the old "two warring families" motif. A great read, and worth checking out, dude!

Michael: Definitely a great read. And the ending is definitely worth the price of admission! Take it from the Party Wolves: check out Lepers and Mannequins. Until next time, keep reading, and supporting the New Bizarro Author Series!

(The Party Wolves Book Club meets once a week or so to discuss books in Eraserhead Press New Bizarro Author Series. The Party Wolves are featured in the book Party Wolves in My Skull by Michael Allen Rose)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Placenta of Love by Spike Marlowe - Party Wolves Book Club

(The following is a transcript from the fifth Party Wolf Book Club meetup at the home of Michael Allen Rose in Chicago, IL - Saturday March 17th.)

Michael: This week, we're discussing Spike Marlowe's book Placenta of LoveI think this really is a love story.

Sophie: I agree. It was sweet.

Smitty: It wasn't that mushy though, for a love story.

Cooter: Yeah, it's more about the nature of love with some funny and smart sex jokes, than it is a traditional romance.

Rex: And there's destruction too. Which is awesome. Lots of it.

Michael: Definitely true. This book definitely wrestles with a lot of big themes in a really fun way.

Herb "The Herb": At its core, Placenta of Love is about the search for identity. The Captain tries to construct his ideal mate, taking attributes from other entities and creating a Frankenstein's monster of sorts. He wants to be a creator. The existentialist search for meaning through defining what it is to be human drives him to bestow his soulmate with a physical form, but ultimately, the chaos that ensues drives at the futility of trying to construct an identity for anyone but the self.

Michael: I... Seriously? Nobody else gets creeped out when he does that?

Sophie: Thematically, there's a lot in this book about creation vs. destruction, and the legacy we leave behind us. Both Captain Carl and Helen are driven to create something beyond themselves. Psychologists say that our desire to procreate is deeply rooted in our need to live on after our bodies cease to function. We are driven to love because of our fear of death, and our need to secure a place for ourselves in history.

Herb "The Herb": Yes, Thanatos and Eros, the eternal cycle, are well represented in Placenta of Love and the struggle between the end of life and new beginnings drives the characters to their inexorable need to create. But also to destroy. Look what happens to Helen, when she goes mad and becomes a force of pure destruction in her attempt to create life.

Sophie: I love the idea of mechanical creatures feeling the need to reproduce. It's such a strong pull that they're willing to give up everything in their quest to create. It's written so sweetly and with such clear purpose. It's rather beautiful.

(Rex, Smitty, Cooter and myself all stare at Herb for awhile, then at Sophie, then at Herb again.)

Michael: Seriously? What just happened?

Smitty: You learn to ignore it. I think about boobs.

Herb "The Herb": (Inhaling for several seconds from his bong) Creation. Woah. (Giggles)

Michael: Jesus.

Rex: I liked the rides.

Michael: Yes! Let's talk about the rides! Favorites?

Smitty: The Felini Wheel is awesome. Spike says it's one of the most popular rides on Venus, and I know why. That's where I'd spend all my time. Fellatio and spinning are two of my favorite things.

Rex: They'd never let you on. Must be this tall to ride, pipsqueak.

Smitty: That's not what your mom said.

(Rex proceeds to chase Smitty around my coffee table. The other party wolves do not seem to notice.)

Cooter: Super imaginative stuff in there, man. The Balbosa was cool too. I'd like to sit inside a giant foot and kick a giant ball. Reminds me of our old foosball table, only way bigger.

Michael: I thought the description of The Doors of Life, toward the end of the book, was really poignant, and tied things up really nicely. Really makes you think, which is a major accomplishment for a book about robot pirates under a cotton candy sky!

Sophie: It's interesting that Marlowe chose to set the story in a theme park. That simple decision gave the whole book a colorful, playful backdrop. She uses that to great effect as Captain Carl explores the park. I was especially interested in the Church of Trans-substantial Birth Fear. The descriptions of the darkness and the church interior really set the scene.

Michael: What about characters? We talked a little about what they wanted earlier when you guys started channeling crazy geniuses, but what about "what" they are?

Cooter: Captain Carl was a really likable protagonist, man. He was like, so into what he was doing, and for all the right reasons. He seemed sweet, with just a touch of naivety. And Marlowe totally humanized a mechanical man. That's interesting.

(Smitty is now sitting on top of a bookshelf. Rex is sitting below it, guarding the only way down. They seem content for the moment in their stalemate.)

Sophie: I identified with the rage of the placenta. She was an engine of destruction, but it came from an innocent place. She wanted something to fill the void inside her.

Rex: You feel like you want something inside you, baby? I'll fill your void for you.

Sophie: You know, Rex, that she wanted to experience the magic of having children. That's why she was dropping placentas all over Venus.

Rex: I... um... oh.

Michael: Wow, Rex, I don't think I've ever seen you blush before.

Rex: If you tell anyone, I'll eat your face off in front of your family.

Michael: I wouldn't tell a soul, but you know this is being record-- never mind. Smitty?

Smitty: Jiji the cat rocks. She was funny, smart, and she loves spankies. I love spankies! Who doesn't love spankies? And that leather leash. If I wore a leash, I'd definitely buy leather.

Rex: I kill and skin my own, but yeah, Jiji seemed like she'd shank a bitch if necessary. I dig that.

Michael: Yeah, there's definitely an S&M vibe to that cat. The sensuality is well-written and fitting. Another nice twist on a character, but again, I think Spike really keeps the core of every single character really sweet and lovable, even the outlandish ones.

Cooter: The ending was just beautiful, man. Like, the whole book, Spike's exploring the theme of what it means to create life, and what life is, and then there's this whole series of moments where everything Captain Carl has learned is tested. The epic battle, and the aftermath. Heavy, dude.

Sophie: Yeah, I was struck with the final battle and what it meant to everyone emotionally. And the ending was cute and really sweet.

Michael: So what we have here is a bizarro love story deeply rooted in some serious philosophy! What did you guys take away from Placenta of Love?

Rex: Sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do, even when you love someone, because you know if you don't kick ass, someone else might kick a different ass. So kicking ass in the name of love.

Smitty: Cats are totally into kinky shit!

Sophie: Creating a legacy is a core element of being alive, but you have to be careful of how much you indulge your needs, especially at the expense of everyone around you.

Cooter: There's a fine line between creation and destruction, man, and the choices we make can lead to some messed up situations.

Herb "The Herb": Love is all we need.

Michael: Wow, Herb, that was sweet.

Herb "The Herb": Party. (Takes a huge hit from his bong.)

Michael: Okay, well that's it for this week! Check out Spike Marlowe's Placenta of Love for a truly sweet, fun and fast-paced read that will really make you think! Smitty. Smitty, stop winking at my cat.

Smitty: I'm not!

Michael: Stop it. She's not into you.

Smitty: You don't know!

Michael: Until next time, keep reading, and keep supporting the New Bizarro Author Series!

(The Party Wolves Book Club meets once a week or so to discuss books in Eraserhead Press New Bizarro Author Series. The Party Wolves are featured in the book Party Wolves in My Skull by Michael Allen Rose)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Crud Masters by Justin Grimbol - Party Wolves Book Club

(The following is a transcript from the fourth Party Wolf Book Club meetup at the home of Michael Allen Rose in Chicago, IL - Saturday February 25th.)

Michael: Welcome back, everyone. It took a couple of weeks, but I got new recording equipment for these book club transcripts. Please be more careful this week, okay? I don't want a repeat of what happened when we discussed Gigantic Death Worm.

Smitty: I'll show you my gigantic death worm...

Michael: This is not an encouraging start. We have a real wild one on the docket today. We're discussing Justin Grimbol's book The Crud Masters! Smitty. Smitty, what are you doing?

Smitty: I'm Porky Pigging it.

Michael: You're disgusting. Put that thing away.

Smitty: No way! I feel so free! I learned it from reading The Crud Masters. This Grimbol guy totally knows what's up. And can we get a sexbot? I want a sexbot.

Sophie: You are a sexbot, Smitty. You ejaculate on everything.

Cooter: You're the reason we can't have nice things.

Rex: I like the Crud Masters. They're cool. They have a sense of style that I totally identify with.

Michael: The author mentions in his promotional materials that there's a lot of the classic book The Outsiders percolating around in here.

Cooter: I dug the way Grimbol wrote those guys. They stick together, they're tough but affectionate with each other, and they know how to enhance their lives with sex, violence and alcohol. I think we'd get along with the Crud Masters pretty well.

Rex: Not those NOLA assholes though.

Sophie: The NOLA gang is painted with such spite, but it comes from such a real place. I think anyone can identify with hating the asshole rich kids. Unless you were an asshole rich kid yourself. Readers want to root for the underdog. Grimbol definitely knows how to craft a classic tale of us versus them. He's taken that old template and escalated it, injected lots of shocking and titillating moments, and rolled it all up with monsters and robots.

Rex: Yeah, the monsters! How about the big battles? Kick ass, huh? Flying fists and mutilated eye sockets! Monster wrestling! Giant body slams into the sea!

Smitty: The transformers were cool too.

Rex: Not as cool as giant lobster monsters and acid-spitting snakes!

Smitty: I'll show you my acid-spitting--

Rex: You finish that sentence, I'll rip your arms off.

Sophie: The action scenes are definitely a lot of fun, and really get to the core of the book. At its heart, it's a book about a gang of misfits who stick together because they know nobody else will stick up for them. The rumble really gets that across, and I love how Grimbol isn't afraid to scare his readers into thinking these lovable weirdos aren't going to make it.

Cooter: They're all pretty messed up, but you really root for them. There's some real emotional stuff underneath names like Boogers and Snuggles. You start to feel for these dudes and hope they come out okay in the end! I even liked Pussy Bear, and she's kind of scary.

Smitty: Kind of sexy, you mean! Pussy Bear! Finally, we're talking about the stuff that really matters! A bear with gigantic awesome titties! Hey, Michael, you think I could get a date with Pussy Bear? Do you think she likes party wolves? I'll show her my huge--

Michael: I'll have to ask Justin. Please, please put that thing away.

Smitty: Check it out, I can make it helicopter!

Sophie: There's definitely a lot of sex in this book. I understand why Smitty has been taking it to bed.

Cooter: I wouldn't touch his copy if I were you.

Herb "The Herb": Sticky. (Takes a huge bong hit)

Sophie: Justin's obviously a sick man, and I mean that as a compliment. Readers who love weird smut will find so much to love here, it's ridiculous. Three-ways, incest, inter-species love, the works. The sex scenes work well though, and I love that certain peculiarities that seem like gross-out jokes at first become important mechanics in the story. Like Bovy's horrible smell. When it becomes a key to the Crud Masters' salvation, it really shows that Grimbol's thought about all these things and wants to make them matter to his readers. Thematically, he keeps it simple and tight.

Michael: Partly because of that, the plot is tight too.

Cooter: Yeah, the author really keeps it focused on the big fight, man. It's like, that impending rumble hangs over the whole novella like a fog. I can almost see the fog still.

Michael: That's just Herb.

Herb "The Herb": Party. (Blows a huge ring of smoke)

Michael: Final thoughts?

Cooter: This is a fun book with a lot of heart. The Crud Masters are sweet and remind me of being a pup, wrestling around with Rex and getting into trouble. It's an adolescent fantasy only with more sex and violence and crazy shit.

Smitty: I wanna meet Pussy Bear! That Bovy chick might be all right too. She's willing to get spit-roasted by a cyborg and a kid named Boogers. She's okay in my book. Ooh, and that chick with the six arms who's jerking off all the sexbots? Dude, awesome!

Rex: Giant monster fights rock. Oh, and I liked the Bart. He sets things on fire and punches people. Like, for no reason other than an intense inner anger.

(Rex punches Smitty, who goes flying off the couch and into the bathroom. There is a brief moment of silence as we listen for signs of life.)

Rex: I get him. That's all I'm saying.

Sophie: Maybe I should check and see--

Smitty: I'm okay! I landed on my balls! I think I'll stay in here for awhile. You have some good magazines.

Michael: Jesus... Sophie?

Sophie: Justin Grimbol has found a way to hit S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders with a serious dose of surreal, satirical smut. Really, at it's heart, it's a love story. Sexual, brotherly and love for yourself, accepting who you are.

Herb "The Herb": Smutty, funny, party. Yeah. (Herb begins passing a joint around)

Michael: Okay, well... I never thought I'd say this, but thanks to Herb for being a calming influence on the proceedings. And thanks to Justin Grimbol for writing such a fun, perverted, wild take on young adult coming-of-age novels! We had a good time with The Crud Masters! Stay tuned for more bizarro fiction weirdness from the Party Wolves Book Club! We love you!

(The Party Wolves Book Club meets once a week or so to discuss books in Eraserhead Press New Bizarro Author Series. The Party Wolves are featured in the book Party Wolves in My Skull by Michael Allen Rose)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Gigantic Death Worm by Vince Kramer - Party Wolves Book Club

(The following is a transcript from the third Party Wolf Book Club meetup at the home of Michael Allen Rose in Chicago, IL - Saturday February 4th.)

Michael: Hello everyone! We have a doozy this week. We're discussing Vince Kramer's Gigantic Death Worm.

Rex: I loved this book! Bears that spit wolves at dumbass humans! Arms getting torn off! Boobs getting chewed on! Beer! Violence and drinking and destruction! This is literature!

Sophie: Rex has been going on and on about it all week.

Rex: The speed! The violence! First, they're all like "Hey, we're douchebags, and we're high and I'm watching my girlfriend give a fat guy a blow-job--

Smitty: I loved that part. Made me hump the couch like, three times.

Rex: Then all the sudden there's cheeseburgers coming out of nowhere, and these bears that spit wolves show up and are totally eating these assholes and there's a crazy stand-off and a fight, and then rampaging monster parasites from hell start tearing everything apart. This is awesome!

Sophie: Gigantic Death Worm was really fun to read. The way Vince writes reminded me of a kid telling you the craziest story he could think of using all his action figures, complete with crazy moments of violence exploding off the page and then the inevitable topping himself with an "and then." You can tell that he had a ton of fun writing this book, and the fun is infectious.

Cooter: Man, I was laughing out loud at some of the crazy lines Vince Kramer used in this story. How can you top a book that opens with the line "So, how are the brain parasites doing?" Vince actually uses the line "Then the bear ate his face off, and he died from it." Not only is that startlingly accurate, but it's freakin' hilarious. And how about that narrator voice, dude?

Smitty: There's a lot of lines about the size of guys' dicks in this book. I appreciate that. It's an important issue that I think a lot of authors overlook.

(At this point, Smitty starts licking his balls furiously. We pause the discussion briefly while I retrieve a tarp to put under him. My furniture budget is completely broken since starting this book club. When I come back, the Party Wolves are discussing frantically, several conversations going on at once.)

Sophie: ...they were some of my favorite characters, for sure. His name alone, being Ponce De Leon II: The Revenge had me rolling.

Rex: And then the zoo explodes! Did you see? Lions jumping up in the air catching deer mid-air? That's alpha predator shit!

Herb "The Herb": Giant. Fuckin'. Death. Worm. (Herb goes into a giggling fit)

Michael: Okay, guys, let's get back on track. Guys?

Cooter: Chapter ten! He narrated the shit out of it! Vince Kramer is insane, dude! Ha!

Rex: Then you're like, oh, I guess everything's fine... then this awesome death worm comes out of nowhere and kills everyone! Death everywhere! Just up and kills 'em!

Cooter: In the face, the way Vince tells it.

Rex: Yeah! Blood! Teeth! Smashing! Right in the face!

Michael: Guys?

Herb "The Herb": Tequila! Tequila! Tequila!

Smitty: He pees on her boobs! Haw haw!

Michael: Sophie, help?

Sophie: They're excited about reading. What can I say?

Cooter: I got worms once from eating bad pork. Vince really nailed that part, I think. Like, the way he writes about it, that's pretty much what happens. One time, me and Herb went to Mexico to procure some party snacks, if you get my drift...

Herb "The Herb": Party.

Rex: Oh my God, and I don't want to ruin the surprise, but holy crap, the scene where the professor is teaching rocket science to the special dudes, and then... holy crap! It's so awesome! Hahaha!

Michael: Obviously everyone had a really good time with this one. Final thoughts? What did you get out of Gigantic Death Worm?

Cooter: When in Mexico, don't eat at shady taco stands. Especially pork.

Smitty: If you're ever stuck and going to freeze to death, you can totally get a chick to let you piss on her boobs!

Rex: Don't mess with the alpha predator in your environment, bitches! Yeah!

Sophie: I guess for me, the take-away from this book was pure enjoyment. It's not dense and literary, and it's certainly not pretentious, it's just crazy, insane fun. It speeds along like a song by the Locust, with everything being thrown at you like, a hundred miles a second.

Herb "The Herb": Dada mashed up with action figures to a speed metal soundtrack.

Michael: Wow, Herb. That's actually pretty insightful.

Herb "The Herb": Party. (Takes a huge pull of his joint)

Michael: Cool. Everyone, check out Vince Kramer's insane debut! It's one hell of a book, and will send your head racing and your side aching with laughter. I guarantee, you won't know what's coming next. This is one of the most unpredictable books I've ever read. See you next week for another New Bizarro Author Series book!

Rex: Ooh! And then Suzanne's mother shows up with a chainsaw! And it's all like BZZZZZ! Here, let me show you with Smitty. So like, she comes up behind--

Smitty: Get away from me, dick!

Rex: Shut up and hold still, runt!

Michael: Guys! Look out for the laptop! It's rec--

(The Party Wolves Book Club meets once a week or so to discuss books in Eraserhead Press New Bizarro Author Series. The Party Wolves are featured in the book Party Wolves in My Skull by Michael Allen Rose)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Hollow Cube is a Lonley Space by S. D. Foster - Party Wolves Book Club

(The following is a transcript from the second Party Wolf Book Club meetup at the home of Michael Allen Rose in Chicago, IL - Saturday January 28th.)

Michael: Welcome back, gang. This week, we're discussing S.D. Foster's book A Hollow Cube is a Lonely Space. Since this one is a collection, I thought maybe we could start by talking about our favorite stories. Does that sound... Smitty...? What are you eating?

Smitty: It's a sandwich.

Michael: What's... in it?

Cooter: Man, he's got cheese in there, some sausages, a cantaloupe... smells like a pig hoof or two... maybe some coffee grounds?

Michael: Oh, I get it! Like in S. D. Foster's story Matilda Goes Shopping, right? It's an homage.

Smitty: Matilda goes what?

Cooter: I remember that one, that was a great story. It made my fur stand on end. And I guess it made Smitty hungry.

Sophie: It took a sort of typical domestic story and twisted it into something horrific and amazing. Incest, gluttony, violence, but all with a strong literary voice keeping it all in line. That's something I noticed about all these stories. S. D. Foster has a razor-sharp literary wit and his imagination is boundless. He'll take a typical story structure and dismantle it, deconstruct it, until it goes up in smoke.

Herb "The Herb": Smoke. (Giggles)

Michael: Rex? You seem quiet today. You okay?

Sophie: He's kind of sad. I don't think he expected such moving stories from a new bizarro author.

Rex: I'm not sad, okay? I'm mad! Only with crying instead of rage. I could still eat a baby. You want to see me do it? Someone get me a baby! I'll do it right now!

Sophie: Some of these stories really affected him. It was sweet, you guys should have seen it. He got all cuddly. Unbreakable, for example. It was so beautifully sad and played with warmth of spirit for awhile before dropping some very cold prose.


Michael: I noticed that S. D. Foster has a really unique gift for taking very dark and serious themes and talking about them from a completely new perspective. Unbreakable is like the bizarro universe A Toy Story in flash fiction form. And what about The Lingering Death of Christmas? A winter themed story that really tears down your walls of protection as a reader. He writes you back to childhood and then burns you. Foster's prose is so juicy and such a joy to read that you can't put his book down even when it's tearing your heart out.

Sophie: Speaking of toys and poignancy, I thought the most touchingly painful one was The Trials of Ted.


Herb "The Herb": Made me feel bad for my discarded bongs. Party.

Sophie: Foster's descriptions of things are so vivid, and his prose reads like the best poetry, with alliteration and clever wordplay, and then he just stabs you right in the heart with--


(Rex sobs uncontrollably, punching the couch over and over again. After a few moments of this, Rex, realizing the rest of us are staring at him, goes wide-eyed, stops crying and punches Smitty for no good reason. Rex then knocks over my coffee table and sulks.)

Cooter: Rex?

Rex: Just saying I liked it is all.

Cooter: I really felt a cosmic connection with A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Chimp. Didn't you guys?

Sophie: Of course. The whole theme of animals trying to fit into a human world really resonated with me.

Herb "The Herb": Resin. Nated. (Takes an enormous bong hit) Ha.

Cooter: I used to read a lot of James Joyce when I was into the psychedelics and I thought it was some pretty sweet satire too. Like, Foster aped Joyce but like, smashed it together with Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp.

Smitty: I liked Mr. Rat. Like, a lot. First of all, 'cause it reminded me of how everyone's always like "You should get a job, Smitty, and like, do stuff." Screw that. Also, his favorite snack, "aborted baby spread thick with bacon grease" is freaking delicious. That rat has good taste. And I thought most of S. D.'s stories were really funny. But like, in the way that my showing my junk to cars on the highway is funny?

Sophie: Dark humor, Smitty.

Smitty: Yeah, that.

Herb "The Herb": So many of Fosters stories resonate so strongly because at their core, they are about fitting in, and the alienation that comes from the condition of being labelled as other. His characters find themselves unable to integrate into society. Even in ostensibly lighthearted fare like the lead story The Course of Clementine, Foster reveals a fruit who has all the qualities we most fear in ourselves: The ambiguous search for purpose and meaning, the fear of being unsatisfactory, the terror of becoming useless. The pain that these stories evokes is expertly shaped and wielded like a weapon by Foster, fueled by the turmoil that we have all felt at one time or another - the sadness of disconnectedness from our fellow travelers.

(There is general silence for a moment)

Michael: It's still eerie as hell when he does that. Okay, final thoughts?

Smitty: The (Not Quite) Corpse and the Stork also made me hungry! For human brains! This book is awesome!

Cooter: Really solid writing and a super fun book.

Herb "The Herb": Party party party.

Michael: What the hell...?

Sophie: A Hollow Cube is a Lonely Space is full of gems. This is an easy recommendation for anyone who loves short stories, and I can't wait to read more of Foster's work. This guy is amazing.


(Smitty begins laughing loudly at Rex. Rex notices, and still sobbing uncontrollably, starts to beat the hell out of Smitty, who scurries to the bathroom and locks the door.)

Michael: Okay, well, with that. This was an absolutely fantastic collection! I think we all agree that you definitely won't be disappointed with any of these stories, as there's not a weak link in the whole bunch. An excellent book and one hell of a debut. Check out S. D. Foster's A Hollow Cube is a Lonely Space and see what a great wordsmith can do with a short story! Another book from the New Bizarro Author Series next weekend, so stay tuned!

(The Party Wolves Book Club meets once a week or so to discuss books in Eraserhead Press New Bizarro Author Series. The Party Wolves are featured in the book Party Wolves in My Skull by Michael Allen Rose)