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)