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)