Thursday, October 30, 2014

REVIEW: The Last Projector by David James Keaton

I was going to take photos to put in this review. The book we are talking about, The Last Projector by David James Keaton, is one of the best looking novels I've ever seen. From the cover art, to the spine, to the new cinematic Broken River Books artwork, I think that the look of this thing alone should justify a purchase.

I'm not going to do that. You have Google, you can go to Amazon, you can see the photos for yourself and probably better ones than I could take. There's another reason though. I'm going to talk about the contents of this book. What I can't take a picture of. I can't take a picture because some of what is there isn't really there. But it is. Its more there than what is.

See how that sounds? Crazy. Insane. I sound like a hack that doesn't know what he's talking about. Maybe I am. Maybe I should just stop here.

Let me tell you a story though...

I had a nightmare. About this book. I have had this book on my shelf for some time and I've written earlier versions of this review which I felt didn't work. The Last Projector has been haunting me since I first picked it up. It haunts me even still, as I'm writing these words. What were we talking about? The nightmare...

The book was full of slugs and worms. Crawling, inching out of its pages. The cover had seemed to come alive, not unlike the hallucinogenic ARC of this title with the animated cover. But it wasn't alive so much, not like the video I saw. It was active, moving, and undead. All of the elements of the cover art were twitching and turning, the slugs and worms creeping and crawling, trying to pull me into its abyss.

I don't know what the hell this book is about. A few times I thought I knew maybe. I suppose its about a lot of things. It's about love and death and movies and music and pornography and video games and people and demons and paramedics and, hell, I don't know. You read it. You have the nightmares and the elation and the confusion. You let this book take you and drag you in and leave you bruised and feeling that there's no way you can describe what the fuck it did to you but, dammit, you need other people to see it. You need them to know what you know. Its worth knowing.

David James Keaton is a mad genius. This is his first novel but its less a novel than an experience. Its David Foster Wallace and and David Lynch co-directing a video game adaptation of a musical adaptation of a sci-fi horror fantasy porno. Its getting over a heartbreak by going to the cinema all alone and taking communion with the silver screen while enveloped by the darkness.

Its not something you've seen or read or heard or felt before and its something you desperately need to get. Right. Now.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

REVIEW: The Life & Times of Innis E. Coxman

This book, you guys. THIS FUCKING BOOK! Have you ever read anything like this? No, you haven't.

I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm not supposed to start a review like that. Of course, you're not supposed to write a book like INNIS E. COXMAN. This sort of thing quite simply defies all the rules of literature and common decency. However, its a real good thing that Lester didn't play by the rules.

COXMAN is a kind of bildungsroman except I'm not sure that the main character learns anything. He sure as hell ain't no David Copperfield and Lester isn't Dickens. He's Mark Twain by way of Charles Bukowski. COXMAN tells the story of our protagonist from kid to criminal, jerk to junkie, and everything in between. This book is a comedy, a tragedy, a crime story, a story about drugs, a story about love and hate, a story about childhood and miseducation.

Its the sort of book that features a restaurant whose name has been changed to Awful Spouse. Its the sort of book that you'll talk to your friends about over a beer. Its the sort of book you could imagine was written over a beer or two. Its a modern piece of folk art and its trashy as shit. I sincerely, deeply loved it.

That brings me to my final point. This book was self-published. I can't see it getting a release any other way. This would definitely be hard to pitch to someone. Of course, now that its out all the small presses and publishers who aren't afraid of something new should look to R.P. Lester. I hope to see much, much more from him.

I wouldn't have seen COXMAN if I had taken the typical old, stodgy asshat approach to self-published or indie works though. This book has been published in spite of being unpublishable and my book shelf is better for it.

Get yours immediately.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

REVIEW: Tussinland by Mike Monson

Greetings everyone,

A number of books of come my way in the past few months that I have really enjoyed. However, since that time I have released the first issue of my magazine Dark Corners, begun compiling the second issue, and started writing a few novellas. As such, this blog has been neglected more than I'd like. I'm going to try to change that now.

Today we are looking at the first novel from one of the best pulp writers working today: Mike Monson. As I'm sure you are aware, Monson is an editor of the amazing magazine All Due Respect. ADR recently expanded to form ADR Books. I reviewed their first release which was a double feature of novellas by Pablo D'Stair and Chris Rhatigan called you don't exist. Now ADR Books is releasing a novel by the great Mike Monson, Tussinland.

I was fortunate to be able to have a look at an early draft of Tussinland. As I've said, Monson is one of my favorites and so any opportunity I have to read something new from him, you better believe I'm gonna take it.

Tussinland is Monson's best work yet. I seem to say that with every new release but it keeps being true. The novel tells the tale of Paul Dunn, a TV-obsessed loser who is addicted to Robitussin. He is the chief suspect in the murders of his soon-to-be ex-wife and her lover. Of course, given that he's such a loser, you can probably imagine that something is up. And brother, something is indeed.

That's the skeleton of Tussinland. Of course, this is Monson so you'd better strap yourself in for one hell of a ride. The world of Tussinland is a world of drug addiction, social media addiction, sex addiction, and incredible violence. Also, Frosted Flakes.

Monson packs so much into this book that not a single sentence is wasted. If you have liked anything from him before, you are going to love this. He has only gotten better in time. Particularly, his depiction of social media in this novel and the obsession with Facebook, the internet and smart phones is better here than anywhere I've seen these topics handled in fiction. The result is very original.

Like all the best pulp fiction, Monson's books are not realistic. Instead, they have a sort of hyper-realism. All the best pulp guys do it. Greg Barth is another notable example. Monson takes all the things you know exist in the world but don't want to think about, cranks them up to eleven, and shoves them in your face.

Tussinland is dark and hilarious. Its over-the-top. It grabs you by the nuts and refuses to let go until the end. Even now, some months after having read it, it has stuck with me. It'll be one of my favorite reads this year.

Go and buy. Read and enjoy. Then, the next time you sign into Facebook or comment on an article, think about Paul Dunn and his fucked up little story.