[Bad Idea Books is a column in which we read an old (or perhaps not) book that is not without merit, but happens to contain or be based on a very flawed premise. We don't count them as reviews, but we still wanted to share. Read other entries here.]
Author: Cameron Pierce
Published: 2009, Eraserhead Press
Genre: Sci-fi, Horror, Short-Run
Bad Idea: Well, it’s a story about a race of children who are enslaved by a race of walking butt monsters that are also Nazis. These Ass Goblins randomly select children each day by sticking a finger in their butts, then later make them eat their own organs, removed anally by poop creatures known as “toilet toads.” The selected children are thrown into a vat to decompose and ferment into “cider” which the Ass Goblins get drunk on nightly while snacking on dried children skin (which aside from their own organs is also the only source of food for the children). The captives spend their waking hours crafting bicycles out of dismembered children parts, because the Ass Goblins have an underground maze they like to ride bikes around in. Also they perform strange experiments and vivisections on twins, mostly grafting body parts onto them. So take your pick of bad idea.
Synopsis: 999 (he doesn’t remember his name, just his serial number) and his conjoined twin Otto are enslaved in the Nazi Ass Goblin compound known as Auschwitz. They, along with the other prisoners, were abducted from their homes in Kidland by the giant carnivorous butt monsters’ flying spaceships. They face daily torture of the most grotesque varieties, and nothing makes much sense. When a crazed Ass Goblin doctor known as White Angel begins experimenting on the twins, transforming them into creatures more monstrous than the Ass Goblins themselves, the children plot a risky escape, right under head honcho Adolf’s nose.
What Went Right?: Pierce is a pretty good writer. The language (while beyond crass) is tight and controlled, the storytelling sound. It’s short enough that even the weak-stomached can make it through. The book certainly doesn’t lack creativity.
Verdict: This is easily one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read. It’s sensationalist shock fiction at its loudest. It’s gory, obscene, and coprophilic. It’s also well-written and quite entertaining. There are probably three camps for this book: people who are offended by the very existence of it; people that think it’s very infantile and ought to be ignored; people who read the title and my description and laughed, and would perhaps flip through it if for some reason it were on a bookstore shelf (but only if no one was watching). Groups one and two are definitely not going to like this book, and probably haven’t gotten this far into my post. People in group three should ask themselves if they like Troma movies. If the answer is “no” or “what’s a Troma movie?” they can join groups one and two in not reading this book. The few remaining should probably give it a shot.
[Bad Idea Books is a column in which we read an old (or perhaps not) book that is not without merit, but happens to have a very flawed premise. Read other entries here.]
Reviewer’s note: I’m choosing something a little different from the above description this time, as this book isn’t yet published, and I haven’t read it. It is undeniably a bad idea though.
Author: Coleridge Cook (and Franz Kafka, supposedly)
Published: 2011, Quirk Classics
Genre: Literary Mash-up
Bad Idea: “Instead of turning into a bug in ‘The Metamorphosis’, Gregor Samsa should turn into a cat!”
Synopsis: I’m going to let this one speak for itself. Here’s the jacket copy:
The phenomenal success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies inspired a massively popular literary-remix movement. Now Quirk Classics once again charts bold new territory, turning the monster-mash-up formula inside out to infuse Franz Kafka’s horrific masterpiece, “The Metamorphosis,” with the fuzziest, snuggliest, most adorable creatures possible: kittens!
Gregor Samsa is a humble young man who supports his unemployed parents and teenage sister by working as a traveling fabric salesman. But his life goes strangely wrong in the very first sentence of The Meowmorphosis, when he wakes up late for work and discovers that he has inexplicably become an adorable kitten. His family must admit that, yes, their son is now OMG so cute—but what good is cute when there are bills to pay? How can Gregor be so selfish as to devote his attention to a ball of yarn? And how dare he jump out the bedroom window to wander through Kafka’s literary landscape? Never before has a cat’s tale been so poignant, strange, and horrifyingly funny.
The only way this could be lamer is if it were also written in teh kitteh LOLcats voiz. ROFLMFAO.
What Can Go Right?: Nothing. This is quite possibly the stupidest idea for a book I’ve ever heard. The Quirk Classics that have come since Pride and Prejudice and Zombies have been uninspired cash-ins that read like sophomoric rush jobs with a not-that-creative twist. I’m talking about the mashups, but the PaPaZ sequel also looks like a greedy, bad idea too. This takes that to a whole new level.
Why Is This Being Published?: I’m over the literary mash-up thing (and by the way, Quirk, it’s not a movement if you’re more or less the only one doing it–also, the postmodernists beat you to the core concept by a few decades), but even still there are a thousand choices that would actually be creative and work better than this (off the top of my head: All’s Quiet on the Western Front of Armageddon, ThoughtCrime and Punishment, A Midsummer’s Nightmare). The other mashups at least combined the plot and characters of a classic work with a wholly foreign setting and different set of fictional rules. Kafka’s character already woke up in his same world to find he’d become another creature entirely. This does the exact same thing, except it will be a different creature and is written by a nobody who’s at best not any better than Ben H. Winters. There is absolutely no reason why this book should exist. Quirk is clearly a group of people cranking out books that take very little effort to write, and less to sell.
Verdict: Please nobody buy any more of Quirk’s books, maybe that will convince them to go away.
See also: My reviews of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and Android Karenina (posting tomorrow).
[Bad Idea Books is a new column in which we read an old (or perhaps not) book that is not without merit, but happens to have a very flawed premise. Read other entries here.]
Author: John Simmons
Published: 1984, Ballantine
Bad Idea: Any daughter raped by her father will become a viricidal ax killer capable of communication with similar crazies, even dead ones.
Synopsis: On their wedding night, Jackie tried to kill Jim Stark with a hatchet. She went to jail, got out, received counseling from a woman named Carla, then was raped and murdered by a biker.
Following Jackie’s death, Carla becomes obsessed with her former patient. Then she begins to hear Jackie speaking to her. Turns out, both Jackie and Carla were raped by their fathers when they were young girls. Carla tells her boyfriend, Gus, she is going to visit her parents, whom she doesn’t get along with–presumedly because one raped her and one ignored it–but instead heads to the South to find and murder Jim Stark (who lights boundary lamps on the Mississippi) at dead-Jackie’s behest.
Carla struggles not to lose her mind, but she’s become a possesed psychopath.
What Went Right?: Nothing, really. But that’s what I enjoyed about it. The voices in her head are italicized and lacking most vowels (“CRLA A BG DG IS CHSNG ME!“), the concept makes less sense in execution than it does in my brief description above, and the scenes are often just silly. One of the most emotional moments is when Carla asks her boyfriend to feed her cat while she’s away (to slay Jim Stark), but he thinks she’s over-stressed because he finds no cat; then he finds it meticulously hanged in a noose inside her walls! Duh-duh duuuh. The whole thing is silly and full of campy murder and sex scenes. It’s like a novelization of 1980s slasher flicks.
What Would It Be Like Today?: Well, the movie “Fallen” used a similar serial killer transference thing, though that was a bit more literal metempsychosis than Simmons employs with the voices. Maybe a pop-savvy novelist could write a similar book with Justin Bieber becoming possessed by Michael Jackson to get revenge on Macaulay Culkin, who, we learn, diddled him and not the other way around.
Verdict: Worth reading. I trucked through this book in about 2 hours. It was an absolutely terrible book, but “The Leprechaun” is an absolutely terrible movie, yet still awesome. If you see Lamplighter sitting on the side of the road or buried on a vacation condo’s shelf, grab it.
[Bad Idea Books is a new column in which we read an old (or perhaps not) book that is not without merit, but happens to contain or be based on a very flawed premise. Read other entries here.]
Author: D. Keith Mano
Published: 1973, Doubleday
Bad Idea: The sanctity of microbial life is more important than humans eating, breathing, speaking, or existing.
Synopsis: In the future, science reaches a point of understanding and empathizing for microscopic life, and humanity decides to euthanize itself for the sake of the planet. Citizens, who communicate silently via a finger-on-wrist technique that blends hand shakes with a Morse-like code, breathe through filters to lower CO2 contamination, and live exclusively off a sludgy, microbial friendly “e-diet” don’t put up a fight when the government hands out the suicide pills.
Only one man, Dominick Priest, isn’t really into offing himself. Released from prison (in a forested Yankee Stadium) to die with his wife, Mary, Priest races home to upstate New York along overgrown highways and state-sponsored wilderness.
What Went Right?: …
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