There is a great disturbance in the farce.
Today I sat down with Jeff Strand, author of DWELLER, the WOLF HUNT books, THE GREATEST ZOMBIE MOVIE EVER, and many other gleefully macabre books. His exhaustive, exhausting, depressingly funny biography is too good to summarize, so you can find it at his website. His newest novel, BLISTER, comes out pretty much right now, so you should totally check it out.
PATRICK: Hi Jeff! Thanks for stopping by.
The main character in your new book, BLISTER, is a cartoonist, while you’re known as “the funniest man in the gore business.” Where do comedy and horror intersect?
JEFF: Comedy and horror intersect all over the place. It could be nervous laughter because of the high tension level, or it could be a great big guffaw because something is so over-the-top disgusting. Even within my own work, I’ve got books that are comedies with a horror premise, and books that are horror novels with a lot of humor, and books that give both aspects equal attention. There’s an infinite number of ways to blend the two genres.
Yup. This sucks.
College, sophomore year, driving to my future ex-wife’s parents’ house in a rusted-out Ford Escort, she-who-shall-not-be-named in the seat beside me. Not quite rush hour but close enough, headed north on a six-lane expressway at sixty-ish miles an hour toward the promise of eternally bickering siblings, expensive three-inch steaks cooked to shoe leather and served with ketchup, and the unspoken but ever-present disapproval of her parents.
Up ahead, brake lights. In all three lanes.
In moments cars packed the road, as far as the eye could see both in front of and behind us. We couldn’t see anything to explain the delay; it took ten minutes for news of what had happened to hit the radio. A tractor-trailer had jackknifed and tipped over, spilling its contents across every lane and both shoulders. I found out at the time but no longer remember what it had been carrying; kitty litter, coffee makers, children’s souls in Estee Lauder bottles. Something that created a terrific mess and, more importantly for our dinner date with the outlaws, brought traffic to a standstill.
I’m a horror writer, sure. I write some creepy shit. I can’t help myself. That’s what I like and that’s what comes out of me when I write. Nightmare vomit. But I also have a deep fascination with the fantastic, with otherworldly things. I love the uncanny. And the strange. And since I now have published the first two books in The Godgame series, set almost entirely in the fictional world of Meridian, it looks as if I’ve finally crossed over into the realm of fantasy. Dark fantasy. But what the hell is that?
Well, to give you an idea, here’s a list of dark fantasy novels that have inspired me. Some of them, like Clive Barker’s work, a lot of people would call horror, but don’t be fooled. Clive Barker is really a fantasy author.
You could also call several of these titles “literary fantasy” or “literary horror,” but what the hell is genre anyway?
In this week’s edition of All Books Are Terrible, we take a look at the (best) one-star reviews written for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and learn that wizards and magic are big dumb poopypants.
01. The Adventures of Henry Potter, by Some Dude Named J.K. Rowling
02. Much Magic, Mate
03. She Won’t Last
04. God Bless
05. Bag Guys Who KILL!!!
06. And All That Junk…
07. So. Much. JUNK.
08. Liar, Liar, Narnia on Fire
09. Millions and Millions of Letters?!?
11. Wendy Speaks Her Mind
Joe Hill is on fire. I’ve been a fan since his debut collection, 20th Century Ghosts, and after eagerly anticipating his latest, I was thrilled to get an advance review copy from the publisher. I’ve enjoyed all of his previous novels and felt that each one raised the bar. That trend continues with The Fireman. In his fourth novel, Hill continues to push himself, and while you will find echoes of his favorite themes, this is not a writer content to rest on his laurels and repeat previous tricks.
Not long ago I stumbled upon a link from ClickBait.suckers.com or FuzzBead.com or somesuch travesty-compiling service entitled something like, “10 Hipster Restaurant Trends that Must Be Stopped.” Accompanying the link, a picture showed a bearded man in a scarf leering lustfully at some sort of Mac & Cheese with granola on top and a “vegan” placard.
Now I’m an adventurous eater who loves to live deliciously, but even I would be hard-pressed to pay restaurant-level money for anything both “vegan” and “cheese,” granola notwithstanding. I doubt it’s something I’d try to make at home for a fraction of the cost, even with reassurances that it’s quite delightful. And I doubt that a restaurant specializing in such abominations would survive very long, assuming a society where people can still make choices about where and what to eat.