Thomas Tryon’s The Other and Harvest Home

The Other – Thomas Tryon

Fawcett Crest – 1972 (Originally published 1971)

The only thing I knew about Thomas Tryon’s The Other before I read it was that it was a bestseller in 1971. It was only as I read it that I realised how influential a novel it has been on modern horror.

Niles and Holland are twin 13 year old boys who live on a farm in New England. Niles is quiet and easily led, and Holland is… well, Holland is a real bad kid. Their dad died a few months before the story begins, and from the beginning it seems pretty obvious that Holland had something to do with this. My suspicions ran wild as I was reading it. I suspected there was going to be some big plot twist, and I was trying to figure out what it was, but the story takes its time and Tryon holds on to his details, only ever giving just enough to keep his readers engaged.

The pacing got on my nerves a little bit during the first half of the novel, but when the twist was revealed and things clicked into place, it all felt worthwhile. I’m sure lots of people who haven’t read this book already know how it ends, but I won’t give anything away. I will mention that I was surprised at how unpleasant that part near the end is.

It was that particularly nasty bit that made me realise how influential this book is. I would be very surprised if Brenda Brown Canary’s choice of setting and violence in The Voice of the Clown were not influenced by Tryon’s book.

I didn’t really like the part where the boys’ grandmother, a crazy old Russian woman, teaches them a trick where they can enter the bodies of other creatures. I guess this makes it easier to accept the potentially supernatural goings on, but it was also a bit weird and unnecessary.

I can imagine some readers getting halfway through this book and not bothering to finish it. That would be a mistake. The pacing and all of the mysterious little clues that are offered throughout the book all come together at the end. I thought this was a very effective horror novel. At times I found it mildly shocking and horrifying. Read it if you haven’t already.

Harvest Home

Dell – 1987 (First published 1973)

I waited for six months to read another book by Tryon. I didn’t dislike The Other, but it was a bit slow, and I usually prefer things short and snappy. Harvest Home is actually pretty similar in pacing to its predecessor, but I ended up absolutely loving this book.

This novel starts when the Constantine family moves to Cornwall Coombe, a quaint rural village where everybody knows everybody. The new family is settling in and everything is going well until the father stumbles upon a ritual in which a local child with a learning disability is forced to choose the Harvest Lord by studying the entrails of a freshly sacrificed sheep. He sneaks away and pretends he has seen nothing, but after this, he starts to notice other strange goings on in the town. It turns out that there’s some fairly bad stuff happening behind the scenes.

I really, really enjoyed Harvest Home. Again, Tryon holds back details in a masterful way. I found this approach even more enjoyable here than it was in The Other. I think it was because the protagonist in this one was a little bit more relatable to me than the boys in his first novel. The pacing is slow, but the writing and characters are enjoyable enough to keep things entertaining between the big revelations. There was one part where the main character gets really drunk and ruins a party. I had to go back and read this section a second time to make sure I had understood everything that happened. It felt rushed and muddled the first time I read it. Reading back, it became apparent that this was clearly intentional. The author used barely any full stops (periods) in the whole passage. It’s probably a well known trick, but I found it really effective.

Tryon was an interesting guy. He was a relatively successful Hollywood actor before he was a writer. That fact made me assume his books would be trashy, but these two weren’t. They were really good. It seems like Thomas Tryon was a real cool guy.

How to make a Ghost: Conjuring Up Philip (The Philip Experiment)

Conjuring Up Philip: An Adventure in Psychokinesis
Iris M. Owen and Margaret Sparrow
Harper Collins – 1976

In the early 1970s a group of Canadians with an interest in the paranormal decided to try to create a ghost. They came up with a name and backstory for their ghost and then spent a year meditating together, focusing their attention on Philip, the character they had created. After a year, Philip started talking to them.

There’s no denying that that is a cool set up for a horror story, and at least two films have been loosely based on the Philip experiment. Copies of this book are hard to come by for a decent price at the moment too. That doesn’t always mean a book is good, but it does add to the mystique. I had to read this.

Unfortunately, this book is the literary equivalent to eating a cooked turd.

Philip chose to communicate with the group by knocking on a table. The group would ask a question, and he’d knock once for “yes”, twice for “no”. Occasionally he would excited and bump the whole table around. Ugh.

The book is a horrible read. It’s incredibly repetitive, and none of the sources it references are trustworthy. It gives the story of the Fox sisters as evidence of real poltergeist activity, but the Fox sisters themselves admitted that they had produced the noises that brought them attention. There was a chapter towards the end that discussed the psychology of poltergeist activity. It was so frustratingly stupid that I literally couldn’t bring myself to read it thoroughly.

I’ve never encountered a table rapping poltergeist, but I have encountered many, many idiots in my life. It’s much easier for me to believe that the people involved in this experiment were morons than it is for me to believe they created a ghost. Also, the whole way through the book, the authors discuss how the Philip experiment is going to have profound effects on the fields of psychology and even physics in the future. Here we are, almost 50 years later, and their work has had no effect on anything.

This is an poorly written, extremely boring book. When I was finished it, I was completely unconvinced in what the authors were saying. Directly after finishing the book, I watched the documentary referenced therein called “Philip the Imaginary Ghost”. This footage was shot during the experiment, and some of the scenes are discussed in the book. If I had watched the video before starting the book, I wouldn’t have bothered. Reading the book, you can’t fully appreciate how lame the people involved in writing it were. The footage is actually hilarious. It’s a bunch of dithering idiots singing at a table and pushing it around, pretending that a ghost is making it move. I genuinely don’t know if they were stupid enough to not realise that it was in fact them moving the table or if they were only stupid enough to think that people seeing them wouldn’t realise that they were moving the table. Part of me hopes that they were fully aware of how dumb they looked and were just acting like fools for a bit of fun. It truly boggles the mind.

Video footage of a “ghost” moving a table.

Teddy (Novelisation of The Pit) – John Gault and Ian A. Stuart

Teddy – John Gault/Ian Stuart
Bantam – 1980

I’ve read lots of books that went on to become movies, but only a few books that were based on movies. I liked the novelisation of Halloween because it added a backstory to Michael Myers that is not in the film. If I’m going to spend 4-5 hours reading a story in book form, I want it to offer something the 2 hour film version doesn’t. The second Halloween novelisation is a more faithful adaptation, and I found it very boring. The only other novelisation I’ve read was Zoltan, Hounds of Dracula, and I only bothered with that one because I was researching its author. The book was so bad that I never bothered watching the film. I know some people collect them, but I really don’t have much interest in novelisations. Despite this, I read Teddy last week. This rare and creepy book is is a novelisation of a screenplay for the 1981 Canadian horror film, The Pit. It is not a novelisation of the film that was actually produced.

Jamie is a weird 12 year old kid who, when he’s not getting bullied, spends his time making pornographic photo-collages involving the local librarian and hanging out in the woods near a gigantic hole in the ground that nobody else knows about. Oh yeah, and this hole is full of weird, hairy dwarf creatures. His family are about to move house, and his parents need to leave town so they can sign the appropriate papers. They hire Sandy, a local college student, to babysit Jamie.

Jamie falls in love with Sandy, and when he realises that she doesn’t love him back, his teddy bear convinces him to go on a killing spree, luring his victims into the woods and then pushing them down the hole.

It’s a decent story, but the book and movie approach it differently. While the movie isn’t exactly comedy horror, it’s so ridiculous that if you’re not going to laugh at it, you’re going to find it extremely boring. There’s a scene where the kid pushes a mean old lady in a wheelchair into a giant hole in the ground. In truth, I lost interest about halfway through and started playing chess on my phone. When I looked up a while later, it had changed from a story about a creepy kid to a bunch of hairy goblins running around causing mischief. The movie tries to do too much, and this lessens the effectiveness of the actual creepy parts. The actor playing Jamie is quite good, but his performance is not enough to save this awful film.

The book is far, far better than the movie. Jamie’s parents come across as bigger jerks here, and we get to witness more of the bullying he experiences at school. Yes, he is a weirdo, but he never really had a chance. He also seems more pervy in the book. There’s parts in here that wouldn’t have been legal to film. Teddy, who is obviously just Jamie, has a far dirtier mouth in the book. Maybe it’s just me, but I felt that Jamie is easier to feel sorry for in the book.

The novel also gives more background on the creatures living in the hole. It turns out they are the descendants of the Whately family, a group of sinister weirdos who moved from somewhere in New England. Surely that is a reference to Lovecraft’s Whateleys? They are supposed to have moved to Wisconsin in 1870, and the events in The Dunwich Horror don’t occur until after this, but I think we can assume these hairy goblins must be cousins of Wilbur’s.

Ian Stuart, the guy who wrote the screenplay that both the book and movie were based on has claimed that the monsters living in the pit were supposed to be a figment of Jamie’s imagination in his screenplay, but they are real in both the movie and book. I don’t know if the screenplay is still is existence, but I’d be interested to read it. I gather it was more serious than its products.

If you’re interested in watching The Pit, you can watch it for youtube for free at the moment. I wouldn’t bother if I were you. (I have no patience for bad films anymore.) Teddy was far better than the film, and it’s a pretty good read in and of itself. Copies are shockingly rare, but there’s an ebook version kicking around the internet if you’re not extremely rich and patient.

Kelleher and Knapp’s Hunt for the Skinwalker

Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah
Colm A. Kelleher Ph.D., and George Knapp
Paraview Pocket Books – 2005

In the mid 1990s, a family claimed that they had witnessed a bunch of weird stuff (UFOs, sasquatches, poltergeist activity, werewolves…) on their ranch. They convinced a right-wing millionaire to buy their ranch so that he could study the phenomena. He spent millions of dollars hiring a bunch of scientists to study the ranch. After several years of observation, the scientists had absolutely zero proof of anything remotely weird happening there.

This book is an attempt to justify all of the time and money that were wasted on this project.

I started off enjoying this. It begins with a giant, bullet-proof wolf prowling around the ranch and soon suggests that the weird stuff that is happening may be being caused by the souls of a bunch of Buffalo-soldier freemasons whose graves had been disturbed by a tribe of Native Americans. I’ve read so much fiction recently that it was very easy for me to suspend disbelief and enjoy the narrative here for its weirdness.

Unfortunately, the Hunt for the Skinwalker soon devolves into the same anti-science rhetoric that I’ve encountered so many times in books about this kind of nonsense. Modern science is too close-minded to reveal anything meaningful about the paranormal. My hole. Honestly, this book was so dumb that I feel absolutely zero desire to try to counter its claims. It’s too stupid to take seriously.

The authors had so little to go on that much of the book is actually taken up with chapters about other places where spooky events have occurred. At one point this book references the work of Tom Dongo. I had a good laugh seeing him listed as a source. The authors here also include testimony from people who remotely-viewed the ranch and sensed a bad presence.

Also, only a small part of the book discusses skinwalkers. Skinwalkers are a kind of evil Native American witchdoctor that can shapeshift. The book concludes that skinwalkers are likely to blame because the authors don’t have any better explanation.

This book is garbage. If you have a copy and haven’t read it, don’t waste your time. Tear it up and use it to make a poo sandwich instead.

Guy N. Smith’s The Sucking Pit and The Walking Dead

The Sucking Pit

NEL – 1975

The Sucking Pit? More like… Fucking Shit. Guy N. Smith isn’t known for high-brow fiction. His Crabs series is infamous, and The Slime Beast has been reprinted by fancy publishers as an example of extreme pulp horror., but The Sucking Pit seems to have a reputation as his worst book.

After reading it, I can confirm that this is indeed very, very bad.

A man dies in his cabin in the woods, and when his niece comes to visit him and discovers his corpse she becomes possessed by his spirit. She then makes a potion out of hedgehog blood and this makes her extremely horny and violent. She starts living in her uncles cabin, and she throws her victims into a marshy swamp known as the Sucking Pit.

There’s a bit more to the story than that, but it’s not worth recounting here. This is a ludicrous pile of nonsense. I have enjoyed the other ultra simplistic crap that I’ve read by Smith, but The Sucking Pit was so monumentally stupid that I found it tedious. This is as low as it gets. This book both sucks and is the pits.

The Walking Dead

NEL – 1984

I read The Sucking Pit in an afternoon. Its sequel, The Walking Dead, is only a bit longer, but it took me almost 2 weeks to finish. Part of this was because I was busy with Christmas stuff, but it was largely due to the fact that I had very little interest in what was happening. I had to force myself through a chapter every night.

10 years after the events of The Sucking Pit, the Sucking Pit comes alive again, and all of the corpses it absorbed in the first book come back to life. The Sucking Pit has also developed the ability to call people to it so that it can brainwash them.

There was a scene in which a man is buried alive that was actually quite scary, but the rest of this book was absolute shite. The only other memorable bits were when a rapist cuts off his own cock and when a man decapitates another man after punching him in the erection.

I did appreciate the fact that this sequel did not try to make the events in the first book make any sense. It doesn’t limit itself with any such restrictions either.

The Sucking Pit is an infamously awful novel, and its sequel, while admittedly a slightly better book, is also very silly. I wasn’t disappointed by these novels, but they didn’t make me want to read any more Guy N. Smith either. I read four of his books last year, and I think I should probably wait a good long while before I go back to him if I expect to derive any further enjoyment from his writing. There is no subtlety or pretense in these books. They are as awful as they appear.

2022, The Year in Review

Normally, I focus on a book, author or theme in my posts, but once a year I do a post about this blog itself. If that seems goofy to you, piss off until next week. 2022 was a good year for me, but I simply don’t have as much time to blog as I used to. Work and family take up most of my day, and this year I also produced a series of podcasts and got involved in a few musical projects. (I also cursed and un-cursed a youtuber.) I’m still reading as much as ever, but I find it harder to find the time to take and crop book photos, research authors and actually write posts. There were actually a few weeks this year when I didn’t post anything! I have a huge backlog of half-written posts that will appear in the new year.

It’s funny looking at the site’s stats. The amount of visitors on this site has gone up every year, but the rate of growth has decreased substantially over the last year and a half. This blog has been online for almost 8 years now, and there has to be a limited audience for a blog on weird, old books, so maybe it has just reached it’s peak. Then again, the stats reveal more. The amount of on-site comments and likes has decreased dramatically. Maybe the quality of my blog has gone down in the last two years, but I also suspect that people aren’t signing in to to browse through blog posts as much as they used to. I’m not upset at the lack of likes, but it does make me feel a bit old fashioned. Has blogging gone the way of alchemy?

Some of the slow-down might be due to the fact that I’ve pretty much given up on promoting the blog through social media. Being on facebook makes me hate everyone, and twitter is a useless piece of garbage. The more active you are on those sites, the more prominent your posts will be in others’ feeds, and personally, I find this idea abhorrent. They are rewarding loudmouthed fools, and their owners are turds. No thanks. I’ll cut off my own cock before I start a tiktok.

A lot of what I read in 2022 was made up of stand-alone paperback horror novels. These things are usually easy to digest and don’t require serious analysis. Some of them were utter rubbish, but every now and then I’d stumble upon a Throwback or Blood Fever and really enjoy myself. I was delighted to finally read Pierce Nace’s insane Eat Them Alive (while suffocating with COVID), and getting my hands on a copy of Barry Hammond’s extremely rare Cold Front was one of the highlights of my year.

I also did a few posts on specific authors. I read several books by Alan Ryan, Thomas Piccirilli (Part 1, Part 2) and William H. Hallahan. I’m fairly certain that my posts on Kenneth Rayner Johnson and Eric Ericson are the most comprehensive articles about those writers currently available online.

My posts on Robert Bloch and Robert E. Howard finished my series of posts on the weird fiction of the members of the Lovecraft Circle. I also read and enjoyed Asamatsu Ken’s more modern work of Lovecraftian horror, Kthulhu Reich. I’m not sure where I’ll go next with this stuff. Maybe Ramsey Campbell’s short stories.

I did a few non-fiction books in 2022. They were all terrible, but The Beginning Was The End by Oscar Kiss Maerth was so terrible that it became my favourite book of all time. It’s a book about cannibal monkeys, and if you haven’t read my review of it, please do so right now.

Well, there you go. Another year older and grumpier. I wrote posts like this for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 if you want to take a trip down bad-memory lane. You can also check out my index page for individual links to the 500+ books I have reviewed here so far. Email me at dukederichleau666(at) if you have any recommendations or questions. I hope that this blog has been interesting. Happy new year!

Monkeys Ate my Brain: Oscar Kiss Maerth’s The Beginning Was the End

Thomas Ligotti is one of my favourite authors of fiction. He is also an anti-natalist philosopher. He believes that life is inherently bad, and his fiction reflects this pessimistic outlook with dark absurdism. The universes inhabited by Ligotti’s fictional creations are not always governed by the same laws as our own, but this has little effect on the stories’ outcomes. According to Ligotti, any existence is as absurd and bad as all of the others. Oscar Kiss Maerth’s The Beginning was the End reads like a treatise written by a character in a Ligotti story. Not only is it deeply pessimistic, it’s also set in a universe that operates only similarly to the one we inhabit. There is a dark madness in this book.

The Beginning Was the End – Oscar Kiss Maerth
The Scientific Book Club – 1974 (Originally published 1971)

The central premise here is that all of the troubles faced by mankind stem from the fact that his simian ancestors became addicted to eating each other’s brains for the purpose of sexual arousal. Oscar Kiss Maerth believes that human beings are irrevocably flawed, stinking, utterly decrepit mutants. We are deeply unhappy, unfortunate freaks that should not exist.

In ways, this is similar to some of the pseudoscientific stuff that I’ve discussed here before. The author accepts the notions of telekinesis, communication with aliens and a bunch of other kooky ideas. Also, the logic used to arrive at the claims herein is often laughable. But this book stands out from the classics of “fantastic realism” in one important way. Pauwels and Bergier claimed that mankind was on the verge of a miraculous awakening. Colin Wilson believed we were about to unlock the secrets to faculty x. These guys all thought that human beings were about to enter a new glorious age of Aquarius or other such nonsense. Oscar Kiss Maerth believed that humanity was going to be wiped out in an Armageddon of cannibal warfare. This is an extremely bleak read.

The Beginning was the End is presented as non-fiction, but the author does not list his sources. (I think at one point he says he spoke to a real cannibal, and he admits to having tried monkey brains himself.) The lack of a bibliography might have been excusable if this was a book of philosophy, but many of the claims made in here are entirely verifiable and clearly unsubstantiated. Some of them are obviously untrue. The author says that apes never masturbate or engage in homosexual activity and that dolphins and whales can only make noises when they raise their heads above water. (A quick search on youtube will immediately refute these ideas.) Other claims are clearly just exaggerations about things that the author had an opinion on. At one point he claims that mental hospitals are overcrowded because people’s underwear is too tight. This disregard for his audience’s expectations of coherency is both confusing and admirable.

According to the author, only male monkeys ever engaged in cannibalism, and this is why women aren’t as smart as men. Now, there’s a few things about that idea that confuse me, but let’s ignore common sense for now and look more closely at what Oscar Kiss Maerth says about the fairer sex:
“Women can learn and understand philosophical ideas, and even act according to them. But they cannot conceive ideas of decisive significance and effect in this field. For this reason all great thinkers, philosophers and founders of religions were men, and so it will remain. If a woman is exceptionally successful in one of these fields of learning, then there is something wrong with her sex hormones” He continues, “To bring female intelligence up to the same level as that of man by means of education is just as impossible as to bring the intelligence of an aboriginal of New Guinea up to the level of that of a Chinese by education.” (p.66) This guy is basically a 1970s Jordan Peterson.

The way the book deals with race is… problematic too. Some of the stuff in here is shockingly offensive, but it’s a twisted form of racism that’s on display. The author claims that tribespeople from remote parts of the world aren’t capable of learning English or counting past the number 3. He claims that some Polynesian women’s bodies show visible signs when they are in heat. He also thinks that races should not interbreed with each other because “Hottentots” and “Australioids” have tiny brains compared to Europeans and the Chinese. (p. 181) All of this will sound quite offensive to anyone reading today, but you have to keep in mind that one of the main premises of this book is that intelligence is inherently bad. Yes, Oscar Kiss Maerth is saying that anyone who isn’t European or Chinese is extremely primitive, but he means this as a compliment! The less developed a person is, the closer they are to their true nature. He also claims that black people’s hair is curly so that it doesn’t get caught on trees when they are running from predators in the jungle. He concludes his discussion on race with a plea for people to practice strict racial discrimination, but he makes it very clear that he has no time for racial hatred and persecution.

A book for adults with 8 pages of spot-the-difference activities.
(Different editions have the other photos in different orders.)

Copies of this book are quite scarce. Apparently this has something to do with the band Devo being obsessed with it, using its art on one of their album covers and taking their concept of devolution right out of its pages. There has been a pdf copy online for years, but it’s missing half a chapter. (There’s also an audiobook version on youtube that some absolute legend made, but he was reading the pdf version, so his version is also missing the end of chapter 5) I only discovered the missing pages when I was halfway through, and I had to order a copy from a weird Christian university on an interlibrary loan to finish it. The effort was worth it. I had so much fun with this one. I’m completely unconvinced (and utterly appalled) by the ideas in here, but I reckon this is probably my favourite book of all time. Its claims are so bizarre and so transparently false that I couldn’t help but be charmed by the lunatic who wrote it.

An inscription on the library copy I read.

There’s not a lot of information about Oscar Kiss Maerth online. He lived in a mansion and was super rich, but I can’t find any details on how he made his fortune. How does a person go from being a successful Hungarian “industrialist” to writing this utterly insane book in seclusion in a Chinese monastery? His daughter went missing and was retrieved by a psychic in the early 80s. There’s a chapter on this book in Strange Creations by Donna Kossy, but it doesn’t shed much light on Oscar Kiss Maerth as a person.

The Beginning was the End is a remarkably dense and intense piece of writing, and I ended up reading it twice. As I did so, I took notes so that I could summarise it in this post. Unfortunately, to get to the heart of quite how crazy this book is, I had to go into quite a bit of detail. I realise that very few people are likely to actually have the attention span to read my full summary, but I’m going to include it here for my own reference in the future. If you found the above discussion utterly fascinating, then read on. I did my best to keep things coherent, but the source material made this extremely difficult. This gets seriously mental.

Chapter by Chapter Summary:

(Some of the details here have already been mentioned above, but I kept them in the summary for the sake of context.)

Chapter 1: Human beings are relatively new to the Earth, and we are newer still to the realisation that we are not the most important creatures in the universe. Modern science has revealed how we are not the centre of the universe, but we are still unaware of quite how pitiful we truly are.

Chapter 2: The theory of evolution tells us we are the descendants of apes, but the current theory seems to confuse the direction of the descent. We are far worse creatures than our simian ancestors. Apes are better at moving than human beings. Human beings walk more than apes, and this means we’re actually more stupid than apes because animals have to sit down to have truly deep thoughts. Losing our body hair put us at a serious disadvantage. “Any ape living in freedom will always be found to have exceptionally clean, healthy and odourless skin although he never has a bath. Man on the other hand without artificial hygiene is unclean and foul-smelling” (p.28) This is because we don’t have fur to keep us clean. Also, when a female ape is ready to mate, this is made apparent by changes in her body that are visible to potential mates. With the exception of some women living on remote islands in the Pacific Ocean, human females have lost these sex signs. This resulted in humans having too much sex. Finally, our brains got bigger, and this enlargement of the brain was very, very bad for us. Intelligence is a curse. In conclusion, we are worse than apes because we have lost our fur, we have lost our fertility signs, and we have gained intelligence. Oscar sums it up nicely by reminding us that “deficiency and excess are diseased conditions.” (p.35)

Chapter 3: Having learned that man is “a physically and mentally ill creature at odds with himself and with nature, who neither knows nor understands himself” (p.39) we have to wonder, what made him so? What was the catalyst for the great changes listed above? Why has the noble ape devolved into the scummy human? Well, it all started when one ape noticed that eating another ape’s brain made him really horny. The author notes that eating ape brain had the same effect on him. Anyways, the naughty monkey and his mates started eating brains, and then they realised that they were also becoming more intelligent. Eating brains gives you the intelligence of the person who you are eating. Cannibalism also allows the transference of memory. The women monkeys didn’t partake in cannibalism because it would have made them go mad. (I’m not a biologist, but something about that idea seems problematic. How did the females’ brains increase in size if they never partook? Does the author believe that women today are only as intelligent as prehistoric apes?) The author’s theory of cannibalism is proven by the fact that most of the skulls of early humans we find have holes in their skulls. (Do they?) Cannibalism was hugely widespread. It was abandoned once our brains got uncomfortably big for our skulls. This happened in the smart countries first, and wherever cannibalism is still practiced, it’s because the people there still have fairly small brains.

Chapter 4: This chapter is where the book gets utterly insane. As humans evolved, we realised that the changes we were going through were bad, but there was little we could do to stop the harm we were causing ourselves. We needed to keep eating each other so that our cannibal tribes would reproduce more and be more intelligent than our rivals. Originally humans had many sexual partners through their lives, but cannibalism led to male monkeys being more possessive over the female monkeys and this led to marriage and the patriarchy. Masturbation and homosexuality were caused by hormonal imbalances from eating too many brains. The author claims that these “abnormalities were undoubtedly not in existence when man was an ape”. Just in case you didn’t know monkeys masturbate and engage in homosexual activity all the time. It’s a bit shocking that this dude was willing to write a book about creatures that he knew so little about. Circumcision was actually invented so that sex would be less fun, and we’d want to eat less brains.

“Man who began his career as a sex-obsessed ape and who by eating brain wished to make his sex life the source of happiness, has achieved the exact opposite. He transformed it into the source of dissatisfaction and suffering.” (p.65)

The author goes on to discuss the difference in intelligence between men and women. Women are only as clever as men when they are in situations that their monkey ancestors may have faced. “They can’t adapt to the modern world.”

“Women can learn and understand philosophical ideas, and even act according to them. But they cannot conceive ideas of decisive significance and effect in this field. For this reason all great thinkers, philosophers and founders of religions were men, and so it will remailh. If a woman is exceptionally successful in one of these fields of learning, then there is something wrong with her sex hormones” p66

That’s likely to upset modern readers, but it gets worse:

“To bring female intelligence up to the same level as that of man by means of education is just as impossible as to bring the intelligence of an aboriginal of New Guinea up to the level of that of a Chinese by education.”

Now, this sounds bad, but you have to understand, Oscar Kiss Maerth means this as a compliment to both women and the aboriginal peoples of New Guinea. The whole point of this book is to say that modern man is a digusting, insane freak. Anything closer to our ape like ancestors is actually good in Maerth’s book. That might sound like a sketchy excuse, but he actually seems to mean it. This dude sees intelligence as a bad thing.

Cannibalism also gave us a sense of shame. When we think of sex, we think of what made us horny and we feel bad about ourselves. When we think of sexual organs we think of sex, so we needed a way to not see sexual organs. This is why we wear underpants, but underpants are making us go even more insane:

“The supposedly fitting modern underpants have contributed more than a little to the fact that the pride of western culture, i.e. the number of mental hospitals, doctors and medicines, has grown.” (p.70)

We can also blame baldness on another hormonal imbalance caused by the cannibal apes. Baldness isn’t all bad though. Hair contains and releases energy, and “The sum of energy no longer used for growing hair, because the hair roots have died away, benefits either the intelligence or the sex urge, often even both.” (p 91) Bald dudes are smart and/or horny.

Cannibalism gave us curly pubes, and these curly hairs hold in stink.

“No ape or any animal at all on earth suffers from smelly armpits”p93

We only walk upright to keep our long hair out of our faces.

Human beings are miserable, vile, stupid, deformed, horrible creatures.

Chapter 5: As our brains grew, our skulls did too, but only to a point. When the skull stopped growing, the brain didn’t have enough space and started to short-circuit. This is when we lost our powers of extra sensory perception. All animals communicate through ESP. This is why they don’t talk. Our powers are diminished, but some people (Jesus, Buddha…) experience atavist throwbacks. Everyone still has the capability to intercept psychic transmissions, but only subconsciously. This results in mass psychosis. All kinda obvious when you think about it, right?

The speed of thought rays is faster than the speed of light. 50,000 years ago we were in communication with aliens on other planets. Unfortunately, the different races of humans intermixing messed this up.

Cannibalism was first used as an aphrodisiac, but later turned into a way to talk to gods. As we developed more intelligence, we could understand more of what the aliens could say. The phallic statues erected by ancient peoples proclaim “the triumph of the sex obsessed ape: by means of the sex drug, I have become as God.” (p.126)

When humans started realising that our psychic powers were in decline, the most powerful psychics started trying to breed with other psychics to keep the powers alive. This resulted in inbreeding and death which in turn diminished our collective psychic abilities.

The reason we want to explore space so much is that we subconsciously desire to get back into contact with the aliens we used to talk with.

In response to this book, scientists will test these theories on lab animals and make them eat each other’s brains. Unfortunately, some people might try to improve their own intelligence by trying cannibalism. Militaries will be very interested in this, and wars will break out so armies can harvest the brains of their enemies to make super soldiers. Evil scientists will lead us into brain wars. They must be stopped. If we get smarter than we are now, we will all die. That idea is crucial to this book. Intelligence and progress are inherently bad. On page 140, the author claims that, “The greatest achievement is to achieve nothing more.”

Chapter 6: This chapter looks at how language evolved when we lost our ability to communicate telepathically.

The idea that the number of sounds an animal can make corresponds to their intelligence is not correct. Chickens can make more noises than apes. Dolphins and whales can only make a few noises, and they can only make these when they are above water. (p.152) Animal noises are actually just signals telling other animals to get ready to intercept some telepathic communication.

Human beings never gesticulated until we lost the ability to communicate telepathically.

Primitive peoples can’t make the same sounds as civilised people as their tongues aren’t as evolved as ours. That’s why they rely on clicking noises.

There’s more to this chapter, but I don’t want to get into it. Nearly everything the author of this book says about language is incorrect. He has no idea what he’s talking about. This chapter ends with the author claiming that education is detrimental to our wellbeing and reading and writing leads to unhappiness. “Every human being is a poet as long as he does not open his mouth or put a sentence to paper.” (p.164)

Chapter 7: This chapter discusses how the different races of humans evolved from different kinds of apes.

An African ape had sex with an Asian ape. She got preggers and their hybrid offspring was abandoned at birth. It turned into a tough guy and beat up the leader of a tribe of apes. He was so hungry afterwards that he ate this lad’s brain, and this made him so horny that he mated. The offspring of this mating was the first human being. Human beings didn’t turn into cannibals. They came into being through cannibalism.

In India, rich people pay to watch humans having sex with monkeys. If these couplings produce offspring, the hybrids are strangled to death. LOL. I wanted to look this up to see if it had been mentioned anywhere else, but I don’t want that in my google search history.

After a while, the cannibal monkeys realised that the brains of other cannibal monkeys had stronger effects than the brains of vegetarian monkeys.

Because of the warm temperatures near the Equator and the remoteness of some islands in the Pacific, the apes that lived there were the last to turn cannibal and had a harder time cannibalising each other. This is why their descendants are still primitive tribes people who can’t count past the number 3. The women of these tribes still manifest visible signs of their fertility. The author includes a graph showing how small these people’s brains are. He also maintains that these people have retained some of their psychic powers. Black people have curly hair so it stays closer to their heads so it won’t get caught in a tree when they are running from a predator in the jungle. (This is Oscar Kiss Maerth’s idea, not mine!)

Yetis are unevolved, less cannibalistic, psychic apes. Cannibal apes pursued them east until they crossed over from Russia into Alaska. This is where sasquatches come from. (This is not the first time I have come across the notion that Sasquatches have psychic powers.)

Stress increases fertility. (This is the opposite of true.)

Humans prefer missionary sex because it used to be a means of holding the woman down so she couldn’t escape. Women find it easier to escape from a rapist who is riding them from behind. The reason men like looking at ballet and women in high-heeled shoes has to do with the way that the female monkeys’ feet would would while they were being pinioned by the rapist cannibal male monkeys.

Orgy goers are “neurotic members of a mentally sick society.” (p.192)

Measuring the intelligence of different races is as pointless as studying the age of the moon. (I checked google, and the moon is 4.53 billion years old.)

The author returns to his notion that intelligence is a very bad thing. He claims that “the most important task of every nation is therefore to keep their surplus intelligence under strict control.” (p.195) Again, while a lot of what he says is extremely racist by today’s standards, he literally means it as a compliment. He claims that racial and cultural discrimination are absolutely essential to world peace, but that racial hatred and persecution are abhorrent. He believes that racial hatred will lead to a new era of cannibalism. Interbreeding among races should be discouraged as some races are genetically incompatible. We must segregate if we want to live peacefully and philosophically.

Chapter 8: The author takes a look at the book of Genesis from the Bible and attempts to show how this text gives evidence for his theories.

The book of Genesis tells the whole story, but it has been misinterpreted over the years. The fruit of Knowledge was obviously brains. The story had been passed down for eons mentally, and it was written down just before men lost the ability to psychically look back on past events to verify that it was true.

Genesis was first written in hieroglyphs, and it lost accuracy every time it was written into a new language or alphabet. This is why it’s not crystal clear. (Despite this, the author takes very specific quotes in support of his claims.)

Eve was the Asian monkey we talked about earlier. Adam was the African. As you remember, Eve took the first bite of the forbidden fruit. This is why Asian people have bigger brains than Africans. (This is a little confusing though as Eve was a woman and women didn’t partake in cannibalism.)

The tree of knowledge was a man in the original version. It changed into a tree because a hieroglyph of a tree would look a bit like a hieroglyph of a man with a big dick. The dick was mistaken for a root.

Chapter 9: These ideas might seem unbelievable, but overpopulation and environmental destruction will lead people to realise the truth. The world will change, and a new philosophical system will come into power. The author had more details on the imminent downfall of civilization and ways we might survive, and he planned to write two more books in this series. It is a great shame these books were never published.

I’ve been running this blog for almost 8 years now, and I have read many strange books in the process. I’ve come across Nazis in the hollow Earth, Alien Jesus, psychic Soviets, Satanic UFOs and an exorcism in Loch Ness, but nothing I have read has approached the misanthropic insanity of Oscar Kiss Maerth’s The Beginning was the End. You should definitely find a copy of this book and read it immediately.

Seán O’Connor’s The Mongrel

The Mongrel
Matador – 2018

A horror novel about a Dubliner getting stranded in the Wicklow mountains, written by a Dublin author who plays in heavy metal bands? I really wanted to like this book. Truly, I did. Unfortunately though, it’s not very good.

There’s 4 main parts to this story. The first part, the argument between the protagonist and her boyfriend, is unnecessary and could have been worked into a flashback in the second part where they go on a reconciliatory drive in the mountains. Show, don’t tell. The third section is passable survival fiction and provides the only excitement in the book. The pregnant protagonist is stranded in a broken-down car with with a hungry wolf outside. Things get gooey. The final section descends into utter nonsense. An utterly unbelievable supernatural element is thrown in, and the plot collapses in on itself.

I got the impression that Seán O’Connor wanted to write a book, so he sat down and tried to come up with a story to tell. The plot feels entirely forced. There’s elements that make no sense, and there’s bits that are painfully underdeveloped. How did Phillips best friend end up on Erin’s dad’s team? Why were Phillip’s knives in the boot of his car? A wolf killed her mom? (Ok, this bit is kind of explained at the end, but I actually eyes when it was first mentioned). The ending feels rushed and, quite frankly, stupid. I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but another 50-100 pages of plot development could have made this book a lot better.

I don’t read a lot of modern fiction, and I feel like a jerk shit-talking an active writer’s work. I recognize that it takes more work to write a book than to sit here picking it apart, but this novel is an absolute mess. O’Connor has published three other books since this came out, so hopefully they are better.

Basil Crouch – The Making of a God and other Works of Black Art

Basil Crouch – The Making of a God and Other works of Black Art
Finbarr – 2010

It’s been a while since I read a grimoire. Here’s some rubbish.

This is little different from the other Basil Crouch books I’ve read. It’s written from the perspective of the publisher rather than Crouch himself, and although it is never explicitly stated, the narration makes it seem like Mr. Crouch was dead at the time of its publication in 2010. I have it on good authority that ol’ Basil died in 2020, so it’s very likely that this was actually written by him. The ridiculous amount of praise for Crouch in the text seems to confirm this suspicion.

Basil Crouch gave his publisher a book he deliberately made up, but the magic therein worked. The narrator, presumably still the publisher, claims that he prints so many books guaranteeing success and happiness not because they don’t work but because the success they provide is addictive.

Shoon is a magical land in Africa like Shambala, but aliens landed there 10,000 years ago. The Chinese had proof of this, but they hid it. Crouch gives some examples of the magic of Shoon being used to improve the lives of others. I haven’t read Crouch for years, but one of these testimonies, a story about a girl getting hurt at a fair and then being miraculously healed sounded familiar. There was another one in which a thalidomide man used Shoon magic to make his arms grow to normal size.

Make a paper-mache doll and fill it with pieces of junk and build it an altar. Name it after an African deity.

Breath in the doll’s mouth, and it will turn into a god. Talk to it, and give it offerings every day. The next portion of book describes appropriate offerings and prayers for each day.

To enslave another person, buy a doll, draw some shitty symbols on it, and pretend it’s the person you want to bum. Then give it to the fetish you have created. It might talk to you in response.

The effort that went into making these illustrations is breathtaking.

You can also use the doll you made to invoke demons. The idea here is remarkably unclear. I think the demons are supposed to possess it.

Now some instructions on how to get a barren woman pregnant. Crouch knows it works because he knew a 12 year old boy and a 9 year old girl who got pregnant this way. Also, a barren woman who was raped by the leader of an African tribe got pregnant this way. To do it, you draw a circle on the ground, bring your partner into it, strip off and then smoke a cigarette. Blow the cigarette smoke on each other, have a ride, and then go out and buy some maternity clothes.

Next up, a weird story about a man who can make himself invisible by moving his hands a certain way. This is followed with unrelated instructions on how to summon the invisibility demon. It’s genuinely hard to imagine anyone taking this seriously.

An adult made this.

The book ends with a report about a monkey grave being found in Rwanda that Crouch read in a tabloid. It has nothing to do with anything.

Honestly, this text was so incoherent that it’s difficult to analyze. It starts off with a discussion about Shoon, the secret African city, and then goes on to tell how to make a doll that will solve all your problems. I guess the doll is a Shoonish thing, but I’m not sure this is ever explicitly stated.

Pure shit.

Drawing Blood – Poppy Z. Brite

Evening Star Books – 1993

I had read two Poppy Z. Brite books before starting Drawing Blood. While I enjoyed both Lost Souls and Swamp Foetus, I also felt that I would have enjoyed them even more if I had encountered them when I was younger. I felt the same way about Drawing Blood for the first few chapters. I kept telling my wife how much I was enjoying it. The story set up was weird, but it had a queer computer hacker, a haunted house, and a stripper in a Ministry t-shirt. Things were off to a very good start.

When Trevor was just a little kid, his dad went nuts and killed his whole family in a house in the small town of Missing Mile. As an adult, Trevor goes back to this house to confront his past. When he’s there, he meets Zach, a hacker who is on the run from the government. They fall madly in love with each other, but before they run away together, they try to come to terms with Trevor’s past.

Unfortunately, I found the second half of the book almost unbearable. The following paragraphs contain spoilers, so skip to the last paragraph if you’re planning to read the book.

I am a prude, and I don’t like extended descriptions of sex, straight or gay. There’s some pretty long sex scenes here. I’m sure these are really great for some readers, but I didn’t like them.

I didn’t like the fact that the climax of book occurred while the protagonists were tripping on mushrooms. I’ve read and enjoyed plenty of books about drug users and their experiences, but it felt a bit cheap for the resolution of the story to take place while the characters were high on psychedelics. They witnessed poltergeist activity in real life, and the drug trip at the end felt gratuitous and unsatisfying.

There’s a long, unnecessary scene in which Zach becomes a singer in a local rock band and plays a concert. This dude is on the run, and he agrees to perform his first concert ever. It turns out he is actually a rock god, and he gives the performance of a lifetime. This was entirely unbelievable and painfully cringey. Even as I teenager this would have made me balk. Thinking about it now is making me uncomfortable.

At the end of the book, the two protagonists escape from the United States and go and live in Jamaica. Yes, the two gay men go and live happily in Jamaica. One of them grows dreads, and they spend their days singing reggae and smoking weed with the Rastas. Makes sense, right? I mean, if Jamaica is known for anything, it’s the fact that it’s a living paradise for homosexuals.

I know some people love this book, but I found it very disappointing. I’m a straight guy in my late 30s, so I’m not the target audience for this work, but that didn’t stop me enjoying Lost Souls and Swamp Foetus. Drawing Blood was just a little too for me. That said, I will defintely be reading Brite’s novel Exquisite Corpse in the future.,