Happy Halloween! Here is one of the least Halloweeny horror novels I have ever read. I had this book on my to-read list for several years before getting around to it. I don’t really remember where or how I first heard of it, but I must have read a summary of it years ago because when I started it, I recognized some plot elements. That being said, I was actually quite unprepared for the extremity of this book. I really didn’t know it was going to be so gross.
It’s about a dude who lives with his abusive mother and crippled dog. This guy gets a job in a slaughterhouse, and everything goes to Hell. I enjoyed the first few chapters. The nastiness is so extreme from the beginning that it’s difficult to absorb. I know that the world is filled with sickos and abusive parents, but the book starts off so unpleasant that nothing ever feels real. The beginning feels nightmarish, but when the violence ramps up, the whole thing starts to feel silly.
The point at which I stopped enjoying the book was when the workers in the slaughterhouse ganged up and started fucking the wounds on a cow they were killing. This scene reminded me of pictures my friends and I would draw in business studies classes when we were 15. Pretty soon after this scene, the cows start to talk and I lost interest. I did finish the book, but I didn’t enjoy much of the last half.
There is few drawn out poo-eating scenes in here. One of these made me feel a bit ill. I’ve read more books about poo-eaters in 2021 than any sensible person should.
When I was done with the book, I googled it and discovered that Cows is a widely blogged about novel. I read a few reviews, and it turns out that a lot of people talk a whole lot of rubbish about this book. It’s not really though provoking or insightful. It’s puerile crap about a pair of poo-eaters. When it comes to artistic statements about slaughterhouses and shitty arses, there’s only one that matters:
Ass Goblins of Auschwitz – Cameron Pierce Eraserhead Press – 2009
Ugh… Hmmmmm….. Ehhhhhh…….
This book first showed up on my radar a few years ago when an uncle jokingly posted an image of its cover to my facebook wall. (I think I deleted his post so that my woke friends wouldn’t give me any hassle.) I came across the book’s title again when I was reading about Bizarro fiction for my review of Carlton Mellick III’s The Cannibals of Candyland. I found a copy very easily, and before I knew it I was actually sitting on the bus to work reading Ass Goblins of Auschwitz.
There were a few moments at the beginning when a part of me (probably a few parts actually) told me to stop reading. There weren’t any specific events in the text that prompted this; it was more the realisation that I was giving attention to a person who was shamelessly looking for attention. The book isn’t about the real Auschwitz or real Nazis, and while that’s fortunate in some ways, it’s a let down in others. Cameron Pierce wasn’t making a bold statement about human nature, resilience or suffering. He was using the word Auschwitz because that word would make people notice his silly book.
I used to work in a coffee shop. One day a man walked into the shop with a live parrot on his shoulder. Every single customer in the shop commented on his parrot. When the man got to me and asked for a cinnamon bun, I told him it would be 3 dollars and took his money quietly. I met his hopeful stare, but I refused to let my eyes wander to the colourful talking bird perched on his shoulder. I would not give him that satisfaction. I hate people who shamelessly look for attention. Shove that parrot up your ass, you stupid wanker. Seriously, what kind of a brazen dipshit has to resort to that kind of bullshit to start up conversations?
Anyways, the actual story in here is far too childish to truly offend. It’s just silly teenage nonsense. There was one part where a man absorbs a bike into his scrotum, and I wondered if this was a nod to Flann O’Brien’s Third Policeman, a real masterpiece of absurd fiction. The rest was forgettable garbage – big walking bums abuse children and shit out swastikas. There was one part that made me laugh out loud, but I have a remarkably childish sense of humour, so a single LOL from 100 pages worth of pooing bums is actually quite disappointing.
I’m not usually this harsh when it comes to reviewing fiction, but I can’t ignore these issues. In fairness though, this book was published when the author was only 21 or so. I wrote some fairly embarrassing stuff when I was that age too, so I won’t hold this book against him. He seems to have deleted/frozen his web presence in the last 2 years. I wonder if he’s still writing.
The Cannibals of Candyland – Carlton Mellick III Avant Punk – 2009
At some stage in the not-so-distant past, a tribe of paedophagists (cannibals with a taste for kids) that used candy to catch its prey was separated from the rest of the human race. Somehow, they very quickly evolved candy hands to make hunting small children easier. Now their entire bodies are covered in candy, and they live in a giant cave under the sewers, only surfacing to snatch kids away for dinner. This book is the story of Franklin – a man whose siblings were eaten by these cannibals – and his quest for revenge.
I was looking for books in a thrift store a few days ago, and I found this on the bottom shelf of the horror section. Recently, I’ve been expanding my horizons with some rather trashy horror fiction, and when I saw this priced at a cool 3 dollars, I thought I might as well take things one step further. I had seen mentions of Bizarro fiction before reading this book, but I had never given it any attention. (Bizarro fiction is a niche underground genre of literature that a quick google search will help you understand.)
Maybe the rest of this Bizarro stuff is absolute crap, but this book was pretty good. I have an interest in gross, offensive art, but I don’t have much time for offensiveness just for offensiveness’ sake. It takes no skill or intelligence to string together a bunch of obscenities. Likewise, I don’t mind zany, off-the-wall art, but I quite dislike zaniness for zaniness’ sake. (When I was 17, I went to a house party where my friend’s friends were sitting in a circle playing the “random game”, a game in which players took turns saying “random” things – “Cheese, huh huh”. The idea that people would feel comfortable acting that way makes me feel nauseous to this very day.) While The Cannibals of Candyland was both thoroughly repulsive and rather strange, it didn’t feel forced. Once the admittedly ridiculous premise of the story is accepted, the whole thing is pleasantly cohesive. The book is filled with revolting gore and uncomfortably bizarre sex scenes, but these facets are being used to tell a surprisingly relatable story. Also, the book is nice and short; it never gets boring.
I don’t know how many Bizarro novels will really fit in on this blog, but this one was definitely horrible enough to warrant its inclusion. I enjoyed reading it, and I like the seemingly DIY nature of the Bizarro movement. I reckon I’ll be reading (and probably reviewing) more of this kind of stuff in the future.