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Say hello to the cover of the first-ever alt lit anthology, 40 LIKELY TO DIE BEFORE 40, edited by Cameron Pierce and Michael J Seidlinger. The anthology features work by forty of the freshest voices including Sam Pink, Scott McClanahan, Ana Carrete, Richard Chiem, Heiko Julien, Chelsea Martin, Megan Boyle, Stephen Tully Dierks, Lucy K Shaw, Sarah Jean Alexander, and more. Look for it wherever you can buy books in June of 2014. Cover by Michael J Seidlinger.

The Bizarro Starter Kit: Purple

This is a thoroughly enjoyable anthology of Bizarro fiction. As is the case with the Bizarro genre, stories come from all over the weirdass spectrum, with representatives from every level of strangeness. The anthology opens with flash fiction by Russell Edson, a series of dreamlike stories about people eating apes and erasing their children. There’s a sense of the displacement in these stories, with a strict focus on the characters and their troubles with each other. Ape is my favorite of the bunch, because I love arguments.

Next in line is the novella Clockwork Girl by Athena Villaverde. An ‘abandoned toy’ story with the twist that the doll in question is actually a poor human girl who’s been turned into a doll by the rich in power. The callousness of the rich children for her needs is unnerving t say the least. This author’s strength is creating a feminine voice for characters, and despite the extreme weirdness of the protagonist Villaverde does just that for the clockwork girl. The story ends on a strange note with the machine child returning to her human form and becoming an artist, where she meets her old owner in a studio. Bittersweet, and strange.

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Camp of Champs!

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Are you in Portland? Seattle? You’re about to get Short Flight/Long Drive’d this week, with Dylan Nice, Adam Novy, and friends, all up in your bizness.

Tomorrow/Tuesday 19: Portland! @ Backspace, 7 p.m. (w/ Dylan Nice, Adam Novy, Mykle Hansen, Carrie Seitzinger, Kirsten Alene, & Cameron Pierce)
https://www.facebook.com/events/266843706781455/

Wednesday, 3/20: Seattle! @ Naked City Brewery & Taphouse, 6 p.m. (w/ Dylan Nice, Adam Novy, Richard Chiem, & Cameron Pierce)
https://www.facebook.com/events/170221499796077/?fref=ts

The Caribou

The hunter watched as the caribou stumbled across the burning plain, hind legs useless, dragging two streaks of blood across the earth like a blind painter with no tools but a snake and some strawberries. He tracked the dying animal through the brush, casting a nervous glance at the flames encroaching. If the hunt had not gone so badly, he would have left the caribou to burn, but he’d bagged only one skeletal animal in seven days, and he could not afford to let this one go. A sidewinder kicked up dust in his wake, fleeing from the crunch of the hunter’s boots on the gravel. He’d finally shot a decent animal and besides, the fire was loud, so no need to remain silent. The hunter came upon the caribou, fallen now, dead. He slit the belly and removed what had to be removed, then worked the animal into a burlap sack. By the time he heaved the sack over his shoulder, the flames licked closer, engulfing the brittle brush quicker than hell. The blistering heat choked the air. The rolling green hills in the distance could not be seen through the smoke. He moved as quickly as a man carrying a dead caribou can move, but he’d underestimated the doggedness of the flames. He did not have to walk far to realize he was surrounded. The fire had closed into a ring. He knew then that he should never have pursued the caribou. He should have turned back for the jeep as soon as he spotted the first plume of smoke distorting the air. But now here he was, ready to die for an animal unremarkable in size –bigger than the scrawny one back at camp, but unremarkable nonetheless. He marched forward, jackrabbits and snakes and beetles and lizards scurrying in his wake, and the flames closed in on all of them. When he felt his skin begin to cook, he dropped the sack and dispelled the caribou onto the earth. He jimmied himself into the sack, then slung his rifle over that, across his back, and stumbled blindly toward the hottest heat he’d ever known. He passed into it, not knowing if he would ever emerge from the searing that cut to the bone. And suddenly he was free. A matter of seconds was all the time it took to pass through the burning ring, although it would be some time before he escaped the range of the fire for good. He unslung his rifle and dropped to the earth and rolled violently to snuff the flames that coated the burlap sack like icing on a cake, and when the flames abated he pulled at the sack to remove himself from it, but with every pull on the sack, pain blossomed in his scalp. He’d become stuck. Melted, more like it. He unclipped his knife from his belt and cut into the burlap, cutting two holes for eyes to see. With the fire spreading fast, his first objective was to flee. For that he needed vision. He would find a way to remove the sack later, back at camp. No hospitals nearer than half a day’s drive anyway. He’d determine the severity of the damage when the time came, and he’d accept it for what it was. Maybe he’d live the rest of his days with a burlap sack over his head. Maybe. He’d see. He slipped his rifle over one shoulder and carried on. He saw well enough to navigate away from the fire, but not well enough to spot the sidewinder in his path. The snake struck high, catching him in the meat of the thigh above the shin guards he wore beneath his pants to protect from snake bites. He clamped down on the snake in a vise grip by the neck and the snake, encased in leathery, armor-like scales, flailed and thrashed against him. He remained calm, almost stolid – shock, probably – as he retrieved his knife and cut off the snake’s head. A souvenir, if he should survive. He pocketed the snake head and returned the knife to its place and looked out and sure enough, there now in the distance, the jeep. Only the jeep was no longer a jeep; it was a caribou made of glass and filled with blood. The blood was just translucent enough to see the heart floating within its chest, beating. The hunter crouched on one knee, raised his rifle, and took aim.
_
Cameron Pierce

http://www.metazen.ca/?p=14735

OUT TODAY: DAVID LYNCH INSPIRED FICTION

For over thirty-five years, David Lynch has remained one of the weirdest, most challenging, and provocative filmmakers. From his early experimental films created as an art student in Philadelphia, to his foray into digital film with Inland Empire, Lynch’s filmography is as diverse as it is influential.

Featuring Thomas Ligotti, John Skipp, David J (of Bauhaus), Ben Loory, Nick Mamatas, Amelia Gray, Kevin Sampsell, Blake Butler, Matthew Revert, J. David Osborne, Cody Goodfellow, Violet LeVoit,  Sam Pink, Jeffrey Thomas, Garrett Cook, Jeff Burk, Andrew Wayne Adams, Edward Morris, Zack Wentz, Laura Lee Bahr, Gabriel Blackwell, Michael J. Seidlinger, Suzanne Burns, Jarret Middleton, Matty Byloos, Chris Kelso, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., M.P. Johnson, Kirsten Alene, Jeremy C. Shipp, Jody Sollazzo, Liam Davies, Jeremy Robert Johnson, Kris Saknussemm, Mike Kleine, and Nick Antosca.

 

 

But it HERE

Bizarro fiction, the new absurdism?

My friend and roommate (catchyasacactus) introduced me to this contemporary literary movement called “bizarro fiction.” It’s not quite fantasy or fabulism, and it’s not quite horror or science fiction, but bizarro fiction seems to be a strange mix of all of the above.

Its main objective is to be as shocking and disturbing as possible. In “literary writing” shock factor is often looked down upon, but not with bizarro fiction; the more disgusting, the better. Extra points for being offensive, too. In Cameron Pierce’s “Ass Goblins of Auschwitz” (pictured), ass goblin Nazi cannibals go around eating children’s flesh; mocking the Holocaust in such a way is both politically incorrect and brilliant. 

What I admire most about this genre, though, is the care put into the writing itself. Yes, the concepts and titles are ridiculous, but these are still stories. To create a rich environment with the potential for darkly funny scenes is one thing; to mold believable and emotionally resonant character in that same environment is another. And that’s where bizarro fiction as a literary movement succeeds: in finding an exploitative mix of humor, shock, and emotion.