My Favorite Bizarre Books – Summer 2020

summer 2020 covers

This will be my final post of weekly content on this blog. After this, I’m taking the next two weeks off to prepare for the Babou 691 launch on September 14th! I’ll continue to post monthly writing/life updates here as well as any news about my writing. However, my focus will be on Babou.

It’s been a wonderful two years on this blog and I want to thank all of you readers for the incredible support, especially those that come back week after week. You turned my silly dream into a reality, and without you, Babou 691 would not exist. I’m sad to leave, but excited for what the future may bring.

If you like my “Favorite Bizarre Book” series, don’t worry. It will continue on as “Zé’s Top Bizarre Books” on the Babou 691 site.

Now, onto the books!

1. Levels by Karl Fischer

Levels cover

The product of a decade of work and six iterations, Fischer’s Levels leads us on kaleidoscopic journey across worlds, planes, and realities. We follow the story of Leonard Marcs in a world not dissimilar to an MMORPG: a life of quests, loot, and monsters located on the multitudinous “Levels.” When he finds a magical fish stuck to his door, he is thrust into a conspiracy stretching across the Multiverse and—ultimately—realities beyond his own. Though I had trouble in places, this novel easily deserves the number one spot on this list. Find yourself a comfortable chair and an open mind and this book will transport you.

You can preorder Levels on Amazon.


2. Stacking Doll by Carlton Mellick III

stacking doll cover

Mellick considers this to be the best book he’s ever written. For me, it is a strong second, right after his brilliant novella Neverday. It is certainly one of my favorite love stories of all time: the romance between a human and living “nesting doll.” Despite this fantastical concept, Stacking Doll is one of the truest portrayals of what love means and the barriers we must overcome to share our life with someone. It also shows the many sides of Mellick as an author.

You can find Stacking Doll on Amazon and Bookshop.


3. Spider Bunny by Carlton Mellick III

spider bunny cover

When I took this book off my shelf, I was deterred by both the title and cover, but trusting Mellick, I dove in. And what an amazing book it is! The concept alone should sell it: the story of four college students trapped in a kids’ cereal commercial. Mellick takes what’s cute and transforms it into something grotesque and disturbing. I wondered how it would last 123 pages, but I stayed riveted from cover to cover. The rich characterization made it so much more than a run-of-the-mill bizarre horror novel and the colorful imagery sticks in your head, long after reading.

You can find Spider Bunny on Amazon and Bookshop.


4. Shatnerquake by Jeff Burk

shatnerquake cover

It is a classic of bizarro fiction and the debut novel of legendary author and publisher Jeff Burk. William Shatner arrives at ShatnerCon for a tedious parade of signings and speeches, only to have things go terribly wrong. Bruce Campbell fans have set off a “Fiction Bomb,” hoping to wipe away all trace of Shatner’s long oeuvre, but a malfunction brings to life every role he’s ever played. The concept behind it all is brilliant, ridiculously creative, but the writing? Not so much (keep in mind it’s a debut novel). Still, it has Captain Kirk wielding a lightsaber. What more can you ask for?

You can find Shatnerquake on Amazon and Bookshop.


5. Luciferin by J. Peter W.

luciferin cover

This short but gripping novella took me all of one sitting to read. Well-crafted and immensely readable, J. Peter W. takes a familiar trope: “a town with a secret” and reshapes it into a fresh, exciting tale. Set in the town of Luciferin, Virginia, where the sun never shines, Daniel returns home to help with his demented parents. But the town has changed, nearly abandoned, and the specter of the mysterious Lucid Light factory looms over it all. It is beautifully constructed horror with its own form of bizarreness.

You can find Luciferin on Amazon and Bookshop.


6. The Bumper Book of British Bizarro

bumper book cover

Here are 32 stories and poems (as well as artwork) by the British Bizarro Community. These range a gamut of styles, points of view, and subject matter, truly demonstrating the diversity of the bizarro genre. From the horrific to the fabulist, from the incredibly weird to the “huh, I guess you could consider that bizarro.” Some make you laugh, others make you shiver. But one thing for sure: you’ll never find the same story twice.

You can find The Bumper Book of British Bizarro on Amazon.


7. The Vine That Ate the Starlet by Madeleine Swann

vine cover

Swann paints a vivid picture of 1920s New York, full of flappers, speakeasies, and raucous parties—with one major difference: massive man-eating vines ensnare the city. When a young actress is murdered by the Vines, gossip columnist Dolly Preston investigates, leading her down a rabbit hole of intrigue and bloodshed. Swann’s novella is a wonderful marriage of bizarro and noir, a fascinating mystery fueled by the preposterous, and another triumph for this talented author.

You can find The Vine That Ate the Starlet on Filthy Loot.

See you on Babou 691!


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