Welcome to a new segment where I share the books I read each month. This list might be shorter than usual as I had a slow start to the month, combined with travel and holidays.
One of my favorite Booktubers Well Read Beard ends each video with: “I hope you’re enjoying all your books as much as I am. If not, you’re reading the wrong damn books.” I’ve adopted this as my philosophy when it comes to reading. The books below reflect that.
Parasite Milk by Carlton Mellick III
I took a break from the Carlton Mellick Challenge while I was on my horror binge, but now I’m back, ready to continue reading through the author’s impressive oeuvre. This time I chose one of his newer books (published in 2017).
Earth has joined an intergalactic teleportation system, allowing us to travel the stars. Irving Rice is off to the planet Kynaria to film Andrew Zimmern’s new planet-spanning Bizarre Foods show. But when Irving catches an alien STD, things become disturbing.
Parasite Milk is brimming with CM3’s signature wit and creativity, the body horror excruciatingly vivid. It’s a fun one-sitting read that will have you laugh as well as squirm.
Taterskinheads by David W. Barbee
David Barbee is one of my favorite bizarro authors and one of the few authors I know I’ll enjoy their book before I even open it. That being said, Taterskinheads was not my favorite book he’s written.
It’s the story of Deputy Violet Ramsey, a young, meth-addicted, war-hero cop, working for a corrupt sheriff in a small Southern town. When she attempts to rob a local drug lab, she’s caught up in a crazy plot that involves white supremacists and sentient potatoes. It only grows more insane from there.
Like I said, I enjoy all of Barbee’s work, but I don’t think I’d recommend Taterskinheads as an introduction to the author.
Angel Meat by Laura Lee Bahr
I realized I had a great deficit in my knowledge of bizarro fiction: I had never read the work of Laura Lee Bahr, one of the most prominent names in the genre. But after meeting her at the Wonderland Book Awards a couple weeks ago, I decided to rectify that.
Her collection Angel Meat won the Wonderland in 2017, her second win. I can see why. The stories within include horror, sci-fi, and downright bizarro. They span from “The Liar” about a child abductor in a Mormon community to “Rat-Head” about a magician who has—you guessed it—a rat-head, one that only his lover can see. It’s a powerful, emotional, and beautiful book.
Shallow Waters: A Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 ed. Joe Mynhardt
I adore flash fiction. Short as it is, the author must be remarkably talented to accomplish so much in so few words. This flash horror anthology was full of tales that I loved, smartly written without all the pretension that can so easily sneak in.
I was familiar with most authors in the Table of Contents, either by reputation or their work. I have to say, I enjoyed nearly every story in this anthology. One or two didn’t do it for me. But overall, if you’re a fan of bite-sized horror, I can’t recommend it enough. There are seven more volumes in this series, which I’ll definitely be checking out.
Nekropolis by Tim Waggoner
I’m not a fan of urban fantasy, zombies, or detective stories, yet somehow, I enjoyed this novel containing all three. Bought on a whim at Goodwill, I decided to read it as a diversion as I dealt with some personal issues. What I did not realize was how addictive and fast the book would be. More than that, it had humor and a healthy dose of the bizarre.
Tim Waggoner—whose work I’ve enjoyed for the past—is known for his surreal horror, making him the perfect author as I return to bizarro fiction. Of course, it was full of the clichés that make me dislike urban fantasy, but in many ways, it satirized them. That said, the book was good, not great. Waggoner’s construction was visible. Rather than immerse me, I could see the trail of McGuffins and predict the character development.
Still, the book accomplished what I wanted it to. It was the perfection diversion at a difficult time in my life, and I’m not opposed to reading the next two books in the series sometime in the future.