The First One You Expect by Adam Cesare

20699192

Pages:
Genre: Horror, Novella, Noir

Format: E-book

Published by Broken River Books

Towards the end of Halloween, I wanted to read something that would fit the mood. I have a bunch of unread Anderson Prunty novels and there was a new C.V. Hunt novel out. I sighed to myself and instead tapped on this novella. I was somehow burned out on Anderson Prunty after reading Creep House and I just didn’t want to add a brand new book to my ever growing TBR, despite that I love Hunt’s work. And the truest thing that J. David Osborne, who runs Broken River Books, has ever said in a blog post or some other social media post I don’t remember where I read it, was that when people obtain or download a book for free, most likely they’re not going to read it right away or they might not read it at all. But I managed to get into this one though and for its length and content, in the spirit of Halloween, it’s totally worth $2.99.

Cesare is known for his horror genre novels, well, I think that’s what he mainly writes. I looked through his repertoire on Goodreads and found a exploitation genre novel much in the spirit of those cannibal exploitation films from the Italians to the recent Eli Roth. And well this one, is kind of sort of the same thing, but on a low budget scale. It’s more like a snuff film actually.

The narrator, who’s name escapes me, is an indie film maker who makes smutty and gore filled internet films that the weirdos out there enjoy. Then he meets a girl who verges onto a sort of manic pixie dream girl. she’s the girl he’s always dreamed of, beautiful, fame hungry and she’s got the sadistic streak he does. So what happens is that together they make a film with a longtime friend named Burt and his horror dream girl gets a little bit too into character. So no more Burt and the narrator is slowly getting famous off his snuff video.

It’s about ambition and being careful for what you wish for. Ever since the main dude’s manic pixie girl committed her atrocity, they begin to feel on edge and their relationships dwindles, but most people didn’t seem to separate the real blood from the watery ketchup at first. And then you question, who’s the real actual sadistic killer in this novella?

The First One You Expect is interesting because you get to read about the underlings of horror films. The ones who can’t afford the high tech supplies but yet still have the brains to make a decent horror out of home made scratch. It’s a tribute to the underground peasants of art. But it’s also a satire in a way, the novella’s got a cheap, campy feel to it. Much like what the main dude directs. It’s got the noir elements, but there isn’t much suspense since you know just from the title and the first chapter. But this would make a great indie film for the festivals. I kind of also got a “failed artist” feel from this novella. The novella is a crime novel, a noir, and a self-deprecating literary novel about a loser artist. It’s kind of like a cut-throat drama and a satirical prod to the underground artists who are just frothing at the corners of their lips to be recognized.

Rating: 4/5

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Dark Water by Ariana D. Den Bleyker

25032806

Pages: 82

Genre: Noir, Novella

Format: E-book

Published by Number Thirteen Press

Another novella, for the past month or so, novellas and short story collections have been part of my main reading habit. I’m currently reading a novella and a short story collection now and I think I will continue to do so. Not because giant tomes aren’t my thing anymore, I just got so used to reading on the kindle that books with tiny font and heavy weight are just not for me now.

So I got this for free when Number Thirteen Press started giving e-books out. When I find a small press, the first books I check out are the books written by non-White authors or women. Basically, I pay attention to the marginalized voices first, because those are the books that get the least recognition. So I decided to read this novella by an author who has written several poetry chapbooks. I’ve never heard of her, but have heard of her literary journals.

Although, I kind of have to say that this wasn’t the best noir I’ve read, I found it quite confusing, but beautiful in it’s prose and sadistic main characters. What threw me off the most was the dialogue being written in italics. So I couldn’t tell if the characters were thinking or whispering until the author said so. I found it odd and it added to the confusion. But then I read the synopsis for the plot and things were clear, but the italicized dialogue, I will just assume it was a stylistic reason, a formatting issue, or maybe all of the characters really were speaking in low hoarse tones like Christian Bale playing Batman.

What happens it that Henry is a painter, an artist, one day he loses it and kills his wife. He makes art out of corpses, carving in symbology into the flesh of his victims and pulling out their eyes, the silver coins are the last embellishments. When the police find the bodies, they are surprised to see that the victim has two shining silver coins for eyeballs. Then there’s Lorelei, John, and Elizabeth who are all tied with him somehow. They are all caught in some sort of web, where they are aware of what Henry is doing. there’s some sort of steam filled love triangle between the three (apparently John is good with the ladies) and they all want to kill Henry because Henry is losing it and is getting more vicious by the years.

I gotta say, this will make a terrifying movie, a new Silence of the Lambs. Except. Henry isn’t a cannibal. The ending ties up  like most insanity filled noir like this. It’s kind of obvious. I won’t reveal it.

For a novella, things go by pretty fast and time isn’t wasted, it’s at a good pace. What makes a good noir, from what I’ve read so far, is quick writing, but writing that has substance and very little filler unless you’re trying to write a novel, and you want to add in some more backstory with multiple plot strands. Every word to matter, but every word has to contain some sort of feel whether it’s gloomy, funny, or angry, it needs to mean something.

Henry doesn’t improve and I guess I can say he doesn’t get better either. He is the same old Henry throughout the novella, but Elizabeth loses her empathy and accepts that her brother is a murderer. She also has to accept that her lover is no different. And I guess I can say, that sort of leaves a strong woman tone to it, where I guess women can’t really trust dudes.

Rating: 4/5

All Due Respect Issue 6 Edited by Mike Monson and Chris Rhatigan

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Pages: 90

Genre: Noir, short stories, Anthology, Literary Zine

Format: E-book

Published by All Due Respect Books

So I happened to be reading this literary zine and that’s why I posted about literary zines awhile ago. I highly suggest this zine to genre fiction fans, especially those into noir or crime fiction. This zine is dedicated more to the crime scene or is noir all about crimes? I will admit that I like literary zines, I like finding them, and downloading them, but I do merely a skim over and read what catches my eyes. Which is sad, because then what the hell is the point of killing trees or compiling PDFs of these zines if no one will read them?

Here’s my reason: Some are too long, I’m not always in the mood for short stories, some of them aren’t that good, and sometimes they are hard to read depending on the medium. Physical is fine, Kindle is fine, but WordPress or Blogger or any other website  is difficult if it’s not on mobile. Most of the time, I discover them when I’m browsing. Poetry literary zines are the only literary zines I have ever read from start to finish. And so why am I rambling so much about literary zines? Because this is the last copy of All Due Respect Zine. I’m not mourning, because there’s tons of other noir literary zines out there that have some gems to read.  It’s just that it’s the first time I have ever enjoyed a literary zine that consists of only fiction.

If you’re familiar with noir at all, you will already know what most of this zine is about. Guns, drugs, drama, revenge, conniving personalities, bad cops, thieves, and detectives. What makes a good noir story for me is not only the entertainment factor, but also giving me the feeling of empathy or maybe even hatred for the vile main character, a fear for the main character, or an apprehension of what’s to come for that them. It’s a weird thing I have, I like to feel for the character but at the same time I want to get that rush of adrenaline. There’s very few novels like that, where it touches you emotionally, but also scares the shiz out of you or haunts you, sticking to your memories.

This zine is pretty short for a literary zine. There are only six short stories, which is good enough for me. But I can say I only enjoyed four of the six short stories. Lang, Chen, Queally, and Sanders. The one I liked the most, the one that stuck with me most was Sarah M. Chen. She stood out because the main character of her story was young and he was the least deviant noir character I have read, I know he’s not the main character, but he is the lead of the story (it’s in third person, but it’s main focus is him.) Instead he is the victim of noir, he is the “What the hell did I just see?” of noir. Does that make sense? The only bad boy thing he does is sell drugs and he does it to support his mother and her business. He doesn’t kill anybody, he’s not a triad, he’s just a young Asian American dude trying to get by, who lives with his grandmother that doesn’t appear to be your typical harmless old lady. Oh the ending is pretty cool. And so of course, I’m anticipating her full length that’s also coming out from All Due Respect. I will also probably read their previous issues too, in case I get the craving for short stories and noir.

Rating: 4/5

Literary Magazines I Really Really Like #1

  • Rasasvada/Ataraxia (poetry, occasional fiction)
  • Vagabond City (Poetry, occasional fiction)
  • Zoomoozophone Review (poetry)
  • Rising Phoenix Review (poetry)
  • Cheap Pop Lit (flash fiction)
  • All Due Respect (noir fiction/crime fiction)
  • Alien Mouth (poetry, occasional fiction)
  • i can’t stop thinking about diet coke (poetry)
  • Sula Collective (poetry, essays, and fiction)

There might be more but I can’t think of more at the moment.

Jimmy Plush, Teddy Bear Detective by Garrett Cook

Received for an honest review

I’m never happy with any blog platform am I? I can’t even explain it right now, but let’s say the text box looks really small.

Ah, yes, I have been falling in and out of the bizarro genre lately. There are times when I can’t get enough of it and there are times where I literally just can’t stand it. Like most genre fiction or fiction in general, I do tend to find things to be too overdone or repetitive or just doesn’t speak to me anymore for the same reason I just stated. And I’m also still a bit new to bizarro so maybe I just need to try out more of the sub-genres of bizarro, other than the horror part. I like it enough not to give it up as a whole.

As you can see from the cover this is a book about a teddy bear that is hot headed and I don’t know what it is, I assume this is part of the noir genre’s formula, he’s also super racist, misogynistic, and is not afraid to bash your skull in. Carrying the ingredients of “Loser detective noir” and the flawed character with a debilitating hamartia that made him into a teddy bear in the first place, Jimmy Plush is typical noir with a wacky bizarro twist that takes place in a Dystopian world that takes place in an underground criminal Chinatown from the early 1900s, I believe it was the 20s, with a steampunk influence. It’s a short story collection consisting of stories of Jimmy Plush solving mysteries, kicking people’s butts, and lots of bizarre stuff that reminds me of some of the wacky cartoons I grew up watching, but matured to the X-rating.

I gotta admit, despite the racism, this story collection is definitely my favorite of the year. It’s funny and filled with vibrant wacky characters and a nasty sarcastic prose. The furry peoples are honestly the most hilarious thing, because of course with the popularity of the horror game series, Five Nights At Freddy’s, I can’t help but imagine all of that quirky stuff. Some of the furry people were violent killers and committing crimes, and then there’s Jimmy Plush, beating up bad guys and ripping their names off their very flesh. It’s nostalgic, reminding me of vintage Sci-Fi, a few of the short stories have elements of Twilight Zone and alien lasers, etc, and noir paperbacks that I didn’t grow up with but when I got into the noir genre, I began to understand the appeal.

With the heavy bizarro and satire influence along with all the silliness in there, there’s something rather personal. It was quite clever to use the harmless innocent body of a teddy bear to write about self-acceptance and self-hatred. When you lose all your tools of survival and everything that makes you what you are,  you don’t necessarily end, you are reborn, sometimes better, sometimes worse. But to embrace that and become whole is better than being in constant shambles and whining about it.

Rating: 4/5