The First One You Expect by Adam Cesare

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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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Baby Babe by Ana Carrete and pls advise by Josh Spilker

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Pages: 183

Genre: Poetry

Format: E-book

Published by Civil Coping Mechanisms

Borrowed on Kindle

I’m back, sort of. Any blog posts that come later are on books I’ve read last month. I’ve been in a book funk, but I’m slowly coming back to reading. This is going to be brief, because I didn’t really like this much because it was just too, I don’t know, shallow for me? I liked it but didn’t like it at the same time? It was so-so.

Ana Carrete is a poet and an artist. You will find some collage art that contains themes from the poems written in this collection. And well, there’s not much to say, because literally this whole book is just a girl writing her quirky sexy thoughts and I guess that’s what makes it brilliant.

Like a lot of internet poetry, her poems are much in the spirit of Tao Lin, except with a feminist tinge to it, with confessionals of sexuality and desires, which are revolutionary in the fact that there is no holding back or self-censoring and of men that disrespect and tear down womanhood. And then some of the poems are literally those weird thoughts you’ve had while being bored during lecture. Overall though, Baby Babe is amusing but also deeply personal as she reveals all of the little streams of her never ending erotic consciousness.

Rating: 3/5

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Pages: 20

Genre: Twitter

Format: E-book

Self-published with the help of Gumroad

It’s a bk of tweets. Wth cute drawings, musings abt writing ad existing in tweets. It flows lk poetry but feels like ur diary of questions

And the random shiz you think abt while showering or tryin to sleep. He constantly asks for advice that no one will hear. And honestly that feels too real.

Internet lone. Alone.

(I tried to keep this in Tweet form, but it just couldn’t happen. So this feels so superficial lol.)

Rating: 4/5

Hatred of Women by Cassandra Troyan and Tocqueville by Khaled Mattawa

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Pages: 36

Genre: Poetry, Experimental

Format: E-book

Published by Solar Luxuriance

Some more Troyan and this one has a heavier feel to it than Throne of Blood, despite the length. This one seems to be a bit more autobiographical and contains, just like the previous collection, the nasty parts of what it means to be a woman, being seen as disposable, hollow, and but to also expected to take the role of caretaker as we are expected to carry the universe while simultaneously wiping men’s feet.

Troyan’s poetry is hopeless, self deprecating and there is a very slight smile of hope.

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Pages: 74

Genre: Poetry, Experimental, Power Points

Format: Paperback

Published by New Issues Poetry Press

Tocqueville was a pretty fun poetry collection because it was poetry but at the same time it wasn’t. This collection was avant-garde at it’s best. Meandering and sure of itself, satirical but stern with some low political whispers about being Brown and Muslim. Sometimes it was documentation, journal entries of rantlings about scenery, war, and people and oppression, but also the daily rhythms of life. And then sometimes it will take a turn and somehow become a noir film. It’s metafiction in poetry, a novella in the guise of verse. It felt like a dream of a James Bond movie on a staticky beat up TV, where Bond isn’t White with blue eyes and he’s super awkward and has a thing for computer science and fun facts.

Rating: 5/5

Two E-Chaps: Juliet (I) by Sarah Xerta and No Good by Alexis Pope

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Pages: 38

Genre: Poetry

Format: E-book

Published by H_NGM_N Books

  • A small e-chap about a girl named Juliet or maybe Juliet is a concept in its self. There’s a sort of sci-fi feel to it and from what I see in reviews of the sequel to this chapbook, the next one has a post-apocalyptic feeling. This felt like the virus going through the veins of a main character in a movie that will soon gain tremendous powers.
  • It’s punchy and feels like every tear of those times, as a female, you are constantly let down.
  • Let down by the males you follow, brothers or fathers or friends, or the times society allows you to get screwed over just because you reminded everyone that you actually have feelings as a female.
  • Juliet is the young girl inside of us all when we feel betrayed, the confessionalist with the scrapped knees and matted hair.
  • The worlds in us that end every day when we go to sleep.

Pages: 25

Genre: Poetry

Format: E-book

Published by H_NGM_N Books

  • A sort of ode to nature and deer or something.
  • Like most Alt-Lit it contains a lot of poetry about existing and hating the fact that you exist and something about living with your boyfriend or something.
  • But this also contains a lot of exploring of the self and what surrounds you.
  • Nature and senses, selfishness and the irritants from constantly being aware of what’s to come or what’s never to come.
  • General unsatisfactory and unspecific desires for unknowns.

(I honestly have no idea what to say about this chapbook, but I enjoyed it when I read it.)

Dark Water by Ariana D. Den Bleyker

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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

Cassiopeia at Midnight and Spectre Specter Blue Ravine by N.L. Shompole

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Pages: 40

Genre: Poetry

Format: e-book

Published by Chupu Chupu

This is N.L. Shompole’s debut, I believe. And since it is the beginning, her little fledgling, it feels a lot like the thin bone structure of what she writes today. Cassiopeia at Midnight has a heavier focus on romance compared to Heaven Water Blood. It’s more on the sweet side and is about the small details of romantic love. Every little step in a relationship and every drop of it that evaporates as they lose touch.

Rating: 3.5/5

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Pages: 110

Genre: Poetry

Format: E-book

Advanced Reader’s Copy

This was received for an honest review

Spectre Specter Blue Ravine is her latest collection. It’s more on the personal side, more of a self-discovery or coming of age type of collection. Where themes such as diaspora, death, loss, and the question of home and what is home are the main structure of the collection.
This one is a lot more developed compared to her previous ones. The surrealism and the fantastical kind of evaporate in the background and now it’s more about the self, but it is still present, but used more as a device for self-discovery. There are some poems that feel sort of like prose or narrative poetry, where broken relationships and loved ones who have passed are curtains and houses burning as the ‘The End’ and coming back as phantoms for forgiveness or reminders. Icarus is also a constant visitor in this collection. Unfortunately, I’m not up to date with my mythology so I can’t comment on that.

It’s about pain when realizing home is too distant, when you’re a foreigner in your own home, but yet you feel more comfortable with it because you would rather not be somewhere where colonialism or imperialism affects your every foot step. Shompole is Kenyan born but lives in the U.S. so she experiences the  loss of her mother tongue from her memory and a lack of belonging between two worlds. This is an occurring theme since it ties with the loneliness of general human existence where similarities and differences are so vast and detailed that everyone is connected but yet so far out of reach and comfort. Isolated, frustrated with it, but there’s still a little something, and that is enough at times.

This is Shompole’s magnum opus, it’s my favorite one out of them all, because it just feels so much heavier on the heart.

Rating: 5/5

Two Solar Luxuriance Chapbooks: Throne of Blood by Cassandra Troyan and Sacramento by Meghan Lamb

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Page: 94

Genre: Poetry, Experimental

Format: Format

Published by Solar Luxuriance

Now, that I’m finally loving poetry, I decided to pick this chapbook up. When I downloaded it months ago, Solar Luxuriance provides free downloads of their out-of-print chapbooks, I kept giving it up and picking up something else. The first “chapter” is actually a short story written in poetry. Is there a name for ‘Short story poetry’? I guess it would be narrative poetry. Anyway, that was one of the best parts of the chapbook, not only because I rarely find that style of poetry, but it is my favorite kind of poetry because it’s short stories, but not actually a short story. It tells the story of these two male necrophiliacs that murder women and girls and bury them in the basement. A lot of her poetry kind of has this feminist undertone to it, where she mourns the death and mistreatment of women and girls by the hands of men. It’s feminist because most people don’t take the mistreatment of women seriously. If you don’t believe me, well listen to how many people make jokes about rape and blaming rape on rape victims. But yeah.

Then after that, there’s some more poetry similar to do that, except girls don’t die physically, they die on the inside. I think these might’ve been slightly autobiographical. Where father’s disappoint and men kill women mentally repeatably for feeling too much.

This chapbook was actually fairly popular in the small press world so I feel like my review is basically going to repeat the same thing. Of course most of this chapbook isn’t too dark, some of it is light hearted somewhat. A care free feminist chapbook about being a woman who owns her sexuality, disappointment in relationships, self-hatred and inability to cope with it, and  existential angst. Topic wise, it’s not much different than your usual poetry book in the Alt. Lit world. But Troyan’s biting and vivid poetry stands out from the Tao Lin esque poetry writing I usually see to the point where it’s unavoidable. (Not knocking him, just saying that there’s way too many people writing like him now, with slight differences, but not very much the same.)

Rating: 4.5/5

sacramento

Pages: 28

Genre: Novella

Format: E-book (Again, a free PDF download of an our-of-print chapbook.)

(I tried my best to remove the black parts so it could blend in.)

Well this one is short and sweet and it talks about loneliness and isolation, about awkward and unfulfilling relationships, and then it switches back and forth to the Gold Rush era when people left their homes and died on the way. The prose is filling for a novella, this is one of the shortest novellas I’ve ever read, I almost consider it a novelette, and yet it was written good enough to feel emotionally involving. I would like to read more of her works. Don’t have much to say since it’s so short.

Rating: 4.5/5