Noir, Bizarro Style

Posted: June 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

This week’s Sunday serial is looking to be a Monday serial. Hopefully, this won’t be the case. But I’m going to give you something to tide you over. I’m going to tell you about some great weird noir fiction from Bizarro authors. Noir and surrealism go together extremely well. Both are about ambiguities. Both are set in places that aren’t quite right somehow. In both nothing is easy to define. When you combine the two, you have extra layers of ambiguity and strangeness that you wouldn’t see anywhere else. Watch Twin Peaks. Watch Blue Velvet. Watch The Seventh Victim. In all of these, a mutable reality and a mutable mind and spirit create shadow worlds of wonder, mystery and wrongness. These books do the same thing.

Private Midnight by Kris Saknusemm

A nightjourney through machismo, sexuality and identity.  Kris’ psychedelic cyberpunk urban fantasy tilt-o-whirl of perversion Zanesville might lead readers to believe that his work is always going to be a wild ride into surreal cartoon carnivalization of reality. But Saknusemm is a pro at chiaroscuro techniques, finding light and darkness in light, humor in horror, beauty in ugliness and perversion. Private Midnight tells the story of Birch Ritter, a detective out of his element, faced with a brassy dame whose control over manhood, reality and Birch’s psyche is godlike. Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet and the brothel madam from the Walpurgisnacht episode of Ulysses rolled into one. A must for fans of Lynch and students of human sexuality. It crackles and burns with power.

Private Midnight on Amazon

Bucket of Face by Eric Hendrixson

Bucket of Face is a more humorous noir, more on the Elmore Leonard end of the spectrum. It involves sentient fruit, Michael Jackson, a bucket full of faces and a briefcase of Zimbabwe dollars. It’s funny, it’s raw, it’s human and it gets surprisingly dark sometimes. If you want a funny caper that still has an edge, Bucket of Face is something I recommend.

Bucket of Face on Amazon

King Scratch by Jordan Krall

Shocking. Weird. A  punch in the gut portrait of sicknesses at the core of America. Trunks full of babies. Golden showers. Dark secrets of the Lincoln assassination. King Scratch does what good noir does. It explores the sickness at the core of America. You’ll laugh, you’ll be sickened, you’ll be intrigued. This is as weird as those of you who like the idea of weird noir want it to get. Jordan Krall is a contemporary master of this genre. Read everything’s he written.

King Scratch on Amazon 

Jimmy Plush, Teddy Bear Detective

It’s my latest book.  The first Plush story made a good impression on the Bizarro community and was reprinted in Hayakawa’s Mystery Magazine in Japan.  This magazine is where Japan reprints the most promising weird fiction from the west and I’m proud to have been in there. Jimmy Plush is a hardhitting, hardboiled, humorous collection of five detective pulp stories featuring a pulp writer in a teddy bear’s body who will have to fight and think his way past a multitude of freaks and creeps to become himself again. I think you’ll like it.

Jimmy Plush on Amazon

When Bizarro meets noir, great things happen. Fans of noir, gore, comics, cartoons and all things strange would do well to look into it.

  1. lisathatcher says:

    I’ve just started reading Private Midnight and I am looking forward to it all the more because of your review. Nice tight writing! Thanks so much.

    • garrettcook says:

      You’re very welcome. It’s one of the most Lynchian books I’ve read. A lot of books have claimed David Lynch as an influence but I see few that actually create that kind of atmosphere.

  2. Lee Widener says:

    I almost bought King Scratch the other day because there’s an inexpensive kindle edition. I must do so as soon as I have cash now!

    As well as Jimmy Plush, of course!

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