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A look back on “Bizarro” fiction July 14, 2008

Posted by ashiah in Books.
Tags: , , , ,

Say what you will about summer traditions, whether it’s the summer blockbuster or the summer vacation, but summer reading has always been my favorite. Though lately as I plow through Amazon looking for good book recs, I keep running into these. I guess it’s not entirely Amazon’s fault. You see, about a year ago I bought about six of these books expecting a great introduction into the world of underground surreal fiction. This particular genre of surreal fiction (later branded as “Bizarro” fiction) is unique, or so I thought at first. The authors are usually from the Seattle area and unlike other surrealist authors that worship Franz Kafka, these authors are not big literary nuts. Instead, their inspiration comes from filmmakers like David Lynch and Takashi Miike. The stories are neither plot or character driven, but the stories strive to take strangeness into hilarious and captivating areas. (Warning: NSFW behind the cut.)

I started with Satan Burger first, written by Carlton Mellick III. The book was hilarious and stunningly imaginative. From there I decided to explore other Bizarro writers, and that’s where the problems began. As I started reading more books I realized the Bizarro genre is probably one of the worst genres to brush the literary scene in ages. The biggest issue is they simply do not know how to write. This point is usually brushed aside by most Bizarro authors because they believe in nonconformity. Grammar and punctuation isn’t important to them, and standard writing structure is the complete opposite of what they want to accomplish. I guess you can say they’re modern day dadaists, but the problem is their artistic approach. What is the meaning of all this, and is there a purpose to what they’re doing? The problem is most Bizarro writers are only interested in shocking you. The stories are always borderline pornographic, like a trip through the land of the grotesque, and they end with zero satisfaction.

Out of all the authors, Carlton Mellick III was the only one I could stand. I only read two of his books (Satan Burger and The Menstruating Mall) and both were strange, yet hilarious stories with a slice of intelligent social commentary. Wish I could say the same about Alyssa Sturgill who writes about eating babies (obviously not meant to be taken seriously, but still awful nonetheless) or D. Harlan Wilson, an author I really did try to like (and ironically is an English professor).

Another thing about the Bizarro writers is I noticed their reviews on Amazon are fake, probably all written by them. I noticed one particular reviewer had nothing but glowing things to say about all the Bizarro books, but this person never reviewed a book outside of the Bizarro genre. The other reviews were usually one-review-wonders who gave one glowing review and disappeared. Just another reason not to trust those darn Amazon ratings.

I also noticed something strange with another book I read, Some Things are Better Left Unplugged by Vincent W. Sakowski (a lukewarm effort, by the way), which changed covers. The previous one was an ambiguous graphic, while the second one looks like an invitation into the world of sex and violence (none of which is the story even about). But I guess that’s what the average Bizarro reader is looking for. Just count me out.



1. Cheeky - July 24, 2008
2. ashiah - July 24, 2008


Woah! Interesting…and I’m a girl!

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