Archive for May, 2012

Review: The Troublesome Amputee by John Edward Lawson

Posted in Bizarro Brigade, Books with tags , , , , on May 31, 2012 by Scott Emerson

(Review for Bizarro Brigade.)

With THE TROUBLESOME AMPUTEE John Edward Lawson uses the theme of limb removal as a starting point in this rich, resonant collection of verse. Armed with bracingly dark imagery and an unflinching eye, Lawson wields his words like a blade, offering an array of bizarre scenarios rooted in post-millenial decay.

From werewolf limericks to the gross-out epic “Will Work For Food” (which kicks off with zombie tongues in toilets and proceeds to up the sickening ante), the biting satire of “Allahpolooza” to the poignancy of “Grandfather’s Death Mask,” Lawson displays an impressive versatility and level of craft, giving most of the poems here a depth that invites a second (or third) reading to truly appreciate.

A solid collection of dark poetry well worth perusing.


Review: The Gorelets Omnibus: Collected Poems 2001-2011 by Michael A. Arnzen

Posted in Books with tags , , , , on May 10, 2012 by Scott Emerson

If you have even the slightest interest in horror poetry, this is a highly recommended book. If you have even the slightest interest in writing horror poetry, this is mandatory reading.

Originally conceived as a literary experiment to create short, media-compatible poetry for then-prevalent handheld technology, Michael Arnzen’s Gorelets has mutated and evolved in the decade since their introduction. Yet at their heart they’ve remained unchanged–brief, vivid poems written with skill, verve, and perverse humor. THE GORELETS OMNIBUS collects nearly everything Arnzen’s written under the Gorelets banner, and it’s a must-have for the dark-verse aficianado.

The hardcover edition contains bonus material (including the razor-sharp Martha Stewart parody “Michael Arnznen’s Dying,” one of the author’s lesser-known classics), a handful of critical pieces analyzing Arnzen’s work, and a compact poetry workshop with how-to articles and creative prompts. These nuts-and-bolts articles are a great resource for those looking to hone their craft, and more than justify the hardcover price.

Whichever edition you choose, you’ll be rewarded with a wealth of strange, satirical, and clever poetry that packs an incredible amount of detail and power in their short line counts. A safe bet for the year’s best horror poetry collection.

Review: Like Death by Tim Waggoner

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , on May 9, 2012 by Scott Emerson

As a child Scott Raymond witnessed the horrific slaughter of his parents by a barely-seen, shadow-like figure. Now an adult, he’s a true-crime writer whose haunted past (and tendency to get too close to the dark heart of his subject matter) has cost him his marriage. Working on a new book about an abducted girl, Scott finds himself on a strange journey that no only uncovers secrets of the past, but reveals mysteries of the fabric of reality.

An engaging, briskly-paced read, LIKE DEATH takes the tropes of the suburban-idyll thriller and injects them with a wealth of bizarre imagery (arachnophobes take note!) and memorable characters. The reality-bending twists Waggoner throws into the mix, while grounded by a believable, sharply-drawn cast of players and the mundane details of everyday reality, helps offset the queasiness that sometimes comes with novels about child abduction/murder. The result is an imaginative dark fantasy that should easily appeal to fans of suspense, speculative or otherwise.