Book: A Town Called Suckhole
Author: David Barbee
Type of Book: Fiction, bizarro
Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Dude…
Availability: Published by Eraserhead Press in 2011, you can get a copy here:
Comments: Poor David Barbee. He has the decidedly bad luck to have his book come up for review when I am bizarro-ed out. I don’t think I can be as enthusiastic about this book as I would have had I not been reading so much bizarro that not even the strangest bizarro trope seems the least odd or outre anymore. But even as I am thisclose to eliminating bizarro from my reading diet until I can enjoy it again, I can say that I found Barbee’s novel amusing. I have a fondness for southern-culture-on-the-skids and this book totally delivers on that front.
Excuse me as I try to summarize this book, because it’s pretty heavy, plot-wise: Suckhole is a degenerate Southern town. It’s pretty much The Hills Have Eyes, Two Thousand Maniacs! and The Dukes of Hazzard with a dash of Matlock if Matlock was a genetically mutated abomination. It’s white trash, Mad Max and the Land the Civil War Forgot. So it’s going to be nasty and offensive. Sheriff Jesco Ray Bledskoe becomes the law in Suckhole upon his father’s death/murder. Suckhole’s denizens have been falling victim to a killer and what with the Hell-Yeah Heritage Jamboree coming up, he has to find the killer and quickly. Because he is an inbred simpleton, Bledskoe knows he must get help to solve these murders so he finds a horrifying mutation named Dexter Spikes ,who is the only creature smart enough to be of any use to him. Together, these two characters explore a really foul, post-apocalyptic landscape to find a killer. There are subplots with feral children that seem to hark back to Children of the Corn and there are succubi that are out to thwart Bledskoe and Spikes, but mostly you want to focus on the sheriff and his strange buddy-cop configuration.
Despite not being wholly “into” extra bizarre bizarro at the moment, I was still very pleasantly surprised to see how Barbee’s writing has progressed. His NBAS book, Carnageland, was a good first attempt, but it had its problems. A Town Called Suckhole has its problems too, but far fewer, and the narrative in the book is far cleverer and absorbing. It’s nice to be able to see a writer’s style and skill improve from book to book. Barbee has definitely shown himself interested in the craft of creating a good book, as well as creating a good bizarro book.