Book: Sex Dungeon for Sale!
Author: Patrick Wensink
Why I Consider This Book Odd: Well, Eraserhead Press published this book, and they are generally a pretty good weather vane for oddness. But I also suspected the book was odd because the author contacted me so he could send me an ARC because he wanted me to review it (yes, an ARC!!! I swear to god I almost wept because only certified, authentic reviewers get ARCs, right? Right?). If an author reads this site for any reason, chances are his literary output is going to be odd.
Also, I heartily encourage this trend of sending me actual books. Not only would I get free books, but my delusions of grandeur mean I am likely to review said book because I am still in the early OMG THIS MEANS I AM A REAL CRITIC stage of the game. So yeah, send me your odd books, odd authors. Also, I am not above using the emotion card, so send them to me because I love you. All of you. Even that weirdo living in a basement who keeps e-mailing me chapters of his novel about his dog’s wang.
Type of Book: Fiction, short stories, flash fiction, bizarro
Availability: Published by Eraserhead Press in 2009, you can get a copy here:
Comments: Okay, yeah, this was my first book offered to me because I review odd books, but don’t let that make you think I am gonna give this book a sweetheart review on that merit alone. Also, I’m not giving it a sweetheart review because I’m a known sucker for flash fiction and short, short stories. I’m giving it a sweetheart review because it is a good book. The stories, some odder than others, are all pretty solid, and one of the stories has resonated with me as being not only a clever concept, but haunting and upsetting.
This book may actually be a good bridge into bizarro for some readers because while it is odd, it does not cross wholly into the full-bore weirdness one experiences reading Carlton Mellick III, one of the best-known bizarros. Additionally, these stories are very much, for the most part, grounded in reality, not incorporating the heavy use of magical realism that one sees so much of in bizarro. I find magical realism amazing when done well, but it is no black mark against Sex Dungeons for Sale! that the stories are so grounded. I know many think that bizarro is schtick, the replacement for pulp sci-fi for a more jaded generation and they are wrong. While bizarro’s certainly entertaining, increasingly the writers in the genre produce literary quality works, pieces that would not be out of place in Zoetrope or Zyzzyva. That is why I think, for those who want to dip their toes into high weirdness, Wensink’s book would be a good starting place. I could see some of these stories in edgy mainstream lit journals. They are odd, but odd in a way that is extremely relatable.