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Heresy and Hearsay (2010): Bizarro Win.

Garrett Cook, Heresy and Hearsay (No press listed, 2010)

 

photo credit: nogoodcause.blogspot.com

We can’t show it to you because the Internet fails us.

A short (seventy-six pages) collection of stories and the occasional poem from Garrett Cook, bizarro author extraordinaire. When he is on, he is on, and a few of the stories in this collection are hit-that-switch-and-burn. Sure, you’ve got your straight bizarro tales, which are amusing but won’t necessarily blow your head off (I mean, how can you not get the giggles at “Meatballs of Knowledge”, in which the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden is replaced by a sexually-depraved sub sandwich?). And then there are the stories that crank it up to eleven. “The Man in the Film Noir Hat”, with its skewering of noir conventions covering a pathetic (as in the root of “sympathetic”, “antipathetic”, etc.) core that tugs at the heartstrings a little, or “Assorted Salesmen at the Birth of the Antichrist”, which even though it is not in any way structured like same, reminds me of an international megacorp’s annual report, or the collection’s closer, “Along the Crease”, the tale of a romance that could destroy the world. That’s good stuff right there from a high-level perspective (it’s one of those stories that drives people who should know better, like me, to want to ask an author “so where do you get your ideas?”), but when you get down into the nuts and bolts, it’s also a well-plotted, perfectly-paced story that’s written like gangbusters. “Edward was nervous, as he almost always was. But this was a bigger, alien breed of nervous, with massive fangs and claws, more distinct than his typical twitch and doubly threatening. Edward wasn’t ready for either a relationship or the end of the world.” I grabbed that little passage in particular because it does something very interesting—it’s a straight narrative passage (in other words, it’s the “tell don’t show” stuff I’m usually yelling for authors for doing), but Cook’s language is so rooted in images here that it doesn’t feel like a straight narrative passage. We know Edward’s nervousness is different because we are given a physical description of both what it’s like now and what it’s normally like. Keep the brain engaged and you keep your reader, and Garrett Cook understands that very, very well. This is solid stuff indeed. I’m not sure if it’s still in print (I seem to recall Cook giving this away as a kind of sampler of his work a few years back, rather than it having been for sale anywhere), but if it is, it’s definitely worth picking up. Garrett Cook is one of those bizarro authors whose work comes straight from the heart, rather than the gut, like Vincent Sakowski or Forrest Armstrong, and I suspect that it’s these guys who will most appeal to people who aren’t yet familiar with the genre. So if you don’t know bizarro, by all means, grab yourself a copy of this and get acquainted. And if you already do, well, here’s another author to add to your shelf that you are most likely going to adore. Garrett Cook is the real deal. ****

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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