Squid Pulp Blues by Jordan Krall
Jordan Krall's first published novella, "Piecemeal June", stood out from the pack with its unique combination of body-fluid splatter and bizarro horror. "Squid Pulp Blues" is his second release from Eraserhead Press and is a continuation of these themes. The book is three novellas, each taking place in Thompson, New Jersey, concerning body fluids, drugs, and squids.
"The Haderdasher" is the first story. Henry has just gotten out of prison and is meeting up with some old friends for booze, cards, and planning a caper or two. The night takes a turn for the worse when one of his friends has a bad reaction to a new street drug derived from squids. Meanwhile in the next room a woman has had her feet literary stolen off her legs. When a local gangster named The Haderdasher comes by to drop off drugs, the two stories combine in a shower of bullets and blood.
The next tale is "The Longheads." The Longheads are a group of veterans who came back from the war with hideous deformations from chemical weapons. They are stocking up on weaponry and preparing to make an assault on Thompson. Caught in the middle of this are Tommy and his partner Jake who are on the run from Peachy, a diaper-wearing criminal with a bone to pick.
Finishing the book is "The Apocalypse Donkey," a humerous story about Simon, a popular comic book creator, who is in town promoting his latest graphic novel. While waiting out front of the store, a strange man gives him a black envelope containing obscene photos. Once the man realizes he gave the envelope to the wrong person, Simon is on the run for his life.
Krall has a distinctive story telling style which combine noir-crime fiction, hard-core horror, and bizarro literature. The problem with this combination is it stands to alienate many readers. For those few who understand the wonderful weirdness of it all, Krall satisfies in a way few authors can.
While the book is three separate stories, it feels like one full novel. Characters, events, and themes cross over in all the tales. Many disturbing details are just hinted at in the background. Krall plants lots of intriguing clues to the town's many secrets and creates the sense that Thompson is a real place, though one you might not want to go to.
Combining together a variety of genres, "Squid Pulp Blues" is a fun read filled with violence, laughs, and squids. Jordan Krall has shown on his second work that he is no one-hit-wonder. For those hankering for a weird trip, Thompson is just the travel destination you need.