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The Bizarro Starter Kit (Orange) [Paperback]

Carlton III Mellick , Jeremy Robert Johnson , John Edward Lawson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 6.66 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

18 April 2006
There's a new genre rising from the underground. Its name: BIZARRO. For years, readers have been asking for a category of fiction dedicated to the weird, crazy, cult side of storytelling that has become a staple in the film industry (with directors such as David Lynch, Takashi Miike, Tim Burton, and Lloyd Kaufman) but has been largely ignored in the literary world, until now. The Bizarro Starter Kit features short novels and story collections by ten of the leading authors in the bizarro genre: D. Harlan Wilson, Carlton Mellick III, Jeremy Robert Johnson, Kevin L Donihe, Gina Ranalli, Andre Duza, VIncent W. Sakowski, Steve Beard, John Edward Lawson, and Bruce Taylor.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Eraserhead Press (18 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933929006
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933929002
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 15.2 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 600,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Inside Flap

Even though the Bizarros are underground cult outsiders, they still have gained an incredible amount of respect in the publishing industry, having been praised by the likes of Chuck Palahniuk, Christopher Moore, William Gibson, Alan Moore, Piers Anthony, Cory Doctorow, and Charles de Lint, to name a few, as well as the publications Asimov's Science-fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science-fiction, Cemetery Dance, Fangoria, Wizard Magazine, Publishers Weekly, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and The Face, among many others. They have also been finalists for the Philip K Dick Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Rhysling Award, the Wonderland Book Award, and the Pushcart Prize.

Bizarro isn't just weird fiction, it is damn good weird fiction, and the genre grows exponentially every single day. So, love it or hate it, you'll be seeing a lot more of it in the years to come.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a try 16 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm cagey about saying I like Bizarro since it's a genre which includes some writers I absolutely love and some I just can't get into at all - in roughly equal proportions. I have been following the scene for years though and it keeps on throwing up writers I like so I'm happy to take a chance on an anthology like this.

I'm not going to rate the short stories which make up this anothlogy individually - I'll just say nothing was really stand out for me, but there was nothing terrible, either. Some stories are zany and dumb, some are very dark and unsettling - a fair amount of mood-whiplash.
As an anthology, however it's a great way to experience a range of authors, I particularly like the way each contributor gets a page to introduce themselves before their stories. For me it contained some familiar names and some unfamiliar ones, which was exactly what I wanted. It's probably not the book I'd give to a friend who asked for an introduction to Bizzaro (I'm biased, I admit - I'd give them some Steve Aylett) but I'm glad I bought it and I'll be reading the Blue Bizarro Starter Kit next (The Bizarro Starter Kit (blue)).
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4.0 out of 5 stars twisting your melon 3 Oct 2011
By vi
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Being a fan of short stories and having only recently heard of the Bizarro movement I decided to give this book a go primarily because I did know of Carlton Mellick and his name was on the cover. I didn't know what to expect and that's probbly the best place to come from when reading this book because nothing within goes the way of normality or logic, which,i suppose,is the point and genius of Bizarro.
There are novellas and short tales here (a couple of pages) and each is like a nightmare dreamscape filled with scatter-shot invention,absurdity and hallucinogenic prose.
To be honest there were some stories I didn't find very good but those are in the minority here and more than made up for by some truly excellent tales, my highlight being the hotel which serves as an after-life hell-hole for most or utopia for the rich,a story which,alone, is almost worth buying this book for.
There are ten authors in all with each being given a preface of works,influences and interests. I discovered a few authors here who I had never heard of and will be getting more of their books simply because I liked their stories in this book and finding new and interesting writers can only be a good thing.
I recommend this collection if you want something truly innovative and thought provoking or if you've ever just wondered what it would be like if pencils and water could talk. There's something for everyone...maybe not everything but more than enough. Thank you
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5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the Genre of the Strange 4 July 2011
Bizarro is my genre of choice. It is the genre of the weird; the equivalent of cult fiction. It can be surreal, horrific, horrific, funny, touching, but it's always mind-blowingly interesting and original.

Herein, ten bizarro authors show you the ropes.

D. Harlan Wilson: "At the Funeral", "Cops and Bodybuilders", "Hairware, Inc.", "The Man in Thick Black Spectacles", "Classroom Dynamics", "Digging for Adults". These flash fiction stories are a great start, like appetisers. The stories remind me of Daniil Kharms' Incidences, but with a modern tone. A common theme is people assuming roles, talking to each other through masks, and mild body horror.

Carlton Mellick III: "The Baby Jesus Butt plug". It sounds quite irreverent, but the weirdness outshines theological debate. In a dystopian world where people are born into corporations where the work is pointless and low paying enough to amount to slavery. Then there are the zombie clones... This story will stay with me to the grave.

Jeremy Robert Johnson: "Extinction Journals". A man survives a nuclear blast with a suit made of cockroaches. All well and good, until the suit takes on a life of its own, and he meets some very weird people and beings. Perhaps the straightest of these stories, but still amazingly weird!

Kevin L. Donihe: "The Greatest F(Censorship)king Moment in Sports". Oscar Legbo is a muscle bound cyclist who uses the soul-energy of bugs that he killed as a child to win the Tour de France, until a conflicted ninja threatens to ruin everything. Will Oscar make it? With hilarious commentary from manic sports anchors, this story will make you excrete joy and respect.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Decalogue of Dementia 3 Mar 2011
From the dearth of reviews, it seems that the majority of Brits don't know what Bizarro fiction is. For the people who brought us everything from the boys in Monty Python to that wacky superfreak Edmund Spenser to remain ignorant of this genre is a crying shame. Bizarro is the genre of the weird in the same way that horror is the genre of the scary and erotica is the genre of inappropriate tingling. If something possesses more otherness than it does sameness, it might be Bizarro, whether it knows or cares it is or not. In the Bizarro Starter Kit:Orange ten of the genre's core authors do what they do best and that's bringing you into the otherness whether it be kicking and screaming or jumping, skipping and laughing. Carlton Mellick brings a chilling examination of reproductive anxiety, religious fervor and relationship dysfunction worthy that hearkens back to Eraserhead. Gina Ranalli examines existentialism, consumerism and classism in a satirical but sick afterlife. Andre Duza presents the aftermath of a plague of cartoons. D. Harlan Wilson treads the same ground as Kafka and Ligotti. John Lawson shows a harsh dystopian future. Jeremy Johnson chronicles the travails of the last man on Earth, who has survived by building a cockroach suit. Vincent Sakowski's hilarious and horrid stories hearken back to Gaiman and Harlan Ellison. Steve Beard is kind of confusing but maybe you'll get it because you're British too. Via an eccentric bugloving cyclist Kevin L. Donihe satirizes the relevance we place on sporting events. Bruce Taylor blends science fiction with magical realism in unexpected, funny and heartbreaking ways. For all this the price is right and the right time is now.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  34 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sickly twisted introduction to the Bizarro Genre 17 Dec 2006
By Schtinky - Published on Amazon.com
There are a lot of talented authors out there who are writing gut-twisting tales that just don't fit into the accepted mainstream of the New York Publishing Houses. If you are a horror or punk fan, then this tasty little sample simply should not be passed by. I for one love the Odd, the Bizarre, the Sick & Twisted, and the breath of freshly foul air that comes from hidden fictional treasures. This isn't a book for the squeamish or faint of heart. 'The Bizarro Starter Kit' is a collection of short and flash fiction grouped by author rather than story, so I'll give the lineup by author:

D. Harlan Wilson - 'At The Funeral', 'Cops & Bodybuilders', 'Hairware, Inc.', 'The Man In The Thick Black Spectacles', 'Classroom Dynamics', and 'Digging For Adults'. Wilson proves a spectacular ability for the new flash-fiction genre with his absurdly bizarro tales. My favorites were Hairware Inc. and Digging For Adults.

Carlton Mellick III - 'The Baby Jesus Butt Plug'. Adopting cute little Baby-Jesuses as pets, sickos who use their pets as b*tt toys, wolf spiders, pointless jobs, clones, zombies, and music boxes, this is one bizarro story. Mellick is a true master of bizarro. See my individual review of 'The Baby Jesus Butt Plug' for Mellick's stand-alone copy of this bizarre little treasure.

Jeremy Robert Johnson - 'Extinction Journals'. A cockroach suit in an apocalyptic nightmare. I believe Johnson is a writer to keep on your watch-list. Check out 'Siren Promised' and 'Angel Dust Apocalypse'.

Kevin L. Donihe - 'The Greatest F***ing Moment In Sports'. A hilarious and nightmarish account of Oscar Legbo's last bicycle race. Donihe co-authored 'Ocean Of Lard' with Mellick, a book that I loved.

Gina Ranalli - 'Suicide Girls In The Afterlife'. A strange tale of wandering through a bizarre Afterlife Hotel. Don't get lost on the wrong floor!

Andre Duza - 'Don't F(beep)k With The Coloureds'. An exotic, erotic female experiment terrorizes the Harrington House Retirement Center and the local police force. But it's the animation crouching inside that will get to them. This is a truly bizarro story, one of my favorites! And, it comes with a very peculiar illustration.

Vincent W. Sakowski - 'The Screaming Of The Fish', 'Peel And Eat Buffet', It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Ragnarok'. Another author shows talent at the new flash-fiction genre. My favorite is 'The Screaming Of The Fish'.

Steve Beard - 'Survivor's Dream'. Disjointed dreamlike tale of Dead Girl and the many traumas she must endure inside her own mind in order to return to the living. Another favorite, but extremely twisted and more than a little confusing.

John Edward Lawson - 'Truth In Ruins'. A post apocalyptic, landscape of Serial Profilers and Serial Killers takes you on one of the most surreal journeys in this collection. Lawson also edited the incredible collection 'Sick: An Anthology Of Illness'. I love Lawson's quote in his Description, "Reality is for people who can't handle fiction."

Bruce Taylor - 'The Breath Amidst The Stones', 'A Little Spider Shop Talk', 'Of Tunafish And Galaxies', 'City Streets'. More strange than sick, these short tales breath life into the lifeless. My favorite is "A Little Spider Shop Talk": ever wonder what a conversation with your spider-neighbor would be like?

Reading this introduction to bizarro is like reaching your arm out into some blackened void that has piqued your curiosity for years. Sometimes dreamily intense and sometimes almost childishly scrawled, these tales can be called nothing less than intriguing. I enjoyed the collection because it's so cultish and outlandish, and gives more than one author's view into this macabre, magnetic genre. It's a nice sampling that showcases some great (though warped) talents using an eclectic blend of horror, fantasy, sci-fi, punk, outlandishness, and insanity.

The book includes biographies, previous works, and information about each of the authors (some comically embellished) and websites to visit to find out more about your favorites. Talent doesn't always come out of a New York Publishing House; sometimes it creeps out from underneath strangely shaped and slimily pungent rocks. Enjoy!
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction 29 Jun 2006
By Nuclear Blue Girl - Published on Amazon.com
Since I'm already a fan of Carlton Mellick III, I decided to check out the Bizarro Starter Kit to read work by other authors in the Bizarro genre. I loved the whole collection and will definitely be checking out more books by these authors.

For those of you that are unfamiliar, the first page offers the following explanation:

Defining Bizarro

1. Bizarro, simply put is the genre of the weird.

2. Bizarro is literature's equivalent to the cult section at the video store.

3. Like cult movies, Bizarro is sometimes surreal, sometimes goofy, sometimes bloody, and sometimes borderline pornographic.

4. Bizarro often contains a certain cartoon logic that, when applied to the read world, creates an unstable universe where the bizarre becomes the norm and absurdities are made flesh.

5. Bizarro strives not only to be strange, but fascinating, thought-provoking, and, above all, fun to read.

6. Bizarro was created by a group of small press publishers in response to the increasing demand for (good) weird fiction and the increasing number of authors who specialize in it.

7. Bizarro is:

Franz Kafka meets Joe Bob Briggs

Dr. Suess of the post-apocalypse

Japanese animation directed by David Lynch
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beware all who enter .... 16 Feb 2008
By Dick Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If this is a "Starter Kit", I can't wait to see what comes next! This is a shocking, disturbing, in some cases sick, but fun read - just what they intended. If you can make it through this, you, like me, are pretty weird!

The longer stories are: Mellick's "Baby Jesus Butt Plug"; Johnson's "Extinction Journals"; Donihe's "Greatest F*cking Moments in Sports"; Ranalli's "Suicide Girls in the Afterlife"; Duza's "Don't F(bleep)k With the Coloured"; Beard's "Survivor's Dream"; Lawson's "Truth in Ruins". Shorter pieces are by Wilson, Sakowski & Taylor.

Beware: Most (if not all) of the longer pieces have been published as stand alone books - each costing more than this book.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars B is for Bizarro 12 Sep 2006
By Hoodie Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
You knew it had to happen: Years of using horror as a Band-Aid for any and all sub-genres touting blood, shocking absurdities, or just plain oddness has resulted in a malignant growth in the literary world: bizarro.

What is bizarro? From page 5 of the Bizarro Starter Kit: "Bizarro, simply put, is the genre of the weird." And the Bizarro Starter Kit (Bizarro Books, 2006), simply put, is the weirdest of the weird.

Segmented by a congregation of ten talented (and quite possibly tainted) authors, the Bizarro Starter Kit contains 20 hand-picked works of bizarro fiction from the genre's most brilliant lights, including (but not limited to) D. Harlan Wilson, Carlton Mellick III, Kevin L. Donihe, John Edward Lawson, and Bruce Taylor.

It's uncannily appropriate that D. Harlan Wilson be up first, as he was my first experience with the irreal. Fans of Wilson's work will recognize two stories ("Hairware, Inc." and "Classroom Dynamics") from his 2005 anthology, Pseudo-City. While Wilson's use of the "irreal" might lead you to jump to conclusions concerning the rest of the Bizarro Starter Kit's content, the truth is you simply won't know what to expect from page to page, author to author. Stories like "Suicide Girls in the Afterlife" (Gina Ranalli) and "Don't F(Beep)k with the Coloureds" (Andre Duza) will hit you in the face without warning. After making it to the halfway point, though, it should be no surprise that the work featured in the Bizarro Starter Kit falls in the vaguely-sensible-to-clearly-psychotic spectrum; while you might think Jeremy Robert Johnson's "Extinction Journals" is a more standard-form piece, it does center around a man who survives a nuclear holocaust by wearing a suit of, yes, roaches. (The narrative styles vary, but D. Harlan Wilson, Carlton Mellick III, and Steve Beard are arguably among the most psychotic in their deliveries of bizarro goodness.)

It can be said that bizarro has only come about because of authors who refuse to play nice on the horror shelf, but a handful of pages into the Bizarro Starter Kit and you'll quickly realize this is not the case. More than merely "weird" or "uber-gross," it's the blatant surrealities and unorthodox deliveries that are the hallmarks of bizarro's appeal. Quite simply, there's something for everyone here, whether you're a curious newbie or a seasoned veteran. If you like zombies, clones, and demonic baby jesus butt plugs, "The Baby Jesus Butt Plug" (Carlton Mellick III) will tickle your fanny. For darker territory, check out Steve Beard's use of phallic wands in "Survivor's Dream." And if you stick around 'till the end, you'll be treated to Bruce Taylor's distinctively whimsical style--particularly in "The Breath Amidst the Stones," where, on a distant planet, inanimate objects have a life all their own.

The Bizarro Starter Kit: File under "B" for bizarro.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Next Literary Movement is on the Move! 2 Jun 2006
By B. Andrews - Published on Amazon.com
Let me just say that I am a huge fan of Bizarro. There's nothing like reading stories that bear no resemblance to anything you've read before. The Bizarro collective of writings and films continue to reinvent themselves, making it one of the most vibrant creative outlets in publication today. Many of its authors can be found on MySpace, adding so much more to the sense of community between authors and readers, which is lacking in the literary world elsewhere. Where else could you read an author's book, then log on to the Internet and tell that person directly how much you loved their work? I've had several dialogues with these guys, and it's tremendously gratifying as a reader to have that interaction with the author.

Bizarro is not for everyone; if you feel totally content with reading the same sort of material and can't bear the thought of branching out into something new, then Bizarro will probably not work for you. However, if you're wanting to know what else is out there (I mean REALLY out there), then the Bizarro Starter Kit is the book to read. I officially started reading Bizarro a year ago, and it's been a tremendously gratifying experience. Even now, I'm working to get these books into the mainstream bookstore chains where they belong. Support the Bizarro movement!
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