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on 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.

Gina Ranalli: "Suicide Girls in the Afterlife" has little to do with the emo pinups, and everything to do with privilege, friendship and the afterlife. I don't want to give too much away, but the afterlife turns out to be a hotel in need of repair.

Andre Duza: "Don't f(beep)k with the Coloureds" is about strange going's on in a nursing home. Think Who Framed Roger Rabbit on Crack. Again, funny and disturbing, a mouth watering mixture.

Vincent W. Sakowski: "The Screaming of the Fish", "Peel and Eat Buffet" and "It's Beginning to look a lot like Ragnarok". Sakowski calls his work blender fiction, a mix of horror, surrealism, fantasy, sci-fi, and the absurd. These separate elements blend will in the stories above, which remind me of Neil Gaiman's best work, where old mythologies are given a modern spin.

Steve Beard: "Survivor's Dream" is really out there. A girl is being choppered to hospital over London, and then we are treated to a collage of different journeys she goes on, to space, the sea, to a black hole. The story is what it is, and you are left wondering if this is a dream, or a distortion in the space time continuum, but no attempt to explain is satisfying, making this story truly irreal.

John Edward Lawson: "Truth in Ruins". In a gritty, dystopian world where humans are separated into serial profilers and serial killers, and they fight against genetically engineered monkeys. Lawson transforms the written word into putrid flesh.

Bruce Taylor: "The Breath Amidst the Stones", "A Little Spider Shop Talk", "Of Tunafish And Galaxies" and "City Streets". Mr Magic Realism doesn't disappoint, with these touching, sometimes creepy, but always compelling tales. Featuring animate inanimate objects, a conversation with a big spider, and the last Earth man's search for the rest of the world.

This is bizarro. It is, by definition, the most interesting and extraordinary genre around. Join us... join us...
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on 3 March 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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on 3 October 2011
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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on 16 October 2011
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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on 15 October 2015
Not my sort of thing. Gross stories. My mistake.
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